When we look at Africa for that past couple of years wee see Genocide in Rwanda and Darfur ,instability in Sierra Leone, lack of a government in Somalia, Civil War in Sudan , land grabbing and AIDS in Zimbabwe, Diamond and Oil wars in Angola, Crime in South Africa. . Not to mention the problems caused by foreign debt, and affected by international ignorance and exploitation. In this paper I will try to you asses the political economic legacy of colonialism in Africa. he legacy is substantially based on the fact that that the Europeans wanted to extract resources from Africans by any means possible, even if that would lead to the instability in and destruction of the content political, economic, and social institutions up to the present time. The most crucial economic legacy that colonialism left on Africa’s economy was the integration of the African economy into the world economic system. n the Conference of Berlin in 1884-85, europians established the rules by which Africa would be involed in the world economy ,these rules forced africa “to produce raw materials and agricultural goods to meet the needs of Europe’s industries and consumers. what resulted is that traditional agricultural economies were forced to specialize in cash crops meant for export. This transformation led to dependence on foreign distribution and consumption. So there system brought all the economic benefit to the Europeans at the expense of their colonies by making them dependent on the europian seystem.
Presedent Munro, for example, argues that integration into the international economy was the key factor that exacerbated colonial dependencies; He said “Being unprepared to compete in the global market, the integration of these new states into the world economy merely deepened their colonial dependency” This impact of colonialism effected both the internal and external causes of underdevelopment in africa today . Internally, the political and economic structures of the colonial state were bult to meet the needs of the europians ,which left africans with no abilitilty to develop after the fall of the british empire empires.
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And Externally, colonialism created dependencies that african states faced after the fall of formal colonial control, I say formal colonial control because many say that africa now is living in a stage of neo-clonolism since their substanstilly depend till now on many europians countries. So, if we take a step back and take a look at africa we see that all components of modern social and economic life in Africa are a direct or indirect result of colonialsm Its very important to maention that a lot of African countrys economies depend fully on one single export.
The integration of the these economies to the world market made these countries fully dependent on the world price of its single export. Abid Rashed in his essay “The Enduring Impact of Imperialism and Colonialism on Africa ” said “if the world supply of copper were to double because of new deposits in Brazil or Chile; the boom in Katanga and Zambia would quickly come to an end. Similarly, the prosperity or poverty of Ghanaian farmers depended directly on the price of cocoa on the world market”.
And also, many of the African countries produce the same export, escpicially in the agricultural countries in east Africa and West Africa, so colonialsm forced them into an economic system that is based on competition while they don’t have the ability to compete with each other. Africa, as a result of all that, became so weak to the ups and downs of the world market Also, colonialism made African economies end their reliance on local manufacturing in .
Most manufactures currnely are controlled by multinational corporations, and a lot of African countries are welcoming these corporations more and more because they want to get a share of the outsourcing that these corporation are involved in, in places like India and China, to manufacture their goods cheaply. The involment of multinational corporations in Africa might bring some money and revive the economy to a certain extent, but it also increases africa’s dependency on these these corporations and their producat.
These corporations are creating the era of Europeans neo-colonialism in Africa . to the present day, most African countries get their goods from the europians that colonised thri country in the past and rely on these goods to continue surviving ; which make you think that nothing peobably changed except that the direct control of europians and the physical presence of their people Colonialism made Africa get trapped in a system where they will lose all the time , as long as they cant manufactoer their goods locally without depending on the Europeans.
It would be very difficult to get out from the world economy because of there dependence on imports from europians (cars, machines, food) this reliance fro survival was unheard of in pre-colonial Africa. Famines, for example did not exist in pre-colonial Afrca, which gives you a sensed of the huge negative impact that the europians had. ). The importation of cars, machines, food- which was unheard of in pre-colonial Africa is needed for daily survival. There were no famines in Africa prior to colonialism
Also, the ways in which the domestic economies of African states are structured is also shows effect of colonialism on Africa For example, colonialism extended commerce and the money economy into the interior of Africa. This process led to the creation a common currency which limited barter exchange “To trade goods or services without the exchange of money”, which are some of the basic components of pre-colonial African economies. 5- In addition, the commercialization of land, labour and produce o attached money to activities that had been for social use before.
