Colonialism is the act of taking control over another country to exploit its resources for economic gain. Colonialism goes way back to ancient Egypt, Rome, and Phoenicia. It initially started in Europe before it got to various countries worldwide. Moreover, it was known for slavery and against human rights. Let’s look at the pros and cons.
Pros of colonialism
1. Lead to civilization: Colonialism had a major impact on civilization in African countries. It changed the way of living for many Africans who were educated. It was a transition between traditional education that upheld cultural beliefs and modern education that embraced skills and knowledge. It changed how Africans would conduct themselves, from living in wild bushes and forests and depending much on cultural aspects to modern dressing.
2. Reform in the healthcare system: Before the coming of white settlers, Africans depended on cultural practices that included traditional medicines, which were not that effective. The infant mortality rate was high because of a lack of knowledge of the cause of the ailment. Some ailments that would have been treated or prevented in modern medicine were left unsolved due to illiteracy. The colonizers helped train specialists and taught Africans about various kinds of diseases. There was a gradual transition from traditional to modern medicine with various drugs and vaccines.
3. Development of infrastructure: The coming of the Europeans to Africa was a game-changer in terms of infrastructure development. There was the construction of roads, railways, the production of electricity, building schools, churches, and the construction of various factories. The development of roads made it possible for goods to move from the port to the interior destinations. Churches and schools helped to educate on the new religion.
4. Restored women’s rights: Women had limited political and cultural power in traditional African society. Men ruled with much impunity, and since women had limited rights, they were victims of abuse and harassment. The whites came up with a few policies that supported women and protected their rights.
5. Reduced illiteracy level: When the missionaries came, they spread Christianity and found ways to do that. It was through educating Africans on ways to write and read English. Africans embraced modern education and formulated new ideas that helped change society.
6. Low poverty gap: Several people from colonized countries were taken to advanced colonies to work there. It helped to narrow the poverty burden in those African countries. Some people were able to get jobs in the army or administrative roles and were able to enjoy financial security
7. Reforms in politics: Colonialism helped enhance a well-established government system. There was the transition from an inherited form of leadership to choosing leaders by voting.
8. Liberation: People could fight for their freedom through colonization, which led to liberation. With the attainment of liberation, nations could explore markets abroad to make their economies successful.
9. Increased food security: Colonialists introduced manufacturing and processing of food instead of traditional methods. It was a great revolution as people were able to acquire industrial skills that reformed the agricultural sector and increased food security
10. Improved defense networks: Colonialism made countries find ways to improve defenses to their borders. A reform in technology helped develop better ammunition that would aid countries to defend against their enemies in case of an attack.
Cons of colonialism
1. Adoption of western culture: Coming of Europeans to Africa made Africans abandon their traditional culture and adopt the western culture. Furthermore, Africans forgot their commitment to their traditional values and respect to leadership from the elders in the village. There was an emergence of racism and prejudice against non-western people in western societies.
2. Land grabbing and territory marking: Colonialism had devastating effects on non-western people. Especially in African countries, people lost large pieces of land to colonialists who used force and ruled with much impunity. Even after losing the land to the colonialists, people had to work on the white farms to earn a living and survive. The colonists also marked their territories and put boundaries where they ruled.
3. High taxes: Colonialists subjected the non-westerners to forced labor and taxed them highly even after giving them farm jobs.
4. War and conflict: Colonialism had devastating effects on war and conflict. People lost their land, resources, and even lives at war. Colonialism was a major contributor to world war I and world war II, with nations trying to get more subjects to colonize and expand their territories.
5. Emergence of new diseases: Coming of the Europeans to Africa was great as it caused a revolution in medicine. However, new diseases such as yellow fever and malaria emerged, which caused the search for cures and prevention.
6. Overdependence on western countries: Colonialism caused economic dependency syndrome where African countries had to rely on western countries for aid, grants, and loans to develop their economies. It was due to colonialists taking away the resources found in Africa.
7. Slave trade: When colonialists came to Africa and realized it had immense wealth in terms of resources, they needed human resources to help exploit the resources. As a result, it caused the start of the slave trade. Africans were sold to other nations to assist in western farms and war.
8. Introduction of capitalism: Leaders who the colonial masters selected to rule the locals continued to do so after the colonialists left. They got their hands on the wealth left by the colonialists. They ran major companies that run up to date and contributed largely to the economy, although for their benefit.
9. Effects of urbanization: Colonialism was great as it brought about urbanization. However, urbanization had bad effects, such as overpopulation that led to slums and high crimes in the cities.
10. Introduction of land ownership: Before the coming of the whites to Africa, the land was owned by the community. The whites introduced boundaries and individual land ownership. The community would participate in land preparation, planting, and harvesting. Furthermore, they would share their harvest.