Sunday, November 24, 2013

From Colonialism to Neo-Colonialism

Colonialism came to most of Africa fairly late. The map to the right is a map of European colonial and other holdings in Africa in 1885 before the Berlin Conference divided up most of the continent. For the most part before the conference European holdings were confined to the coastal regions of Africa. Most of the interior of Africa still remained under the domain of indigenous political entities at this time. The conquest of most of Africa takes place after 1886 and was only completed in the 20th century. Ethiopia remained the only truly independent indigenous state. Liberia created by returning Black Americans in the 19th century and White ruled South Africa were neither indigenous states nor truly independent from the US and UK respectively at this time. So in less than 30 years the European powers of France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, the UK, and Belgium conquered the vast interior of Africa. Most of the colonies established were devoted solely to the extraction of resources rather than the settlement of European colonists. The European colonists only settled significant numbers of settlers in Algeria, Angola, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Rhodesia, and South Africa. Out of these colonies only Algeria and South Africa were ever more than 10% White. In the other settlement colonies Europeans remained in the single digits. Yet, despite their small physical presence in Africa, Europeans managed to dominate almost the entire continent politically and economically during much of the 20th century. Even decades after the formal independence of almost all of the continent the economic subordination of Africa to Europe established during colonialism continues to be the most salient factor in European-African relations. Despite granting formal independence to their former African colonies European powers like Belgium and France have actively assisted in the murder of leaders like Lumumba and Sankara who have attempted to break free of this continued neo-colonial subordination.

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