The Impact of 19th Century European Imperialism in Africa

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European Imperialism heavily impacted the African continent through culturally, economic, and political ideas. This era of history is heavily drenched in the aspect of ethnocentrism, which is the belief that one’s own culture is superior that of another. The Europeans colonized Africa believing that they could bring civilization, but they were often ignorant of Africa’s very complex societies. The European powers divided up the continent of Africa among themselves, without any consent from the people who actually lived there. The tribal stratification was changed to a caste system where racial, ethnic, and religious differences were of utmost importance, as delegated by European rule. The structure and business of the African economy was directed by what the colonial powers felt was necessary. The European powers interjected in the African society and inflicted them with their supposedly superior way of life.

The slave trade was one important method that the Europeans used to dominate the Africa. Even though the slave trade was beginning to decline by the early 19th century, it gave the Europeans a pass into the whole continent, enabling them to divide the land as they pleased. The division of land was not void of wars and resistance. The Europeans stole the land from the Africans, and imposed their way of life into African society. Imperialists brought military technology along with them, decreasing the likelihood that the Africans could resist their forces of ethnocentric civilization.

To make matters worse, each country in Europe wanted their own share of the African continent. The imperial powers reached an agreement over the available land in Africa at the Berlin Conference in 1884 and 1885. They consented that to implan...

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...colonial system. It is apparent that none of these claims, which were made, are true. The European administrators made seemingly no efforts to delegate these principles within the African colonies. It is one thing to say something and then do the complete opposite. Actions speak louder than words and the Europeans were unsuccessful in upholding their ideals within the African colonial system. It is possible that the Europeans never meant to uphold any such ideals and only used these ideals as a cover up for the corruption that existed in the African colonies. The Europeans attempted to ‘civilize’ the African populations, but failed due the search for selfish gains. But, who is to say that they were not ‘civil’, the Africans had very complex societies which had existed for thousands of years- much longer than the life span of Europe as a country at the present time.
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