How Did European Colonialism Affect Africa’s Culture

Impacts of European Imperialism in Africa

The Age of Imperialism and the Scramble for Africa had a significant influence on the continent of Africa, and they left a significant legacy that continues to have an impact on the region to this very day. Specifically speaking, European imperialism in Africa took shape as a consequence of a series of important events that culminated in the major European countries gaining authority over huge areas of the African continent. These historical events all had an influence on Africa, both historically and in the contemporary era.

They include: ​​


There was a major historical event known as the Scramble for Africa that occurred throughout the nineteenth century, during which the main European countries carried out competitive operations to acquire African territory as fast as possible. More precisely, historians refer to the spread of European empires into Africa as the ‘Scramble for Africa,’ which is a word that historians have coined. It is referred to as a’scramble’ because the European powers were racing against one other to conquer land in order to extend their empires.

For about a century during this period, major European powers, including Great Britain and France as well as Germany and Belgium as well as Italy and Portugal came to dominate practically all of Africa.

This split and colonization of Africa resulted in a succession of significant repercussions on the natural world, some of which were both beneficial and harmful in character.


As previously noted, historians have highlighted both beneficial and bad consequences of European imperialism’s presence in Africa throughout the nineteenth century. In truth, there were a number of significant beneficial results from the time period in question. First and foremost, the major European powers (Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, and so on) that imperialized Africa founded colonies in order to benefit their own economies in Europe as a result of their actions. As a result, European imperialism in Africa was advantageous to the European nations in that it aided the expansion of their national economies on the continent.

  • Having said that, it is certain that the European exploitation of these resources had terrible consequences for African communities.
  • Examples include the exploitative behavior of Leopold II of Belgium, who was known for exploiting the people of the Congo in order to harvest and sell as much rubber from the region as possible.
  • The creation of significant infrastructure projects in Africa was another good influence of European imperialism on the African continent.
  • While this transportation system was used to exploit the African people, it also had a positive economic impact on the continent since it established a network of routes that were helpful to the continent far into the twentieth century.
  • The advancements in medical and educational technology resulted in the establishment of hospitals and schools in many parts of Africa, which benefited the local population.
  • This contributed to increased food production on the continent while also providing certain Africans with new skills that were valuable to them.

Again, it should be recognized that these great aspects were accompanied with a slew of negative aspects that were equally terrible to the African people.


It is hard to ignore the detrimental consequences of European imperialism on Africa and the African people, despite the fact that there were some beneficial features of European imperialism in Africa. In fact, it is possible that Africa is still suffering today as a result of the consequences of European imperialism throughout the nineteenth century. Africans’ economic, social, and political lives have been impacted as a result of these consequences. When European imperialism arrived in Africa, it had a number of negative consequences, one of which was the eradication of African cultural and linguistic traditions in favor of European customs, culture, and languages.

A common viewpoint voiced by white European colonists and early settlements was that they were superior to nonwhite tribes in terms of race.

In this context, the term ‘ethnocentrism’ is most appropriate, which refers to the notion of assessing other civilizations on the basis of your own worldview.

Identical to ethnocentrism in that it focuses specifically on Europeans and the views of superiority expressed in relation to the timeframe of imperialism, eurocentrism differs in that it focuses specifically on Europeans and the views of superiority expressed in relation to the timeframe of imperialism.

For the uninitiated, Social Darwinism is the belief that some ethnic groups or races are superior to others and so more ‘fit’ to govern over those who are less ‘fit.’ Collectively, these ethnocentric viewpoints of European powers at the time resulted in European settlers in Africa suppressing indigenous African traditions, practices and languages.

  1. Because of this, African civilizations were under tremendous pressure to adhere to European standards as they sought to keep up with the times.
  2. Christian missionaries from Europe were a familiar sight in the late nineteenth-century Scramble for Africa, as they helped to spread the gospel.
  3. The expansion of Christianity in Africa at the period was a blow to African faiths, leading many Africans to begin to turn to European colonial governments as the source of authority rather than their own traditional leaders.
  4. For example, the major European countries were primarily concerned with the discovery and extraction of resources from Africa, such as gold, diamonds, cotton, and rubber, amongst other things.
  5. As a result, the African people were denied the opportunity to develop the resources for themselves.
  6. For example, during his reign as ruler of the Congo Free State, Leopold II of Belgium is infamous for his ruthless treatment of the Congolese population.
  7. In this era, King Leopold II of Belgium and his role in the Congo, which was an area in West and Central Africa, were two of the most momentous events in history.

His violent treatment of the indigenous people, on the other hand, came to represent the darkest characteristics of European imperialism in Africa. ​


It was during the late 18th century when the supply of African slaves to American farms reached an all-time high (Klein 1999). After anti-slave trade laws ultimately brought the Atlantic slave traffic to a halt, commodities exports filled the void left by the prohibition of slave trade. It was in West Africa that the so-called “commercial shift” was accomplished before it reached East Africa (Austen 1987, Law 2002). It was a game-changer because it put an end to the continual drain of limited labor and cleared the door for the rise of land-intensive types of tropical agriculture that included smallholders, community farms, and estates, all of which were previously underutilized.

