colonial west africa

Topics: British Empire, Colonialism, Africa Pages: 10 (2744 words) Published: May 7, 2014


Britain’s Continued Influences in West Africa

The main goal of colonialism was to extract the economic benefits for the colonizing empire and England was just that, it wanted to exploit the natural resources and established a profitable setting for its settler colonies in Africa. England’s approach of direct rule, limited the rights to Africans, which affected English rule as well as their post colonial relationships with neighboring countries. With England’s influences in every aspect of African life, European culture was also introduced. Unlike in Europe, the British government would not give Africans political representation until the international and domestic pressures mounted in its finals years of colonial rule.

During this time, other European powers were focused on African assimilation and the call for independence within their settler colonies. England on the other hand, did not put much emphasis into the assimilation of Africans and were more focused on the negotiations for a political independence. Due to England’s assimilation policies and growing domestic pressures, they found it easier to separate from their settler colonies. Yet, some colonies wanted to maintain trade and develop aid with Britain, but with England’s weak emphasis on assimilation they were not rooted in the policies of their settler colonies. Because England lacked this cultural aspect, England’s approach to colonialism affected the institutions that were set in place as well as affected the process of decolonization. Here one can see England’s system of rule and level of influences it had on its settler colonies.

In this paper I will present England’s approach to colonialism with a brief analysis on the resulting effects of British colonization of Africa, and will be using Kenya as my main focus. Than I will give a brief definition of colonialism in the context of Kenya and show the effects of English conquest in the region, as well as the impact that English institutions had on the division of English and local authority. I will also show how English authoritarianism had significant political effects on the governing colonial institutions as well as having long lasting effects on the economic and political policies of the region. The main question I pose in this paper is the future of a developing Kenya has being determined by their colonial past through socioeconomic and political processes and continues to do so today.

Before pre-colonial occupation for thousand of years Kenya’s communities were self sustaining agricultural communities, such as the Agikuyu and the Miji Kenda who developed economies around agriculture. While others practiced pastoral forms of agricultural production like the Maasai and Samburu. The majority of the communities practiced a mixture of crop cultivation and raising livestock such as the communities of the Luo and Abagusii but there were still those who preferred hunting and gathering like that of the Ogiek. During the pre colonial era production in the region was joint consumption not individual gathering. This was also a period when the system of kingship was the fundamental element in ownership which included land, labour and cattle. The idea of labour was largely based on mutual assistance within the community as a whole as well in the family, this meant that everyone within the community or kinship had a role. Due to this structure of labour within the community trade was limited due to the small surplus the regions materials. Because of these limitations trade had minimal influences within society. There was no levels of prestige or wealth, because the communities would redistribute its materials in orders of necessity, which meant that there was no social hierarchy and the community was most important. This in turn denounced the notion of class but if it did exits it would be nothing but the development stages of the notion. The practices of trade and the de-notion of class ensured...
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