There is an ongoing debate on how the current political and economic failures in Africa can be traced back to the advent of colonialism. There is a great deal of evidence that illustrates the impact that colonialism and foreign intervention has had a negative effect on the development of present history of Africa. This essay will attempt to examine the geographic, political and ethnic impact European colonialism has played on the development of the African, and how these contributions have put Africa on its current trajectory.
Initial European interest in Africa appeared humanitarian. Many of the imperial nations seemed interested in acting on behalf of Africa, on issues ranging from the prohibition of slavery to development and infrastructure projects. For instance, the trading of slaves was very common throughout Africa, until it the early 20 century. Capturing and trading individuals into slavery was not restricted to the Arabs and Europeans, in many cases Africans also took part in this practice. In many instances, African kingdoms and clans earned more by trading prisoners into slavery. However, in the long-term, Africa lost major producers of agriculture and individuals how could have potentially cultivated Africa’s economic future.
The 1984 Berlin Conference was held to determine on how to best to regulate European colonialism in Africa. Aside from prohibiting slavery, which European and other foreign actors introduced to Africa, the colonial powers operated on the premise they were acting in the interests of Africa, to protect the African states from themselves and outside actors. However, it was apparent the European powers for interests, especially when they recognized how much economic potential was at stake. Instead of pursuing the humanitarian goals and protectorate responsibilities as initially intended, they divided the continent on their own accord.
Several European nations took it upon themselves to assimilate the people of Africa to what the Europeans considered as civilized. Peter Schraeder put it best in his essay, Political and Economic Impacts of Colonialism, when he said, “Britain’s portrayal of its efforts as the ‘whites man’s burden’ and France’s pronouncement of its “mission civilisatrice”, were offered to justify European domination over peoples deemed ‘backward,’ ‘ignorant,’ ‘uncivilized,’ ‘barbaric,’ ‘savage,’ and ‘godless heathen.’” It certainly makes one wonder why a nation would take the role of a protectorate if it viewed the people they were trying to protect in that light. This may also explain the why Britain established the institutions and practices they did during colonial rule.
One of the most significant institutions introduced by the colonial powers as a method to civilize the Africans was the implementation of the nation-state system. Pre-colonial African was full of nations and kingdoms, which varied in respect to their polities and general structure. For instance, some lived in small...