  1. Colonial rule eased the development of railroads, encouraged enormous inflows of European investment, and compelled fundamental changes in the operation of the labor and land markets in the Americas (Frankema and van Waijenburg 2012).
  2. The African rush propelled African exports to unprecedented heights, yet it is likely that the African scramble would not have occurred if the preceding phase of commercialisation had not occurred.
  3. Africa’s commercial shift was intrinsically linked to the increased need for industrial inputs from the industrialising core in the North Atlantic, which fueled the continent’s economic development.
  4. Exports of vegetable oils (palm oil, groundnut oil), gum, ivory, gold, hides, and skins from Africa increased as a result of this demand, according to African producers.
  5. After the scramble, the spectrum of commodity exports expanded to include basic resources like rubber, cotton, and copper as well as cash crops like cocoa, coffee, and tea, as well as a variety of other products.
  6. In the meanwhile, technical advancements have helped to lower the expenses of colonial occupation.

The data cover the period from the heyday of the Atlantic slave trade in the 1790s to the eve of World War II1, and allow for much more precise analysis of the commercial transition than was previously possible, as well as comparisons of the development of African trade with the development of other commodity exporting regions (Williamson 2011).

  1. Figure 1 illustrates that the pinnacle of this secular price boom occurred exactly at the time of the Berlin conference (1884–185), during which diplomats deliberated how to divide Africa among the European imperialists during the nineteenth century.
  2. While the terms of trade for commodity exporters were improving worldwide in what was previously known as the Third World, the boom was most pronounced in Africa, which experienced the greatest increase.
  3. Figure 1 shows the terms of commerce for Sub-Saharan Africa from 1784 to 1939 (1900=100), in dollars.
  4. Smoothed trend obtained via the Hodrick-Prescott filter with a smoothing factor of 100, as seen in the graph.
  5. Around the turn of the nineteenth century, almost two-thirds of French imperial trade was with Africa, with the majority of it concentrated in North Africa (e.g., Algeria), but a significant portion concentrated in West Africa as well.
  6. With their entry into the West African interior to investigate the feasibility of establishing a railway link between the major commercial centres of the middle Niger delta (Gao and Timbuktu) and their trading colonies along the Senegalese coast, the French set off a series of events.
  7. With little more than two decades to go, almost the whole continent had been partitioned among a small number of European powers.
  8. The long-term secular trend of sub-Saharan Africa’s terms of trade corresponded to the patterns found in other regions of the commodity-exporting periphery, indicating that the region’s terms of trade were stable.
  9. From the beginning until the peak, the buying power of African exports increased at a rate of 3 percent each year.

In the midst of all the talk about new markets, new investment opportunities, new converts, and the moral imperative of abolishing African slavery and replacing it with a commercial model were merchants and industrial entrepreneurs, explorers (such as David Livingstone), and even Christian missionaries.

  1. Ironically, the secular terms of trade boom turned into an equally extended recession just as the battle for resources gained traction in the marketplace.
  2. In reality, by 1940, Africa’s terms of commerce had returned to their pre-colonial levels.
  3. In other words, as commodities became increasingly devalued, African farmers, European planters, and mining companies got more and more specialized in their production.
  4. If so, does this imply that European colonization forced Africa to follow a path of absurd specialization?
  5. A large industrial sector was only developed in white-dominated settler economies that were allowed to function with a degree of autonomy, such as South Africa and Southern Rhodesia, despite the fact that they relied on a mix of protective barriers and African labor coercion.
  6. Manufacturing was incompatible with African endowments and, as a result, with the continent’s comparative advantage.
  7. 2016).

Is history about to repeat itself?

African countries, on the other hand, are responding to the increased demand for commodities by swiftly industrializing a power that is itself fast industrialising.

Mineral exports, particularly oil exports, are once again assuming a larger percentage of African export revenues.

As we consider the solution, it is important to remember that there is a significant difference between now and then.

Africa’s export growth may be more effective than it was a century ago if governments discover methods to invest commodities windfalls in the health and education of the next generation, as well as in increasing commerce with neighbouring countries.References R.

Austen’s African Economic History: Internal Development and External Dependency was published by James Curry/Heinemann in London in 1987.

Austin, G., E.

Jerven (2016), ‘Patterns of Manufacturing Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa: From Col E.


Woltjer (2015) published “An economic explanation for the African rush: the commercial transition and the commodity price boom of 1845-1885,” which is a paper that explains the economic justification for the African scramble.

The structural impediments to African growth?, by E H P Frankema and M Van Waijenburg, was published in 2012.

72, no.

895-926, a study of real wages in British Africa from 1880 to 1965.

“From slave trade to legitimate commerce: the commercial transition in nineteenth-century West Africa,” R.

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Cambridge University Press is based in Cambridge, United Kingdom.


In the autumn of 2015, the Wageningen African Commodity Trade Database, 1500-present, which will be released at the website of the African Economic History Network,, will make these data available for download.

The World Economic Forum does not always endorse the opinions expressed in its publications.

Ewout Frankema is a professor and chair of Rural and Environmental History at Wageningen University, as well as a member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Young Academy.

