Was European imperialism beneficial or detrimental for Africans?
What did Imperialists want people to believe? What evidence was used to support these myths? What evidence can be used to challenge these myths?
Europeans ruled Africa fairly, bringing order and stability to the continent.
Europeans brought their legal and governmental systems to Africa. This helped African states develop organised administrative systems.
Europeans failed to take tribal/ethnic boundaries that already existed into account while partitioning Africa, which created nations which divided tribal groups and, in some cases, increased tribal/ethnic conflict.
Europeans established indirect or direct control of their colonies. The systems of administration created were based on racial hierarchy, as the Europeans believed they were superior and Africans were inferior and below them.
Europeans often took direct control of their colonies by ousting tribal chiefs or kings and destroying traditional tribal structures. Those that resisted were killed or sent into exile. For example, Chief Mkwawa of the Hehe was beheaded for opposing German colonial rule in Tanganyika.
Europeans helped Africa to develop economically.
Europeans introduced new more efficient farming methods and new crops such as maize, cassava, cotton, sisal and plantain. This improved agricultural productivity.
European control of African economies meant that Africans were forced to grow goods for export. Not only did this limited economic diversity, imperialist powers would often take a large portion of their income, thus keeping African economies weak.
Europeans took ownership of land within their African colonies. This meant that Africans were no longer able to farm their former land and left them little choice but to take jobs as cheap labour on public work schemes.
Europeans exploited African resources such as precious metals, timber, rubber, oil, ivory and cash crops like cotton and coffee. These raw materials were taken to support European economic growth. This prevented Africa from developing industries of its own and thus, economic growth.
Europeans brought improved infrastructure to Africa, such as telegraph wires and railways.
Europeans built roads, railways and laid telegraph wires across the continent, thus improving transportation and communication.
Most of the transportation systems that Europeans built were created to move raw materials to the coast. Therefore, they were built to benefit European merchants rather than the native inhabitants, and anyway, natives weren't necessarily able to afford to use them.
Europeans helped to educate and civilise Africans.
Europeans built schools and provided education for the native inhabitants, allowing natives to develop new knowledge and skills which could be used to further develop their country and get better jobs.
Europeans introduced Western-style education, clothes, architecture, religion and their own languages which disrespectfully undermined traditional African culture.
The education provided by Europeans was often based around literacy – reading and writing and did not enable Africans to improve their technological skills and, therefore, their technological development.
Europeans improved public health and healthcare for Africans.
Europeans built water and sanitation systems and built hospitals which provided medical care, thus improving public health and increasing life expectancy.
Europeans introduced diseases such as smallpox, measles and cholera to Africa. Africans had no resistance to these diseases as they had not experienced them before, resulting in many deaths.
Europeans ended inhumane customs and barbaric practices in Africa, which were customary among tribes.
Europeans abolished the slave trade and, in most places, the system of slavery in their colonies, bringing more humane practices and freedoms to the people of the African continent.
Europeans often treated Africans with alarming levels of inhumanity. For example, King Leopold of Belgium, effectively treated them like slaves through the use of forced labour on rubber plantations in the Belgian Congo. Workers who failed to meet their production quotas were beaten, mutilated or killed.