Colonization of Africa: Social Impact

Colonization of Africa

There are different approaches to the effects of colonization as it hard far-reaching consequences. Some authors generalize it as an alienation process, as Frantz Fanon stated; “colonization turns to the past of the oppressed people, and distorts, disfigures and destroys it.” But we cannot base our presentation on such a notion when dealing with specific effects of colonization. We are going to focus on the social aspect, which depended on the number of European settlers, among other factors. Activities such as colonially-induced labor migration and the level of health and education facilities by colonial powers also affected how colonized groups related to each other. The main aspect of social disorientation came as a result of ethnic or religious discrimination, which is common in any society but can be magnified with different settings or environments.

African people have always been proud of their culture. Looking at the history of humanity, in times where communities used arrows and spears to defend their territories, many African nations should be on the same level of development as European nations. Many critics and scholars are, therefore, of the view that colonization completely paralyzed African’s development. Even though it seems there have been great goodies brought in as seen in the case of literacy and religion, we can always mention that Africa would have eventually gotten there.

The most affected aspect of Africanism was what defines society. And in this case, a culture very much, even today, defines who an African is. The social aspect and pride of belonging with the black continent were almost annihilated when colonies introduced new cultures. Many were wiped out; others sold to slavery as many others stayed under the harsh conditions of colonial rule. The result is the huge social gap and indifference in people of the same ancestral backgrounds we witness today.

Division of culture

There was very little social development when colonizers set in. They were seeking for settlement and labor for the huge farms, which encouraged slavery at first. And even when slavery was abolished in 1834, there was still apparent mistreatment and discrimination of the blacks by white settles. For instance, 10 to 30% of settlers were linked to high-income inequality. The concentration of land ownership was unfair, as those who owned most land came from colonial rulers. And even as Africans worked on them hard to produced huge profits, they received very little pay as compensation for their efforts. Then set in the importation of labor. Many people were brought in from other regions to work in major factories, creating a strong regional bias through colonially-induced labor.

Ethnic diversity has always been a significant aspect of life in Africa long before the European invasion. Things started taking another turn when administrative rationality and European racism set in. New frameworks were introduced to mark territories forming new state-nations. However, this new administration ignored the diverse elements of African culture. New languages and educational policies were introduced, creating a final barrier for social development in the region. It becomes more of a divide and rule approach to ensure there could be no form of unity that could cause issues for the colonial administration.

The ethnic lines became an individual development ladder for the “newcomers.” Older social patterns were isolated and changed to accommodate the new groups. The government was always in favor of smaller groups being introduced into larger ones, mostly using religious excuses. These transformations ensured the introduction of new religious beliefs, eliminating the traditional African approaches to religion. The result is termed as “plural societies.”

Social borders

Before colonization, Africa operated as one society with no artificial borders and boundaries. Colonialism came with colonial borders, which remained to mark the divisions apparent even today. It is argued that the contemporary borders of African states are a result of mainly colonial origin. “Artificial boarder” takes two approaches. One is the creation of ethnically fragmented countries and two, the separation of people of the same descent into bordering nations. Consider the case of South African, for instance; in Lesotho, not all nationals are Basuto, and many Basuto is not nationals. The Khoisan were the original occupants of the region, but colonial powers nearly annihilated them before being scattered across the Southern African. What we get is varying cultures and social cues among the Khoisan of different nations.

The migration of Bantus into southern Africa, as evidenced by different artifacts from the eleventh century, shows a region united by a lack of boundaries. Today, there are more than 50 African states, each with their systems of governance as introduce by colonial borders. These boundaries have proved to be longer-lasting, without any changes for many years.

Introduction of formal education and health sectors

According to many authors, the health and education sectors, apart from religion, are the most positive impacts of Africa’s colonization. New estimates by Bolt/Bezemer (2009) indicate that sub-Sahara Africa has largely benefited from ‘colonial human capital.’ Despite such thoughts, it is still a fact that colonizers introduced education, not as a way to help the colonized but to recruit workers for colonial administrations. The education systems only focused on negatively painting the native African society and showing the prowess of their colonizers. The blacks could be lured with roles of “civilized rulers” to teach vernacular to foreign kids while ensuring the proper continuation of primary schooling. Higher education was discouraged as such would easily threaten the government’s position.

Missionary activities became the basis of change from Africanism to the shape of the colonizer. This aspect was mostly magnified by the presence of “cultural allies” who facilitate the conversion to colonizers’ religions. Many places become filled with collaborators who were inspired by opportunistic motives. Every area where missionaries stepped, colonizers would or had already passed along the way. Soon, the distance between traditional life and the new religious instructions and expected standards of living become apparent. The ruled were demanded to abandon their ancestral worship and the use of traditional healing methods to accept these new ways of life.

The results of a colonized Africa are more apparent today than ever. Every African nation speaks the official language of whichever country colonized them. Many today do not even have cultural ties to their ancestral homes as modernity and “civilized lifestyle” has taken on. The social aspect of being African is mingled with foreign culture creation a social crisis. The establishment of plantation colonies, introduced by the English and magnified through imperialismColonization of Africa, crippled the African nutrition economy.


1083 Words


Mar 12, 2020


3 Pages

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