In pre-colonial Africa peasants and farmers would produce for there own use and maybe a little to trade for some goods but farming was for subsistence, there was no conception of production for the global market. No one owned the land in pre-colonial Africa; farmers had use rights over the land but could not sell the land One important economic benefit was the provision of infrastructure of roads, railways, harbours and ports, the telegraph and telephone. The basic infrastructure of every modern African state was completed during its colonial period.
Politics Pre-colonial Africa had a large number of independent states. Some of these states were large and powerful; others were small land weaken. When the Europeans finished drawing their lines of partition, these states had been condensed into about 50 pieces of territory. This (scramble) that happened at the Berlin conference was drawn without any attention or care or consideration of the ethno cultural, geographical and ecological realities of Africa.
Africa had different ethnic groups (tribes) with different historical traditions, cultures and speaking different languages. This destroyed the political development of these social groups; furthermore, ethnic groups were split into fragments in different countries for example the Ewes ere divided by the boundary between Ghana and Togo while akan are found in the ivory coast and in Ghana. The Senufo now live in Mali, the Ivory Coast and in Burkina Faso. This explains the border disputes between Burkina Faso and Mali ect.
Nigeria under colonial rule brought more than a hundred ethnic groups into the colonial sphere. This colonial sphere included the theocracies of Northern Nigeria, the Chiefdoms of the Yoruba, Edo, and Itskiri, in the South, and the Ibo and Ibibio, in the East The scramble also led to the uneven sizes of and unequal distribution of natural resources in African states. Some got a lot of benefit like Nigeria with an approximated area of 357,000 square miles, while Gambia with an approximated area of 4000 square miles. Some states have few boarders e. . Gambia with one boarder whiles others had many boarders e. g. Mali with seven boarders. This makes it difficult to check the problems of security and smuggling. All this clearly would lead to many problems. Ethnic problems, economic problems, and corruption “We must remember that the European agreements that had carved up Africa into states paid little attention to cultural and ethnic boundaries and ethnic groups had little opportunity or need to form political alliances or accommodations under repressive colonial rule. Think of countries such as Canada, which has been trying for hundreds of years with mixed success to accommodate only two linguistic groups ??? English and French ??? and you get an idea of the problems of African states with far greater cultural and linguistic divisions. ” Africa certainly has more than 2 languages and more than few ethnic groups Also, to understand the political legacy we need to understand that many European countries like the British did not have any goals of assimilating Africans to thrir culture or giving them citzinship.
It was a purely economic plan focused on maintaining stability and getting money and resources out of africa . To do that the brits divided colonies along social, cultural, or ethnic lines and maintained control by playing these groups against each other. With this system , the need for direct government intervention from the British government was less common. This worked well for the British government, in that it was cheaper to put select locals in charge rather than import European bureaucrats. And it also prevented any effective challenges to the colonial power
To better understand the affect of that scarmbel on africa Consider the extent to which the Second World War of just 6 years duration has effected the developed world for 2 generations. Africa had 4 centuries of colonialism. When you get that you might be able to imagine how that might have affected the entire social, cultural, political, and economic structure of an undeveloped continent. In some parts of Africa, colonial administration had almost erased cultures and community with an “education” and “civilizing” program that gave Africans only a minimal skill set that served European colonial interests.
Europeans started customary laws; notice the word customary laws to link it with tradition but it was all a new invention; Europeans started costmary land-rights, customary political structure. Like every Europeans belongs to a nation, every African belong to a tripe, the restructuring of these tribes imposed new political geography, which created social higherarchy which enabled ambitious individuals and groups to achieve positions of status, dominance, and wealth that might otherwise have been unattainable.
To counter all that tribalism, some leader started a single party system, but without any decisions or moral check made by shared community (like it used to be in pre-colonial Africa) it turned out to be just another tool of oppression. If we look at African leaders we see that Of the 107 African leaders overthrown between 1960 and 2003 two-thirds were murdered, jailed or slung into exile. Up until 1979 59 African leaders were toppled or assassinated. Only three retired peacefully and not one was voted out of office. No incumbent African leader ever lost an election until 1982.