Professor Jeffery Williamson is the Laird Bell Professor of Economics at Harvard University, where he has worked for more than two decades.

Featured image: A woman walks along the shore of Mombasa, Kenya’s coastal city. Marko Djurica for Reuters.

How Did Colonialism Affect African Culture

It was during the late eighteenth century that the supply of African slaves to American plantations reached an all-time high (Klein 1999). A few years after the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade was finally accomplished, commodity exports filled the gap left by anti-slave trade legislation. It was in West Africa that this so-called “commercial transition” was completed before it reached East Africa (Austen 1987, Law 2002). It was a game-changer because it put an end to the continuous drain of scarce labor and paved the way for the expansion of land-intensive forms of tropical agriculture that included smallholders, communal farms, and estates, all of which were previously excluded from the process.

  • Railway construction was made easier by colonial control.
  • In other words, colonial regimes abolished slavery but replaced it with other forms of forced labor.
  • Revolutionary times have passed since the beginning of the twentieth century.
  • Manufacturing, raw materials, and tropical cash crops all saw increased demand as a result of technological advancements (railways, steamships), a shift toward more liberal trade policies in Europe, and rising rates of GDP growth.
  • This important export was highly prized as a lubricant for equipment and a component in foods and soaps, among other things.
  • The vast majority of these goods were sold directly to manufacturing companies and consumers in Europe, rather than being traded.

There were several of these, such as the Maxim gun, the steamer, the railway, and the discovery of quinine, which reduced the health hazards faced by Europeans living in disease-ridden areas of the so-called “dark continent.” An increase in the amount of goods being traded in Africa The yearly time series of export volumes, export values, commodity export prices, import prices, and net barter terms were created in order to gain a better understanding of the relationship between Africa’s economic transformation and future colonial interference (the ratio of average export to average import prices).

  1. As a result of these data, it is now possible to compare African trade development with that of other commodity exporting regions, and to analyze the commercial transition with far greater precision than was previously possible.
  2. For Sub-Saharan Africa, from the 1790s to the 1880s, there was a sustained increase in the net barter terms of trade, resulting in a commodity price boom that was most prominent over the four decades between 1845 and 1885.
  3. In just four decades, the terms of commerce quadrupled.
  4. Furthermore, the scramble began precisely at the time when African exports hit their greatest ever value in terms of foreign exchange rates.
  5. Notes: South Africa, Mauritius, Madagascar, and Reunion are the only countries that are excluded.
  6. When comparing French and British imperial commerce, the proportion of West African exports was significantly higher.
  7. The Indian subcontinent dominated British imperial trade, and this distinction is consistent with the chronology of the struggle for the British Empire.
  8. When the British arrived, they immediately took control of the lower Niger delta.
  9. Global perspectives on Africa’s commodities boom As in other sections of the commodity exporting periphery, the long-term secular trend in sub-Saharan Africa’s terms of trade corresponded to the patterns found in other regions of sub-Saharan Africa’s terms of trade.
  10. Over a five-year period, the buying power of African exports increased by 3 percent every year on average, from the beginning to the top.

In the midst of all the talk about new markets, new investment opportunities, new converts, and the moral obligation of abolishing African slavery and replacing it with a commercial model were merchants and industrial capitalist, explorers (such as David Livingstone), and even Christian missionaries.

  • However, it is ironic that the secular terms of trade boom turned into an equally protracted slump just as the scramble was gathering momentum.
  • It is true that the terms of commerce in Africa were restored to their levels from 1800 in 1940.
  • In other words, as commodities became increasingly devalued, African farmers, European planters, and mining companies grew increasingly specialized in them.
  • Answering this question with a yes or a no is a reasonable option.

In fact, only white-dominated settler economies that were allowed to function with some degree of autonomy, such as South Africa and Southern Rhodesia, were able to create a significant industrial sector, though this was achieved through a mix of protective barriers and African labor coercion.

  1. A road that had previously been carved in the early nineteenth century was simply followed by colonial trade.
  2. Commodity specialisation was the most effective strategy to utilize international commerce while also moving up the technological and skill ladder in a world of ample land and natural resources and finite labor and human capital (Austin et al.
  3. As of yet, there is no clear winner in the discussion between these two opposing viewpoints.
  4. Rather than using raw force to assert authority over Africa, China is now attempting to achieve official political rule over the continent through diplomacy.
  5. Inflows of Chinese capital are pouring into the country’s real estate, infrastructure, and mining.
  6. Historically, such export booms have proven to be unsustainable; yet, what are the possibilities that Africa will avoid re-entering a cycle of commodity dependence?
  7. African countries are expected to have a combined population of more than 3 billion people by 2050, making it one of the world’s most populated areas.

Africa’s Economic History: Internal Development and External Dependency, London: James Curry/Heinemann, 1987.


‘Patterns of Manufacturing Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa: From Colonization to the Present,’ in K O’Rourke and J G Williamson (eds), The Spread of Modern Manufacturing to the Periphery, 1870 to the Present, Oxford: Oxford University Press, will be published in 2016.

Frankema, and M.

