There are distinctions between Belgian and British colonial practices. Chinua Achebe through his book “Things Fall Apart” narrates how the colonial practices of the British affected the people of Igbo in Umuofia village.
Furthermore, he illustrates how the British managed to gain control of the state of Nigeria without bloodshed. The distinctions between the two former colonial masters can be compared by analyzing Belgian Congo which was a Belgian colonial territory.
The first distinction is the manner in which the British used to gain control of the people of Umuofia, the village of Okonkwo’s village. They sent missionaries to the village to go and preach a new religion of Christianity with the hope that if they are able to convince the Igbo people to believe in their new religion then they can be able to easily govern them.
Hence, the missionaries come to Mbanta with a message of hope and peace in their efforts to convince the natives. The people of Mbanta embrace this religion of the white man without heeding the advice of the oracle that had earlier warned that the white man will come to disturb their peace. The natives view this religion as harmless and unable to untie them from their traditional roots and thus they welcome the white man.
On the contrary, the Belgian colonial practice was not as kind compared to the British who took time to befriend the people of the Mbanta even though they were masquerading as missionaries. The Belgians took Congo by military force and in the process killing millions of innocent civilians.
Another major distinction of the British was that whichever state they colonized, they usually founded schools and hospitals that were to be used to provide medical care to the natives. This is reflected in Mbanta as they establish a missionary center to provide services to the people of Umuofia.
On the other hand, the Belgians did not care to establish schools or even hospitals for the natives in their colonies. This is evidenced by the high number of natives who were illiterate in the post-colonial Congo.
The main aim of the British was to develop the African states that they colonized. A case in point is the village of Umuofia, when the British came; they established churches, hospitals and even taught the local people how to trade using a common currency (cowries). There is even the establishment of the District Commissioner’s office and the deployment of security officers to maintain law and order.
Chinua Achebe explains the maintenance of law and order by narrating how a group of elders from Umuofia who had burned down a local church were detained and made to pay a fine of two hundred cowries for them to be released.
On the other hand, the Belgian government does not care about developing the state they colonize as they are not even concerned about proper governance of those states.
There are no new schools or hospitals established and the people are not taught to read, write or even trading. The colonial masters are only interested in the wealth of resources available in the form of minerals, and thus they do not care to even establish governance structures in the country.
Finally, while the British used religion to divide the people since it made them turn against each other like in the case of Okonkwo and his son. The Belgians were cruel as they forced the villagers to work as well as extended extreme punishments such as murder and torture in a bid to maintain order.