Effects of European Colonization on Africa South of Sahara
The European colonization of African countries south of Sahara was marked with chaos which was not experienced there before. Long before the Europeans came to Africa, the communities lived in their traditional ways of life even though they were poor. A lot of things followed afterwards which changed the ways of life for the Africans and which even to date can be blamed for problems facing the region. Previously, the people lived in an organized society with their own rules which can be said to have been very effective in ruling the people.
When the Europeans entered into the scene, all this changed. The well established traditional political system collapsed leading to political instability. All communities in different parts of the continent tried to exclude themselves from others and this resulted into great political instability in the region. People killed others who were from different tribes in their efforts to claim superiority and these fights deepened the divisions among the local communities.
Countrys were subdivided into small regions which all sought to independent from one another and have their own kind of government. Other than spreading Christianity, the main reason for the Europeans coming to Africa was generally to look for law materials for their industries back home in Europe. In the 19th century, Europe was experiencing a great revolution in industrialization and with it came the need for more raw materials to support these industries. Since African countries had many natural resources many of which were lying idle unexploited, the Europeans decided to take advantage of the Africans ignorance. Due to this exploitation of natural resources that belonged to Africans by Europeans, the region was left poor.
The local had no say as they watched helplessly as all what they had was taken away from them without their consent and nothing was given back them.
The exploitation of natural resources eventually led to great destruction of the farming as well as the grazing land .Communities in this side of the continent practiced farming as well as pastrolism as their main economic activities and land destruction had great negative impact on them .People were left with nothing to eat and support themselves with. Poverty was on the increase and low live expectancy came along too since people had nothing to support themselves with. Another consequence of European colonization was the development of internecine tribal resentments which was encouraged mostly by the division of the population along their tribal lines. People of the same community could be divided into two as there were no consultations that were made before partitions or divisions were made. A good example is the Maasai community which was divided into two such that there are Maasais who live in Kenya and others who live in Tanzania but previously they lived together as a single community.Increased industrial evolution in Europe demanded increased manpower which was no longer available in Europe. As a result of this great need in Europe, the Europeans came to Africa to search for human labor and this led to the rise of the shameful and immoral slave trade. Strong men from Africa would be bough by the Europeans and taken to Europe to work in the industries leaving their families with no bread winners. Since only the strongmen were bought, the communities from which they were bought were left with no security since it was the able bodied men who were a source of security to the communities. All what the Europeans wanted in Africa was to ensure a continued flow of products in their industries and the continued flow of cheap labor that was available from the native Africans and this robbed the African continent the trained and able bodied people who were important for successful economic development. Even to date, these countries face a lot of problems whose roots can be traced back to the colonial tines.
The emergency of European colonies led to the appointment of local people who were to govern the colonies. These local leaders were unable to put national concerns ahead of everything but to the contrary, their first priority was tribal loyalty which didn’t help in national growth. As a result of these tribal divisions, the colonies suffered instability which was as a result of rule by military strongmen who had exchanged oppressive colonial rule for both civil and tribal strive. Many of the challenges faced by these countries even update have their roots in the colonial era. One of these challenges is poor governance whereby leaders come into power through military coups and those who are elected are never willing to relinquish power until they are overthrown. As was the case during the colonial times, even the elected do not portray any interest in national matters but to the contrary, they are more dedicated to tribal loyalty. This kind of leadership has led to tribal animosity and hatred among tribes which has led to genocide- like murders in the respective countries. Failed leadership results into poor economic performance and this poor leadership practices have scared away investors hence rendering the concerned countries poor. These problems can be solved if the elected leaders can be held responsible for any acts that are against the law. Those who abuse their office should be taken to court and face the full consequences if the law. The citizen’s should also be educated on matters of democracy so that they may be able to hold their leaders responsible .Communities should be educated on how to co-exist together regardless of their cultural backgrounds and embrace the spirit of nationalism instead of tribal loyalty. All these efforts would be very effective in improving the living standards of the citizens as well as promoting peace and democracy in the concerned countries.
1. Kevin Shillington (1995) , History of Africa, St Martin’s Press, New York,
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