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European Colonialism and Its Effects on African Crises Research Paper

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Updated: Jan 26th, 2022


The connection between colonialism and Africa existed since the very beginning. In the modern sense, colonialism means the European invasion in the 19th century. However, in Ancient history, people from Southern Europe and Asia colonized North Africa and Madagascar. Thus, numerous conquests always influenced and hindered African countries. Currently, there are different points of view concerning the impact of European colonialism on African countries though most researchers agree that the invasion has led to the deterioration of the economic and political conditions.

The nature of colonialism in African countries

The trade of slaves took place in Africa in the 14-19th centuries. Its abolition happened at the same time as industrial revolutions began. A great demand for agricultural products was prevailing among major European and North American countries. Africa’s resources richness was the main reason for the commencement of colonialism. Every country wanted to have its part. It was the starting point of the scramble of Africa in 1885. Britain, Germany, and France were the chief competitors. As a result, Europe colonized major African territories in twenty-five years. Colonization is a practice of suppression and domination over a particular nation. The term “colonialism” has its roots in Latin. The word “colonus” has the meaning “farmer”. Colonialism is the practice of invading for political and economic purposes (Oluwafisayo 66).

The practice and legacy of European colonialism

The legacy and practice of French, British, and German colonialism differed in some aspects. Nevertheless, there were several common features. The major governmental form was authoritarianism. It permitted the existence of limited pluralism, the constraint of unnecessary social phenomena, and the privilege of the most important political party. It is also worthwhile mentioning that there was no democratic colonial policy. Every ruling country minimized the participation of the indigenous population. The mutual aim was to exploit the raw resources for export. Industrialization resulted in the necessity to move to other places, and a lot of families were divided (“African History, the Era of Global Encroachment” par. 13).

The impact of artificial and unrealistic boundaries on intra African relations

In spite of the common aim, the practice of colonialism differed in France and Britain. The primary distinction concerned the type of rule. Thus, France implemented the direct rule while Britain preferred the indirect variant. Local authorities had the ability to conduct a few judicial and executive functions according to the indirect practice. Cameroon and Nigeria belonged to the countries where Britain employed this system. The direct rule allowed residents to take part in governmental processes. This kind of assimilation connected the development of colonies to the metropolis. One more dissimilarity concerned the labor policies. French regime favored forced labor. For instance, colonial authorities paid little or no attention to the workers at railway constructions and left them without payment and minimal treatment. The consequence of this was a terrible rate of death. Britain offered a scheme of payment that attracted a number of people (Lee and Schultz 12-13).

Effects of colonialism on economic and social policies

The colonization brought the establishment of artificial and unrealistic boundaries between African countries. Africa’s separation began with the Berlin Conference in 1885. Germany, Britain, France, Spain, Belgium, and Portugal divided Africa’s territory without taking into consideration its historical and cultural heritage. This has led to the aggravation of relations in the post-colonial period. The conflict between Nigeria and Cameroon may serve as a vivid example of the issue. The dispute relating to the oil-rich peninsula rose in 2002. Two countries were trying to decide the question of the appurtenance of the peninsula. In finding solutions, the countries applied not to the ancient cultural partition or their inhabitants, but to the colonial division (Fisher par. 1). Accordingly, such a situation exemplifies the negative impact of colonies’ artificial borders on the current conditions in African states.

A majority of researchers and historians discussed the connection between colonialism and African crises. Rwanda’s catastrophe illustrates the direct correlation with colonialism. In 1994, the representatives of Hutu slaughtered more than six hundred thousand Tutsi people. The mass massacre had a genocidal character. Hutu is the indigenous population of the country. Tutsi inhabited Rwanda later, and they were famous for having deep knowledge in cattle breeding. The latter considered themselves as a more developed nationality. Europeans brought a new kind of racism to Rwanda. Colonialists judged themselves as a superior group that was more physically and intellectually mature. This belief became popular among Tutsi as well. Such a division between Tutsi and Hutu turned out to be extremely intense and resulted in a mass slaying (Riemer par. 7). Rwanda’s tragedy demonstrates an ethnic conflict that aroused on the European ground.


Nevertheless, European colonialism had not only a negative effect. Uganda’s economic situation proves that statement. Britain assimilated the country to the world capitalist system. Uganda’s primary specialization was the production of raw materials. Uganda became a successful colony with a progressive industry. The country faced challenging difficulties in the post-colonial period, but due to the developed manufacturing, the authorities managed to regulate the GDP growth (Hrituelac 47).

The role of European colonization in the development of African countries is a controversial issue. There are no direct and unique answers to the question. The truth lies deep in history and it is the primary source of investigation up till now. Though some examples prove the positive effect of colonization, most cases still verify the negative impact of European colonialists on Africa’s states.

Works Cited

African History, the Era of Global Encroachment. n.d. Web. 2015.

Fisher, Max 2012, The Dividing of a Continent: Africa’s Separatist Problem. Web.

Hrituelac, Alexandra 2011, The Effects of Colonialism of African Economic Development. Web.

Lee, Alexander, and Kenneth Schultz. n.d. Comparing British and French Colonial Legacies: A Discontinuity Analysis of Cameroon. n.d. Web. 2015.

Oluwafisayo, Akinmade. “Colonial Legacy and the Refracted State: Africa in Motionless Motion.” Journal of Arts and Humanities 3.9 (2014): 66-73. Print.

Riemer, Troy 2011, How Colonialism Affected the Rwandan Genocide. Web.

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