Frankema, J.

Williamson, and P.

Paper 21213 of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).

In “New Evidence from Real Wages in British Africa, 1880-1965,” Journal of Economic History, vol.

4, pp.

A history of the Atlantic slave trade, by H S Klein, published by Cambridge University Press in Cambridge, United Kingdom in 1999.

Law, is published in 2002.

MIT Press (Cambridge, MA) published Williamson, J.

(2011), Trade and Poverty When the Third World Fell Behind.

VoxEU has collaborated with us to bring you this piece.

Join our weekly email to stay up to date on what’s going on.

The Laird Bell Professor of Economics at Harvard University, Professor Jeffery Williamson is a well-known economist.

Pieter Woltjer is a postdoctoral researcher at Wageningen University (Department of Rural and Environmental History), where he is now engaged in research on the development of long-term wellbeing in Africa.

Woman walks along the shore of Mombasa Beach in Kenya’s coastal city. Photo courtesy of Reuters’ Marko Djurica.

European Colonialism in Africa Is Alive

European colonial forces wreaked havoc on Africa’s natural riches and partitioned the continent into artificial governments, resulting in a terrible cycle of murder, poverty, and authoritarianism that has continued to play out to this day. However, to really overcome this heritage, more than just toppling sculptures in Bristol will be required. PROVIDENCE/LONDON – Providence/London is a city in the United Kingdom. After Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was shot and killed by Floyd’s brother, George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum across the United States.

Likewise to the United States, public symbols and monuments were at the core of the controversy.

Students at Oriel College in Oxford demanded (not for the first time) that a statue of Cecil Rhodes, the personification of European imperialism’s brutal extraction of African riches, be removed from the college’s façade.

Protesters in Belgium forced the removal of statues of King Leopold II, who ruled the Congo as his private fiefdom until images of his atrocities sparked an outcry and forced him to relinquish control of the territory, which became a Belgian colony, as a result of which the country became a Belgian colony.

Of course, removing statuary is a one-dimensional solution in and of itself.

In “Historical Legacies and African Development,” we analyze a number of new empirical research, narratives, and case studies that demonstrate that the legacy of slavery and colonialism is still very much alive and well today.

It hasn’t even passed yet.

Slave Trades

Europe’s presence in Sub-Saharan Africa predated the Scramble for Africa, which took place in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and saw the continent arbitrarily divided among colonial powers, by many centuries. Early in the centuries after Christopher Columbus’ “discovery” of the Americas, Europeans developed the transatlantic slave trade. More than 12 million Africans were captured and enslaved over the next several centuries, usually by other Africans, and then sold to Europeans in the ports of West Africa, where they were transported under harsh conditions to sugar and cotton plantations in the Caribbean, Brazil, and America’s southern states.

Other Africans were bound for the trans-Saharan and East African slave trades, which provided labor for the sugar plantations of Reunion and Mauritius as well as for North Africa, the Middle East, and other parts of the world. Subscribe to the Project Syndicate mailing list.

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  • It has been demonstrated in this research that the places most affected by the slave trade – such as modern-day Angola and Nigeria – are on average poorer than those that were sheltered from it by harsh terrain or remoteness from the shore (as in the case of Botswana).
  • Slave trades, for example, had an impact on population dynamics since they targeted males disproportionately.
  • Even now, the educational attainment rates of ethnic groups who were more extensively impacted by historical slave trades tend to be lower than the national average.
  • The result is that Nunn and Princeton University’s Leonard Wantchekon reach the conclusion that “differences in trust levels within Africa may be traced back to the transatlantic and Indian Ocean slave routes,” respectively.

Continental Rape

Though the slave trade began to decline in the early and mid-nineteenth centuries with the abolition of slavery in Europe, the miseries affecting Africa quickly took on a new shape. Rather than serving as a source of labor for colonial expansion in the Americas, Africa evolved into a supply of minerals and raw materials critical to the development of Western industry. With the help of gatherings such as the infamous Berlin Conference of 1884-85, Europeans divided the largely unexplored continent into protectorates and colonies in order to satisfy their appetite for commodities such as gold, silver, rubber, palm oil, groundnuts, and – following the outbreak of World War I – cotton.

According to Lord Salisbury, the British prime minister at the time, “We have been engaged in drawing lines on maps where no white man’s feet have ever trod; we have been giving mountains, rivers, and lakes to each other, only hindered by the small impediment that we never knew exactly where the mountains, rivers, and lakes were.” “We have been engaged in drawing lines on maps where no white man’s feet have ever trod,” he said.

Colonial structures were constructed in an artificial manner, which had long-lasting effects, since most of the lines drawn in Berlin solidified into boundaries that remained in place following independence.

In comparison to any other continent, African boundaries follow latitudinal and longitudinal contours more precisely than any other continent, dividing hundreds of ethnic groups, leaving Hausa in Nigeria and Niger, Maasai in Tanzania and Kenya, Jolas in Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, and so on.

Its five-pointed white star represents the country’s goal to reunite people who had been divided between Ethiopia’s Ogaden area, French Djibouti, the Italian and British Somalilands, and Kenya’s northern districts throughout the twentieth century.

