The Anthropology of Africa essay

Africa is one of the world’s least developed continents. It is frequently referred to as the “Dark Continent,” and no matter how well-educated and productive the African people are, they continue to draw scorn and derision from all quarters. Africa is recognized as the origin of humanity and the center of human civilisation, both historically and scientifically. But every time one hears about Africa, questions about what it is, how it came to be mocked and subject to espionage, and how it was impacted by outside influences like colonization come to mind (Middleton and John 19). Africa’s imagined landscape was formulated in Britain in the late eighteen century as a product of fulfilling the consciousness of the European. Features of Africa came about from intensive arguments about reason, civilization and humanity. Then it was an indispensable continent with negative trope. However, regardless of the negative historical image portrayed on Africa, it remains known for the natural attractions it harbors including abundant wildlife and its geography that is diverse. This continent has beautiful highlands; deserts rain forests and green plains that are most definitely eye catching. Europeans particularly became interested in this beautiful continent since it has abundance of industrial raw materials; it had freely accessible and cheap labor. Most of the Europeans saw this as an opportunity to for expansion of their territories through colonization and exploitation of the African resources (MacKenzie and John).
Case of Nicolas Sarkozy and Sarah Bartman and the Anthropology of Africa
Nicolas Sarkozy, a French politician, former president and ex officio of the French republic in his speech at the University of Dakar in July 26, 2007 painted a picture of Africa. According to the then president of France, Africa is a continent full of diversity. Africa has experienced challenges in the past as a result of colonization. This wounded continent and in particularly the youth have in the past collude and fought against each other and have often had hatred for one another. Inhabitants of this continent Africa are diverse in such a way that they do not speak same language, their cultures vary from one group to the other, they have different history but still recognizes all other in their surrounding as Africans, as one race of humanity. Despite the diverse culture and long history of experienced hatred, suffering, revolt and humiliation, Africans recognize each other as brother and resolves that they are living a destiny common to everyone of them. The mysterious faith of destiny binds Africans together in the African soil and it is a faith that can never be separated but instead is transmitted from one generation to the next and it draws a bond that cannot be separated or eased by exile (Voss and Casella 126).
Africa has experienced misfortunes due to colonization. It has seen troubles that have subjected its youth in the past to pity. The past historical experiences of Africa are sad experiences that cannot be erased. Nicolas in his speech admitted that many mistakes had been made in Africa and crimes committed. Black slave trade that involved the buying and selling of men, woman and children was one of the major crimes against Africans. The slavery and black man slave trade was not only a crime against Africans but also a crime against humanity. The genesis of hate between the black and white men was the slavery and slave trade. The colonialist came to Africa as conquerors to grab the land of African ancestors and colonize them. The Europeans took away the African gods, banished their languages, and disrupted African beliefs and the customs of their forefathers. These were done by the white man with an aim of reconfiguring African and transforming Africans to bide to the European way of life and make African people take up the image of Europeans. The Europeans killed the enthusiasm that defined the original Africa and ruined the way of African life.
Colonization of Africa was the source of misery and anguish. It resulted in selfishness of African people, as they were scared and unable to open p to anyone unless one would reveal his or her identity. The colonizer made the colonized Africa lose confidence in them self and became vulnerable to fear of the white man. This fear led to subjection to exploitation. The colonizers of Africa besides taking all that belonged to Africa, they also gave in return by constructing roads, schools, hospitals and built bridges and made Africans to conform to the standards f the colonizer. However, all the colonialists were not evil, thieves or exploiters of the African people and resources. Amongst them were men of goodwill; those who believed that were fulfilling a mission of civilization and who believed in doing god to the African continent. Some of the colonialist believed that they were bringing freedom to the African man, men who believed in breaking chains of servitudes, superstition and obscurantism. Amongst them were men who believed that they were creating love but instead what evidently came out is hatred ad division among the African people (Inda).
Africa has been plagued by series of challenges. However, colonization is not responsible for current difficulties it faces. Colonization is not responsible for the dictatorship experienced in Africa, the genocides and bloody wars fought by Africans, corruption in African governments pollution and poor waste management seen in Africa. It is good to admit that for worse or for better, colonization transformed both Africa and European.
The case of Sara Bartman brought Africa to the limelight of racism and sexism. Born and raised by the Khiokhoi community of South Africa, Sara Bartman at the age of 20 years left her country for Europe in the from of slave trade. She was famous amongst the khoikhoi women for the things she experienced in life after she was sold in London by an enterprising Scottish doctor by the name Alexander Dunlop. In Britain, Sara spent close to four years exhibiting her large anatomical behinds. She was later sold to French men who exploited her by exhibiting her in the zoos for close o fifteen months. Scientist used her body for empirical research, as she was considered abnormal. Paintings of Bartman’s body were exhibited and cartooned hence subjecting her to racism and sexism. She has been an iconic representation of Africa in the European world and her subjection to racism, empirical research and sexism led to the vile utterances by the African people because of the exploitation.
Colonization and restructuring of Africa and Its Effects
Africa has faced diplomatic pressures, imperialist aggression, military invasions conquest and colonization by the Europeans between 1870s and 1900. Africa at the same time through her societies and communities put in aggressive forms of resistance against colonization by the Europeans. African highly resisted foreign domination but she eventually gave in and got restructured by the effects of colonization. Most of the countries in Africa by the twentieth century got colonized except for countries like Liberia and Ethiopia (Alexander 54).
