May 26, 2022

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Did European Colonialism really benefit Africans?

Did European Colonialism really benefit Africans?

Imperialism was a harsh experience for the entire continent of Africa. The costs and benefits resulting from European expansion were unevenly distributed across the continent.

Some individuals and groups in African society did benefit. New agricultural techniques were introduced in many areas. For example, in Uganda, British support of cotton cultivation gave rise to a relatively stable economy in which cotton still plays an important part. Europeans introduced medicines to help people live longer and healthier lives. They also constructed roads and railroads. These means of transportation were used mostly to connect areas of European settlement with the coast and to move goods to and from European industries. They also served to make African products available for the world market. In the long run, however, the world did not clamor for African products, much to the disappointment of the imperialists.

In spite of decades of intervention or control, most Africans would not and did not adopt European customs or culture. Perhaps this is not so surprising because the European industries and institutions were established largely for the benefit of the Europeans, not for the Africans, who were deemed unworthy of the same treatment as Europeans. The majority of Africans continued to live largely by traditional means, as subsistence farmers or migrant workers.

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