I am writing in response to your incredibly interesting
article on the ‘Case for Colonialism’, published in ‘Third World Quarterly’. From
your article, I understand that you believe that colonialism caused a positive
impact in the world and should be restored due to the fact that many countries
that are less developed would struggle to govern its own people. Meanwhile, you
consider anti- colonialism to be a ‘preposterous’ ‘ideology’ which should be
abandoned due to the fact that arguments for anti-colonialism are often
incoherent as they hold colonial governments responsible for all its issues,
instead of considering what would have happened if those governments had not
been put in place. In addition, you touched on the fact that in order for Western
powers to control governments of countries that are less developed, a new
programme of colonialization is required. I understand that you would like the
idea of colonialism to be seen as legitimate and that conquering and
controlling people is not something that is intrinsically wrong. Although I respect
your opinion on the fact that there needs to be a ‘case for colonialism’, I
also completely disagree with this idea and believe that colonialism caused a
detrimental impact on the world, in which to some extent, people are still
experiencing the effects of colonialism that took place over the last 100
years. In response to your article, I will touch on the positive and negative
effects of colonialism in continents such as Africa and Asia, as well as the
effects of colonialism on state building. In addition to this, I will also
explain exactly why I take the standpoint that a ‘case for colonialism’ should
not be made.

 

In order to objectively understand the idea of colonialism,
it must be defined. Colonialism can be defined as “The policy
or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another
country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically.”  (1) , “Colonialism is the practice by which a powerful country directly controls
less powerful countries and uses their resources to increase its own power and wealth.” ,”the policy and
practice of a power in extending control
over weaker peoples
or areas” or “the system or policy by which a country maintains foreign colonies, esp. in
order to exploit them economically” (2). Through
all of these definitions, it is undeniably clear to see that the word
‘colonialism’ has negative connotations. The word colonialism is associated
with the idea of unethical wealth as well as exploitation, control, and power
over countries who are vulnerable and have less economic power, all of which
have can have negative impacts on the world. So therefore, from the definition
alone, I do not think that it is logical to say colonialism would contribute to
making the world a better place if it was reinstituted. Moreover, I think that
a case for colonialism should not be made for these reasons.

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To examine whether there should be a case for
colonialism and to be able to come to a justifiable conclusion, both its
positive and negative effects should be considered equally. It cannot be
refused that colonialism was good in Africa to a certain extent. Colonialism
didn’t only affect Africa economically, but it also had political and social impacts.
Positive impacts included more opportunities for religious missionaries as a
result of the introduction of Christianity. For example, education was
established by a majority of the missionaries, whereby these mission
institutions enabled the locals to gain knowledge on their society and culture.
The Europeans who had colonised the Africans protected them from their rivals
by equipping them with armaments to guard themselves. This reassured Africans
that they would be free from harm under the security of the Europeans. In
addition to the protection that the Europeans gave the Africans, in terms of
arms, they were also provided with new technological machinery such as agricultural
equipment as well as new harvests, including cassava and corn-starch, from the
New World. More infrastructures such as medical institutions, transport,
schools, established plantations for the increase of cash crops, for example
like cotton, tea, cocoa and coffee were established by the Europeans for the
Africans. Africans gained new linguistic skills by cultivating and embracing
the languages of their colonial rulers such as Portuguese, French and English. This
skill has positively

impacted Africans all over the world even till this
present day as they are able to converse confidently with many people
internationally. Colonialism can also be seen as having a positive impact on
Africa as it exposed Africa to have a prosperous culture all across the world,
despite the fact that their culture was heavily influenced by the Europeans. It
was bountiful in mineral and natural resources like oil, gold, iron and silver
as well as individual African countries being heavily involved in trading to
international countries. There was an increase of occupations in Africa, with
many acquiring a new trade and in turn making them wealthier and more
prosperous. Improved organisations were put in place in order to rule over the
civilians, which is still very prominent in many African countries today.
Therefore, to an extent, I agree with you in the sense that colonialism did
have a positive impact, however I only believe that that this was short- term and
more so for the benefit of the Europeans than the Africans themselves. As a
result of this, I do not think that a case for colonialism should be made.

