African History





African History

Different accounts of African experiences recount how people lived before the colonial period, and after the European colonial powers had come to settle in the land. Different individuals narrate the experiences they went through under the hands of their own people. Contrary to what some people might think, there was slavery and oppression before colonialism started in Africa. In the story of Grandmother Narwimba, the narrator describes her experiences as a widow and grandmother. She experienced injustice under the hands of her own people. The story recounts how different villages would attack each other for no reason and how they would end up destroying property, taking slaves and killing people. It also demonstrates the level of injustice that was present in the land. Those who did not have someone to defend them suffered when those who had some level of power or authority decided to mistreat them.

Generally, colonialism extended t he common practice in some African societies, whereby those who were powerless had to submit to authority. Some people saw colonialism as beneficial and a form of salvation. Grandmother Narwimba’s son chose to move from his home and work for the German missionaries. He adopted their religion and way of life. He managed to save his life when most of his relatives died in meaningless wars among the different villages. After wandering for a long time, grandmother Narwimba decided that her only source of salvation would be to go the missionaries. She tried to learn but she was too old to do that. However, she managed to find the peace and protection that she had been looking for since the death of her first husband (Wright 47-57). This shows the importance of the colonialists to the African people. They brought law into the land and this created justice for the people. They brought education and religion, and in some way, this helped to reduce the conflicts and wars experienced in some areas.

Many Africans were not educated and this limited their ability to lead well. Colonialism had introduced Africans to the modern civilized world. It had brought new rules and introduced new ways of living. Colonialism had largely changed the way people related to each other. The colonialists left Africa in a state of disarray. The division of lands into new regions heightened conflict among the people. Different peoples attacked each other because they could not agree on political leadership. No group wanted to feel inferior and this led to war. In Umutesi’s Surviving the Slaughter: the Ordeal of a Rwandan Refugee in Zaire, the narrator describes what happened before and during the Rwandan genocide. She recounts the atrocities that were committed during the time. The people had to move from their homes, as they had become strangers in their own land. They died from hunger, executions, exhaustion, and disease (Umutesi 3-70).

Some African countries continued experiencing violence, long after the colonialists had left. Those who were in leadership positions were biased and they discriminated against some communities. The African leaders who took up leadership positions continued with the colonialist mentality. Many African countries have different ethnicities and tribes. Some of the people who became leaders felt that they had to discriminate against others for the sake of benefiting specific people. Some of the countries such as Sudan have forced people to embrace new religions. Those who refuse are often subjected to mistreatment. Cooper notes that there has been an on going war between the northern dominant regime, which is Islamic, and the rest of the country (192)

Decolonizing Africa made the countries independent and they were able to govern themselves. However, it did not solve many of the problems that had existed prior to colonialism. Some of the African leaders were not able to able to unify their people. Some communities felt left out and this caused much resentment. Based on the instability experienced in many parts of Africa, it seems that decolonizing it was largely a tragedy for the African people.

Works Cited:

Cooper, Frederick. Africa since 1940: The Past of the Present. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Print

Umutesi, Marie B. Surviving the Slaughter: the Ordeal of a Rwandan Refugee in Zaire. Madison, WI Univ of Wisconsin Press, Oct 15, 2004

Wright. Grandmother Narwimba. 1993. Print

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