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The Effects of British Colonization on Countries During Victorian Era

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.


Bibliography:

1. Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York, Chelsea House Publishers, 1992.
2. Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. New York, Norton, 1993.
3. Farwell, Byron. Queen Victoria’s Little Wars. New York, Random House, 2002.

 

 
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