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University of the Free State
History: 122: Colonialism in Africa
1.1) The Basic Concepts of Colonialism
The concept of imperialism, colonialism and Neo-colonialism in the African context
are consecutive phrases of a historical cycle. The following needs to be understood
in terms of this defined cycle:
Imperialism: The dominance of one community over another through political
relations or military force.
Colonization: The permanent settlement in another state /land/country or territory.
Colonialism: A political concept with religious and economic dimensions through
which the foreign country enforces authority for “gold, glory and religion”
De-Colonisation: The emancipation/setting free of an occupied area which usually
brings to an end the foreign dominance over the area.
Neo-Colonization: An indirect version of colonisation. A typical example of the
Cold War is the “Scramble for Africa.”
1.2) European Powers in Africa: The Partition of Africa
Between 1879 and 1912 all African states except for Liberia and Ethiopia were under
colonial rule, Reason for this includes the following:
Economic reasons (“gold”) “legal” trade, explorers, traders, and Industrial
Revolution.
New Imperialism (“glory”) national Pride (i.e., the sun never sets on the
British Empire)
Rise of nationalism (“glory”) Prestige, social-Darwinism etc.
Political Reasons (“glory”) Power Struggle, impact of Prussian (old word for
Germany) General Otto von Bismarck
Strategic Consideration for Britain (“gold”) Route to the Far East
Personal Ambition (“glory”) – King Leopold II and the Belgian Congo
Religious/philanthropic reasons (“religion”) Missionaries
Resistance of Africans (“glory”)
Technological Advancement of Europeans
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2) Colonial Policies
2.1) British Colonial Policy (Direct and Indirect Rule)
The development of colonization in Britain warranted changed from the direct
approach of using force. This was since there were not enough resources to govern
16 colonies in Africa. Indirect rule was system that utilized traditional leaders, its first
conceptualization was developed in Northern Nigeria and was later used throughout
the other colonies. Indirect rule was structured in two forms; first the white British
Colonial Officials and second the traditional native structures in Africa: in the form
that it was found at a local level (i.e., cultural customs), the concept was created by
a Lord Luger.
Direct rule centralizes power around London, and it was system that was very
expensive to maintain. It was expensive because it required force to which the small
island nations of Britain could not maintain in their global colonies.
2.2) French Colonial Policy (Assimilation and Association)
During the era of colonial rule France was in control of 13 countries in Africa. The
French colonial policy of assimilation and association can be broken up into the
following phases:
Assimilation
- Cultural Imperialism
- Black elite-division of people
- Black Elite French citizenship
Association
- Began in 1905
- The focus was not on the highly intelligent sector of African Communities
The French administration used indirect rule in their African territories. Unlike the
situation with the British, there was no possibility of eventual independence for
African countries under French Rule. Decolonization of the French colonies came
after France lost the war in Indo China and Algeria. Even now, French colonies still
have strong links with France.
2.2.1) Comparison between French and British Colonial Rule
This can be best summed up as follows
“France trained leaders whilst Britain trained bureaucrats, Britain came to settle the
land, but France came to administer. If Frances emphasis in its colonies was cultural,
Britain’s was economic”
D Lamb,
The Africans p.160
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2.3) The Belgium Colonial Policy (Paternalism)
The Congo Free state under the leadership of King Leopold II was established in
1885. This area was seen as the personal property of Leopold and was not, in
beginning, ruled by the Belgium Parliament. Although the Belgium parliament later
took over administrative control of the area, the different ethnic groups of the area
played an important role in the governing of the Congo.
Leopold’s interest in Congo was economically founded. A policy of plunder economy,
which exploited the key resources and the black people, was introduced in the
Congo. In 1908 the control of the Congo was handed over to the Belgian Parliament,
who implemented a policy of centralization in the area. After the Belgium Parliament
took control in the Congo, Paternalistic attitude from Belgium started to develop.
