- There really is no real justification for colonialism, just frail fallacies made up by European nations. It’s almost ironic how quickly the Europeans were to label Africans as “savages,” when in fact they were the ones who had subjected them to decades of monstrous abuse. Their only way to work around such heinous behavior was to create a definition of “civilized” and “uncivilized,” superior and inferior. Such a fabricated mentality was most notably displayed at the Berlin Conference, where various white nations sought out the means to colonize Africa. Much like other historical overtakings, the use of religion was also a strong factor in European control of Africa, as it was widely regarded as an honorable justification to colonization. In addition to social Darwinism being on the rise in the beginning of the twentieth century, a perfect opportunity was at hand for Europe to thrive economically under African exploitation without reaping even an ounce of consequence. Their framework of the entire situation was that Africa was a continent that needed “saving,” and because of their so-called racial and religious superiority, they were within their right to cross over into African boundaries and teach them right from wrong. The sad reality, however, revealed that African natives were brutally enslaved, killed, and exploited in the name of European gain. Colonial control is, at best, synonymous to corruption.
- For colonizing nations, colonialism garners a mass of benefits. A boost in the economy, monetary growth, a savior complex, a comically extensive military budget, power. The list can go on and on, as these nations built the system on the principle that they, the superior power, are the ones who stand to gain anything. In exchange for their labor, colonized peoples in turn were critically underpaid, if paid at all. Their resources, populations, and sovereignty were chipped away and depleted until little to nothing remained. Anyone, even children, were subjected to extreme persecution and violence at the hands of their “saviors.” The “arrangement” made between colonists and the colonized shows much more resemblance to a tragedy.
- The story of King Leopold, in all of its disturbingness, can be indicative of the norms or the perils of colonialism. When looking at any case of imperialism, Europe’s projected intentions were nothing more than a front for a system of relentless exploitation and oppression that worked solely for their economic gain. While there was always a cover-up motive like Christianity or enlightening the world with their “superiority,” the true backbone of such an operation was pure greed and hunger for power. Whichever colonized nations you wish to examine, they all harbor this same detrimental flaw. In the case of King Leopold, such a flaw was taken to an unheard of extreme, wherein the abuse that Africans were subjected to was nothing short of satanic. Under the Force Publique, natives limbs were severed as punishment, women were kidnapped and held hostage, countless people were cruelly murdered or displaced for sport. And yet the cover-up remained intact. Belgium claimed that they were helping a “savage” race find their humanity. In fact, King Leopold claimed that he was helping to end the slave trade in his invasion of the Congo, when in reality, he had enslaved its people as a means of free labor. The system that allowed the Congo to be exploited is a norm of colonialism, and the unimaginable brutality that took place there exemplifies the dangers that colonization can pose to a native people.
- In the short-term, the effects of colonization in Africa included resource depletion, low wages, trading prohibition, labor exploitation and inflated taxation. Even in the long term, the effects of African colonization continue to define the continent to this very day. The poverty and the political instability within each nation can be largely owed to how badly colonialism had damaged economic development and had stifled industrialization, preventing any further financial progress from being made. Not only was Africa economically affected, it was also culturally affected. The very boundaries of current African nations were set by European colonizers, dwindling many unique aspects of African cultures and also grouping together ethnic rivals who do not identify with one another. Looking forward, I think that the responsibilities of colonizing nations are quite complex, and are worth debating. On one hand, to provide reparations for previously colonized countries would be the least that European nations can do, as their exploitation of Africa has rippled throughout centuries, affecting generations of African governments, regions, and families. However, it is worth noting that such a decision would still indirectly submit to the principles of colonization and economic dependence.
To answer the question: With all the detrimental things that happened to the countries in Africa during colonialism, what are ways that the countries can 'bounce back' to a more stable level? Should there be help from others? Should other countries stay out of it? Should the countries who colonized them offer any help or reparations?
Adding on to what I said in question #4, I think that in order to “bounce back,” Africa needs some kind of a road map to economic growth and political stability. Considering that the continent has a fast population growth, there’s a large amount of potential for development, including industrialization, urbanization, agriculture, and so on. Stable governance is an equally important factor to consider. Leaders need to serve in the interest of the general population, and not any specific region or group of people. While I don‘t think that receiving aid or reparations from foreign countries is inherently bad, I do think that retaining independence is vital for the future and stability of Africa.
My question is, What do you think Africa would look like today had it not undergone European colonization?