Colonization In Africa : How European Government Altered Tribal Life

1033 words - 5 pages

In the late 19th century Africa underwent a radical transformation; it was colonized by Europe . Excellent historical context . This was a violent and tragic turning point in African history; the culture of an entire continent was disrupted and in many instances destroyed. There were many motivations for imperialism in the 19 th century, and the consequent "carving up" of Africa . (Brummett 674) Europeans were in search of new goods, trade routes, money, and power, which they sought at the expense of native populations. In Chinua Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart , this change is illustrated from the perspective of an African tribe; the forceful nature with which British law and governm ...view middle of the document...

In "Things Fall Apart" , the author describes the changes brought about by the British from the tribe's point of view. Good. When Okonkwo returns home after seven years in exile, he is shocked and dismayed by the changes brought by the British. A court house was built nearby the village to house the district commissioner who judged cases "in ignorance", along with court messengers who would beat prisoners and force them to work while imprisoned. (Achebe 174) He also hears of a neighboring village, Abame, which was obliterated after a British soldier was killed there. The author writes that the clan was almost unrecognizable to Okonkwo upon his return as a result of the British taking over. There was a new government, new religion, and stores which many people were fascinated by, although many viewed these new establishments as evil. (Achebe 182) When the tribe's leaders burn the Christian church after one of the converts breaks a sacred law (unmasking an egwugwu , masqueraders impersonating ancestral spirits, in public), they are jailed and fined for practicing their traditional laws. The tribe in the novel, like many others, had to watch their entire legal system discredited by the Europeans; their laws were deemed wrong and primitive and their leaders were imprisoned for carrying out their customs. Very good historical connections.The methods by which a society governs itself and manages its affairs are part of its identity. When the British conquerors came into Africa , they destroyed part of the native people's identity with their foreign military and government. People could not practice the traditions they had known all their lives and this surely had a devastating impact. The colonizers' motivation to act in this way was to have better control over the groups they were taking over. There also were most likely elements of ethnocentrism tied in; the British/European way was the more civilized, superior way to live and rule, regardless of what African society accepted. Good. This is reflected in the Commissioner's views in ...


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