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Colonialism: the extension of sovereignty
of a nation beyond its borders, to colonies
or administrative dependencies.

What actually took place: exploitation of

resources, labour and markets of the
territories occupied, with the outcome of
creating also social, cultural and linguistic
ties. N.P.
This political trend has often been justified
on the basis of a pre-supposed inferiority
of the colonised people, thus conveying
the idea of a moral mission carried out by
the colonisers.

Example: Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) in

The White Man’s Burden. N.P.
The White Man’s Burden (1899):
“Take up the White Man’s burden –
Send forth the best ye breed –
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captive’s need;
… Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child.
…To seek another’s profit,
And work another’s gain. N.P.
Take up the White Man’s burden –
The savage wars of peace –
The ports ye shall not enter,
The roads ye shall not tread,
Go make them with your living,
And mark them with your dead!”
[…] N.P.
Edward Morgan Forster (1879-1970); in
Passage to India (1924):

Aziz (an Indian doctor, gradually becoming

Fielding (inspector in schools, more and
more intolerant towards India): N.P.
Aziz: “India shall be a nation! No foreigners
of any sort! […] We may hate one another
but we hate you most! If I don’t make you
go, Asmed will, Karim will, if it’s fifty or five
hundred years we shall get rid of you, yes,
[…] and then, you and I will be friends.”
Fielding: “Why can’t we be friends now?”
Aziz [...]: “No, not yet.” N.P.
Colonialism was also highly influenced by
the ideas introduced by human sciences
about the description of racial and
cultural differences among different
peoples. Victorian Imperialism even
exploited Darwin’s theories about the
mutability of species. N.P.
Advocates of Imperialism/Colonialism:
they maintain that the colonisers provided the
colonised with the infrastructure necessary for
Critics of Imperialism:
colonialism only allowed “a movement of wealth
from the colonised to the colonisers, which
hindered any possibility of economic
development” (Arundhati Roy, Pros and Cons of
Rape). N.P.
Most critics refer to the present condition of
developing countries as a sort of neo-
colonialism, as a prolonged exploitation and
subjugation of former colonies, only through
different means.
Tunde Obadina, director of Africa Business
Information Service, in his essay The Myth of
Neo-Colonialism distinguishes between
apologists and critics of colonialism: N.P.
Apologists of colonialism :

Colonialism laid the seeds of the intellectual and

material development in Africa:
- it brought enlightenment where there was
- it suppressed slavery and other barbaric
practices (i.e. cannibalism);
- it brought formal education and modern
- the introduction of modern communication,
exportable agriculture crops and some
new industries provided a foundation for
economic development.

Apologists maintain that Africa is in

political and economic turmoil today
because it failed to take advantage of its
inheritance from the colonial rule. N.P.
Critics of colonialism maintain that: N.P.

a)colonial rule left Africans poorer than they were

b)African labour and resources were super-
c)African capacities to develop were undermined;

-d) economies were adjusted to be

permanently dependent on Western
nations. They were consigned the role of
producers of primary products for
processing in the West. N.P.
e) colonialism:
- imposition of alien rule;
- dictatorial regime that denied people’s right of self
determination. It brought pain, death and humilation.
The notion that it was a civilised mission is a myth: the
system was propelled by
Europe’s economic and political self-interest.

Some infrastructure were built but countries like

Nigeria and Ghana were left with only a few rail lines
and a few thousand graduates. N.P.
Colonialism and Modernization
More reflections: (by Tunde Obadina):
“it is a presumption that modernization is
desirable. The fact that Western society is more
complex than traditional African society does not
necessarily mean that it is better. Complexity
does not equal human progress (Africans were
no less happy or felt less accomplished than
Who is to say whether people living in agrarian
societies are less developed as human beings
than inhabitants of industrial ones?” N.P.
Colonialism and

African nations are said to be currently in a

phase of neo-colonialism, i.e. a new form
of imperial rule stage managed by the
colonial powers to give the colonised the
illusion of freedom. N.P.
Colonialism and
The prime legacy of colonialism was the
integration of colonies into the international
capitalist economy.

The main force keeping economies in the global

system and sustaining imperialism is the market
itself (it enables African elites to consume
products of Western civilization without having to
go through the difficult and long-term process of
building industries themselves). N.P.
Colonialism and
Africa’s poor gained little or nothing from
colonialism, while its elites bloomed as as a
result of it.
The market is an alluring, even corrupting force
that requires strong ideological or moral
commitment to resist.
It was its appeal that eventually subverted
socialist regimes in the former Eastern Bloc and
is now transforming China. Much of the trouble
in Africa today stems from a struggle to climb the
global pyramid. N.P.
Colonialism and
1) Do you share the opinion that former
colonies are in a state of ‘neo-
2) What could Western countries do in
order to improve their conditions?