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Imperialism Effects In Africa

In the 1880s, the scramble for Africa began, which brought destruction to the continent. Europeans helped Africa in many ways but it was primarily for their benefits too. The westerners arrived with a main purpose of gaining for themselves with no regards for the effects they imposed on Africa. Although countries like Equatorial Guinea and Morocco improved slightly due to the Europeans, other countries, such as Nigeria and South Africa, suffered greatly.

Morocco didn’t have roads before it became a French protectorate. Roads, buildings, and other infrastructures were constructed when the French arrived in the early 1900s [1] . Railroads were built too to facilitate trade and transportation. France got Morocco started with their industries by building mining plants and influencing their music, food, and culture. Modern day Morocco has a lot of French style bakeries and universities teach math and science in French [2] . What France gave to this striving nation helped them. Various infrastructures were constructed; their culture was enriched by the French’s, and modern day Morocco is heavily influenced by France’s lifestyle and language. France didn’t only leave behind a positive legacy, Spain too left favorable impacts on Equatorial Guinea. Historian and author Tim Harry said that “Equatorial Guinea achieved some of the highest literacy rates amongst local people anywhere in the continent” [3] due to the effects of Spanish imperialism. This is an amazing contribution to the country in terms of education and as historian Tunde Obadina analyzed, “Colonialism laid the seeds of the intellectual and material development in Africans”. [4] Economically, Spain improved the country tremendously as they created more jobs and it resulted in Equatorial Guinea having the highest income per capita rate compared to her bordering countries [5] . With the help of both these European countries, small nations such as Morocco and Equatorial Guinea were able to develop and further narrow the economic gap between their nations and the Europeans.

As France and Spain occupied Morocco and Equatorial Guinea respectively, Nigeria saw themselves occupied by the British in the mid 1800s. Lagos, a fishing village, was colonized and made into a port in the 1960s. According to British historian, A.G. Hopkins, from the University of Texas , “The purpose of these moves was to suppress the slave trade and to encourage instead the rise of ‘legitimate’ commerce” [6] , it means that they would like to continue the trade system without requirement of slaves. They put a halt on the slave trade because they wanted to improve the Afro-European trading relation so that they would be able to extract and export palm oil and palm-kernels, which were palm tree products that grew a lot in Lagos. Their real intentions were to benefit themselves. To achieve this, they balkanized the different oil producing regions in Nigeria and forced the local people to export their oils so that the British could produce things like railways, soaps, cooking fats, and pharmaceutical products [7] . By 1900, 89% of the nation’s export was their oil [8] . Aside from a lost to their economy, the Nigerians suffered a great loss of their lands and people. Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon, the Head of State back then said “I receive complaints daily that up till now Easterners living in the North are being killed and molested and their property looted” [9] . Not only did they lose their lands and people, the Nigerian’s rights were abused. To make governing easier and for the economic interest of the British, indirect rule and separate development policy were stationed in two sections of the country, one being in Lagos [10] . This created a large division in Nigeria as described by Sir Hugh Clifford, the Governor General of Nigeria (1920-1931), “[Nigeria was] a collection of independent Native States, separated from one another by great distances, by differences of history and traditions and by ethnological, racial, tribal, political, social and religious barriers.” [11] Each region of Nigeria developed different lifestyles and ideas. Furthermore, on the New Nigeria Newspaper in 1986, an Itobo Ojobo said that, “It was the introduction of party politics by colonial administration that set off the fire of ethnic conflicts in Nigeria" [12] , describing how the western powers elevated the conflicts in society. In 1967, the Biafrans wanted to fight for freedom and unification, thus began the Biafrans secession, more commonly known as the Nigerian Civil War. Britain sent over aircrafts to support the Nigerians and bombed densely populated towns and villages of the Biafrans. Scorpion tanks ran over troops, and flame throwers and gasoline bombs caused devastating effects that left the country and their people burned and wasted [13] . The civil war was so horrifying that the Red Cross members weren’t allowed in there for months. Famine and disease started developing fast and by the end of the war, over a million people had died and thousands more were displaced into bordering countries [14] . The killings were so mass that historian Marcus Brooks described the scene as “Burned, dismembered and mangled corpses littered villages, rivers, streams and everywhere else” [15] . When the British left Nigeria, they left behind “few rail lines, rudimentary infrastructure and a few thousand graduates”, but other countries faced worst from their colonizers, like Mozambique, who had only about 40 graduates because of the Portuguese [16] . An evaluation of British imperialism in Nigeria would show that they took from the Nigerians for the improvement of their nation. They took Nigeria’s oil to produce products for their people and they banned slavery to improve relationships just so that they can continue with their export. When there was a revolt against their colonization, the British went all out on the African country, destroying lands and civilization. It took about 20 years to rebuild the nation. Economically, Nigeria lost a lot as the British exported a majority of their oils back to their home country and their nation was crushed by the war. Also, Britain contributed to the great seperation of Nigeria by dividing the nation through the oil producing regions. Nigeria lay in ruins because of the British.

