Essays

Colonialism: the Greek gift given to mama Africa

COLONIALISM: THE PANDORA BOX

They set out to bring development to mama AFRICA but what happened “in the colonial society, education is such that it serves the colonialist…. In a regime of slavery, education was but one institution for forming slaves.”[6]

 Since “the black man certainly has to pay dear for carrying the white man’s burden”[7]

This is what an Hausa man will describe as “sun cuce mun” translated as they cheated us. When they started building roads and railways we mama thought it was for her late did she know it was for their ulterior motive to channel a pipe to suck her of all her juicy ingredients.

O! Mama Africa tears roll them my eyes and my heart bleed as I remember the man’s inhumanity to man, the Callousness of humanbeings, the Wickedness of God’s creature the cruelty of our so called saviors, “By the 1890s the Mahdist state was among the strongest in Africa. The British sent in troops under General Horatio Herbert Kitchener, and in 1898 they met the Mahdist forces at Omdurman, near Khartoum. Kitchener won a decisive victory, killing almost 11,000 Africans and wounding 16,000 while the British forces suffered only 430 casualties’ which do I say and which do I forget, what will I say of the exposure of atrocities in Leopold’s Congo Free State. Here, colonial agents and private companies were forcing Africans to gather raw rubber without payment and killing or maiming those who failed to meet quotas. Secondary resistance occurred after the colonizing nation had established its power. It often took the form of relatively spontaneous uprisings by peasants or industrial workers who reacted to many things: taxes, land shortage, labor conditions, livestock regulations, and the interference of missionaries in local customs. In Nigeria in 1929, for example, police fired shots on a group of women protesting taxation, killing about two dozen protesters

“ European competition over African territory in the 1870s heightened once Belgian king Leopold II got involved. Merchants under French government protection had been advancing up the Senegal River with an eye toward connecting that river with the Niger by rail. This connection would open a vast market in West Africa’s interior. At the same time, British palm oil merchants were pushing up the Niger River by steamer, and Anglo-American explorer Henry Morton Stanley was journeying down the Congo River. In his journeys, Stanley had discovered that the river’s upper reaches were open to trade. However, it took Leopold to raise the stakes. For 20 years the wealthy ruler had dreamt of creating a Belgian colonial empire. In 1876 he established the International African Association, an organization that had stated scientific and humanitarian goals but was truly a front to further Leopold’s imperial design. Then, in 1879, when Britain ignored Stanley’s offer to open Central Africa and funnel its trade to the mouth of the Congo, Leopold employed Stanley to do just that. By 1880 the explorer was back in the lower Congo, building road and river access to connect the Atlantic Ocean with Stanley Falls, located about 2300 km (about 1400 mi) upstream. Across the river in the early 1880s, French explorer Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza was exploring and negotiating treaties for France, forcing Stanley to obtain treaties for Leopold. Their claims appeared to overlap near the mouth of the Congo, a land area claimed by Portugal as well.”[8]

In 1830 the British government commissioned Lander to complete the exploration of the Niger. But during the mid 19th C European explorers began to make significant advances into tropical Africa. First among these included Mungo Park, Clapperton and Lander – all in West Africa- and during the middle years of the 19th C exploration extended further ‘Lander headed inland from Lagos, on the coast of present-day Nigeria’ and included the great trans-Saharan sudanic journeys of Barth. Meanwhile between 1841 and 1863 the likes of Livingstone and Grant increased Europe’s knowledge of and interest in the east and south-east of the continent. This opened up the Congo to European influence- an influence which, it was hoped would open a path for commerce and Christianity to destroy the evils of African society and the Arab slave trade. As a result of these and numerous other explorations and journeys, too, many of the great puzzles of African geography for Europeans – notably the course of the Nile, Niger, Congo and Zambezi rivers – were solved within the space of half a century.

Africa soon became a field for the conflicting ambitions of the major European colonial powers. By the early 1880’s these conflicting ambitions were beginning to be expressed territorially. Sections of the coast were being claimed by traders and administrators of one or other of the European power. Missionary, trading, military and administrative activities were beginning to expand. The stage was now set for the European scramble for Africa, finally to be set in motion by the 1884-5 Conference and Treaty of Berlin. This laid down those European colonial claims to territory could only be secured by what was termed ‘effective occupation’; in other words European powers with interests on the African coast to move inland to secure their hinterlands. The subsequent scramble for territory by European powers took place so rapidly that within a decade the outlines of most of the colonial territories- and, significantly, of most of the present independent African states – were laid down.

Egbufoama Chike

Related Post