No force has had a greater impact on modern nations and their cultures than imperialism. Imperialism is a policy of extending a nation’s rule over foreign areas by acquiring and holding colonies. During the nineteenth century in particular, imperialism became a trend among wealthy European nations such as Great Britain, France, and Italy, as countries competed to gain resources and expand their empires. In enforcing these policies, imperial powers spread numerous effects over the span of the globe. The question is, were the effects of imperialism beneficial or detrimental to the colonized nations? For the nation of Somalia, it is clear that imperialism was nothing but a perversion of justice, as their bloody post-independence history in particular shows when compared with the peace that existed pre-imperialism. The British and Italian imperial policies proved destructive to the nation of Somalia, as shown by the current absence of governmental stability, lack of economic prosperity, and increasing ethnic conflict.
Governmental stability is a key component of evidence that imperialism was detrimental to Somalia. Before imperialism, Somalia operated as an Arab sultanate. Society was divided into clans, each ruled by a sultan. The government was not unified under one body but it was functional and there has been no history of dissatisfaction prior to imperialism. In 1886, Britain made a treaty with the Sultan of Tajura and captured northern Somalia while Italy gained control of the southern portion by making a treaty with the Sultan of Hobyo (“Background Note” 1). Both British and Italian Somaliland, the resulting colonies, were protectorates (“Italian Somaliland” 2). The protect...
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...o be extinguished. So from the perspective of ethnic conflict, too, it is clear that imperialism brought Somalia from better to worse.
Historians will, until the end of time, continue to debate over whether imperialism caused more benefit or harm to the world as a whole. In the case of Somalia, though, there is no question as to the immense harm imperialism caused. Imperialism resulted in governmental instability and corruption, an equally unstable economy thrown off balance by imperial rule, and incessant ethnic conflict with Ethiopia and Kenya. Britain and Italy took advantage of a weaker country for their own economic and nationalistic benefits, and then left it under the pretense of preparing it to be more modern politically and economically, when really all they did was derail an innocent nation, and leave it alone to glue its shattered remains together.
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