Imperialismby Rit Nosotro
Change Over Time essay
How did the pros and cons of Imperialism effect Africans from the 16th to 18th century?
Europeans began developing vast overseas empires in the fourteen hundreds. The independence of America faded imperialism, but never caused it to wholly die out. In the late eighteen eighties, Europeans renewed their interest in colonizing. New technology, such as steamships, rifles, and telegraphs, made it possible for countries to colonize deep into Africa for the first time. Other major reasons for this rebirth in imperialism were economic motives, the desire to demonstrate the countries' power, a balance of power between European countries, and Social Darwinism.
After 1434, several expeditions were sent out by the inspiration of Henry the Navigator, the Prince of Portugal and continued when Vasco da Gama round Cape of Good Hope. The Portuguese explorations were motivated by a variety of impulses: a desire for knowledge, a wish to spread Christianity, the search for potential allies against Muslim threats, and the hope of finding new and profitable trade routes to the east, and sources of wealth. Wherever the Portuguese went, they disrupted continuous patterns of trade and political life and changed both economic and religious systems.
In the sixteenth century, western Africa experienced profound effects of the new trade routes. Earlier trade routes had spread northwards across the Sahara, primarily to the Muslim world, but now the routes led to the coast. Savannah states declined in economic importance, but the states along the coast increased their wealth and power. Struggles soon developed among coastal peoples for control over trade routes and access to the new firearms from Europe.
Dark Africa was controlled very little by Europeans- except for South Africa and Algeria; most European activity was limited to coastal trading ports. In 1870 to 1890 Europeans engaged in a "Scramble for Africa" during which most of the continent came under their control. A local revolt inspired this idea when they threatened the Suez Canal, the lifeline for ships sailing between Europe and India. In a panic, the British moved in to take over Egypt and then Sudan while other powers jealously watched Britain. Leaders divided the remaining parts of Africa during the Berlin Conference of 1884 through 1885.
Paying no attention to the existing tribal boundaries, Europeans claimed ownership of the African soil. The result of ignoring tribal, ethnic, and cultural boundaries caused ongoing tribal clashes. European domination led to erosion of traditional African values and destroyed many existing social relationships. Native peoples were forced to work long hard hours for subsistence pay.
Conversely, imperialism saved Africa in a lot of ways. Some benefits were roads, railroads, schools, hospitals, improved sanitation, and better farming methods. When medicine and a better nutrition were introduced to the Africans, the population and the life span of Africans increased. A selected minority received improved education and greater economic opportunities.
Dr. Livingstone, a missionary and explorer, contributed his life to Africa; to see the gospel proclaimed and discover the mystery's of Dark Africa. Dr. Sas Conradie states
"His (Livingstone's) three C's: Christianity, Civilization and Commerce became the epitome of imperialism, racial superiority and British economic self-interest."
When Livingstone established the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian in Malawi, it spread the Gospel to neighboring countries. African people realized that God loves them and that they can love Him as well was the greatest reward for Livingstone's efforts. Through this, they desired to become educated. Missionaries not only educated these people, but also gave hospital treatment. The Malawi received the name "Warm Heart" of Africa. Sadly this legacy remains under a tremendous threat because of Islam; wherever Christian missionaries have left the Muslims have pressed in to gain control of the Warm Heart.
Colonization in Africa differs to whether it was ultimately "good" or "bad." Struggles in Africa remain common, but inspired people like Dr. Livingstone reached out and showed them God's love. European powers that acquired African colonies primarily cared for themselves; their motives laid in selfishness. Imperialism did help Africa improve its technology, but the people's hearts remained unchanged until the missionaries were established. Exploitation of Africa continues to gradually fall away to Christian teaching of John 13:34, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another"
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