Artifical states are described as “those in which governmental borders do not match with the division of nationalities sought by the people on the ground” according to academic literature.

When Geography Is Destiny

The data we use in our own study incorporates ethnographic maps of ethnic groups’ geographical distributions prior to the declaration of independence, as well as geo-referenced data on civil strife from the last few decades. As a result, a vast body of evidence on the violent legacy of ethnic division has been gathered. Furthermore, as compared to non-partitioned areas along the same border, not only are ethnic minorities’ historic homelands battlegrounds for government troops, militias, and rebel organizations, but civilian violence is also more violent in partitioned areas.

  1. The ramifications of artificial boundaries, however, do not stop there.
  2. 16 countries do not have access to the sea, out of a total of 49.
  3. Fully landlocked nations such as Zambia, Burundi, Uganda, Malawi, and Burkina Faso, among others, continue to struggle to establish trade links with international markets.
  4. The Beira and Nacala lanes in Mozambique, for example, are greatly relied upon by Zimbabwe and Malawi for access to the Indian Ocean; however, these were mostly closed during the country’s civil conflict (1977-92).
  5. Clearly, this has had negative consequences for investment, the supply of public goods, and the modernisation of infrastructure.
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The Great Looting

The colonial past continues to have a significant impact on African society, governments, and economy. When colonization began, ideological opponents as disparate as Rhodes and Lenin believed that the continent would gain from infrastructure investment, the progressive eviction of people from subsistence agriculture, and educational opportunities for its citizens. Even if there appear to have been modest gains in living circumstances and regional development indicators in areas near colonial railways and Christian missionary institutions, the truth remains that Europeans made little direct investment in Africa throughout the colonial era.

  • In contrast to their intended purpose of supporting trade and local industrialisation, railways were constructed to connect agricultural or mineral-rich areas with ports, allowing Africa’s wealth to be exported to Europe and the Americas.
  • In Ghana, which is roughly the same size as the former West Germany, the British constructed just two (non-connected) railway lines, which connected the port towns of Sekondi and Accra to inland gold- and cocoa-producing districts, respectively.
  • Rhodes’ British South Africa Company controlled vast areas of Zimbabwe and Zambia under this arrangement, which allowed colonial administrators to reduce financing costs.
  • Aside from the French Congo, concessionary firms also controlled huge swathes of central and northern Mozambique, Cameroon, and the Gold Coast in West Africa.
  • Congo’s tyranny of thechicotte, a bullwhip made of hippopotamus skin, was to have long-lasting negative implications for the people who lived under it.
  • The ghost of Leopold continues to haunt the surrounding area.
  • The fact that colonial administrators took so little responsibility resulted in the development of various kinds of indirect control throughout time.
  • When concessionary enterprises ran out of workers, colonial authorities would frequently step in to fill the void by instituting a variety of forced-labor programs.
  • Consequently, the early colonial machinery grew into a gatekeeper state with little or no responsibility to the local populations.

Defining the Future

In his insightful advice, Confucius said, “Study the past in order to determine the future.” These recommendations should be taken to heart by former European colonial countries — as well as by Americans, who must contend with their own past of slavery and colonialism – The most heinous occurrences of the colonial era should be included in the basic curriculum for kids. This holds true for the Herero and Nama genocides in Namibia, the Salazar-Caetano wars in Angola and Mozambique, Mussolini’s use of chemical weapons in Ethiopia, British brutality in putting down African resistance, such as the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya, and the cruel forced-labor practices and killings carried out by British and French colonial forces across the continent.

  • They have a responsibility to have a better understanding of Africa and the role that their own countries play there.
  • However, no amount of money will ever be able to compensate for the pain and long-term consequences of previous atrocities.
  • Africa, on the other hand, must look to the future, notwithstanding the significance of the last century.
  • As a result of colonial history, there are significant regional variations in living conditions and educational opportunities.
  • However, it will never be a cure-all.
  • First and foremost, the European Union, the United States, and China must not allow a Scramble for Africa 2.0 to take place.
  • Multinational corporations must be held accountable.
  • However, if this method of interacting with the past is not supported with a constructive alternative, it might be harmful in the long run.
  • Additionally, allocating research money to African-based researchers would aid in the development of a more balanced understanding of the European heritage and its influence on the continent in the present day.

We must understand the history in order to create a future that is beneficial to both Europeans and Africans.

Memory culture for Europe and Africa: A way to deal with the colonial past

The new Humboldt Forum in Berlin will be dedicated to the study of science and technology. The Humboldt Forum finally opened its doors this summer, following nearly a decade of development. Located in the reconstructed Berlin Palace, this museum of art from beyond Europe was meant to be a spectacular showcase of the “enlightenment values” as well as a new outward-looking Germany. A request by the Nigerian envoy to Angela Merkel resulted in a backlash over plans to showcase numerous plundered artifacts, which resulted in resignations and, eventually, a commitment to return some stolen Benin Bronzes.

Until recently, most European leaders were content to ignore or brush aside the colonial past of their respective countries.

