Independence of Africa and Legacy of Colonialism

This is FREE sample
This text is free, available online and used for guidance and inspiration. Need a 100% unique paper? Order a custom essay.
  • Any subject
  • Within the deadline
  • Without paying in advance
Get custom essay

Colonialism does not exist any longer, but neither does the economic self- sufficiency that they had hoped for. Fifty years after all of the tears, sweat and blood that went into for the African sovereignty, the continent has been infested with a huge array of issues and tragedies that endanger African peace and put a halt to economic development. In the 1960s, the continent experienced the initial euphoria of gaining independence. Unfortunately this was followed by fifty years of single-party, patronage, personal and military rule.We will discuss the legacy of colonialism in Africa, the political situation at independence, and the political change caused by African women. Within this paper, we will also account for the main factors that lead to adopt Western-style democracy and multi-party systems to its swift shift to one-party and military rule.

From a certain point of view it is inferred that the continued prevalence of colonialism that even after fifty years of independence it is the reason for the failure for African growth. What is the legacy of colonialism in Africa since its independence? Colonialism replaced its governance with western ones and created a culture of kleptocracy. These colonial rulers chose Africans to put them in positions of leadership, and would appeal to them with status or wealth. This gave many Africans the illusion of independence while in reality they really still did not have control over their governments.

These Africans that were placed in “leadership” positions, continued to have a connection with colonists because they would be rewarded for draining their own states’ natural resources. Realization came about to the Africans, as to how inimical their system was to the African prosperity. The burden fell upon them to renounce the rapacious methods of governance, in favor or more unbiased ones. While the legacy of colonialism is an explanation for Africa’s dire situation, five decades after these effects should be declining instead of continuing to be on this steady growth.

The political situation at the independence was one of the most pressing challenges that African countries had to face, and this was primarily due to the lack of their infrastructure which resulted in more than one issue. European authoritarians boasted on bringing civilization to Africa, but yet when it can time they left their former colonies with little to no infrastructure. Not only were there African countries experiencing overall lack of infrastructure, the area where they lacked the most was in their manufacturing infrastructure. These African countries had these amazing raw materials yet they lacked the ability to add value to these materials. Their previous dependency from their European leaders left these countries in a vulnerable position. The leaders coming into play, such as Kwame Nkrumah the first prime minister and president of Ghana had some political knowledge/independence but completely lacked economic independence which at that point it became meaningless for him the hold power.

As stated earlier, the lack of infrastructure truly trickled down into almost every aspect of these countries attempting to rebuild their lives. Even the oil-rich countries had struggled to produce their crude oil into gasoline or heating oil. Nkrumah, attempted to fix this issue by taking on large projects such as the Volta River hydroelectric dam project, which provided the electricity but unfortunately also put the country into heavy debt. Following the tens of thousands of Ghanians that were forced to relocate due to the construction actually lead to Nkrumah being overthrown in 1966. Along with Nkrumah, we also had Jomo Kenyatta who had decades of experience and Julius Nyerere, who had a few years experience at most. There was often a broad spectrum of experience which led both to new ideas and innovation occurring but at the same time it led to many challenges due to the lack of experience. Shortly after independence the new African states had agreed not change borders in order to avoid any problems arising.

The introduction of “democracy” was for the pure purpose of having a means to control Africa. This concept of western “democracy” is essentially about controlling Africa in order for the west to benefit. Through these means they are maintaining to support their population by being able to deliver African goods, which economically allows them to have a higher standard of living. In order for the western populace to have its luxury lifestyle, it is done through African blood and losing their social peace to benefit the western societies. As long as they were receiving their goods and natural resources that the west wanted, it was not significant whether they would rig, buy, or steal election as long as they received what they wanted. This is not the western “democracy” but this is rather the American “democracy.”

During the 1940s, the political leaders such as Nkrumah and Nyerere were fighting and working toward equality, freedom of expression, and parliamentary democracy in the continent. The constitutional “democracies” that were implemented in Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia very quickly degenerated into a one-main dictatorship, better known as the one party state. By its very definition a single-party or one-party system this a type of political party which forms a government and bans any other parties to have candidates running for election. “Sometimes, the term de-facto single-party system is used to describe a dominant-party system where laws or practices prevent the opposition from legally getting power.”

Some people’s’ reasoning for the one-party system in Africa was that it was a requirement to spur the socialist development. This fascination of the one-party system had become dominant during the 1950s, where there was a major struggle for political independence and freedom from the colonial rule. Since the new leaders rejected both colonialism and capitalism they needed something alternative, which helped with the formation of the one-party system. During this time period, socialism was prominent in Europe, and Africa was taking from their structure. Since the European government implied a one-party rule, what the African leaders did was amend their constitutions in order to create the one-party state.

