Notes

18856 Words Oct 26th, 2013 76 Pages
Chapter

4

Colonialism and the
African Experience
Virtually everything that has gone wrong in Africa since the advent of independence has been blamed on the legacies of colonialism. Is that fair? Virtually all colonial powers had
“colonial missions.” What were these missions and why were they apparently such a disaster? Did any good come out of the African “colonial experience”?

Introduction
Colonization of Africa by European countries was a monumental milestone in
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the development of Africa. The Africans consider the impact of colonization
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on them to be perhaps the most important factor in ­ nderstanding the u p
­ resent condition of the African continent and of the ­ frican people.
A
Therefore, a close
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Africa, then referred to as the “Dark Continent,” provided just the right kind of challenge. It held a lot of mystery for European ­ xplorers, who traveled and e observed and recorded what they saw. Many of the early explorers of Africa were geographers and scientists who were beckoned by the mysteries and exotic qualities of this new land. Expeditions of people like Samuel Baker,
Joseph Thompson, Richard Burton, John Speke, and others in the ­nineteenth century, conducted in the name of science and knowledge, served to attract Europeans to Africa. They “discovered” rivers, lakes, and mountains.
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They studied the African people and wrote about them. Of Prince Henry’s exploratory expeditions, including those to Africa, a historian has written,
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“While Henry directed exploratory activities, he placed high value on the collection of geographical knowledge and rewarded his ­aptains ‘in c p
­ roportion to the efforts they had made to carry the boundaries of k ­ nowledge farther,’ thus keeping them intent on the work of ­ xploration.”3 e Without revisiting the debate as to what the Europeans meant by ­ laiming c to have “discovered” Africa’s rivers and lakes, which the Africans had known and sailed and fished from all along, and without belaboring the often extremely

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