I will begin this article by asking a question.
Will most African countries have been a lot better than they are now, if they were not colonized?
Colonization simply implies taking or assuming control of a place, or anything that rightfully does not belong to you, usually by force. In the case of this article, a country.
Colonization has always been a part of life’s circle. Usually as a means for some communities, kingdoms or countries to expand, acquire resources, or even display their strength. The western or modern age colonialism began in the 1500s, when the Europeans discovered sea routes that led to the African continent. The major players in colonization were France, Britain, Germany and Portugal. With France and Britain colonizing more areas.
When the continent of Africa was discovered by the Europeans during the 15th century, and rich natural resources were also found, the quest for conquest and filching of these natural resources was born.
The coming of colonialism, gave birth to a new era of oppression and slavery. This was because the continent of Africa mostly, had no centralized system of administration. They were primitive people, made up of farmers, hunters and blacksmiths. Who lived in small groups of tribes and communities, with a representative as the community leader. These communities were independent of each other.
When their colonial masters arrived, they were forced to give up their lands and work as slaves for their masters. As the course of this administration endured, some of the slaves and natives were promoted by their colonial masters as heads of some regions, subject only to their masters. They now had the privilege of enjoying some benefits attached to their positions, privileges enjoyed by their colonial masters. These natives got accustomed to watching themselves treated harshly, starved, and oppressed, that it gradually became to them a symbol of authority for their colonial masters. So, if you have people subject to your will, living in fear of you, that’s the perceived way to ensure your authority and power as a leader.
With the introduction of education and religion by the Europeans, the natives had to learn to speak the languages of their masters, absorb their masters cultures and policies. Education in the African continent, gave birth to yet another age. An era where power and authority was given to those who have acquired some level of education. In that age, those who could speak the language of the colonial masters were perceived as educated, because they also learnt to read and write. As the level of education in these countries appreciated, new policies were made regarding the country’s resources and government, policies understood only by the learned. Policies influenced by the colonial masters, in ways they benefited from them. A few natives who understood how this administration ran, worked with their masters and also benefitted from it.
Gradually the culture of social class and status was born, the era of natives living as the right hand of the masters making them superior to others. You no longer need to farm, or hunt to feed yourself. With a pen and paper, policies were made that centralized a countries resources benefitting a few who understood the administration. Education empowered and also enslaved.
Sickness is normal as far as life is concerned, and the African continent had their primitive ways of curing themselves of their illnesses. Ways some still practice till this day. But as the world advanced with the modern man, new diseases from origins unknown were identified. Diseases like tuberculosis, Diabetes, AIDS, and so many others, were introduced from far into the African continent, diseases they suffer till this day. The modern world brought about by the Europeans, advanced these countries to some degree, but brought about bigger problems.
Africa was like Adam and Eve when they had not eaten the forbidden fruit. They had enough of what they needed and were contented with it. Being oblivious to their natural resources, they had no need for them. They cured their illnesses in their own way, practiced their own traditions, with little or no conflicts, had no social or political class, they evolved with life at their own pace.
The coming of the European colonizers ushered the African continent into an era they were unprepared for. Forcefully accepting and absorbing cultures and administrations that were alien, and trying to adapt to these new policies, only made them want to be like their colonial masters.
Colonization in most African countries ended between the 1950s and 1960s. And as the world continued to evolve, an era of democracy was ushered in. But unfortunately due to the unpreparedness of most African countries, and the inability of their colonial masters to proper guide them on how a viable government and administration is ran, all they now know is what they had seen and learnt at the hands of their colonial masters. Which includes;
- Enforcing your will on the minority.
- Leadership by force and fear.
- Theft of resources to benefit ones self.
- Putting those loyal to you in leadership positions, to ensure your political strength.
- Ensuring there’s always a conspicuous margin between the different social classes, usually displayed through acquired wealth.
- Hardwork with little or no reward (slavery).
This unpreparedness by most African countries for the modern world and its fast paced change, left them vulnerable to outside influences. Africans adopted the authoritarian system of administration by their colonial masters, a system in which most of them were not properly guided on how to run.
It is true that the coming of the European colonization brought about some good things like education, technological advancements, better form of healthcare and lifestyle. But from observations and the present state of the world, one is forced to ask, if the disadvantages outweighs the advantages.
Today, life and living conditions in most African countries is far worse than before the coming of their colonial masters. From the moment more emphasis was laid on the discovery and importance of natural resources, power acquisition by the production and use of weapons and ammunitions and the need for a conspicuous level of social and political status, all of these has bred more greed, hunger and hate in not just Africa, but the entire world.
By Emmanuel Ikenna Orindu.