Effects of British Colonization on Countries During
Historically, the epoch of colonization was an extremely
difficult period, especially for colonized countries. It was
the epoch when developed countries exhausted the resources
both human and natural of their colonies paying little attention
to the population inhabiting these territories and their future.
In this respect, the British Empire was one of the largest
states that had colonies in practically all parts of the world
from America to Asia. Basically, the British colonization
had a disastrous effect on the life of people inhabiting colonies
and the epoch of colonization produced a profound impact not
only on the life of people that were colonized but also on
the further generations, to the extent that even nowadays
former British colonies are in a poor socio-economic position.
Naturally, the epoch of colonization could not remain unnoticed
by specialists and writers who wanted to objectively depict
the real effect of British colonization which was particularly
serious in Africa since even nowadays the continent is characterized
by the low level of life, poverty, starvation, permanent wars.
Regardless, the numerous problems Africa faces at the present
moment and which the continent, in actuality, inherited from
the epoch of British colonization, its land radiates natural
beauty and is rich in wild life. This is why it is possible
to think that the continent could possibly have a different
history if there was no colonization and peoples inhabiting
the continent were really free and could develop independently.
To answer this question, it is necessary to analyze the literature
dedicated to the problem of British colonization of Africa.
In this respect, it is quite noteworthy to refer to such works
as “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad and “Things
Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe, provide the reader with
knowledge about Africa, its people and its tragic history,
though it should be said that the problems raised by the authors
were typical not only for British colonies in Africa but also
in other parts of the world, including America and Asia.
First of all, it is necessary to say that “Heart of
Darkness” provide quite original and unexpected view
on Africa of the epoch of British colonization. In actuality,
the book illustrates the extent to which such problems as
poverty, low level of life, degradation are contrasted to
the beautiful nature of the continent and its potential richness
hidden from greedy eyes of British colonizers. Moreover, the
book also reveals more profound problems that were hidden
from average Europeans. To put it more precisely, he reveals
the problem of oppression of the local population by British
invaders, racial discrimination humiliating local population
and leveling them with animals, while white race was treated
as superior, close to gods. The latter is exactly what a reader
can find in the image of Hurtz in “Heart of Darkness”.
Obviously, this is the ‘heritage’ of the epoch
when Great Britain had established total control over political,
social, economic and cultural life of many countries of the
continent. It is evident that British colonization produced
an extremely negative impact on the life of African population
in territories controlled by British. It is worthy of mention
that British oppression resulted not only in numerous economic
and political losses and discrimination of African people
but it also led to the profound cultural crisis since British
colonization brought the new ideology and imposed new biases
to the conscience of the local population.
As a result, Britain exploited economically the local population
and natural resources but, what is more, they constantly deprived
the local population treating local people as second class
citizens. Naturally, such a distinct discrimination could
not fail to affect the national and human self-esteem of the
local population. However, the population of British colonies
in Africa could not really resist to the colonizers since
the technological and economic gap between the colonizers
and the colonized was enormous. As a result, the entire continent
was doomed to sink in ‘darkness’ of British and
European colonization. At the same time, it is important to
underline that cultural and moral degradation typical for
the continent at the colonial epoch affects not only native
population but also all those who arrive in the colonies and
live there for quite a long time.
Quite different from “Heart of Darkness” is the
book “Things Fall Apart”. The difference is quite
substantial since, instead of the analysis of the life in
colonies from the position of a white man, i.e. colonizer,
the author of “Things Fall Apart” tends to view
the problem from inside, i.e. from the point of view of the
colonized. The book mainly deals with the peculiar local traditions
and customs which are totally new and absolutely unusual for
Europeans, such as the ritual murders committed in order to
fulfill the prediction of an oracle. In such a way, this book
is an attempt to show the nature of African people, their
essence, their real life which is, in actuality, culturally
rich and different from British.
Obviously, the lack of independence, permanent political and
economic limitations as well as cultural dominance of British
people, eventually led to the total degradation of the local
population which turns to be unable to progress in the result
of British colonization because the British Empire was not
interested in the development of colonies but it was focused
only on its exploitation.
Furthermore, it should be said that British colonization had
a profound impact on the mentality of colonized people and
their national identity. For they were constantly oppressed,
they could not develop their own cultural identity neither
they could progress as independent and free people.
However, British colonization was not only the severe exploitation
of the local population by Europeans and gradually degradation
of local people but it was also accompanied by numerous military
conflicts which led to really disastrous consequences for
the native population of colonies. In this respect, it is
worthy to refer to Byron Farwell’s “Queen Victoria’s
Little Wars”, in which the author basically focuses
on military operations of British army in colonies. Unlike
the previous books, “Queen Victoria’s Little Wars”
perfectly depicts the bloody military conflicts that rather
resembled the slaughter since, as a rule, the local population
of colonies was unable to adequately oppose to British invasion
because of its technological and scientific backwardness compared
to invaders. Naturally, British army had a substantial advantage
which was not only technological but strategic and organizational.
The author, depicts the desperate struggle of the population
of colonies against British expansion and, at the same time,
he depicts the British army for which the military campaigns
in colonies rather resembled some anecdotic stories than real
military conflicts. In fact, often military operations of
British army acquired inhuman features when British soldiers
could simply earn money while killing the native population
of colonies in America, for instance. But what is probably
the worst, such wars produced a disastrous demographic effect
on the local population to the extent that many peoples simply
disappeared or, to put it more precisely, were eliminated
by British colonizers.
It is also worthy of mention that the author is obviously
ironic in relation to British wars that is particularly evident
when he uses the word combination ‘little wars’
in the title underlying the weakness of the local population
that practically became unprotected victims of British colonization.
However, on comparing this book to the previously discussed
“Heart of Darkness” and “Things Fall Apart”,
it should be pointed out that the authors of these books all
agree that colonization had an extremely destructive effect
on British colonies and on the local population.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible
to conclude that British colonization was a very important
process that affected many countries throughout the world.
Obviously the effects of colonization could be different but,
this is not the difference between good and bad consequences,
for it is only the invaders and their colonial administration
who could benefit from this process, while the native population
of the colonized territories suffered from permanent oppression,
severe economic exploitation, lack of political freedom and,
what is more, a lot of native people were simply physically
eliminated. At the same time, it is necessary to underline
that colonization also revealed the existing injustice and
substantial inequality in the world of that epoch which put
countries in a totally different position. On the one hand
there was the powerful British Empire that had all material
and technological means to launch its expansion, while, on
the other hand, there were poorly developed regions of the
world which were easily invaded and were used for the benefit
of the colonizers, being unable to resist because of their
economic and technological backwardness. Moreover, the position
of colonies only deteriorated in the course of time since
the resources of colonies grew scarcer while the demands of
colonizers constantly grew.
1. Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York, Chelsea House
2. Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. New York, Norton, 1993.
3. Farwell, Byron. Queen Victoria’s Little Wars. New
York, Random House, 2002.