It is fair to assume that colonization's disruptions planted the seed for a complete overhaul of Africa’s initial mosaic of diverse societies and its rich cultural makeup. The African geographical map was divided based on a consensus on Western African trade policy regulations, including a redistribution of Africa’s land and resources among European Nations. Post-independence from colonization, European empires ceded control of Africa’s land holdings and resources to foreign multinational corporations. Contrary to popular beliefs, there is no single African culture, and the movement of independence from colonialism was a political resistance, rather than a cultural resistance.
“The colonialists used a number of methods and strategies to compel Africans to submit to colonialism and colonial administration. These included the use of conquest, forced labour, taxation, monetization of he [sic] economy, and payment of low wages.” (Ocheni & Nwankwo, 2012, p.48) The European powers were victorious in colonizing Africa by seizing control of the African economy to support the European economies with the continent’s raw materials and food supplies. The colonizers replaced the traditional barter system by monetizing the new African economy for more straightforward international trade. They used force and created conflict among various African leaders to recruit those who would support the colonization agendas. The colonizers introduced their educational systems to educate, train, and prepare Africans to benefit European-owned businesses and economies. “Before fully embracing colonial education, Africans were good technologists, advancing at their own rates with the resources within their environment. For example, Africans were good sculptors, carvers, cloth weavers, miners, blacksmiths, etc. They were able to provide and satisfy the technological need of the various African societies.” (Ocheni & Nwankwo, 2012, p.51)
One of the significant impacts of Colonialism on Africa was the introduction of Christianity. African life already had a relationship with God and the Supernatural. Myths, folktales, and communicating with the ancestors were among the many aspects of African spirituality. “How far-reaching the change of life related to conversion to Christianity really was, beyond routines and rituals, is difficult to assess. Much depended on the distance between traditional life and the new religious instructions and standards - the new religion demanded not only exclusivity and renouncement of traditional practices such as ancestral worship and shamanistic health rituals as well as non-sedentary lifestyles, polygamy and open promiscuity.” (Ziltener & Kunzler, 2013, p. 304) Another critical impact of Colonialism on Africa was the introduction of Individualism. African cultures are collectivist cultures. Yet, the colonialists used corruption and bribery, for example, to destroy the traditional norms and values of many of the African communities. The colonizers insisted that their morals, values, and the Christian religion were superior to all African morals, values, beliefs, and traditions; they considered African spirituality as Paganism.
Post-Berlin Conference redistribution of land, demand for natural resources, regional conflicts, and genocides uprooted hundreds of thousands of people from these ethnic groups. People from the African Nations may have come together around a common agenda of liberation from European empires' dominion but did not have the resolve to unite as one people behind one nation post their independence from colonization. Meredith (2014) wrote, “Once the momentum to oust colonial rule had subsided, older loyalties and ambitions came thrusting to the fore, often exploited by politicians for their own ends. African leaders became preoccupied with gaining a monopoly on power, preferring to rule through systems of patronage to enforce their control.” (Preface)
Colonialism introduced new technologies, including their monetary system, and religion and values. Yet, following the Independence era (i.e., 1950+), corruption, mismanagement, bribery, and individualism took hold of various African countries' leadership.
Meredith, M. (2014). The Fortunes of Africa: A 5000-year history of wealth, greed, and endeavor. (First edition). New York: Public Affairs.
Ocheni, S., & Nwankwo, B. C. (2012, June 14). Analysis of Colonialism and Its Impact in Africa. Cross-Cultural Communication. Vol. 8, No. 3, 2012, pp. 46-54. DOI:10.3968/j.ccc.1923670020120803.1189
Ziltener, P., & Kunzler, D. (2013). Impacts of Colonialism-A Research Survey. American Sociological Association, Vol. 9, No. 2, 2013, p. 304.