Saturday, February 9, 2008

Impact of Colonialism and imperialism on Africa

The white figure in the picture towering above traditional Somali elders and loyal askaris (soldiers), is Sir Evelyn Bering, representative of the British Monarchy, dispalying his prowess in the land of the brave and mighty (Somalia). The British Monarchy had representatives in almost three-quarter of the globe. With the help of loyal subjects it subdued, a swift, strong and disciplined Navy, and devastating gun powder, much of the land they captured remained under occupation until the dawn of the 19th Century. With the exception of Abyssinia (currently Ethiopia) which was under Italian occupation for a mere five years, and Liberia which was founded by Americo-Liberians, the rest of Africa suffered brutally at the hands of the European powers who divided the continent among themselves after the 1884 convention in Brussels known as the "Scramble for Africa" chaired by King Leopold II of Belgium. King Leopold II, the man who hatched the plan to have Africa civilized through plunder, got a share of parts of Central Africa most notably the Congo where millions of Congolese died as a result of forced labor. To date, Congo remains an unstable state due to the inherited colonial and imperial legacy imposed on it.
In East Africa, even mountains became properties of Kings and Queens, thus remaining out-of-bounds to Africans until the proclammation of independence in 60s. Africa, which had never known demarcation of borders before, experienced atrocious dismemberment and dislodgement to the extent families became separated while hostile tribes were forcefully made to share land. Africans had to abide by the newly introduced laws; they had to pledge allegience to their foreign masters by working strenuously to the best of their ability to ensure the survival and well being of Europe's economy. Gold hoarded in Africa decorated European crowns; maids from Africa set up the tables for pompous ceremonies; African power tilled the land; freely-acquired African steel was used to construct bridges, dockyards and ships; Europe was almost entirely dependent on Africans and Africa until such a time the European continent came to be known as the super power of the world.

Having achieved their aims and objectives as regards material wealth, political irredentism, and territorial gains, European powers embarked on a plan to evangelize the continent that had long enjoyed religious freedom and social stability. Religious persecution had never been known in Africa before, yet, the Europeans who had teared each other apart for centuries, found it incumbent upon them to proselytize the savage continent through the use of spiritually-guided missionaries who would construct massive churches and religious institutions using free African labor again. The Middle East which had long headquartered and cherished Christianity since its inception, saw itself lose its rightful place in Christianity after Beirut, Baghdad, Damascus, and Palestine became centers for Islamic propagation and revivalism. The fall of Constantinople and Alexandria to Islam dealt a devastating blow to Christian Europe. Thus, Christian Europe's interest in having strong foundations in Africa increased among its member states. Despite strong Islamic presence along the African coastline from Zeila in Somalia to Beira in Mozambique, Europeans saw it right to intrude the interior of the continent where they would have less resistance. With the invention of modern fighting machines coupled with better training and increased manpower, they were able to overcome resistance from Africans and their poorly equipped warriors. Ruling African chieftains resorted to corruption by accepting small gifts like beads, polished curios, and mirrors while in return Europeans hoarded ivory, leopard skins, and in the initial road to agriculturalization and industrialization, the worst struck with the advent of slavery and slave trade when Africans were crammbled onto crowded ships like goats being led to the market ushering in an era when Europe witnessed the best surplus economy that granted it economical wealth to emerging generations. Harsh weather conditions, rough terrains, and diseases at first impeded their attempts to reach their destinations. However, their desired goal of establishing permanent settlements bore fruit and up to this day Africa remains a bastion of European colonization, imperialism, and religiosity with many of those ugly traces evidently visible in almost every African country. A case in point is the commitment of African nations to European values such that many are referred to as Commonwealth, Francophone and Anglophone nations.
Having won the battle in all aspects, Europe continues to hoard African academics and intellectuals through the indirect implementation of what has become known as the "brain drain" where the brightest minds are lured to the west by being offered better jobs, grants, accessible facilities, and other ammenities which would have been impossible in their home countries. This brainwashing mentality metted on poor Africans has added to Africa's blight. Thus, the few who remain at home continue to succumb to illiteracy, infectious diseases, poor economy, and dictatorship while being held hostage by the absence of accountability, equality, justice and gross human rights practices.

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