Opinion — Dismantling Ongoing Realities of Colonization in Africa


There may be typically the hazard inside Africa and elsewhere to speak in regards to the lingering results of European colonisation on the continent in empty generalisations. We offer on this paper some concrete examples as an example the continuing realities of colonisation on the continent, and to actively search means to undo these impacts together with accepting accountability in cases the place these ex-colonial societies have internalized the mentality of coloniality.

What’s in a Title?

Present names of many African nations nonetheless reveal how these nations had been considered in the beginning as items of a colonial challenge. International locations names had been determined and imposed by the colonists upon arriving on a land and declaring such land their very own. These names crystallize how European colonists solely considered Africa from their very own dehumanizing and patronizing perspective, that solely centered on what was helpful and intelligible to them.

A few examples include:

Ivory Coast/Côte d’Ivoire (based mostly on the export of ivory);
Cameroon (from the Portuguese ‘Camaroes’ which implies ‘shrimps’);
Sudan (from Arabic “bilad as Sudan” which implies “land of the Blacks”); Nigeria (from Niger (the river) – space); Guinea (thought to come back both from the Portuguese phrases ‘Guiné’ or an arabized model of the Djenne phrase “Ghinawen” they each check with “Black Individuals” or “lands of Black individuals”). A number of nations like Swaziland, Namibia and Ghana have modified their nation identify by both reverting to their Indigenous identify (e.g. The Kingdom of eSwatini) or selecting a brand new identify as an unbiased individuals. 

Railways and Principal Business Roads

It’s noteworthy that in lots of African nations the primary roads and railway go from the inside of the nation to the closest coast and could be dated again to the colonial period. The exploitative challenge of the colonists revolved round bringing pure sources to the coast and transport them out of Africa. If there was no export on the time in a selected space, these roads and railways would not have been created. Certainly, there was no curiosity for the colonists to encourage intra-continental buying and selling or commerce. To this present day roads and railways that goal to attach Africans and their sources to one another are nonetheless few and all comparatively latest.


Hospitals had been first established in small numbers and primarily to supply fundamental companies to staff of the colonial regime “as a result of some minimal upkeep of the employees’ well being was an economic investment.”
Entry was not designed for native individuals who weren’t a part of the native elite working within the colonial regime. The lack of access to healthcare and healthcare points grew to become normalized in any distant, rural space the place no exploitative actions had been carried out.

Furthermore, colonization resulted in a unilateral framing of health solely from the western viewpoint which led to a biased reporting of African ailments,
with little funding in psychological well being, preventive medication, public well being, well being promotion and well being training, and dentistry.

African traditional medicine was additionally antagonized and banned. Conventional medication continues to be not thought of as being equal to western medication regardless of having by no means been completely studied and despite the potential of growing an African cultural explanatory model of diseases. It’s telling at many ranges that within the midst of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, no African authorities tried to develop vaccines.

The ‘Curse’ of Faith  

Faith or combative identities stays a vital side of these institutional and cultural forces that had maintained the colonialist power. Disguised underneath a so-called “necessity to civilize”, faith was used to advance Western hegemony and antagonize non-Western individuals and their spirituality by presenting them as inherently inferior, evil, and in want of salvation. This sort of pondering is oblivious to the truth that international religions took root in lots of African nations as a result of the Indigenous individuals already had an concept of a Supreme Being or God. 

The irony of Europeans assessing African spiritual and religious beliefs as evil once they had been themselves concerned in dehumanizing, kidnapping and trafficking African individuals for hundreds of years, appears nonetheless to not be questioned to this present day by many African followers of those religions.

Monoculture of Money Crops 

The colonists pressured particular nations to supply just some forms of crops and made not possible a diversified agriculture in African nations. This was engineered in order that completely different colonial powers would have the monopoly on particular crops and commerce them with different consumers. As soon as manually produced in African nations, any refining course of that concerned factories was carried out in Europe. As Walter Rodney puts it: “It was an inescapable function of colonialism as an entire, based mostly on the understanding that the worldwide division of labor aimed toward expertise within the metropoles and low-level manpower within the dependencies”. A long time later, this assertion reminds correct.

The Invention of the African Lady

In her ebook, ‘The invention of women’, Oyeronke Oyewumi presents how in pre-colonial Yorubaland, social relations had been largely based mostly on age and seniority and never on gender or organic intercourse.

There may be, nonetheless, proof that when Britain invaded and colonized Yorubaland, patriarchy and the submission of ladies to males was current in Britain.

In Britain, entry to energy was gender-based […]. The system of oblique rule launched by the British colonial authorities acknowledged the male chief’s authority on the native stage however didn’t acknowledge the existence of feminine chiefs.

It’s no coincidence additionally that international British colonialism on this planet was facilitated via the company, which is basically a capitalist establishment for “manpower”. 

Not solely had been Black individuals seen as inferior to White individuals, Black girls had been additionally seen as inferior to Black males and to each White women and men.

As Oyewumi puts it:

African females … had been dominated, exploited and inferiorized as Africans along with African males after which individually inferiorized and marginalized as African girls.

Whereas boys and males acquired an training that ready them to use for positions within the colonial regime, girls and women’s education focused on embroidery and stitching.

Turning into the Colonizer 

An extended-lasting impression of colonialism is the identification disaster and trauma it triggered in the way in which Black pores and skin and Africa are perceived or talked about. Colourism, that’s favouring Black individuals of lighter hue whereas stigmatizing and marginalizing Black individuals of darker hues, could be traced again to slavery and colonialism.

Throughout slavery a lighter hue typically indicated that any individual was blended and subsequently the offspring of a White particular person (sometimes from non-consensual sexual relations with enslaved Black girls). This may consequently warrant Black individuals with lighter pores and skin relatively more privileges than enslaved people with darker skin.

As whiteness grew to become more and more related to civility, magnificence, and desirability, if a Black particular person was of a lighter hue, blended or not, they would typically face less discrimination and will really feel nearer to whiteness and the alternatives reserved for White individuals.

Centuries of normalized anti-Blackness and whiteness worshipping throughout colonialism have unsurprisingly resulted in skin-bleaching and hair strengthening practices that are nonetheless common and normalized to this present day on the continent.


Any expression that solely ties Africa or African nations to inferior requirements, or that justify inappropriate behaviours (e.g. corruptions, ethnic bigotry, violence, and so forth.) by saying “that is Africa”, additionally illustrate long-lasting internalized colonialism as they oversimplify and generalize African practices and cultures to affiliate them solely with unfavorable connotations and undesirable traits. As Dr. JE Kwegyir Aggrey mentioned, it’s time that Africans and those that are dedicated to Africa’s liberation from a colonial paradigm internalize that “solely the very best is sweet sufficient for Africa”.

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