Term Paper: African Perspectives on Colonialism by A. Adu Boahen

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African Colonialism

Abu Boahen's book African Perspectives on Colonialism is a determined effort to take the much studied topic of colonialism within the African continent and give it that native spin that has been sorely lacking. He notes that although there have been many works handling the issue of African colonialism; it seems that "most of these authors have looked at the subject primarily from a Euro-centric point-of-view." (Boahen, vii). Boahen also aims to legitimize the independence revolutions that have occurred in the latter half of the twentieth century by placing them more properly within their historical context. The overall effect European colonization of Africa had upon the African people was that they possessed an almost duel sense of history; they held ties to their own unique cultural heritages as well as the formalized governmental, educational, and religious systems that the Europeans had brought and imposed upon them. Many Africans are Christians, many speak predominantly English, French, or Portuguese; and simultaneously, many others wish to reject all remnants of European brutality. The divisions between the imperialist powers have ultimately divided the people of Africa in manners that make many regions particularly tumultuous, and the powers of the European-style governments particularly limited.

Boahen makes the point that although the coming of Christianity managed to tear many communities and traditional orders of society apart, the European missionaries still provided many Africans with useful tools to survive in the changing world. He writes, "Besides preaching the gospel, converting people to Christianity, and translating the Bible into various African languages, these missionary societies promoted agriculture; taught such skills as carpentry, printing, and tailoring; and promoted trade, literacy, and Western education." (Boahen, 16). Fundamentally, this was one of the driving forces behind the dual sense of history that Africans would inherit; with the damaging effects that contact with the European powers promised came opportunities for advancements and mutual advantage. Boahen provides speeches made by African leaders as colonization first began and argues, "It is clear from the very words of the African leaders who were about to face the colonial challenge that they were determined to defend their sovereignty, religion, and traditional way of life but at the same time wanted to cooperate with the Europeans for mutual benefit, and that they were very confident of success." (Boahen, 26).

However, the methods of colonial rule that were eventually instilled were strongly tied to the strengths and weaknesses of the new rulers, but came to be generalized under the headings of "direct" and "indirect" rule. The British, for example, brought with them their experience from India; where they often looked towards local leaders to act in their favor. The French, on the other hand, tended to overthrow any native power structures… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"African Perspectives on Colonialism by A. Adu Boahen."  Essaytown.com.  October 6, 2005.  Accessed September 17, 2019.