Please note the question
What are the reasons for Leopold’s handing over the control of the Congo over to
the Belgium Parliament?
The main reason was international pressure due to the human rights atrocities in the
region. The guardianship or paternal role played by the government saw the original
inhabitants as children that needed paternal stewardship.
2.4) The German Colonial Policy (Strict Direct Control)
In Africa, subordinates were chosen without consideration of traditional and cultural
factors. In the beginning German rule was cruel and later led to the Rebellion of the
Herero (1903-1907) in Southwest Africa (present day Namibia) and the Mani Maji
rebellion (1905-1907) in a region formally known as Tanganyika (or Zanzibar) led to
reforms including the establishment of colonial office and civilian administration.
2.5 The Portuguese Colonial Policy
The main aspect of their policy was to assimilate Africans who were of a specific
intellect and income bracket. There was no official color-bar, they tolerated mixed
marriages and allowed Africans who were literate in Portuguese to be come citizens,
the theory was known as
assimilado.
This differed from the openly racist policies of
other European countries, the main contrast was that the citizens in Portugal had
little rights as they were ruled by a strong dictatorship thus the
assimilado policy
was
glaring or over-emphasized. Phillip C.S. The African Dictionary p.36
3) The Political, Economic and Social/Cultural influence
Colonialism had various advantages and disadvantages for Africa. These problems
were mainly on a political of political, economic, and socio-cultural nature.
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3.1) Political influence of Colonialism
The Colonial Powers brought Peace and Stability to Africa. Wars of extermination
and tribal conflicts were suppressed, slavery abolished, and legislation accepted to
maintain peace and stability. A system of
uniform political control
was implemented
by the Europeans, a system which the African took over. It had a negative effect on
tribal traditions and other traditional systems because central rule loosened the
association with the traditional.
The European colonization of Africa
pulled the continent out of its political isolation
,
resulting in Africa becoming part of the 20
th
century world. This led to languages like
English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian being brought to the
continent. Africans were now able to communicate in Africa amongst themselves as
well as abroad. The above also
stimulated nation building
in Africa because the
colonies have a central authority. Language managed to bring several tribes
together due to the Eurocentric language approach.
Since
borders were chosen at random
ethnic groups were divided across borders of
two or three countries. Due to the nature of European colonial control and measures
(such as whipping, forced slave labor etc.)
a smoldering feeling of discontent
gradually came to the fore in Africa. This feeling of discontent lead to a feeling of
unity and solidarity amongst the Africans. This resulted in the development of a
unique nationalism namely
African nationalism which bonded Africans against
colonial rulers.
In the whole process of dawning of African nationalism political and national leaders
came to the fore which later incited a spirit of decolonization in Africa with
prominent leaders like Kwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta etc.
Colonialism in essence became the reason for African Nationalism and
paved the
way towards democracy.
It is also important to note that Europeans brought the
system of democracy to Africa through the
western political system and
philosophies.
This occurred without any formal training and as such upon their
departure, the once stable systems were left unchecked. Added to these modern
concepts were modern developments such as weaponry. These
guns were the key
to power.
During the era of Independence Europeans left the continent in a hurry
and at the time Africans were not ready to accept political responsibility, this left a
gap for various militias throughout the continent to govern with force and cohesion.
3.2) Economic Influence of Colonialism
The economies in Africa were
made to develop European colonialists
, the economic
inputs made by colonial powers differed from colony to colony. African states were
poorly developed and remain behind on certain developments that are economically
based. Throughout the colonial era the whites controlled the economy. Apart from
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the fact that the Africans enjoyed no or little benefit, they also received little training
in terms economic affairs, which they utilized for their own countries. A system of
capitalism with private initiative and profit motive was established in Africa.
Industrialization (the establishment and growth of industries) was started in Africa
by European rulers.