African politics always put an emphasis on unanimity and unity, which caused most to believe that if they were under one party that Africans would be united. Despite these elections being held under the one-party system, these elections were the type where only one candidate would run to begin with and always win. Having this type of system of justice it Africa is caused for a lenient system for the “elites” and more brutal one for everyone else.

Since the 1960s, the single party method has been glorified by a multitude of African leaders as being the most if not only adequate way of gaining unification and becoming modern. “Kwame Nkrumah, the former leader of Ghana, has stated flatly, ‘One-party rule is the most appropriate political instrument for ending tribalism and for planning development.’” After the gain of independence across all the African countries, they were no longer “culturally homogeneous people living under benevolent chiefs who with the elders under a tree discussing decisions for hours and hours until consensus emerged.” Without having a harmonious semblance, their struggle for independence turned out to be something difficult. It was only after African countries had gained their independence that talks about a one-party system would emerge. The rationale for the need of a one-party political system was “The single party would promote national unity, people’s efforts would be directed toward nation building, not dissipated in fruitless politicking, etc.,”

Before the gain of independence the European and African leaders were thinking that they were going to run these new governments much like the old ones, and for a while after independence they did. After the gain of independence there were many African officers that raised in the level of power. Majority of these officers did have the competency level, but unfortunately they had severely lacked in the experience and training area of their field. With this increase in promotions but lack of knowledge many of these officers had unrealistic goals and views of what they would be able to achieve in their field. The reason for such success of military regimes in Africa is because to this day force is the most common tool for political change and they are the people who are most likely to use force. While they are implementing change to the African countries, it goes back to what was said they lack the training and the intellectual aspect for these complex problems to be solved. The terrible economic situation that plagues Africa would improve if the military conflicts occurring over the past half-century ceased.

There are many factors that attribute to the decline of Africa’s economy, as stated previously. From the beginning of their independence, they were already in a bad position having to take loans out from numerous countries in order to be able to sustain itself. Then take into consideration the effect of the military control and inexperience affecting these countries. Another factor that greatly influencing why Africa’s stagnation is because world-wide income inequality has decreased but is on a rapid increase in Africa. Although African economies are experiencing an overall higher income generation, they are also having to split amongst a constantly increasing population. That being said even with the income increasing quite steadily having a 2.6% population increase per year deflects that increase in economy.

Like the rest of the world, women never were prominent in the political sense. In precolonial Africa women actually did have a prominent role in the political sense whether is was governing kingdoms, establishing cities, launched military conquests, and even founded states. Although women did have a role in the precolonial era, after Africa gained independence the power that women had was severely marginalized mostly due to the adoption of the one-party system. It was in the 1990s where women really came into play in the political sense. Not only were they prominent in different organizations where they would work toward advocating for the female population but they were also in legislatures, as ministers, and as speaker of the house.

Women leaders in Africa such as Constance Cummings-John, Mkamangi Elifuraha Mareakke, Senedu Gebru, and etc., played a huge role in influencing other women and politics across the continent of Africa. When it comes to Africa, women in politics are maybe more advanced than the majority. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was the first democratically elected female in Liberia, and has won two terms in office. Another example is Joice Mujuru a Zimbabwean politician, who was the Vice President of not only Zimbabwe but also ZANU-PF. Those were just a few examples of influential women in politics but there are hundreds to choose from who work to advocate for women’s rights in politics and outside of politics.

Africa countries have been through a lot, but stand the potential to have some social and economic progress. Nothing can happen overnight, it is rather a long process to make achievements. Africa in regards to politics has made bounds and leaps, from being a one-party system to having democratically elected women as their presidents and vice presidents. In the last few decades alone, there have been over 80 elections in more than 40 countries, which is the vast majority. The most important part of all of that was the movement that was made in these elections whether it was the passing of power or even reversing military coups.

Africa has a huge commitment to democracy and their government can move up from here. The economy on the other is a different story. With the ever increasing population and the slowly increasing economy it is hard for the countries to have a strong economy. Not only that but with all of the debt accumulation for from before and currently, makes it harder to improve economically. Growth is on the rise but it does not seem significant due to all of the debt accumulations and other factors.

Africa has made bounds and leaps in many aspects since the gain of their independence. Despite the fact that they did not have a harmonious semblance, they proved that with dedication for democracy things can change.

Cite this paper

Independence of Africa and Legacy of Colonialism. (2021, Jul 23). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/independence-of-africa-and-legacy-of-colonialism/

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Peter is on the line!

Don't settle for a cookie-cutter essay. Receive a tailored piece that meets your specific needs and requirements.

Check it out