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How European Colonialism Has Helped Define African Politics

1559 words - 7 pages

Colonialism has been very influential in defining the developing world as we know it today. Throughout the European colonial era, the period between the 16th century and the mid 20th century, each colonialising power tried implementing its own political framework, or one that is similar to their own, to the colonized countries as to be able to reduce them as a satellite countries and control them with more ease. After the slave trade act was passed in 1807 and its subsequent abolition, only 10% of Africa was under European colonial rule. Yet, nine decades down the road, estimates show that 90% of Africa’s land mass was under direct colonial control . It was during the scramble for Africa, which relates to the European powers’ fight for land on the African continent between 1871 to WWI in 1914 that most radical changes took place on the continent, for better or for worse. These changes redefined politics in Africa, and to this day, they are impacting the way Africa is developing. However, it would be an understatement to state that Africa was only impacted politically as politics help guide the way a country’s wheels turn and its effect on the general population, as stated in its definition, “The activities of the government, members of law-making organizations, or people who try to influence the way a country is governed. ” This leads to the question of, “how has European colonialism and the subsequent decolonisation of Africa defined most of Africa’s current political systems?”

The scramble for Africa originally arose in 1871 when Belgium and Portugal started making moves on the place then called, “the dark continent” for its relative alienation and still unknown surroundings . Then began the domino effect, whereby other European powers, not wanting to miss out on their share of the prize, rushed to Africa . Motivated by economic gains, geopolitical dominance, nationalist advantages and liberalist authority, the European colonial powers did not hesitate to follow Belgium and Portugal into Africa. Then came Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, meanwhile African politics have change tremendously and will never be the same. The economic gains from the scramble were substantial; Africa was filled with ores and natural resources that could be exploited to fuel economies back in the metropole. Geopolitically, it cannot be forgotten that Africa was at the time on the trade route, the Silk Road, towards the prominent eastern empires of India and China prior to the existence of the Suez Canal. Furthermore, having refuelling ports along the East trade route made it very advantageous for colonies as they gained a vast proportion of their revenue from the silk trade. As for the nationalist advantages, it cannot be forgotten that at the time, it was almost a competition to have more land than the other European nations; hence, reporting back to the metropole that you had acquired more African territory was always going to be a national...

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