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Positive and Negative Effects of Imperialism in Africa

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Imperialism was a time period where a mother country or a larger country would take over and colonize smaller less developed countries. The mother countries took advantage of the underdeveloped countries’ resources and land. As a result, many countries lost independence, however, they also received new technology. Some colonies fought back but others helped the European powers fight in wars. There were many negative and positive effects of imperialism. Some of the negatives were the white race took over the territory of the “lover race” by force, the white people took most fertile land, mines, and used people for labor, and foreigners took wealth, lives, labor and pride out of the countries. Some of the positives were heath and medicine improved which increased the average lifespan and population, there was also an increase in technology, education, and economic opportunities. African imperialism had both positive and negative effects on Africa’s development but overall the negatives outweigh the positives.

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Some aspects of imperialism in Africa had a positive impact on the society and economy. For example, the colonial powers were the reason many economic opportunities opened up. “It was the colonial powers who were largely responsible for the opening of the region to the lumberman, miner, planter, and other men of means without whom its wealth…” (Document 4). Europeans provided the Africans with these opportunities so many people could change to live a new and improved lifestyle. The modern progressive nations also provided many benefits to the Africans such as control of the gardens in the tropics and they helped develop the territory by building roads, canals, railways, and telegraphs. They can also establish schools for improvement in education, and newspapers as a type of entertainment. “Modern progressive nations lying in the temperate zone seek to control garden spots in the tropics. Under the progressive nations direction, these places and yield tropical produce… Progressive nations develop the territory by building roads, canals, railways, and telegraphs. They can establish schools and newspapers for the colonies and give these people the benefit of other blessings…” (Document 8). Since they were given the blessing of colonization and being economized, they were a part of modern culture. With the advantage of schools and education being offered, many people were able to learn about medicine and health and with this, new medications and treatments were created. This resulted in growth in the average lifespan and population. To sum it up, compared to earlier imperialism, the people could now live better-colonized lives.

On the other hand, there were many negative effects of imperialism in Africa. Such as, the white people taking over the native’s good fertile land, the mines, and making them do all of the hard exhausting work. “Most of these wars have been caused by attacks of white races upon so-called “lower races”. They have resulted in the taking of territory by force… In the typical colony, the most fertile lands and mineral resources are owned by white foreigners… All of the hard work is done by natives.” (Document 1). The white people also took wealth out of the country and lived at the expense of the natives. “Colonialism’s greatest misdeed was to have tried to strip us of our responsibility in conducting our own affairs and convince us that our civilization was nothing less than savagery, thus giving us complexes which led to our being branded as irresponsible and lacking in self-confidence.” (Document 2). These are the words from Sekou Toure who was an African nationalist. This is saying that colonialism’s worst decision was to take away the people’s responsibility in organizing their own matters of public interest and convince them that civilization would be good and make their lives better. But, in reality, it ended up making than struggle which made them seem irresponsible. Also, because of the activities of imperialists, the Africans were denied fundamental human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of movement, freedom of worship, and freedom to live a fully abundant life. Because of the lack of education, Africans were not skilled or prepared enough to run working public utilities. All in all, this new imperialism in Africa was not productive and made the Africans suffer even more rather than making life better and easier for them.

The Africans were lied to and told that imperialism would be a good thing, in the short term this could have been true, but in the long run, imperialism did nothing but make them suffer. For example, the colonial powers were responsible for introducing the region to the lumberman, miner, and plater. But, they also failed to provide the Africans with enough preparation and independence to run and keep open public utilities. “…they (the colonial powers) failed to provide the African with sufficient (preparation)… None of the newly independent countries had enough skilled African administrators to run their own… (or) enough African technicians to keep public utilities working…” (Document 4). Also, the Africans thought that the new jobs and opportunities they were offered would help them make more money to live more comfortably but colonies were a negative financial drain on the Europeans. “The struggle for colonies does not result only in cash losses… Italy’s trade with her colonies in 1894-1932 was worth 5,561 million lire (about $1,100 million).” “… her expenditures on colonies for that time was 6,856 million lire. Obviously, colonies cost more than they are worth in trade.” (Document 7). There are positives of imperialism in Africa in the short term but with it always comes a negative in the long term, from the mother countries’ point of view they were helping but all they did was destroy ethnic groups and cause civil wars between smaller countries.

Even though modern imperialism occurred over 100 years ago, it has affected us greatly by shaping our nation and the history behind it. In conclusion, there were many positive and negative effects during the imperialism of Africa. Some of the positives were overall improvement in education, health, and medicine. Some of the negatives were taking land by force, starting unnecessary wars, and taking wealth out of countries. In the long run, the negatives of African imperialism outweigh the positives.  

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