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During the period of discovering in the 15th century, the Europeans introduced the idea of colonialism. Colonization is a process of approaching a weaker country by a more dominant country and establishing control over it. Its main purpose was to serve as a source of inexpensive labor, natural resources, or as an aim of opening new trade routes. Therefore, the reasons behind the African scramble were mainly economic, political and religious. After the slave trade was declared as illegal, the European powers started searching of ways to get to money, one of them were the natural resources that Africa provided. Since, the Europeans were aware how wealthy they can get by selling raw materials such as, diamonds, salt, cacao, and gold for a much higher price than the original, their immediate goal was to occupy the region.
Another cause for colonization were the consequences after the industrialization. Problems like unemployment, poverty, homelessness, and social displacement from rural areas arouse, the Europeans thought that the only way to get rid of this “surplus population” is by acquiring colonies and sending them away. Therefore, this brought the idea of establishing colonies in places like Algeria, Namibia, Nigeria, Angola, Zimbabwe and eventually the whole African continent. By 1900s almost 90% of Africa was colonized by seven European powers such as Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, and Italy. Moreover, this period of colonization brought negative and positive effects on both sides, however were the benefits equally as good for the Africans and Europeans, or the treatment was as equally horrible for both nations? No. One nation is always more privileged than other, in this case Europeans colonized Africa only for their own needs, gaining money and territory. However, this period cannot be set aside, since it changed Africa from crude, uncivilized and uneducated nation to simpler and organized, it also brought mechanized pattern of production which helped the typical African man in farming and agriculture. There were many positive effects such as the introduction with Christianity to the Africans which brought more religious mission opportunities, and now there are many states who remained Christian.
However, by introducing new religions and cultures their own culture got diluted, traditions were taken away and their ways of life were destroyed. On one hand the Europeans built new institutions, hospitals, schools, factories but on the other they took all of their raw materials, and they never gave an opportunity for the Africans to learn how to use their own resources. So at the end are these “positive effects” actually as beneficial for the Africans or they are just used as a cover for by the politicians? In addition, it is natural for human beings to look for the positive sides of such an event, but that doesn’t mean to cover the painful truth. A historian Alain Ruscio argues that many political powers try to neglect the idea of how horrible this period was by balancing the situation with the “benefits” that the Africans got. Which is partly true, as mentioned earlier, new hospitals were built, but Algeria for instance, even though it was one of the biggest states in Africa, their perception of medicine was problematic during colonization. The Europeans brought many western physicians, in order to improve the medicine, however the Algerians considered them as colonists and didn’t trust them, therefore despite the professional doctors they took care of themselves by themselves. After a painful experience with modern medicine they fought to bring their Algerian doctors back, whom they trusted, just as Mustafa Kemal Atatürk once said, ‘Entrust me to Turkish doctors’. Thereby, the hospitals that the Europeans built weren’t so necessary, since the Africans didn’t trusted them and wanted to get back to their old system.
Ruscio believes that is inadmissible to sign a balance sheet where, one side didn’t ask for anything just for a simple national existence, where in return they got many deaths. He mentions, the use of air-power against civilian populations, the guillotines that were set up everywhere and the burnings that accompanied Algeria where millions of people were killed and many boys and girls suffered on daily basis. All of these horrible acts cannot be balanced by building hospitals, schools and railroads. Which in fact, France did build railroads but the native Algerians did the work and got tortured for it, and at the end all credits went to the French. They also opened many schools in Algeria and educated thousands of people, but millions were illiterate. In 1962, 80% of the Algerian population were illiterate, and fewer than 10% were educated in colonial schools. Where, they tried to impose European culture, food, traditions and language. This wasn’t only common in the schools, it happened during work, or outside in general.
Additionally, the psychiatrist, philosopher and post-colonial analyst Frantz Fanon, closely witnessed and analyzed the Algerian society during colonization. His book ‘Year Five of The Algerian Revolution,’ illustrates the effects of colonialism on Algerian society. Fanon shows how their traditions and culture transformed due to introduction of Christianity, where they were forced to learn French, and to dress like Europeans abandoning their own traditional way of dressing. In conclusion, there are many positive and negative effects of the colonization in Africa. However, the “benefits”, or the effects that are considered as positive cannot be compared with the treatment, the number of deaths and disrespect towards the African culture. Therefore, diabolical colonial history embarrasses the political powers and they try to balance it out by covering it with the “benefits” of the colonialism.
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