Neocolonialism in Africa

The term ‘neocolonialism’ has been both embraced and rejected, and continues to be a highly debated, somewhat touchy subject. It is generally used by post-colonial critics of the involvement that developed countries have in the workings of those countries that are still in the developing process.

The original period of colonialism was characterised, in Africa, by the acquisition and domination of European powers (such as Portugal, England and France) over Africa and its countries. While this system introduced various policies, infrastructural developments and industries to Africa, the African people that once owned and lived off of the land certainly experienced much oppression and persecution. Therefore, when they could, these countries fought for and gained their independence. This was not easy and had huge implications regarding how they functioned and their quality of life.

However, some argue that the developed countries granted only a measure of independence to these African countries and that the economic arrangements that exist between the developing and developed lands are in place to maintain control of these African lands. This is referred to as neocolonialism; a sort of modern control. This, in turn, maintains a certain level of dependency on the part of the formerly-colonised on the ‘superior’ powers. However, there are still some countries that are actually administered by foreign territories, despite the fact that this flies in the face of the ideals and resolutions held by the United Nations Organisation. In both of these cases, the term neocolonialism is used to describe the situation.

Image of Diogo Cam Portuguese colonial  monument in the capital of Angola, Luanda
Diogo Cam Portuguese colonial monument in the capital of Angola, Luanda

The major problem with neocolonialism, according to critics, is that the colonisers, or dominant states, are exploiting the colonised and taking advantage of their resources for their own gain. These developing lands are, by this theory, not benefitting at all from what is really theirs. If this is true, then these countries really are no better off than when they were colonised in the formal, political sense of the word.

When neocolonialism is made manifest, it is usually through the financial or economic state of the country under such control. One of the ways in which this is particularly clear is the fact that these neocolonial places are so often the target markets for importation from the neo-colonisers.

Neocolonialism also puts the subordinate state or country in a position to be “passed on” to another imperial body, such as the United States of America, the United Kingdom or a significant financial organisation. This is viewed as another form of perpetual control by these bodies, preventing developing land from rising to their own level of independence and financial and political ‘success’.

In particular, Nkrumah makes the following points about neocolonialism in 1965:

It continues to actively control the affairs of the newly independent state
In most cases neocolonialism is manifested through economic and monetary measures. For example the neocolonial territories become the target markets for imports from the imperial centre(s)
While neocolonialism may be a form of continuing control by a state’s previous formal colonial master, these states may also become subjected to imperial power by new actors. These new actors include the United States or may be international financial and monetary organizations
Because of the nuclear parity between the superpowers, the conflict between the two take place in the form of “limited wars.” Neocolonial territories are often the places where these “limited wars” are waged.
As the ruling elites pay constant deference to the neocolonial masters, the needs of the population are often ignored, leaving issues of living conditions like education, development, and poverty unresolved.

Effects Of Climatic And Environmental Changes On Ancient African Civilisations

Hundreds of thousands of years ago, the entire planet earth looked very different to what modern man experiences today. Continents were not yet divided, and the vegetation and animals were different. Significantly, the climate was also vastly different to what it is today. Climate plays an integral role in determining the plants and animal that live in a certain areas, as well as how habitable a place is for human beings.

In fact, even the theory of the evolution of man was dependent largely on the climatic influences on our ancient ancestors. It is hypothesised that the ancient versions of man were forced to walk upright, lose body hair and develop their coordination for survival in a changing environment. New skills also needed to be learned as farming techniques and living habits had to be adapted.

Ancient Africa experienced major vacillations between mega-droughts and Ice Ages, although these fluctuations occurred over thousands and thousands of years. As humans continued to develop and evolve through these phases, they needed to make major adaptations, not only to their ways of life, but also to their personal body structure. Prior to 135 000 years ago, the whole of Africa was lush and fertile, with a tropical climate. Then, the most intense mega-drought ever to occur hit the continent in the period referred to as the early part of the Late Pleistocene epoch. This is believed to have led to the migration of most of our human ancestors into other areas that were more habitable and fertile. Lake Malawi has been used by scientists as a rain gauge to ascertain water levels in ancient times. Research has shown that, during this mega-drought, the lake’s level dropped at least 1968 feet, or 600 metres! Evolutionists claim that this severe lack of water not only pushed ancient man from the area, it also forced aquatic animals (such as fish) to develop the facilities to be able to survive on dry land, thus evolving into land animals.

As people flocked out of the continent, only a very small proportion of this specific generation remained. Humankind as we know it is widely believed to have come from these few remaining on the continent, who evolved significantly and in response to the climatic changes.

These conditions continued until about 70 000 years ago, when the climate was again characterised by wetter conditions. These led to the growth and renewal of fresh vegetation, as well as an increased water supply to the region. More people were in the area during this time of abundance, and the population grew. This increase in numbers eventually led to migrations due to space limitations and the ownership of land.

Then, about 20 000 years ago, an Ice Age overcame the entire earth. This meant that the planet underwent a long-term period of cold temperatures over most of its surface. In places like North America and Eurasia, giant ice sheets covered enormous proportions of the land, making it impossible to farm and, sometimes, even live in these areas. This final Ice Age lasted for about 9 500 years. It forced most of the populations to migrate to the highlands, where they would be relatively protected from the ice sheets. Again, these civilisations had to adapt their farming methods, and change their diet, social habits, clothing and migratory patterns. This forced an evolution to a certain extent. Body hair was necessary to keep people warm, their skin lightened due to a lack of the harsh rays of the sun that they experienced during the mega-droughts, etc…

When this Ice Age came to an end 10 500 years ago, areas like the Sahara were left fertile and healthy. This made it and the other areas like it the ideal spots in which to settle as ancient man began to descend from the highlands. Animals and plants thrived in this environment, which made it very desirable in the eyes of mankind. The abundance of food, water and sunshine again changed the habits and physical structures of our earliest forefathers.

These conditions lasted for some time, but the Sahara in particular continued to experience fluctuations between humid and dry conditions. These eventually left the entire area unable to yield crops or sustain life for any extended period of time. Today, it remains a large stretch of desert. Then, approximately 2500 years ago, the group of people who had made their home in the Sahara began to follow the direction of the Nile River, which held promise of a rich water supply. The arid conditions of the Sahara and its surrounds continue to the present day.

Africa has, since prehistoric times, proven to be a place of fascination, life and evolution. Changes in the climate were often dramatic, and these were, to a great extent, responsible for determining the ancient civilisations that inhabited this vast continent. It is no wonder that many researchers and scientists maintain that Africa is the Cradle of Mankind, and research continues to yield fascinating evidence of this theory.