Colonization is defined as temporary extended dominion by some people over others with the intention of exploitation of such people and the resources they possess. Colonization, however, was dominated by oppression and exploitation. In the 1920s, more than 90% of Africa and Asia was under European colonization. The most important aspect of colonization was political dominion. However, there was also economic and social dominion over the colonies. This paper looks at the effects of colonization on development of Modern Africa and the measures that can be taken to sublime these effects.
The political control of the colonists varied from in different colonies and even in different regions within the same colony (Bergesen and Schoenberg 232). A significant problematic legacy left by the British colonial domination was favoritism that was perpetrated through ethnolinguistic cleavages. The British preferred the Acholi in Uganda, the Akamba in Kenya and the Tiv in Nigeria while recruiting military units (Young 105). These preferences created hatred among different tribes the can be witnessed to present. The worst of this can be seen in the 1994 Rwandan genocide that was propelled by preference of one tribe (the Tutsis) over the other (the Hutus) by the Belgian colonizers. Recruitment into the civil service was done in a more or less similar manner as the colonialists preferred the communities whose leaders ‘co-operated with them’.
In Togo, secondary education was given selectively to the Ewe and the Gina-Mina communities, and this gave them an opportunity to capture the top jobs in the country after the colonialists left. These actions of the colonialists created division among the natives that are evident in the job sectors that are marred with ethnic favoritisms. In Nigeria, the colonialists practiced political power on religious lines, and this has contributed to the formation of political parties along ethnic lines. These are the common causes of conflicts in Africa. The administration style of the colonizers of ruling without the consent of the people has been rampantly emulated by most African leaders (Asongazoh 65).
The primary objective of the colonialists in Africa, apart from political dominion, was economic gains. They controlled massive pieces of land such as the white Highlands of Kenya for the exploitation of natural resources. There was monopolistic control of cash crops, mining, and exportation. The British, for example, controlled all uncultivated lands in their territories, and in some cases, there was depopulation of some villages to allow colonists to work on such pieces of land. A good example is evident when the Belgium depopulated several villages in Congo during wild rubber collection (Nzogola-Ntalaja 22). These colonial economic activities were done using forced African labor.
As a result poor working conditions, accidents, and unhealthy living was the norm. It is evident that some elite took over the large chunks of land after the colonialists left and are doing exactly what the colonialists did. Poor working conditions, poor remuneration and regular accidents are typical in South African gold mines and other areas. There were, however, positive effects of colonization, as can be seen in the development of roads and railways that are used up to present in most African countries.
The colonialist divided Africa by creation of artificial borders that most have been used to present. However, these boundaries have created ethnically fragmented countries and at the same time separated the same people into different neighboring countries (Alesina et al. 2). Missionary work that was present during the colonial era led to spreading of Christianity. However, the young who grasped the missionary education and religion were seen to be revolting against their elders who were mostly against such education and religion. There was, therefore, a dividing effect between those against the culture and religion and those supporting it. The aforementioned ethnic division was also planted by the colonialists, and its impact is felt up to present. (Asongazoh 65)
The colonialists ruled without considering the rule of law, and this led to the failure in the institutions of law. The Africans did not have the right to property, liberty, and democracy. The Africans were imprisoned without trial, used chiefs to rule indirectly by giving them authority to act as judges and enforce forced labor. Freedom was not assured in some counties like in French colonies where non-censored publications were forbidden. These are behaviors that are currently seen in most African countries such as Zimbabwe, Uganda and Swaziland where the rule of law and freedom of expression is not guaranteed.
There are several ways the effects of colonization in Africa can be countered. Most importantly, the West should stop their support for tyrant African leaders. African leaders such as Mobutu Seseseko and Jean-Bedel Bokassa were backed by the US and France respectively despite their dictatorship. The invention of the International Criminal court and Transparency international is a step in the right direction in an attempt to curb the tyrant African leaders. However, much structural adjustments must be made in the African countries to diffuse overreliance on international support. Such structures include strong and vibrant judicial systems, reputable electoral bodies and working land policies. The trade policies of most African countries are retrogressive and hence huge impediment to economic growth. Misuse of human labor by the leadership can be effectively countered by development of strong trade unions.
Both political and economic governance should play a pivotal role in turning the events to make Africa better than it was left by the colonialists.