 

In support of my argument that a case for
colonialism should not be made, it can also be seen that despite all of the
positive changes that colonialism brought to the Africans by the Europeans,
there were still negative effects. For example, Africans were used as slaves in
the New World, whereby it was mandatory for the to work on the plantations, without
receiving any pay in return. In Africa, the Europeans took over the land that
belonged to the Africans in order to develop plantations, which would be used
for the cash crops and then forced the Africans themselves to work on them for
little to no money or resources in return. Socially, Africans became distant as
their traditions, cultures and values all changed drastically. The traditional
African language also ceased to exist after the Europeans colonised Africa and
their religion was replaced by Christianity. Although the Africans were able to
speak the foreign languages of their colonial rulers, this wasn’t by choice,
rather, they had no choice and had to learn it by force. They were forced wear
clothes like the Europeans did and to eat Europeans foods, which led to the
spread of infectious diseases as the European food they were eating couldn’t
help them to fight off diseases like their naturally organic African foods
could. African culture and tradition very rapidly became non- existent. In
addition, as a result of the divide of Africa, whereby new boundaries were
formed, families were also separated, causing wars between each other that are still
ongoing today as well as the slave trade which completely broke families and
separated individuals from their loved ones and homes for life. The Europeans took
possession over a majority of their resources like diamonds and gold in
particular. Politically, the Africans could only work the inferior jobs in
colonial workplaces and would never be able to climb up to higher positions in
parliament. They were never allowed to have a safe or give their opinion on
government matters in their own countries.  Even the Africans who had inferior roles in
colonial workplaces would classify themselves as higher than the other
Africans, consequently leading to inequalities within the colonies, socially.
Therefore, it is clear to see that Colonialism did more to destroy than improve
the African continent, socially, politically and economically. It was the
catalyst to many conflicts across African boundaries that still occur today.
Clearly, a case for colonialism should not be made if it will cause more havoc
than peace.

 

Specific evidence to show that colonialism had a
negative impact on Africa can be seen through the case of British colonialism
in West Africa – Nigeria. Politically, colonialism created disharmony and
corruption. The “British
officials did not have nationalistic political interest of Nigeria at heart”(3).
Rather, a “divide and
rule” (4)policy was incorporated, without any regard for the ethnic
differences, which is why even till today, Nigeria  still undergoes many political issues. In
addition to this, although some Nigerians were given the opportunity to work
with their country’s government, but they were restricted to all the inferior roles
which had no relevance to making political decisions. The British were at the
forefront of all political matters relating to Nigeria, to the fact that they
didn’t consult the people of any political decisions they made. Socially, there
were also negative impacts of British colonization of Nigeria. For example,
western education that the colonial rulers taught the Nigerians was a “sort of cover in that left to
the imbalance of education in Nigeria” (5), between the North and South
as a result of the various educational policies that were taught and
established in each area. Therefore, the case of British colonization in
Nigeria is solid evidence to show that it mainly had negative social and
political impacts that are still very prevalent in today’s Nigerian society.
Therefore, a case for colonialism should not be made.

 

Despite my argument that a case for colonialism
should not be made, I will not ignore the fact that there were a few positive
effects that colonialism had in the world. A good example to show this is
through the case of British colonization in India that occurred between 1853 and 1947(6).
Transportation was first established by the British in India, creating “paved roads, cars, trains and
postal networks (7)”. As a result of this, India experienced an economic
boost, with higher standard living standard, as well as an increased flow of
information. In addition, progressive machines were created in order to produce
goods such as cars, steam engines and steel all contributed to the industrialisation
of India. India’s population grew rapidly due to the fact that there was a
higher standard of living, whereby sanitation and hygiene improved. Also, there
was a better supply of vaccinations and medicines, as well as a larger food
supply. All in all, Britain opened the people of India’s eyes to a world of “science, technology, medicine
and modern ideas”.(8). So, to a certain extent, colonisation has had a
positive impact on the world, as we have seen in the case of British
colonization in India, however, I still believe that it created more
detrimental effects than positive as although India experienced some benefits,
it also experienced many negative effects.

