Colonialism and Post Colonial Ethnic Conflict in East African Countries

1922 Words 8 Pages
From the end of the nineteenth century until the attainment of independence in the early 1960s, the countries of East Africa were under the colonial administration of European empires. After decades of foreign rule which saw unparalleled transformations within society, the post-colonial states that emerged have been blighted by ethnic conflict. It has been argued that the beliefs of British, Belgian and German administrators led them to completely reorganise the societies they governed based on a fictitious ‘tribal’ model, and in the process they invented ethnicity. There is a great deal of debate on this matter, though, and its continued relevance to contemporary politics only makes it more vigorous. Before we go on to analyse to what …show more content…
As Curtis Keim has pointed out, though, for Africans it is most often used in a very similar way to that in which Europeans use ‘ethnic group’. Therefore, when we use ‘ethnicity’ this will be, for some people, synonymous with ‘tribe’; however, it is best to avoid the latter and any accompanying connotations of primitivism and backwardness, so that it is clear along what lines we are talking. Carola Lentz may well have described ‘ethnicity’ as the ‘joker card’, a word that can be introduced at any stage in the game, replacing potentially more ‘problematic’ phrases and assuming the characteristics we require of it, but its introduction is made with the best intentions; in order that we may see ethnicity as a broad and evolving concept that can indeed mean many things simultaneously. Sir Donald Cameron began his post as the British governor of Tanganyika in early 1925. Charged with organising the colony’s administration, he made the following statement in July that year: ‘It is our duty to do everything in our power to develop the native on lines which will not westernise him... We must not destroy... the African atmosphere, the African mind, the whole foundation of his race, and we shall certainly do this if we sweep away all his tribal organisations.’ Cameron’s views undoubtedly reflected those of much of the British colonial administration in East Africa,