The Negative Effects of Colonialism

Table of Content

The colonial period showed significant changes in the many countries worldwide. The European breakthrough in controlling industrialization and forced imposition of dominance and colonialism has made China, for example, experience a shift from modernizing dynamism to social crises and regime instability. Africa has also suffered from this kind of system. Colonization in Africa circulated in the late eighteenth-century in which Europeans displayed greater interest than the White or black residents in the South or mid-Atlantic regions (Dorsey, 2000). In the 1880s France was taking in initiative in restoring its status in Europe and engaging into war against Germany in order to recover its provinces which it lost in 1871. In effect, France gradually supported colonialism which started in the 1890s (Bryant, 2006). Colonialism is the process in which the Western European countries conquered the southern states of America, the South Pacific, south-east Asian nations, and Africa. In this essay, the term colonization is used to mean a racist system of forced economic, cultural, and political domination imposed by technologically superior groups. For instance, the White people or the industrial capital economy assumed that it is the most advanced human organization. However, the negative effects of colonization are discussed in the case of Africa.

African relations with other nations served mainly for obtaining luxury goods for commercial and political elites from fifteenth century. The result of the early exchanges of Africans with Europeans was the diffusion of various social, economic, and cultural influences such as foods, religious practices, musical instruments, and health-related aspects. Despite the benefits the Africans gained from international relations, the negative effects were inevitable. Colonization and disruptions of African societies were major crises they fought for centuries. At the end of the 18th Century, Africa’s export production of agricultural and forest crops has contributed to the social and cultural changes because of colonial rules. The negative impact of colonization does not only affect the minority groups’ economic, social, political, and cultural identity and practices but also results to moral inferiority. These negative effects are caused by over-exploitation, oppression, discrimination, enslavement, policy imposition, and capitalism (Dávila & Laó-Montes, 2001). Politically, colonialism can be considered as a form of dictatorship because it imposes and maintains violence (Rodney, 1982). Colonialism is also a racist system. Europeans took advantage of the Africans and they defined their features from those with color, identifying themselves as middle class or people of higher social and economic status (Eslinger, 2005). Slavery was prevalent because Europeans were concerned about raising or highlighting their identity with better opportunities.  In addition to the negative effects of colonialism in the lives of many Africans, the Europeans also gained advantage in the export economy they established at the expense of exploiting the lands and the indigents in Africa. Economically, colonialism is associated tightly to the world capitalist system dominated by Europe and later the US in African countries. Africa was forced to produce raw materials and import selected manufactured goods. Africans became crop growers, workers, traders, and miners. Today, the effect of economic domination still persists in which the minorities were forced to work under low wage and the tough competition had resulted to dependence from the Europeans. Colonialism continuously contributes to fragility and instability of African states. Europe concentrated colonization in the south. Colonization has also affected people’s education and exploitation of environmental resources. Colonizers’ commercial activity in the south have caused uneven educational pace between the peoples of the south and the north (Davis & Kalu-Nwiwu, 2001). Europe also aimed at acquiring benefits from the environment and ecological advancement. It was the Native American cultures that attracted the interest of Europe in colonization. European colonization has inflicted harm and greatly affected the habitats of the Native American lands (Davies, 2001). Several kinds of colonial organization were established in Africa such as the White settlers in Zimbabwe and Kenya who were identified as political leaders and elite with their new traditions, the indirect rule colonies in Botswana and Nigeria, and the direct rule colonies in Senegal. Although Kenyans played significant role in the production and labor force, it did not control the economic system. Instead, the colonial rulers implemented policies and made compromises to their advantage while Kenya remained exploited (Boahen, 1989). The institutionalized relationship between Africans and Europeans existed throughout the colonial period which favored the Europeans and completely deprived Kenyans of economic benefits. The Ivory Coast was considered a strong pillar of the West African economy. It was colonized by France but it was able to regain its independence. It pursued an open-door policy to encourage immigrant workers which resulted to the rise of diversified population. It brought a number of negative outcomes including political, civil, economic, and religious/ethnic conflicts and problems, which continued for years and resulted to another crisis in commodity price that affected local consumers (Dozon, 2000).

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In conclusion, the negative effects of colonization cannot be denied because history reveals that the people in the southern part of America, especially in Africa, have suffered from greatly from the hand of the Western Europe. The people have experienced political, cultural, economic, social, and religious challenges and transformations due to the forcibly imposed domination of the White people for they wanted to rule the native inhabitants, or acquire the lands by practicing political supremacy, racism, and economic exploitation. Despite the negative effects, colonization helped Africans in aiming for development, utilizing education for a good cause, enriching cultures and values, and learning to fight for their rights and freedom.


Boahen, A. (1989). African Perspective on Colonialism. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Dorsey, B. (2000) A Gendered History of African Colonization in the Antebellum United States. Journal of Social History 34(1), 77.

Dávila, A. & Laó-Montes, A. (2001). Montage: The Latinization of New York. NY: Columbia University Press.

Dozon, J. P. (2000), “La Côte d’Ivoire entre démocratie, nationalisme et ethnonationalisme”, Politique Africaine, No. 78, juillet, pp. 45–62

Eslinger, E. (2005) The Brief Career of Rufus W. Bailey, American Colonization Society Agent in Virginia. Journal of Southern History 71(1), 39+.

Bryant, J. M. (2006) The West and the Rest Revisited: Debating Capitalist Origins, European Colonialism, and the Advent of Modernity. Canadian Journal of Sociology 31(4), 403+. COPYRIGHT

Davies, L. L. (2001) Lessons for an Endangered Movement: What a Historical Juxtaposition of the Legal Response to Civil Rights.

Rodney, W. (1982) How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Washington DC: Howard University Press, 205.

Davis, T. J. ; Kalu-Nwiwu, A. (2001) Education, Ethnicity and National Integration in the History of Nigeria: Continuing Problems of Africa’s Colonial Legacy. The Journal of Negro History 86(1), 1+.


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