Mid Term Africa Mid-Term Essay

1.      What I believe is a huge factor has will always dictate African politics was the imperial rule. Society as a whole was shaped into many social categories such as ethnic, religious and racial.

Colonial powers set up infrastructures that bettered their interest not the colonial state.  Europe’s main interaction with Africa the sixteenth through the eighteenth century was due to slave trade. The nineteenth century started with a decline in slave trade and Europe then began to flex it’s muscles in Africa and influence the countries interior having already done so with coastal establishments. This time brought much tension between groups especially with technology advancing with newer weapons. Spain, Germany, Portugal, France, Italy, Belgium and Britain all had their hands in Africa and nearly divided the country.  During the Berlin Conference of 1884 and 1885 the principle of “Effective Occupation” was born. This title basically stated that a colonial power must demonstrate its control over their area and if they failed to demonstrate control over that state then another imperial rival could and would take it away.A large concern for the colonial powers was how to effectively control their states on a budget and in turn have their countries profit and flourish, then after paying their colonial power back in taxes and other such things.

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But many powers did not see a return on their investments until after world war2. African labor also became very lucrative with crops such as peanuts, cocoa, sisal, cotton and a great deal of other products.  Of course though everything that they made with their crops basically went to paying for taxes and with minimal wages it was a lose, lose situation for Africa and its people.  I also came upon an article online which stated the justification of the colonial system.

It claimed that the framework that was laid out under European supervision created a good government for Africa. Secondly they also said that the Europeans were mainly introducing their culture and carried out a “civilizing mission” throughout Africa. In my opinion you can’t really say or justify what happened to Africa during colonial times and how it affected and continues to affect Africa today. We can’t go back and change what happened but only look at it and learn from it. Africa deserves all the aid packages and debt forgiveness packages because how else are they going to overcome the handicap of colonialism.Currently today there are 53 independent and sovereign countries in Africa.

Since colonial times African countries have dealt with a number of handicaps including things such as violence, authoritarianism, corruption, genocide, and constant instability. Many of the issues today actually have to do with the true borders of countries. African boundaries were made up during colonial times from the Europeans and these countries are constantly fighting for what they believe is their territory.

Making the regions even more unstable. Republics are currently the majority type of government in Africa. Republics operate under some type of presidential system.

There are some countries that are democratic but few are able to sustain this type of government due to many circumstances. Some which include coups, that are uprising from people within the country or in the government. And generally do produce military dictatorships. A great deal of post colonial leaders were of a military background and were not highly educated and not fully aware of the importance of understanding how to properly instill and run a government. Another possible source of instability can be attributed to the marginaliztion of ethnic groups in many countries. Many people or potential leaders use this as a way to gain power amongst the people for political gain. One would think that the military would be an effective way to maintain order but in fact from 1960 to 1980 in Africa there were over 70 coups and 13 presidential assassinations, that were documented. The cold war also didn’t help the situation at all in Africa.

During the cold war countries were expected to align themselves with one of the two super powers and one country, Ethiopia in particular decided to align itself with the former soviet union and a famine did occur in the country with thousands of people dying. But where was the Soviet Union, not there for any or any form close to the aid the people needed.If I could change or make a plan to change or revitalize Africa, I would do many things differently. I would actually ask for aid from all of the worlds super power in the form of education, military, and food.

I think the biggest thing is that to many people are going uneducated not because they don’t want to learn but because it just isn’t an option, especially for women. I would also implement health and aware classes in all schools and make it a requirement for employers to also do this. I truly believe that education and awareness would truly help wipe aware the ignorance and a lot of the violence in the country. Along with education I think a military presence from multiple countries from not just one country but many would be a great asset to the current military in the countries. Not only by them being there would possibly save lives but they could also help train and aid the current military and make them more efficient in protecting and securing their countries.

And last I believe that some type of package of food or a food supply or kitchen as we have in the US would greatly help the people of many impoverished nations live longer and healthier lives. The effort to change Africa can’t come from only one country but many. It will not change overnight and I don’t expect it to. But a little help and change can go a long way.


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