Former British prime minister Boris Johnson has made a number of derogatory and racist remarks during his political and columnist careers, declaring once that “the problem is not so much that we used to be in charge as it is that we don’t have any more control.” President Emmanuel Macron angered African leaders almost immediately after taking office when he indicated that the continent was suffering from a “civilisational issue” and that an African Marshall Plan would be impossible to implement because women were having “seven or eight children.” European policymakers’ recurrent blunders in dealing with African countries are due to two factors: Africa’s relative lack of relevance in European policymaking, and Europe’s selective amnesia over its colonial past.

Despite the fact that museums frequently show confiscated colonial objects, there are few public tributes to the victims of colonialism, and nationalists are ready to attack even the most modest attempts at change.

The majority of people in the nations questioned were enthusiastic about contemporary connections with former colonial powers, but they were negative about practically every other player asked, including the United States, China, the African Union, and regional powers such as Kenya and Nigeria.

These disparities are unlikely to be explained solely by the perceived generosity of different actors: in 2017, EU investment in Africa was five times greater than that of the United States or China, while its trade with Africa was double that of China and five times greater than that of the United States in 2018.

  1. As a remedy to these problems, many observers point to Germany’s “memory culture,” in which the legacies of Nazism and the Holocaust were put at the core of post-war national conversation, as an example.
  2. Following the conclusion of World War II, prosecutions of former Nazis were extremely unusual, and prior party membership was rarely a hindrance to a long and successful career in almost any profession after the war.
  3. However, many underlying sentiments of German nationalism and the role of Germany’s army in the war remained essentially unchanged.
  4. Despite Germany’s apologies for the genocide of the Herero and Nama, leaders of a group of five government-aligned chiefs have rejected the apology, claiming that descendants of the Herero and Nama had not been adequately consulted.
  5. All of these efforts were motivated by geopolitical self-interest — memory culture served as a means of assuaging the worries of Germany’s neighbors, and atonement served to pave the road for international support for German reunification after World War II.
  6. Most importantly, these diplomatic efforts came at a political cost, as they enraged the powerful lobby organizations of Germans who had been exiled from neighbouring countries during World War II, and put the country’s far-right at risk of regaining momentum.
  7. Failure to acknowledge the colonial history for fear of alienating people now simply serves to strengthen those who want either forget or glorify Europe’s former empires, depending on their point of view.
  8. With rising recognition of the importance of Africa in European policies, and with African governments now having greater choice in who they partner with, member states should consider taking strong public steps in place of the halting ones that have been taken thus far.
  9. These actions might include the restitution of cultural artifacts, the lifting of strangleholds on African countries’ hard currencies, and the provision of compensation.
  10. These interactions will continue to be defined by issues such as security, trade, migration, and health.

The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) does not adopt a unified stance on any issue. The opinions expressed in ECFR publications are solely those of the authors who wrote them.

GRIN – The colonization of Africa and its effect on African indigenous industry

Berliners will soon be able to attend the new Humboldt Forum. Finally, the Humboldt Forum opened its doors this summer, following nearly a decade of development. This museum of art from beyond Europe has relocated to the newly restored Berlin Palace, and it was supposed to be a great showcase of the “values of enlightenment” and a new outward-looking Germany. A request by the Nigerian envoy to Angela Merkel led in a backlash against plans to showcase different plundered artifacts, which resulted in resignations and, eventually, an agreement to return some stolen Benin bronzes.

Until recently, most European governments were satisfied to ignore or dismiss the past.

Former British prime minister Boris Johnson has made a number of derogatory and racist remarks during his political and columnist careers, declaring once that “the problem is not so much that we used to be in control as it is that we don’t have any power anymore.” President Emmanuel Macron angered African leaders almost immediately after taking office when he stated that the continent was suffering from a “civilisational issue” and that an African Marshall Plan would be unworkable since women were producing “seven or eight children” per woman.

Africa’s relative insignificance in European politics, as well as European selective amnesia about its colonial past, are the root causes of these recurring blunders in dealing with African countries.

The European Union and the African Union issued a joint statement in 2014 that stated that “the misuse and cruelty of European colonialism is of course not forgotten, but it must be set to one side in order to make space for new kinds of collaboration.” Several findings from the Afrobarometer study for 2019-20 indicate that this denial will have serious ramifications.

  1. The EU’s image was generally good, but it ranked behind the United States and China, and its popularity was waning quickly.
  2. A combination of Africa’s relative lack of relevance in European politics and Europe’s selective amnesia about its colonial past have resulted in repeated blunders in dealing with African countries.
  3. However, that method was and continues to be flawed.
  4. There were similar attempts to “leave the past behind us” in the early aftermath of the war, when first attempts at justice and retribution had failed.
  5. Half-hearted attempts to bring about restitution for colonialism in Africa have followed a similar pattern of failure in the past century.

meanwhile, the Belgian king’s carefully worded non-apology for colonial abuses in the Congo was rejected by the human rights minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who stated that “the regrets of certain Belgian officials will never be enough in the face of their obligation to grant reparations to the victims of colonization.” Europeans should take away from memory culture today the successes of the interstate approach that emerged decades after World War II ended: big, bold moves such as Willy Brandt kneeling before the Warsaw Ghetto memorial, Helmut Kohl holding hands with François Mitterrand at a war memorial, and the West German state dropping all claims to Polish territory and providing massive initial financial aid packages and loans to Poland, Hungary, and the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

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All of these efforts were motivated by geopolitical self-interest — memory culture served as a means of assuaging the worries of Germany’s neighbors, and atonement paved the path for international support for German reunification after World War II.

