Colonization of Africa

Topics: Colonialism, Africa, Slavery Pages: 5 (1536 words) Published: March 20, 2013
Conquests, colonization, the slave trade, and the spread of consumerist society have shaped and formed the grounds for which developing countries find themselves today. The countries of the developing world subjected to colonialism have been faced with a number of impediments throughout the years which have hindered social and economic growth, and laid the foundation which bred cultural conflict. Colonialism, however, too bought Western civilization and all its attractions to underdeveloped countries during the process of colonialism. The following essay will highlight the effects of colonialism on the developing world from an economic, political and social perspective.

The colonization of Africa has a long history, and can be explained as being set in motion as early as 200 AD, with the migration of Bantu speaking Africans from central Africa to the south of Africa due to the agricultural boom and overpopulation of tribes, known as one of the largest human migrations in history (ref). Following the migration of the Bantu language group was the spread of Islam from 750 – 1500 AD, which was first accepted in West Africa by the Dya’ogo Dynasty. Following this spread, the establishment of empires throughout the continent transpired which created extensive trade networks throughout North and West Africa, allowing a peaceful medium through which Islam could broaden through the merchant class (Akosua Perbi, 2001). The Trans-Saharan and internal trade occurring in the same time period contributed to the diversity of inhabitants as a result of the ongoing slave trade through Ghana from the 1st to the 16th century.

The first stage of European colonialism occurred during 1500 – 1880, and was based on the gold and slave trade. The Portuguese arrived on the coast of West Africa in 1471 to find a rapid trade in slaves and other goods between Ghana and its neighbouring coastal countries (Akosua Perbi, 2001). Portugal then continued to partake in the trade, and for 100 years were the only European country which traded directly with Ghana and its neighbouring countries (Kimble, 126). Wars often waged between neighbouring countries, with which captives were possessed as slaves and traded in Ghana for gold (Kimble, 126).

The most important phase of colonialism, known as the European scramble for Africa, occurred during the 19th and 20th century following the collapse of the slave trade and the expansion of the European capitalist Industrial Revolution (Iweribor, 2002). It appears that three factors drove the push for European Imperialism, including economic, political and social motives.

Driving the economic factor, the demand for assured sources of raw materials and the search for guaranteed markets and profitable investment outlets were the catalysts to the European scramble and the resultant conquest of Africa (Iweribor, 2002). The political force derived from the impact of inter-European power struggles between Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Portugal and Spain too played an important role in the process of colonisation. To exhibit superiority, acquisition of territories around the world including Africa was essential to national pre-eminence. The social factor presented the third major element in the push to colonise. As a result of industrialization, extreme social problems appeared in Europe that included unemployment, poverty, social displacement and homelessness as not all people could be absorbed by the new capitalist industries (Iweribor, 2002). The acquisition of colonies enabled European countries to send this excess of population into what would then be established as settler-colonies in Algeria, Tunisia, South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Angola and some central African areas like Zimbabwe and Zambia (Iweribor, 1).

The interplay of these economic, political and social factors led to the crazed attempts by European agents to declare and establish a share in African territory for trade and claims to...
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