 

As mentioned above, despite the positive impact
that British colonization had on India, India also experience very many
negative effects which overshadowed the positive. For example, Britain worsened
India’s economy due to the fact that they forced India to bring their goods
from Britain and banned them from buying their own products from India. To be
specific, “Industries such as the handmade cloth industry,
clock-making, metal, and carpentry industries”(9) crumbled due to the fact that Britain was
creating fabric that had better quality and cost less money because it was
being mass produced. As a result of colonization India started to become
heavily reliant on Britain and its products. India was used as a means by
Britain to import goods and consequently India struggled to sustain itself
independently because of the power and control that Britain had over India in
terms of business and trade. Politically, India was very much like Nigeria in
the sense that its British rulers completely took over their government and
didn’t give the people of the nation a voice to speak. They were seen as prisoners
in their own land, who were not able to make political decisions and who had to
settle for the inferior positions in regard to politics. Culturally, the
British made the people feel inferior by making them believe that their culture
was less important than those of the British. In relation to the negative impacts of British
colonisation was the uprising of Sepoy Mutiny, an Indian rebellion in 1857
against the British. During this rebellion, where the Sepoy Indians attempted
to seize Delhi, and rebel against Britain,(10) Britain defeated the
rebellion and murdered and tormented a large majority of the Sepoys. This is
clear evidence to show that colonialism did not serve a good purpose in the
world, it created problems that were irreversible and created hierarchies
between different parts of the world, which led to different opinions of who
was more superior than others, despite the fact that everyone should’ve
considered themselves as equal to their neighbour or neighbouring country.
Therefore, I believe that a case for colonialism should not be made at all.

 

Lastly, in response to your article that there should be a case for
colonialism, I will be arguing against this by explaining the long -term
legacies of colonial rule in the area of state-building, and why this has led
to a negative impact of colonialism in the world. It is argued that colonizers did
not have efficient power over their territories. Because of this, variations in
the types of colonial power are only can only be held responsible for
explaining how contemporary African states came to existence, to a small
extent. It can also be said that the role of colonization is mainly restricted
to border separations to quickened the creation of states with clearly defined
borders. As a result, this further pushes states away from each other creating
divides across the world. It is suggested that colonization and the indirect
rule of British colonial administration in particular is very crucial regarding
the issue of state- building in this current day and age in Africa. Reasons for
why the divide and rule tactic could lead to a long- term legacy and create
issues to state- building in Africa is that there may be the building of
national identity, consequently reinforcing a sense of solidarity within the
citizens of the nation, in which historical opposition within an ethnic group
could pose a threat by making it problematic to be nationalistic. For example, the use of Buganda
in Uganda to take over other areas resulted in a continuing hatred between
Buganda and the majority of Uganda(11). Therefore, it is fair to say
that colonialism can also affect long- term legacy in terms of state building
negatively, and so a case of colonialism needs not to be made.

 

In conclusion and in response to your article on the Case for Colonialism,
I have taken into consideration your viewpoint on the fact that there should be
a case for colonialism, due to the fact that there have been some undeniably
positive effects that colonialism has brought into the world, especially into
continents like Africa and countries such as India to be specific. I understand
that colonialism has impacted countries in Africa positively by providing them
with arms, as well as technological and agricultural supplies. It exposed and
embraced these countries to Western ideas and languages, but also to their
disadvantage. Moreover, it also equipped India with transportation as well as
improving its standards of living by introducing improved medicines and
vaccines. However, I still personally believe that colonisation was more detrimental
to the world than it was helpful. The negative effects on colonialism in the
world completely overshadow the positives. In African countries, the people
would suffer as slaves, whilst they watched their culture and identity be
stripped away from them and replaced by European values and norms. Specific evidence
of the British colonisation of Nigeria has been given in order to reinforce
this point, whereby the British governors completely exploited the people and
took over their government, only allowing them to work in positions that did
little or nothing to improve the political wellbeing of their country. In addition,
colonialism has also had a negative impact on long term legacy in terms of state
building, whereby the creation of national identity and the reinforcement of
solidarity led to a further separation and distance between states. Having taken
all these arguments into consideration, I have come to the conclusion that a
case for colonialism should not be made as will not contribute towards creating
harmony in the world. 

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