However, these diplomatic efforts came at a political cost, as they enraged major lobby groups of Germans who had been exiled from neighbouring countries during World War II and put the country’s far-right at risk of regaining momentum.

Failure to acknowledge the colonial history for fear of alienating voters now simply serves to strengthen those who want either forget or glorify Europe’s former empires, depending on their point of view.

With increased recognition of the importance of Africa in European policies, and with African governments now having greater choice in who they partner with, member states should consider taking strong public steps in place of the halting ones that have been taken so far, says the European Commission.

For example, restoring cultural artifacts, releasing strangleholds on African countries’ hard currencies, and making reparations are all possible ways.

These interactions will continue to be defined by security, trade, migration, and health.

European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) does not have a unified stance on issues. It is solely the individual writers’ perspectives that are represented in ECFR publications.


Prior to European contact with Africa, both groups had thrived in their own geographical enclaves and produced civilizations that were most appropriate for their circumstances. However, due to ‘unavoidable’ circumstances, Europe was forced to demand that Africa reap what she had not sown. The HOWS are explored briefly in this essay. RAJI Afeez Tope is a well-known Pakistani actor.


For Europeans, the African Continent has long been a region of intrigue and mystery. Despite the fact that Europeans knew nothing about the continent, its people, habits, traditions, and interior as a whole, many of them were genuinely interested in learning more about it. In the nineteenth century, European kingdoms began to pay close attention to Africa, and a large number of scientists, missionaries, and explorers descended onto the continent. They were really taken aback by what they witnessed.

As a result, the well-known “Scramble for Africa” had begun, resulting in a massive colonization of the continent that left enduring impressions and had far-reaching consequences for indigenous peoples throughout Africa.

This argument is supported by the fact that the first law of life – survival – had its fullest expression in the self-sustaining technical endeavor characteristic of African indigenous industry, prior to the arrival of Europeans on their colonial stay on the continent of Africa.

Colonization of Africa: Nature and Process

The majority of Africa was under colonial authority for two generations. In the course of the Berlin Conference (1884–1885), it was determined that European control of African land had to be founded on effective occupation that was acknowledged by other governments, and that no one European power could claim African territory. The “Scramble for Africa” was a result of the Berlin Conference. With the exception of Ethiopia and Liberia, which were both sovereign states during this period, European forces partitioned the entire African continent between 1878 and 1914.

  • (1900-1960).
  • The second goal of colonization is to make it possible for the conquered country to be exploited.
  • Because of changes in the manner of production in Europe, colonialism developed as a result of this transformation (For example, the emergence of industrial revolution).
  • It was the Industrial Revolution that marked a watershed moment in the history of mankind.
  • The slave trade and slavery had, at this point, completed their fundamental job of supplying primitive capital.
  • 5As a result, the Europeans paid close attention to the situation to the best of their abilities.
  • The majority of the territory was characterized by peasant agriculture, with little evidence of a money economy.
  • Slaves, gold, ivory, salt, and other commodities were traded, among other things.
  • It wasn’t until the middle of the nineteenth century that European governments decided to assume administrative control of the territories with which they were trading that the commerce in varied products came to an end.

This is why colonization may be considered to have been with the Africans from the very beginning of European interaction with their people, at the very least in terms of economic and psychological factors, and that it was simply predatory on the indigenous African industry.

Pre-19th Century African Indigenous Industry and the Coming of the Industrial Colonization

Contrary to what is explicitly stated in most Eurocentric literatures about pre-colonial African indigenous industry, the majority of which is negative, one can only speculate as to where names such as Gold Coast, Ivory Coast, and others would have come from if these undeniable treasures had not been greatly worked on by their rightful possessors. A large portion of the pre-colonial African governments’ economies was based on gold, salt, iron, and copper mining as well as bronze sculpting and woodworking.

  1. According to Gaynor 7, “around the 1400s, a system of employing standard weights in the shape of brass figures to weigh the gold dust money was devised in the West African state of Ghana,” according to Gaynor 7.
  2. Onwubiko 8also mentioned that industries like as iron smelting and fabric weaving by handlooms were significant in Ghana around the 11th century.
  3. Buah, in his account of the British’s initial interaction with what is now the Gambia, claims the following: “When the English first visited the Gambia and began to take an interest in the nation, they found it to be well developed.” Towns and villages were surrounded by strong walls.
  4. Some were smiths, some worked with leather, and others were talented potters; the visitors were particularly pleased with their farming methods, which they found to be rather innovative.
  5. Katsina and Kano artisans have previously manufactured high-quality leather, ivory metal, and clay items in their respective regions.
  6. 9It is also common to find examples of African indigenous technical inventiveness such as the Bini, who are most known for the art that they created and which is still in use today.
  7. The Bini artists improved on what they had learned from Ife, and as a result, they created one of the best works in bronze, ivory, and brass that has ever existed.