Three main factors motivated the invasion of Africa by the European powers. These factors were economic, social and political oriented. The European imperialist push highly developed in 19th century due to the slave trade profit collapse. This followed by industrial revolution and suppression or abolition of slave trade. Demand for the assured and adequate sources of raw materials, markets that are guaranteed, investment outlets and profitable ventures were the core components and imperatives driving the capitalist industrial revolution and factors that spurred the scramble for the African soil. This scramble eventually led to the conquest of Africa. The primary and major motivation for European intrusion in Africa was economic.
Political impetus originating from European power competitions and struggle played a role in the colonization of Africa. The British, French, Italy, Spain, Germany and Portugal who were aggressively competing for the African beautiful resources dominated the European political arena. The mightiness of these political was determined by their abilities to establish and acquire territories world over, Africa included.
Social factor was another major reason for African dominance by the European political giants. Following industrial revolution in Europe, many social problems such as unemployment, poverty, social displacement for European rural places, homelessness and so on took place in Europe. These problems developed since not everyone could be absorbed by the capitalist industries that were new in Europe following the industrialization and their large population. Europe had no option but to export the ever growing European population to places like Africa hence its colonization.
The interplay of the political, social and economic forces and factors facilitated the scramble and struggle for Africa. The European military, political and commercial agents hence identified and established shares in some parts of Africa and an eventual entire scoop of stake. This was achieved by control of waterways, tariff impositions, exclusive declaration of possession of certain parts of Africa for trade and inter commercial competition through imperialism. This competition eventually led to establishment of commercial routes and general restructure of African continent through colonization (Alexander).
The scramble for Africa and its resources was very intense and these led to fears of wars and inter imperialist conflicts in the continent. To prevent clashes that might have resulted from the scramble of Africa, Otto Von Bismarck, a German chancellor convened a summit to address diplomatic issues related to European powers during the 19th century. This summit was termed as Berlin Conference. During this conference, a treaty known as Berlin Act was formed. This act gave provision and terms of how the European powers were to conduct themselves during the inter imperialism competition for Africa. The major articles of this act included principle of notification to other parties of annexation of a territory, effective occupation, freedom of trade along the Congo Basin and to all nation and the suppression and eradication of slave trade by the sea and land. This treaty formed during the Berlin Conference provided a basis for effective invasion, partition and the eventual colonization of Africa (Nardo 20).
The domination of African soil by the Europeans led to conflicts. African chiefdoms, kingdoms, empires and centralized state systems had direct military engagements with the invaders. The European powers however had intense military power compared to the weak African effects to retaliate. African resistance to colonization led to the death of most empires and kings in the kingdoms. In the process of conflicts, African leaders devised means and ways of defeating the white man. They came up with strategies like the gorilla wars, scorched earth programs and the use of direct military engagement. The Africans developed firearm acquisition plans and even devised techniques of enhancing their military strength by creating their own firearms. The colonization led to increased African military power despite the challenges it went through (Meredith 33).
Despite the African efforts in furiously and bravely fighting against colonization by the European powers, they lost the fight and gave in to European dominance and invasion. They lost as a result of technological and political reasons. The Europeans were more superior to them. The colonization led to the demise of African political kingdoms and profound revolutionary changes in their political, social and economic arena. Most of the old communities and societies were reconfigured into desired European political entities of interest. This led to the political instability of these African societies and their organizations became extremely weak.
Was African Colonization Central?
Most of the African countries had been colonized by 1900. The most dominating European powers in this regard were the Britain, Germany, Belgium, France, Spain and Portugal. After the colonization of both the centralized and decentralized African states, the Europeans established a centralized colonial state system (Davish, Renaat, and francis). This centralized European state colony acted as machinery for administrative domination for effective management of the African societies that were colonized. Due to the racist ideology, military supremacy, and imperialist enterprise, the European colonial states were come up with bureaucratic and authoritarian system of operation. This led to the intimidation of the black man. Many economic and social benefits were driven towards the Europeans but not African hence the rise of opposition. However, several socio political and economic developments came as a result of this colonization. There was advancement in the constriction of social amenities like churches and schools, enterprise development emerged and several developments seen in Africa came as a result of the colonization (Salgado).
Africa is scientifically and historically regarded as the cradle of mankind and cradle of human civilization. However, questions as to what defines Africa, what led to it facing ridicule and blackmail and how it became affected by external forces like colonization comes to mind every time one hears about Africa. According to the then president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, Africa is a continent full of diversity. Africa has experienced challenges in the past as a result of colonization. This wounded continent and in particularly the youth have in the past collude and fought against each other and have often had hatred for one another. Depiction of Africa by the Europeans through the intimidating exposition of nude images of the South African Sara Bartman led to debates and social differences between the white man and Africans. It was an act of racism and sexism. Colonization of Africa by the European power led to much resistance from the African chiefdoms and kingdoms. This resistance led to deaths of empires and kings. It however led to colonization centralization of the European power. The centralization ensured that the powers colonizing the African countries worked in harmony to the set standards. The colonization led to the restructuring and reconfiguration of Africa. It also resulted in growth and development of African countries despite the challenges and effects it imposed on Africa.

Works Cited
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