The continent benefited over the years as the Europeans implemented
scientific,
agriculture and mining methods
. As much as this is a positive development on the
main colonialism was a negative point for the continent. The European hierarchy had
divided Africa like poker players, and this was done with no consideration for the
impact on its original inhabitants, advancement for Africa was slow and economic
interests where at the forefront (minerals such as gold). It also led to
cash-crop
economies like coca in Ghana and tabbaco in both Malawi and Zimbabwe.
A positive aspect of colonialism was the creation infrastructure in Africa, most note
worthy were those of French and German colonies. The disadvantage of this
according to Lamb was that the rural character of Africans would be eliminated as
focus was on attaining labour through enslavement of Africans.
European economical values differed from the African, colonialism conveyed its
values given that they were the dominant culture. This was reflected in the
excessive value placed in material possessions I.e. Mobuto Seso Seko,the late
president of Zaire (present day Congo), had built 11 palaces as a measurement of
wealth. More symbols reflecting this was the upper class in East Africa who are
known as “Wabenzi” for their love of Mercedes Benz vehicles.
The determination of colonialism did not bring holistically freedom to Africa, the
continent had a foreign debt of $35 billion US. Resulting in a group of welfare states
that everybody had to look after. Liberia and Ethiopia remained some of the most
backward, yet they were never colonized, even by their admission they said that
they missed out on opportunities brought by the colonialists.
3.3 Sociocultural Influence of Colonialism
Since the arrival of Europeans in Africa the traditional way of life for the African was
disrupted. Some colonial rulers tried to destroy all traditional tribal customs.Under
the influence of customs and habits the African gradually westernized (clothing,
political systems etc.) An important result of colonialism was/is urbanization,many
Africans moved to cities where they searched for job opportunities,housing,better
education , material welfare etc. Africans were exposed in many ways to western
culture and as a result their own identity was undervalued. So much so that it
created an identity crisis among black people.
The under evaluation of their own native culture eventually resulted in a re-
evaluation of African culture, history and literature from the 1950s onwards.
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References
K. Smith and FJ Nothling,
North of Limpopo , Africa since 1800 ,
Pretoria , 1993
D. Lamb,
The Africans
, Published June 12th, 1987, by Vintage Books
Oliver, R and Atmore.
A,
Africa since 1800,
Cambridge University Press, 2005
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University of the Free State History: 122: Colonialism in Africa 1.1) The Basic Concepts of Colonialism The concept of imperialism, colonialism and Neo-colonialism in the African context are consecutive phrases of a historical cycle. The following needs to be understood in terms of this defined cycle: Imperialism: The dominance of one community over another through political relations or military force. Colonization: The permanent settlement in another state /land/country or territory. Colonialism: A political concept with religious and economic dimensions through which the foreign country enforces authority for “gold, glory and religion” De-Colonisation: The emancipation/setting free of an occupied area which usually brings to an end the foreign dominance over the area. Neo-Colonization: An indirect version of colonisation. A typical example of the Cold War is the “Scramble for Africa.” 1.2) European Powers in Africa: The Partition of Africa Between 1879 and 1912 all African states except for Liberia and Ethiopia were under colonial rule, Reason for this includes the following: • • • • • • • • • Economic reasons (“gold”) – “legal” trade, explorers, traders, and Industrial Revolution. New Imperialism (“glory”) – national Pride (i.e., the sun never sets on the British Empire) Rise of nationalism (“glory”) – Prestige, social-Darwinism etc. Political Reasons (“glory”) – Power Struggle, impact of Prussian (old word for Germany) General Otto von Bismarck Strategic Consideration for Britain (“gold”) – Route to the Far East Personal Ambition (“glory”) – King Leopold II and the Belgian Congo Religious/philanthropic reasons (“religion”) – Missionaries Resistance of Africans (“glory”) Technological Advancement of Europeans 2) Colonial Policies 2.1) British Colonial Policy (Direct and Indirect Rule) The development of colonization in Britain warranted changed from the direct approach of using force. This was since there were not enough resources to govern 16 colonies in Africa. Indirect rule was system that utilized traditional leaders, its first conceptualization was developed in Northern Nigeria and was later used throughout the other colonies. Indirect rule was structured in two forms; first the white British Colonial Officials and second the traditional native structures in Africa: in the form that it was found at a local level (i.e., cultural customs), the concept was created by a Lord Luger. Direct rule centralizes power around London, and it was system that was very expensive to maintain. It was expensive because it required force to which the small island nations of Britain could not maintain in their global colonies. 