Was Colonization That Bad?

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The Rhodes Colossus: Caricature of Cecil John Rhodes, after he announced plans for a telegraph line and railroad from Cape Town to Cairo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is a general and accepted position that colonization and the scramble for Africa was a bad thing. We are constantly reminded that the European powers took advantage of  poor Africans and we communally wag our fingers at them for their greedy ways.It is rather lopsided if you think about it. The methodology is rather deficient in its conclusions that Africans were a happy bunch who pranced around the savannah with lions as their pets before the Europeans came and wrecked the party. The notion that we had wars, violent livestock raids despotic leaders,benevolent rulers and everything in between is something that is seldom explored.

Africans are simply disadvantaged. Few writers with African heritage even dare criticize their own only choosing to take the well beaten path of hurling blame at the colonialists and the neo-colonial structures that have taken root since. it is sad that we refuse to acknowledge that the problem is with us and not primarily with outside influence.

The slave trade is the most graphic and shocking example of European excesses, greed,discrimination and human indignity. Misrepresentation is however rife here. Trans-continental slavery has gone on for centuries mostly concentrated along the coastal belt exposed to the Arab trading dhows .

Strangely subcontinental slavery only existed around the region where the Arab-influenced communities interacted with the ‘pagan’ sub-Saharan African communities south. When sub-Saharan tribes raided each other, the prisoners mostly women and children were absorbed into the communities and assumed the culture and custom of the aggressor.

None of this would however have been possible without complicit chiefs and local warlords. Fellow Africans were the primary source of slaves who were captured from neighboring villages.

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