South Africa saw itself lay in ruins too due to British Imperialisms. The British wanted the fertile soils, diamond mines, and gold deposits of South Africa, but the Zulu tribe stood in their way. The British sent 30,000 troops led by Lord Chelmsford to battle the Zulu nation. As a result, 15,000 Zulus died reducing them to a small quantity. In the final battle in 1899, the British completely wiped out the Zulus and their civilization [17] . In effect, the rest of South Africa fell under British hands. Over in Kenya, the British fought and killed 12,000 Kenyans during the Mau Mau Rebellion, some of them died in confinement camps [18] . A few thousands more were displaced or driven away from the country, leaving their people scattered in neighboring countries. Europeans didn’t only bring troops over, they brought diseases too. Rinderpest, a European livestock disease killed off 90-95% of the live cattle in Africa and other grazing animals [19] . The lack of grazing animals changed the landscape that made it easier for tsetse fly to nest. The tsetse flies spread a sleeping sickness that killed about 200,000 Ugandans from 1902-1906 [20] . African tribes were very dependent on their livestock; as a result, tribes like the Masaai in Tanzania lost two thirds of their population [21] . The livestock diseases also brought with it epizootic, a lung disease that hit many animals in South Africa [22] . Other diseases from the Europeans that affected the continent greatly were smallpox and malaria because the Africans didn’t have much immunity to them. Disease became a huge factor in the deaths of the African continent, both directly and indirectly; without livestock comes no food, which leads to starvation. However, these weren’t the British’s intentions. One of their main intentions of colonizing Africa was for their resources. Diamond mining was very profitable for the British in South Africa. They used slave labor force (the South Africans) to dig out the diamonds and left the higher and more important jobs like polishing the diamonds to the white people [23] . The mining was harsh work and that separated families, leaving women and children unsupported. Lands needed for mining displaced many people from their homes [24] . To make these lands appropriate for mining, erosion, and deforestation, flattening of mountains took place [25] . The mining released toxic chemicals that polluted the rivers and soils and the dust from the bulldozers and transportation caused air pollution. Families and lands were devastated. Over in Madagascar, French colonialism in 1986 caused deforestation when they started to modify the rice harvesting lands for the growth of coffee beans when the French found out they profited from the coffee more [26] . This resulted in a rice shortage in Madagascar in 1911. To feed themselves, the people started to grow more rice resulting in the burning and clear cutting of the forests, which destroyed it [27] . Although the country tried to improve things by prohibiting shifting cultivation, they permitted forest logging in 1921 which increased the number of deforestation and illegal cutting of trees resulting in “roughly 70% of the primary forest destroyed in the 30 years between 1895 and 1925” [28] . The French imposed policies that made Madagascar importers of foods, which displaced local people from their homes and the resources fell under the control of the French. Coffee plantations caused a lot of erosions and the fertile lands cleared for it and replaced with monoculture (for coffee) was unsuitable for plants and animals from the previous forest to live [29] . Lack of food resulted due to the loss of plants and animals. From wars, diseases, and human and lands abuse, the African continent and its people saw itself devastated by the French and the British.

From a period of about 30 years, the scramble for Africa became the destruction of Africa. Spain left the fewest but most positive effects in the continent. France improved Morocco slightly but their colonization in Madagascar left the tiny island wrecked. Britain found themselves topping the destruction level of Africa. From Nigeria to South Africa, people, lands, and resources were greedily mistreated for the benefit of the powerful European island. Overall, the prints that the westerners left behind were an ugly sight.

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