2.2) French Colonial Policy (Assimilation and Association) During the era of colonial rule France was in control of 13 countries in Africa. The French colonial policy of assimilation and association can be broken up into the following phases: Assimilation - Cultural Imperialism Black elite-division of people Black Elite French citizenship Association - Began in 1905 The focus was not on the highly intelligent sector of African Communities The French administration used indirect rule in their African territories. Unlike the situation with the British, there was no possibility of eventual independence for African countries under French Rule. Decolonization of the French colonies came after France lost the war in Indo China and Algeria. Even now, French colonies still have strong links with France. 2.2.1) Comparison between French and British Colonial Rule This can be best summed up as follows “France trained leaders whilst Britain trained bureaucrats, Britain came to settle the land, but France came to administer. If Frances emphasis in its colonies was cultural, Britain’s was economic” D Lamb, The Africans p.160 2.3) The Belgium Colonial Policy (Paternalism) The Congo Free state under the leadership of King Leopold II was established in 1885. This area was seen as the personal property of Leopold and was not, in beginning, ruled by the Belgium Parliament. Although the Belgium parliament later took over administrative control of the area, the different ethnic groups of the area played an important role in the governing of the Congo. Leopold’s interest in Congo was economically founded. A policy of plunder economy, which exploited the key resources and the black people, was introduced in the Congo. In 1908 the control of the Congo was handed over to the Belgian Parliament, who implemented a policy of centralization in the area. After the Belgium Parliament took control in the Congo, Paternalistic attitude from Belgium started to develop. Please note the question What are the reasons for Leopold’s handing over the control of the Congo over to the Belgium Parliament? The main reason was international pressure due to the human rights atrocities in the region. The guardianship or paternal role played by the government saw the original inhabitants as children that needed paternal stewardship. 2.4) The German Colonial Policy (Strict Direct Control) In Africa, subordinates were chosen without consideration of traditional and cultural factors. In the beginning German rule was cruel and later led to the Rebellion of the Herero (1903-1907) in Southwest Africa (present day Namibia) and the Mani Maji rebellion (1905-1907) in a region formally known as Tanganyika (or Zanzibar) led to reforms including the establishment of colonial office and civilian administration. 2.5 The Portuguese Colonial Policy The main aspect of their policy was to assimilate Africans who were of a specific intellect and income bracket. There was no official color-bar, they tolerated mixed marriages and allowed Africans who were literate in Portuguese to be come citizens, the theory was known as assimilado. This differed from the openly racist policies of other European countries, the main contrast was that the citizens in Portugal had little rights as they were ruled by a strong dictatorship thus the assimilado policy was glaring or over-emphasized. Phillip C.S. The African Dictionary p.36 3) The Political, Economic and Social/Cultural influence Colonialism had various advantages and disadvantages for Africa. These problems were mainly on a political of political, economic, and socio-cultural nature. 3.1) Political influence of Colonialism The Colonial Powers brought Peace and Stability to Africa. Wars of extermination and tribal conflicts were suppressed, slavery abolished, and legislation accepted to maintain peace and stability. A system of uniform political control was implemented by the Europeans, a system which the African took over. It had a negative effect on tribal traditions and other traditional systems because central rule loosened the association with the traditional. The European colonization of Africa pulled the continent out of its political isolation, resulting in Africa becoming part of the 20th century world. This led to languages like English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian being brought to the continent. Africans were now able to communicate in Africa amongst themselves as well as abroad. The above also stimulated nation building in Africa because the colonies have a central authority. Language managed to bring several tribes together due