A portion of this will subsequently be plundered during the 1897 Benin Massacre.

During the eighteenth century, the African states of Dahomey and Asante rose to national prominence.

The Asante society under Opoku Ware had previously demonstrated a willingness to experiment with new ideas by going to the difficulty of unraveling imported silk in order to blend the silk threads with cotton to create the famouskentecloth, which became famed worldwide.

12While Africa’s need for fabric increased fast throughout the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries, there was a market for all of the indigenous cloth produced at the same time as there was room for imports from Europe and Asia to compete.

In this way, the European industry enhanced its ability to create on a huge scale by harnessing the energy of the wind, the water, and the coal that was available.

Eventually, European traders were successful in putting an end to the expansion of African cloth manufacturing, in part because they established a stronghold on the distribution of cloth around the shores of Africa, and in part because they swamped African product by importing cloths in large quantities.

  • In Rodney’s opinion, this is due to the widely accessible low-cost European fabric, which has resulted in “technological arrest” or standstill, and in some cases even regression, 14because people have forgotten the basic method of their forebears.
  • Those who remained in regions that had been significantly affected by slave capture were more concerned with their freedom than they were with the development of productivity.
  • 15Throughout this era, the technical slump and ‘unprofitable’ involvement in commerce have remained the distinguishing characteristics of African civilization.
  • Because of the nature of their business, the creation of machinery was necessitated.
  • 16 As a result, these Africans rose to become the leading promoters of growing European technology and the products that resulted from it, at the detriment of their own.

Several great African leaders, most notably Emperor Lebna Dengel of Ethiopia, Agaja Trudo of Dahomey, and Assantehene Opoku Ware 17, have made attempts to bring European technical knowledge into their respective domains in order to integrate their indigenous knowledge with foreign expertise.

Colonization and African Indigenous Industry: Changes and Adaptation

The European era of overseas discovery brought them into direct touch with Africa, which resulted in the establishment of colonial empires throughout the continent, whose conflicts occupied the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This conflict, which presented itself in a variety of ways through commerce and had a stifling impact on Africans, laid the groundwork for the colonial assault of the nineteenth century. An explanation of the colonization of Africa, as well as its causes, have been explored in previous sections.

During a discussion on the European conquest of Africa, Chinweizu observed that: “When Europe pioneered industrial capitalism, her demands on the resources of the globe expanded immensely.” Apart from acquiring spices for her tables as well as labor for her mines and plantations in the Americas, Europe embarked on a global campaign to take the mineral and agricultural resources of the entire globe for use in her industries.

Her requirement to transport African labor to the Americas diminished.

As a result, Europe felt compelled to transfer her influence into Africa’s interior in order to restructure the continent’s farms, minerals, and markets for the benefit of Europe.

The obligation to restructure and reorient the African labor force in order to meet the requirements and expectations of the exported capital is just a technique of familiarizing them with alien industrial processes that have been imposed on them and which they have no option but to comply with.

  1. In comparison to the African economy and labor force, the capitals transferred and industrial organizational life linked with them were foreign.
  2. The difficulty or dilemma at the time was how Africans might be made to work in new industries and alter their work attitudes to those of industrial life while avoiding insurrection or using the bare minimum of violence to do this.
  3. The only way out was for them to be forced out of their enclave and to abandon their traditional production system in favor of that of their colonizers.
  4. 19And, notwithstanding the language used to justify such control, the logic of administration was governed by the requirements of the metropolitan authority.

To European rulers, the interest of African natives consisted in keeping them happy and content, preventing them from resorting to violence in settling internal disputes, preventing them from committing social vices, and encouraging them to respect authority, law, and order, while all of their energies were channeled into supplying raw materials and markets for factories in Europe.

This does not rule out the possibility of some type of ‘local’ animosity on the part of the Africans, as Adebayo 23 points out: “Because they (the Europeans) had the monopoly on violence, it was not difficult for them to keep the people (Africans) quiet and force them to comply.” As well as, of course, hailing from a vastly more “advanced civilization.” ” There were certain basic practical things that they did as remedies to various difficulties, and it seemed to African simple folk as if it were magic since they were so easy.

All of this contributed to the creation of a protective aura of awe and reverence around them.

They began by seizing whatever land they desired from African use of occupancy, while simultaneously assembling African labor to mine the land for gold, copper, diamonds, asbestos, tin, iron, and zinc, or to farm it for wool, sisal, palm oil and kernels, cotton, cocoa, rubber, and groundnuts, among other crops.

It was accomplished through the adoption by a white ruling race of legal measures intended specifically to compel the individual natives to whom they applied to leave the land on which they were residing and by which they were able to support themselves in order to work in white service for the private profit of the white man.

Because the people live on land and get their means of subsistence or survival from tilling and working the land, it is true that the establishment of a labor supply from among the dispossessed locals is a secondary concern.

They were driven to labor for the colonialists because they needed to provide for themselves and members of their families in order to live. 25

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