The Challenge for Africa

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Ron Wildman
History of Africa 161
April 24th, 2013
Professor Jack Mioff
History of Africa Final Essay

In 1993 Paul Johnson wrote an article titled “Colonialism’s Back-and Not a Moment too Soon.” In this article, he argued that colonialism was a good thing for Africa. He believed Africa was in need of foreign powers to intervene and govern the land. He said that the governments of different African nations were crumbling and the people were uncivilized. However, Johnson failed to recognize the historical legacy of colonialism in Africa, and all that was negatively affected by it such as the people, traditions, and the land. His biased argument drove his focus to overlook the greater violence and seemed to put a positive light on colonialism. Africa suffered, and still does today due to the nature of violent and exploitative colonialism. There were political, economical, environmental implications that affect areas of Africa still today. It is of much importance to talk about the significance of colonialism of Africa and how it has been negatively affected by it. Looking back to the beginning of the semester with little knowledge on the subject, students were assigned to read this article and respond to it. After taking this course, and getting materials from class, movies, discussions, the textbook, and historical novels it is now apparent that colonization had many more negatives than positives when it came to Africa. At first this may have seemed like a good idea, but it became quickly apparent that this would ultimately prove to have many negative effects on African countries. The colonies that invaded Africa showed to be only interested in money, with the exception of settler colonies that wished to live there and govern. . Many problems arose of this such as environmental effects, identity crises, and much violence brought upon Africa. Colonialism had detrimental effects on the diverse African Environments. Africa was that it had environmental affects on the land. The colonial powers forced the African people to farm as quickly as possible resulting in infertile soil, and land erosion. In The Challenge For Africa, Wangari Maathai explained how poor farming techniques of Africans led to infertile soil and land erosion (Maathai 13). The author views an old women incorrectly planting on a hillside. This created a perfect environment for erosion and a risk of no harvest as well. Rain may wash the plant away, and the hillside along with it (Maathai 13). This is important because millions of people as well as this women depend on their crops to feed their families. This is called subsistence farming, farming only enough for ones family, and making no surplus crops to sell in the market. Therefore subsistence farmers earned no money, and in turn, hurt the economy because nothing is being bought or sold at the market. The Native Land Act of 1913 pushed seventy-five percent of the people on the British cape onto seven percent of the land in South Africa. For starters, the land was not suited for farming in the first place. The soil was quickly over-used depleting its nutrients. Because of these environmental factors and poor harvests, the economy of Africa worsened and Johnson failed to recognize this in his article. The economy worsened because of the unfair trade in Africa established by European colonies early on. From the beginning of colonialism, colonial officials mistreated and exploited the Africans in any way that they could. They said that they were there to aid the People, but they did this in an unorthodox way. This is shown in Gods Bits of Wood, a novel written by Sembene Ousmane. Workers went on strike because French officials refused to give African workers fair wages and equal benefits for their dangerous, hard work. They then ban stores from selling their families food and water, and eventually resort to violence. You see things like this occurring throughout the history of Africa. What the colonial...
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