to the Eurocentric language approach. Since borders were chosen at random ethnic groups were divided across borders of two or three countries. Due to the nature of European colonial control and measures (such as whipping, forced slave labor etc.) a smoldering feeling of discontent gradually came to the fore in Africa. This feeling of discontent lead to a feeling of unity and solidarity amongst the Africans. This resulted in the development of a unique nationalism namely African nationalism which bonded Africans against colonial rulers. In the whole process of dawning of African nationalism political and national leaders came to the fore which later incited a spirit of decolonization in Africa with prominent leaders like Kwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta etc. Colonialism in essence became the reason for African Nationalism and paved the way towards democracy. It is also important to note that Europeans brought the system of democracy to Africa through the western political system and philosophies. This occurred without any formal training and as such upon their departure, the once stable systems were left unchecked. Added to these modern concepts were modern developments such as weaponry. These guns were the key to power. During the era of Independence Europeans left the continent in a hurry and at the time Africans were not ready to accept political responsibility, this left a gap for various militias throughout the continent to govern with force and cohesion. 3.2) Economic Influence of Colonialism The economies in Africa were made to develop European colonialists, the economic inputs made by colonial powers differed from colony to colony. African states were poorly developed and remain behind on certain developments that are economically based. Throughout the colonial era the whites controlled the economy. Apart from the fact that the Africans enjoyed no or little benefit, they also received little training in terms economic affairs, which they utilized for their own countries. A system of capitalism with private initiative and profit motive was established in Africa. Industrialization (the establishment and growth of industries) was started in Africa by European rulers. The continent benefited over the years as the Europeans implemented scientific, agriculture and mining methods. As much as this is a positive development on the main colonialism was a negative point for the continent. The European hierarchy had divided Africa like poker players, and this was done with no consideration for the impact on its original inhabitants, advancement for Africa was slow and economic interests where at the forefront (minerals such as gold). It also led to cash-crop economies like coca in Ghana and tabbaco in both Malawi and Zimbabwe. A positive aspect of colonialism was the creation infrastructure in Africa, most note worthy were those of French and German colonies. The disadvantage of this according to Lamb was that the rural character of Africans would be eliminated as focus was on attaining labour through enslavement of Africans. European economical values differed from the African, colonialism conveyed its values given that they were the dominant culture. This was reflected in the excessive value placed in material possessions I.e. Mobuto Seso Seko,the late president of Zaire (present day Congo), had built 11 palaces as a measurement of wealth. More symbols reflecting this was the upper class in East Africa who are known as “Wabenzi” for their love of Mercedes Benz vehicles. The determination of colonialism did not bring holistically freedom to Africa, the continent had a foreign debt of $35 billion US. Resulting in a group of welfare states that everybody had to look after. Liberia and Ethiopia remained some of the most backward, yet they were never colonized, even by their admission they said that they missed out on opportunities brought by the colonialists. 3.3 Sociocultural Influence of Colonialism Since the arrival of Europeans in Africa the traditional way of life for the African was disrupted. Some colonial rulers tried to destroy all traditional tribal customs.Under the influence of customs and habits the African gradually westernized (clothing, political systems etc.) An important result of colonialism was/is urbanization,many Africans moved to cities where they searched for job opportunities,housing,better education , material welfare etc. Africans were exposed in many ways to western culture and as a result their own identity was undervalued. So much so that it created an identity crisis among black people. The under evaluation of their own native culture eventually resulted in a reevaluation of African culture, history and literature from the 1950s onwards. References K. Smith and FJ Nothling, North of Limpopo , Africa since 1800 , Pretoria , 1993 D. Lamb, The Africans, Published June 12th, 1987, by Vintage Books Oliver, R and Atmore. A, Africa since 1800, Cambridge University Press, 2005 Name: Description: ...
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