Imperialism is defined as the foreign control on resources and decision making. A country considered to be superior establishes a colony in a foreign land for their own selfish gain. This ability to control foreign land with full submission of the natives is considered as manifestation of power, territories in the 19th century perceived power as having control of as many as possible foreign land.
Europe was keen in establishing territories commonly referred to as colonies all over Africa. They were fighting among themselves to see who would have larger part of the African soil. This process was referred to as the scramble and partition for Africa. Britain managed to have larger part of east Africa while France managed to secure greater part of the western Africa. It was the availability of these colonies that the European economy relied on for growth.
It's notable however that modern day imperialism has in a great way changed from the original imperialism of the early years of the 19th century. Bloody wars were the order of the day; today imperialism has been advanced by the virtual of technology breakthrough. It might not be easy to see a white man oppress a black man in Africa or anywhere in the world.
Capitalism has however replaced earlier forms of imperialism. There is the concept of servitude that exists in modern day society. Imperialism operated under a philosophical teaching that regarded some territories as weak and thus dominance in form of making them their territory would serve to alleviate them. Civilization therefore is a result of imperialism. Below is an analysis of the key benefits of European imperialism on Africans.
Economic benefit for Africans was perhaps one of the benefits that the African people ripped from the Europeans. The main purpose for the Europeans to come to Africa was to outsource raw materials and labor for their mother countries. The Europeans owned vast pieces of land that they developed to levels similar to those that existed in their motherland. It's obvious that such agricultural knowledge was not readily available in Africa. The Europeans enlighten them on farming methods for commercial purposes.
Africans only produced food for their own consumption; the Europeans introduced cash crop farming. Coffee and tea among others were introduced into Africa by the Europeans. They held thousands of acres of land where they planted these plantations. These plantations were the major sources of employments for the black people. Its worth to note that these plantations are still being held by the Africans and provide much of their foreign exchange up to date.
Second impact of the Europeans in Africa was on the education sector. When they first arrived in Africa literacy levels were at zero. There was no formal schooling and people lived in villages. They were peaceful people who cared less about the western world. Early Europeans as missionary introduced formal schooling for Africans. They took those who excelled to study abroad. These people were later to form alliances against the white people which later lead to their independence.
Trade was to a great extent expanded by the Europeans. They introduced money as a unit for exchange which replaced their indigenous batter trade system. Africans were using their colonizers money until they gained their independence and were able to change it to their own currency. International trade was introduced to them by the Europeans.
The Europeans established geographical boundaries all over Africa. The current irregular national boundaries were the works of the Europeans and it has remained so until today. This has managed to maintain regional stability and mutual respect among Africans countries. Britain shaped up the type of government that exists in their former colonies. For example the political system in east Africa is similar to the one that exist in Britain.
Political groupings of former Europeans colonies have been in existence for many years. One of them is the common wealth. This is headed by the queen of England. The common wealth has over the years created a platform for exchange of information and resources. Such groupings have helped African nation's economic development. Trade agreements have been reached such as the COMESA that allows duty free trade within member states. This would not have existed in the first place if imperialization did not take place.
One demerit of imperialization was the establishment of racism and social stratification. Capitalism was planted by the Europeans in the African soil. African used to live in communities that worked together. There was division of labor where men when to hunt and gather will the human were taking care of the family. A clan used to live in a common place and elders governed the villages. However the European killed the socialism that existed before their coming replacing it with capitalism which earlier philosophers such as Karl Marx vehemently rejected, describing it as a primitive accumulation of riches and profit making machine.
British colonies constructed transport system where there was none before. African accredits them for railway construction in almost all their colonies. In east Africa for example they managed to construct a major railway line that connected a number of countries to the coast. This would not be done by the Africans themselves since they would not have the expertise and resources to undertake such a venture. It's such a good thing that up to date after the completion of the railway line, not even an inch has been added. These railway lines continue to serve the Africa people to date.
Communication in terms of telephony was introduced to Africans by the colonizers. This was such a step forward for the Africans since a connection to the rest of the world was realized; note that Africa needed the already civilized society to help them be civilized. Development in technology affected their relations with the African; they could communicate and travel from Africa in less time than before. As Joseph Conrad says in the heart of darkness Marlow was able to go to the heart of darkness using a steam ship.
In the heart of darkness by Joseph Conrad we realize that Kurtz was actually half British and half French, all in Europe he was able to exhibit adherence to the Africans in the heart of darkness. This shows that the Europeans were to some extent reliant to the African showing them that they were human beings like any other Moore (1992) 24.
According to Joseph Conrad the return of Europeans from Africa to Europe would impact the Europeans. He demonstrates that capitalism is the order of the day in Africa where they go for ivory and take it away for sale in Europe. Marlow describes the capitalist who profit from Africa as mean and greedy phantoms Conrad 1981 page 187.
Firchow in his book Envisioning Africa says clearly that racism should be discouraged and not be used as a means of discrimination. According to him race just describes the facial appearance of an individual and not his character or weakness Firchow (2000).page 10
Races could be means of mass extermination if it was to be implemented just like the Jews holocaust where they were killed. Civilization brings sanity in a society and as Marlow suggest Africa was to join the civilized world in a few years time. This has occurred already and almost the entire Africa has been civilized even those nations that were able to resist colonization such as Ethiopia.
Cultural imperialism was evident after colonization where African culture suffered massive erosion. Africans adopted part of the western culture that was not present pre invasion by Europeans. For example dressing, Africans were confident with animal skin ware until the imperialist arrived. Nowadays Africans move at par with western cloth designers. Religion was introduced by the Europeans that was completely absent in early African society Hamm (2005) page 81.
TitleConrad's cities: essays for Hans van Marle Volume 82 of Costerus (Atlantic Highlands) Costerus New Series, Vol 82 Conrad's Cities: Essays for Hans Van Marle, Hans van Marle
Volume 82 of Costerus New SeriesAuthorsGene M. Moore, Hans van MarleEditorsGene M. Moore, Hans van MarlePublisherRodopi, 1992 pg 24
TitleHeart Of DarknessAuthorJoseph ConradPublisherPlain Label Books 1981 page 187
TitleEnvisioning Africa: racism and imperialism in Conrad's Heart of darknessAuthorPeter Edgerly FirchowEditionillustratedPublisherUniversity Press of Kentucky, 2000 page 10
TitleCultural imperialism: essays on the political economy of cultural domination
G - Reference,Information and Interdisciplinary Subjects Series
Canadian electronic libraryAuthorsBernd Hamm, Russell Charles SmandychEditorsBernd Hamm, Russell Charles SmandychPublisherUniversity of Toronto Press, 2005 page 81