The Colonization OfAfrica Examining European colonization and its impact on the Continent of Africa and its people
Words to know • Colonialism is forced control of one nation by another nation. • Imperialism is empire building by taking over other countries’ government, trade and culture.
Foreign History in Africa • Greeks controlled Egypt after the conquest by Alexander the Great- • Ptolemaic Dynasty • Romans ruled all areas along the Mediterranean coastline, including northern Africa • – Mediterranean “Roman lake” • Arab traders converted many Africans to Isalm from the 7th century • Source of slaves for the Americas from the 17th century • But little foreign interest in the interior section of Africa
Why is Europe in Africa? • Europe was present in Africa first because of its proximity to Africa, (especially N. Africa) as people traded all around the Mediterranean Sea. • European civilization experienced a period of unprecedented rapid industrialization around the globe during the last third of the nineteenth century- The Industrial Revolution
What is the Industrial Revolution? • The Industrial Revolution was a period in the late 18th and early 19th centuries when major changes in agriculture, technology and transportation had a profound effect on the socioeconomic and cultural conditions in Britain. • This changed the way things were done…people were no longer doing things the old way • It involved the invention of machines, production methods and railways • People moved from rural areas to urban areas.
Colonial Europe’s Misconceptions of the African Continent and Society • Africa was one country, not a collection of independent states • African society was not organized nor advanced socially or technologically • Africans were little more than uncivilized barbarians • Africans were non-religious heathens • There was no social structure to pre-colonial African society • Colonization was for the good of the Africans and the continent as a whole • Africa on the whole was an uninhabited, inhospitable place (The “Virgin Myth”). • The “taking” of Africa was going to be an easy process with few consequences for Europeans
Five Major Colonial Powers In Africa • Great Britain • France • Portugal • Belgium • Germany • In addition to these, there was Spain, Italy and the Dutch
Basic Reasons for European Colonization of Africa • Geo-Strategic: Since Africa was being colonized it was important that the European powers all get a piece in order to keep up with their enemies. • Religious: Colonization was done on religious grounds…bringing Christianity to the “heathen” Africans. • Mercantilist: Free labor (Africans) was available for the taking, labor that would provide goods and resources for colonial powers that operated on mercantilist policies. • Economic: harvesting the vast natural resources for European good (linked to mercantilist), would provide a boost to the sagging economies of Europe as well as provide markets for manufactured goods (forced buying of European goods by Africans.
Characteristics of British Colonialism • Indirect rule: Basically the imposed government on African colonial territories through Africans. The problem here is that the British used Africans to impose their version of rule rather than letting the African institutional rule take over. • Warrant Chiefs: Puppet Africans who worked for the British system. • Rule of Law: British law, when in conflict with local law always took priority. This again is an example of indirect rule and imposition of rule. • Military influence: When push came to shove, the British were not shy about using their military power in order to make sure that their rule of law was followed. The advantage of guns made them seem superior to the native Africans and contributed to the psychosis of domination by the European powers, in this case, the British.
Characteristics of French Colonialism • Assimilation: This was the dominant method of French involvement in Africa. They chose to attempt to supplant traditional African culture with French culture. Teach the Africans French language, French dress, French mannerisms. • The basic problem: How is one to truly become French if they look different (skin tone)? This cannot be supplanted. Color is the definer. This resulted in a class of people known as Evolues…those Africans who were educated in the French language, manner of dress, and etiquette. The Evolues were the ones who ultimately led the independence movement from French colonialism. • Note: There was an arrogance and an air of superiority by the French over the Evolues…this played games on the mind of the Africans and led to the psychosis that was to plague them after decolonization.
Characteristics of Belgian Colonialism Berlin Conference of 1884 gave Belgium the Congo. Overt exploitation: Rather then the policy of assimilation that the French employed. Dehumanizing: because of the barbaric treatment at the hands of the Belgians. They operated on the dictum, “We will tell you what is good for you, don’t question us.” Force Publique: Peace keeping force in Africa. Their only job was to support the imperial enterprise and forcefully put down any insurgencies. This force was made up of trained Belgians, NOT Africans.
Belgian Colonialism Cont…. • Zappo Zaps: A tribe of tough guys that were recruited by the Belgians to enforce the “Red” rubber campaigns. They were ruthless, physically strong, and not from the area that they were enforcing. This is the signature of Belgian rule…ruthless and only in Africa for monetary gain. • “Red” Rubber Campaigns: Zappo Zaps bringing back a worker’s hand as proof that you killed someone to establish the notion that if the workers didn’t work hard extracting rubber from the rubber trees for the Belgians, they were going to be killed. • Result? The Belgian Congo was the least prepared of all the African colonies for independence as they were given nothing, but were stripped of their wealth and the people killed.
