African Imperialism

“Throughout history it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better…” – Halie Selassie (Doc. 2). Imperialism began in the early 1880’s when Europe had lost their natural resources due to industrialization. The Europeans traveled to Africa in search of power, as well as the resources. When the colonizers came, they took over Africa. The social and economic effects of European Imperialism include the changing of African lives, free labor gain for Europeans, and the land was powerless. One social and economic factor of imperialism on Africa was, African lives were forever changed as an effect of imperialism. The French, specifically, Jules Ferry, said that it was their duty and right to civilize the African natives (Doc. 4). Once Africans heard of this address, they felt poor. Racist comments and statements made them feel worthless. A former slave, Gustavus Vassa, once stated that his previous slave life was better than life on a European slave ship. “I even wished for my former slavery in preference to my present situation…” (Doc. 9). Gustavus felt better as a slave than being treated by the Europeans, and his life was worse than slave life. His life on a slave ship consisted of whipping, beating, and other forms of torture.

During colonization, Europeans gained free labor form the Africans. A German soldier during this time period, once said, “[Africans] are not our brothers, but our slaves… These ought to be our brothers,” (Doc. 7). When the “Old Africans” took slaves, the newer German soldiers were confused. The new German soldiers believed that all people were treated equally, and there shouldn’t have been slaves. “… I have seen some of these poor African prisoners most severely cut for attempting to [leap into the water], and hourly whipped for not eating,” as quoted from, Gustavus Vassa (Doc. 9). The slaves were to be kept alive so the Europeans could use these prisoners for work. Most of the time, these slaves would work themselves to death. After the Age of Imperialism, life wasn’t much better.

The last social and economic factor was, past the Age of Imperialism, Africa was left powerless. Soldier farmers and traders said they would gradually take African land, cattle, and rights away from the natives (Doc. 7). The land, which belonged to the Africans, was taken away from them so slyly, most citizens didn’t realize what was happening. As that happened, they were stripped of their rights and freedoms. The Ethiopian emperor at the time of imperialism once said that justice was silent during the Age of Imperialism, which made it possible for “evil to triumph” (Halie Selassie Doc. 2). Without justice and defense, Africa was destroyed by imperial powers. The justice was gone at the time, and Africa couldn’t defend themselves.

Political, social, and economic factors of colonization were a powerless country, free labor, and discrimination. These were determined by slave ships, Frech speeches, and injustice. Imperialism is important in our history, for one, it elaborates a different point of view of the world. It had affected many people’s lives. Different witnesses had shared their stories of the horror, with their own opinions. Africa had been forever transformed.

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