Photo credit: Credit: Ed Kashi/VII – CPI News Corp
Over the last few hundred years, the pan-African societies and culture has gone through many changes and much adversity. One of the most historical changes that has been detrimental to the continent has been the division of people, land and cultures during the European colonization of Africa. The division of land was imposed by imperialist European countries and leaders. The Dutch, Germans, French and English, to name a few, through imperialist ideology and policy are responsible for shaping much of the cultural dynamics in Africa. The landscape has been divided into very distinct cultures and countries within the continent. This division has caused much of the human suffering and ongoing regional conflicts. In this piece we will examine two major impacts of how imperialist ideology and policy shaped the overall culture in Africa. The two main topics we will focus on are conflicts stemming from socio-economic policy and the conflicts resulting from the incorporation and division of religious doctrine.
Africa has always been known for its beauty, resources, nature, scenery and endless open landscapes. Between the year of 1870 and early 1900, Europeans discovered these enriching entities and through aggressive diplomatic pressure, military invasion and hostile suppression, set forth toward the motherland with intent to occupy the land. The Europeans were motivated by the economic, political and social factors that were in place at the time of the discovery. As the invasion ensued and new lines were drawn in Africa, what was called “the great scramble” for Africa, would change the continent forever. One of the outcomes that has caused much conflict was the socio-economic policy imposed by the British. The new policy of governing laws, taxation and social processes led to the the dilution and dismantling from the African culture. The specifics of this occurrence was illustrated well by Dr. Moses Ochonu who is an associate professor of African history at Vanderbilt University.
“Modern Nigeria emerged through the merging of two British colonial territories in 1914. The amalgamation was an act of colonial convenience. It occurred mainly because British colonizers desired a contiguous colonial territory stretching from the arid Sahel to the Atlantic Coast, and because Northern Nigeria, one of the merging units, was not paying its way while Southern Nigeria, the other British colony, generated revenue in excess of its administrative expenses.” (Ochonu, 2017).
What we learn from this was the British built an infrastructure that stretched over various communities of people. The infrastructure and systems that were built were unmanageable, unrealistic and were not sustainable by the global leaders that enacted these policies. After years of Britain’s influence on Africa’s culture and policy, not only were the systems not working but when the British fleeted after Africa gained its sovereignty back, it was too late. This event led to wars that are still going on to this day. Not only was this socio-economic policy and strategy a disaster, it also lead to other cultural impacts like the influence of new from the Muslim conquest to the crusades, the surmounting war in Africa religious doctrine.
Throughout history, religious indifference has caused the death of millions of people throughout the world. One of the present day conflicts in Africa that stem from the European imperialist colonization are the wars caused from religious inequality and domination. … Affected natives converted into Christianity because colonizers presented their religion as a sign of protection and prosperity in one hand and declared false to the natives’ culture and tradition on the other hand.” (Mehood, 2017). After Africa gained back its independence, the lines that were once drawn, vanished. With no infrastructure, the transformation of religious doctrine and the arrival of new religions ideology and policy, Africa is facing severe consequences.
“As a religious problem, the problem of suffering is, paradoxically, not how to avoid suffering, but how to suffer, how to make of physical pain, personal loss, worldly defeat, or the helpless contemplation of others’ agony something bearable, supportable – something, as we say, sufferable.” (Geertz, 1973)
Furthermore we can see that global imperialism, even with good intention can have detrimental impacts on a culture and society. There is an old saying that goes “the road to hell is paved with good intention.” (N.a). Having good intention to colonize land that possesses what one most desires can oftentimes lead to destructive dehavior and cause unforseeable damage. In the case for Africa, it has been just that. In the midst of a land that is beautiful, there is much pain and suffering. This suffering as we can now see stems from a failed socio-economic policy and a division of religion doctrines by the means of an imperialistic ideology.
Written By: Steven Strauser
Pennsylvania State University – Organizational Leadership
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