Positive and Negative Effects Of Colonial Rule In West Africa

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Positive And Negative Effects Of Colonial Rule In West Africa

Colonialism is an imposition of a more developed culture over a less developed one, backed up by expansionist and economic adventurism. European capitalist countries established political, economic, military and cultural hegemony over other parts of the world which was initially at a lower level and therefore could not resist domination.

Originally, it was the idea of protecting a market for industry at home, to the idea of creating a new protected market for industry by seizing colonies abroad. This was so in the late 19th century.

However, in the early 19th century, ‘colonies’ had been thought of mainly as places like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc. where Europeans could go and settle.

Later, the meaning of the word ‘colony’ assumed another dimension. Some writers now see it as “colonies of exploitation”, where Europeans would not settle but where European money could be used to increase production and create new markets and sources of raw materials.

As enthusiasm for such colonies grew, people began to press governments to establish them and create new markets for national industry which, they expected would be protected from the competition of goods produced in other countries by high tariffs.

Positive Impact Of Colonialism

The positive impact of colonization in West Africa are;

  1. Military and technical aids
  2. Trade relations
  3. Develoment of political parties
  4. Common language
  5. Uniform civil service
  6. Legal system
  7. Commonwealth
  8. Emergence of Press
  • Military and technical aid: Some former colonial territories especially the French territories, receives military and technical aid from their former colonial masters.
  • Trade relations: This was established with Britain and France. For example, Britain is the major trading partner with its four former West African colonies.
  • Development of political parties: One of the impacts of colonialism in British and French West Africa was the development of political parties. Many of these political parties emerged to champion the struggle for political independence.
  • Common language: Colonialism promoted the development of common languages amon g the colonial territories. English was developed and spoken in British tenitories while French developed in French territories.
  • Uniform civil service: The civil service was developed along that of the British and the French systems.
  • Common legal system: There was the development of a common legal system among the colonial territories.
  • The Commonwealth: This organisation was formed to bring together all former colonies under Britain and British itself. They co-operate among themselves in different areas of human endeavour, e.g. sports, scholarship programme etc.
  • Emergence of the press: Another impact of colonialism was the emergence of the press, especially, the print media (newspapers). The press developed and became the mouthpiece of the people in the struggle for political independence.

Negative Effects Of Colonialism

The negative effects of colonisation in West Africa are;

  1. Poor means of communication for local people
  2. Exploitation
  3. Human resources development
  4. African raw materials
  5. Negation of freedom
  6. Relinquishing of power
  7. Set of indigenous cultural goals
  8. Puppets
  9. Education
  10. African culture
  11. Production of cash crops
  • Means of communication: They were not constructed for the benefits of Africans. They were not laid down to facilitate internal trade in African communities. All roads and railways led to the sea. They were built to extract cotton, gold, palm produce, groundnut, cocoa etc.
  • Exploitation: Africa was being exploited by capital produced by African labour. When Lever Brothers took over the Niger company in 1929, they became heirs to one of the most notorious exploiters of the 19th century Africa.
  • Human resources development: Colonialism failed to advance Africa along the path of human resources development.
  • African raw-materials: The industries using African raw-materials were located outside Africa, thus there could be no beneficial backward and forward linkages inside Africa. For example, after the Second World War, Guinea began to export Bauxite. In the hands of French and American capitalists, the bauxite became aluminium and it went into the making of electrical conductors, kitchen utensils, glass etc but in Guinea, the colonial bauxite mining activities left holes in the ground, which led to erosion.
  • Negation of freedom: Colonialism wasa negation of freedom. It could not possibly bring modem political liberation to Africans.
  • Relinquishing of power: Power is the ultimate determinant in human society, being basic to the relations within any group and between groups. When one society finds itself forced to relinquish power entirely to another society, that in itself, is a form of under development.
  • Set of indigenous cultural goals: Africans ceased to set indigenous cultural goals and standards and lost full command of training young members of the society.
  • Puppets: Most states lost their power and independence irrespective of whether they were big empires or small politics. Certain traditional rulers were kept in office and the formal structure of some kingdoms or empires were partially retained but political power had passed into the hands of foreign overlords. Sometimes, some African rulers were chosen to serve as agents of foreign colonial rulers and they were obviously nothing but puppets.
  • Education: The purpose of colonial education was to train Africans to help maintain the local administration at the lowest rank and to staff the private capitalist firms owned by Europeans.
  • African culture: Examples abound in present-day Africa of the insulting and dehumanising treatment of aspects of African culture in the colonial period, based on cultural imperialism and racism. For example, France, did not respect African culture, instead it imposed its own on the people of the colonies.
  • Production of cash crops: They concentrated their efforts in the areas of producing cash crops e.g. cocoa, cotton, palm produce, groundnut etc for industries in Europe without efforts made to encourage the people to go into the production of food crops.
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