Development Of African History During The Twentieth Century Essay

Development Of African History During The Twentieth Century Essay

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Class played a major role in the development of African history in the twentieth century. Specifically, class differentiation contributed to the political movements and social disparities that characterized the continent during the time period.
An example of the importance of land in social class is the growth of Mau Mau. After Governor Eliot encouraged the settlement of whites in Kenya in 1902, many of these white settlers set up a system of agriculture through land grants given to them by Eliot. Unfortunately for the white settlers, their methods of producing goods were not as efficient as those of the Kikuyu. This eventually led to the establishment of native reserves in 1925 where Kikuyu with little money were moved off their lands and forced to produce agricultural goods for the whites via sharecropping. This system of sharecropping further divided society, making the rich richer and the poor poorer. Those who lost their land, lost their social standing because ownership of land is equivalent to wealth for most of African societies. These people, lacking in land and money, became the Mau Mau rebels. In this case, class directly influenced those who would rebel against the British settlers in the early 1950’s. As described by Frederick Cooper: “Class would replace race as the organizing principle of society. As late as 1959, officials could not predict when they could allow Kenya to become independent.” Prior to Mau Mau, colonial Europeans believed themselves to be superior to and more civilized than blacks and therefore they should determine what was best for the native Africans. This shows that those with respectable social standing – i.e. those with land and money – were in charge of how society would be run, regardless ...

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...ntury is very important and influential. Class stratification was a result of European education, via missionaries and formal European schooling, and led to political movements, such as playing a major role in Kenya’s independence movement and the formation of the African National Congress in South Africa. Class differentiation made it more difficult for political leaders to aid in advancing African society. This is due to the widening gap between the social elite and the common peasants which made effective policy making next to impossible to create and achieve. The difference in class structure also made smaller the group of educated individuals able to make a difference in the lives of Africans. The class of educated elite continues to shrink due to Africa’s rapidly growing population, which makes any effort to make progress in all aspects of life more difficult.

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