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Throughout the long history, the European powers and the wider dynamics of globalization have had a huge influence on the continent of Africa. However, in fact Africans themselves have been always playing an important role in shaping their own destiny. From my perspective, Africans have shaped their own destiny both in the positive and negative way, in which I’d like to talk about three key moments that Africans have shaped their own history.
Firstly, one of the key moments that Africans have shaped their own destiny is when local Africans became soldiers and serve for European powers. This started to happen around the late 19th century. As what Parker and Rathbone have mentioned in their book “African History- A very short Introduction”, “conquest was further facilitated and importantly cheapened by widespread use of locally recruited African soldiers.” For me, I think it is very ironic because Africans helped European powers to kill Africans. This sounds very ironic and ridiculous but it truly happened in Africa in the late 19th century. In fact, it is never that easy for colonizers to totally occupy and colonize another country or territory, even for the powerful Great British Empire. However, colonization would become much easier if local people betrayed their land, citizens and country. The authors also show us a picture on page 98 in the book, in which this picture shows us local African soldiers hold European- made weapons and help them to occupy Sudan in 1898. Thus, I think this is a key moment that African themselves have shaped their own destiny as such traitorous actions have really help colonizers to rule this land faster and easier. The move that local Africans serve for European powers was very ridiculous because they had shaped their own destiny in the bad way and a lot of resources were taken by the European colonizers.
Secondly, the second key moment that I’d like to discuss happened around 1908. During this moment, Africans have also shaped their own destiny into the negative direction. According to Parker and Rathbone, “here violence was associated not with the suppression of rebellion but with a desperate attempt to extract wealth in the form of ivory and rubber from scattered populations of the equatorial forest.” and “in 1908, Leopold was forced by international pressure to hand his vas private fiefdom over to the Belgian government.” Before 1908, king Leopold was the king of Congo Independent State and under his control local Africans did not realize the value of protecting the environment and also to resist to pressure from missionaries and journalists. Kind Leopold did not lead his people to manage the natural resources properly, and this is why Africans themselves gave European powers the chances to create bad public voices about them. This had led to King Leopold had to hand over his power over the nation to Belgian government. In my opinion, if Kind Leopold could protect their environment better during that time, then his citizens may have very different destiny and lives. This key moment has huge historical significance because this issue shows us European powers did not even use military, but instead they could rule the African land by only using international pressure and public voices.
Next, in contrast to the ones above the third moment I’d like to talk about is about how Africans have shaped their own history in the positive way. This moment happened in the 1950s, when more and more African countries became independent from the European colonizers. During that time, efforts from African people have really shaped their own destiny to a good direction. Just like what the authors have stated in the book, “in further contrast with the Americas, whose indigenous peoples suffered catastrophic demographic collapse and in some regions cultural annihilation, most African civilizations were robust enough to survive the experience of colonial conquest largely intact.” Thus, from this we can see a lot of African traditional cultural conventions survive after the decades of colonialism. Here I think African people have done a great job in inheriting their traditions and did not get fully westernized. Becoming fully westernized would let their cultural conventions extinct. This moment has huge historical importance because the world needs variety of cultures in order to be beautiful and the world would be too boring if the whole world becomes westernized. Thus, the efforts from African people in inheriting their traditional cultures have really shaped their own history and destiny into a positive direction.
In conclusion, I have discussed three key moments above in which Africans have shaped their own history. No matter Africans have shaped their own destiny positively or negatively and even though European powers have had great influences on this continent, still we can see that Africans have been always playing an important role in shaping their own destiny and more importantly Africans are always the real owners of this beautiful continent.
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