Throughout history, Europe has had a greater affect on the world politically than any other continent. Africa endured colonialism for centuries and in some areas the continent is still affected by European governments. There have been positive effects of colonialism on Africa, but the effects have been far more destructive than beneficial, especially in the countries of the Sub-Saharan region. Though advancement and technology is finding its way to Africa slowly but surely, massive poverty and disease linger and looks as though it will remain for decades to come.
Colonization still affects Africa today, politically and socially. The horrors of slave trade undoubtedly brought violence, disparity and a legacy of war to the continent of Africa. Slavery was abolished in most of Europe in the early 1830’s and with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, slavery was banned in the United States in 1863. However, the affects of slave trade continue to plague the Dark Continent. Slavery was apart of Africa long before the Europeans came; however, the Europeans introduced a new way of gaining slaves that proved to be detrimental to African culture.
Europeans used African intermediaries to raid villages, enslaving men and women (Blij, Muller, Winlerprins 2009). This turned tribes and nations against each other and the friction between certain people groups still exists in some African countries today. According to scholars, “such divisions culminated in the creation of paramount (superordinate) and subordinate groups with the former enjoying considerable privileges from the colonial rulers” (Mulinge and Lesetedi 1998).
Those who believe that colonialism and slavery benefited African people don’t know much about pre-colonial African history. Before European’s arrived, Africa had great kingdoms, many of which were democratic, liberal, and for the most part peaceful (Africa: South of the Sahara 103). When Europeans arrived, they brought along with them their political systems and placed dictators in charge of countries.
“Western Democracy may seem like an advantage for Africa, but it brought trouble in many ways. “A minority turned into radical centralized despotisms in which ocal authority was dismantled without being democratized”(Burnell 2007). The Europeans distorted the political system of Africa and took advantage of native kings for their own interests. According to African political scientist Mugabe Makaipa, the affects of colonialism haunt Africa socially. Through centuries of domination and rule by foreign colonies, there arose a notion that “foreign or white” is better. He brings up the point that many countries such as Ghana are known for being extremely hospitable to foreigners but harsh on it’s own people.
He states that the government is more than happy to grant contracts and concessions to foreigners than give its own citizens a chance. He gave the example of when President Clinton visited Ghana for seven hours. The government spent money to clean the city and make it nice for the Presidents arrival. This event left citizens of Ghana with the impression that they were unimportant unless being visited by foreigners. While there are many negative affects of colonialism in Africa, there have been some social and religious benefits brought by Europe.
According to a friend of mine from Kenya, “If it weren’t for colonialism, we might still be praying to a tree to protect our families, and criminals convicted of a crime may still have to endure torture instead of a fair trial by a judicial system. ” There is no doubt that modernization has been beneficial to Africa in certain ways, yet, colonialism has brought unintended consequences and blowback upon the continent, while the west has capitalized on their investment in the country.