Characteristics Of Portuguese Colonialism • Much like Belgium, Portugal adopted a policy of abuse rather than assimilation or indirect rule. • All Roads Lead To Portugal: Conscript labor, poor working conditions, and social stratification lead to the disembowelment African society in the colonial holdings of Portugal. • Racial Stratification: This idea was central in the Portuguese occupation of Africa. It can be said that race was central in the Portuguese colonial theme. • Vocabulary Words that reflect racial stratification: • Chibolo-the conscript labor force • Indigenas-Africans native to the land (about 97% of the population) • Sipias-These were Indigenas empowered to control the rest of the population
Characteristics Of Portuguese Colonialism cont…. • Assimilados-Indigenas who became “Portuguese” Roughly about 10% of the population. They became Sipias, teachers, supervisors, machine workers. • Mestizos-People of mixed race. These people could go to Portugal. In general, they were better educated and rose up through Portuguese society in Africa. • It should be noted that the Portuguese created a pyramidal societal structure. This was much different than other colonial nations and can be compared to the Indian Caste System in order to understand it. Each group had its place, but one…the Degradados…the lowest in that society had no room to move up the social scale. They can be compared to the serfs of Eastern Europe in the 18th Century or the Pariahs (untouchables) of the Indian Caste System. • TheMestizos, much like the Evolues, were the ones that led the independence movement in the Portuguese territories, with dire consequences as we shall see later.
Characteristics Of German Colonialism • German colonization of Africa is characterized by extremely harsh and brutal treatment of the native Africans • It has come to be known as the German “Iron Fist” • The lasting memory of German colonization is the Herero Rebellion which took place from 1903-1907. In response to the rebellion over poaching of cattle and treatment of native Africans, the Germans poisoned the water supply killing 75-80% of the Herero people. Those that were captured, were not allowed to own land or animals, but were made slaves.
Characteristics Of German Colonialism • There were few instances of preparing or helping the people assimilate or improve themselves through the “system”. The native Africans were seen as little more than animals. • General Lothar von Trothawas the general responsible for the massive extermination of the Herero people • Maji-Maji Rebellion of 1905-1907 (Tanzania) was another instance of a people who wouldn’t take the harsh treatment any longer and thought it better to die than be degraded. In short, the Africans there were nothing more than slave labor in the building of an irrigation system.
Short Term Consequences of European Colonialism in Africa • 1884-85 Berlin Conference established boundaries now considered “sacred” even though it mixed ethnic groups that didn’t want to be mixed or had preexisting ethic hatred/prejudice • Result? African nations have endured decades of internal strife as they try to reconcile some of these ethnic differences
Short Term Consequences of European Colonialism in Africa • Decolonization methods varied according to the European nation that was in control, thereby handicapping some more than others, but making the transition poor for all. • Britain, France: turned over the nations, but kept them dependent on their help in the form of aid, favored nation status. This has created a type of neo-colonialism among many African states that still rely on the British or French. It should be noted here that after WWII, neither the French or British were capable of holding on to their colonial possessions in Africa as they had neither the power militarily or the resources financially. • Portugal, Belgium, Germany: Ethically, morally and and sadly destructive of the African nations that they were in control of. They didn’t leave those states in any condition to take care of themselves. Portugal literally left, taking everything of value with them, and leaving the native Africans to fend for themselves in a world they were not equipped to survive in.
Short Term Consequences of European Colonialism in Africa • Result? Economic struggle because of a reliance on one crop (monocropism), poor education, disorganized and disjointed societies without an identity. One of the great tragedies of the 20th Century that goes ignored in many circles. • Uneven Development: Some African nations such as Nigeria have developed as they have had the leadership and resources (petroleum) to cope in the 20th Century world. Others such as The Congo (DRC) have been struggling to survive largely because of the shape that they were left in when they were decolonized. • Internal Strife: This refers to the struggle between those that collaborated with the colonial powers and those that did not. There is a division there now that the powers have gone. The collaborators know how the game works, but there is resentment by those that resisted. Once again, dividing society.
Long Term Ramifications of European Colonialism in Africa • Disjointed governments that are racked by political corruption, dictatorships, and internal strife • Horrible food shortages because of a lack of government organization • Greedy dictators that use the people for their own means and strip the nation of its wealth for their own use • Over dependence on foreign aid, European favoritism toward former colonies and international involvement in internal affairs
Long Term Ramifications of European Colonialism in Africa • Overpopulation of sub-Saharan nations resulting in overuse of national resources, unrealistic pressure on the arable land, and furthering the poor economic conditions that currently exist • Rise of multiparty systems: An attempt to represent all Africans in a nation in the political process. This has been unsuccessful in most places, with ethnicity being the determining factor in voting rather than the best candidate winning
Long Term Ramifications of European Colonialism in Africa • A loss in untold billions of African resources that should have belonged to Africans. This is money and resources that will never be recovered. The result? African nations that are in debt with almost no chance of getting out of it, creating a situation in which that debt will be passed on to future generations…HIPIC (Heavily Indebted Poor Income Countries).
Long Term Ramifications of European Colonialism in Afric • On the Positive: • Africa for Africans…they have the chance to make their own destiny • A rise of cultural revivalism. Africans are finding their roots and rediscovering their glorious pre-colonial past • Political vibrancy…especially where multiparty systems are in effect. More voices are being heard There is no doubt that European colonialism was more than devastating to the African continent, and the ideas represented here are just the tip of the iceberg. However, Africa and Africans are and always have been resilient and will no doubt recover.