Colonialism is often given a harsh view for some of its effects on the colonized region. This exhibit is intended to show how colonialism actually benefited African countries rather than harmed them.
Infrastructure development in Africa picked up rapidly in the mid to late 1800’s. The new railways allowed people and goods to be moved around much more rapidly than previously used methods. According to the paper by Remi Jedwab and Alexander Moradi “About 88% of total railway mileage in sub-Saharan Africa was built before independence.” The film from Theodore Roosevelt’s trip to Africa in 1909 highlights some of the advances of rail infrastructure.
As an effect of the improved infrastructure cities were able to transfer goods between each other with greater ease which lead to a more efficient economy. Spoilage from transport out of the countryside to the cities was greatly reduced with the advent of improved roadways and railways. Less spoilage during transport helped increase farmers profits and also lowered food prices in surrounding cities.
Educational facilities were also built during the later colonial era; this lead to better education for native Africans. At one point “Governments issued mandates requiring compulsory primary education for African colonies.”(Thomas) The schools that were built also helped dissuade the native peoples from some of their traditions that were in a sense detrimental to their health and well-being. Along with the schooling came the creation of a writing system for some African languages. A fair number of southern African languages were without a system of writing until colonial missionaries created one. This allowed for messages to be sent great distances with far more convenience. As time went on universities were built in the colonies to offer higher education to the people living there. Makerere University in Uganda was built during the late colonial era and is still open in modern times.
Medical improvements also swept through Africa during the latter colonial period as more towns began to expand. The expansion of towns and the density of populations created a need for permanent hospitals. The addition of these hospitals allowed for native populations to be given vaccines against common diseases such as smallpox. Another benefit of the hospitals was the superior medical treatment compared to local practices. The World Health Organizations presentation on colonialism in African medicine was centralized by the colonizing powers. They also played a part in stopping detrimental traditions that were a part of traditional medicine.
- Roosevelt, Theodore, Community Motion Picture Service, Inc., Cherry Kearton, and Theodore Roosevelt Association Collection (Library of Congress). “TR in Africa [1909, 2].” The Library of Congress. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2016.
- Jedwab, Remi, and Alexander Moradi. Colonial Investments and Long-Term Development in Africa: Evidence from Ghanaian Railroads∗. Rep. N.p., 2013. Web. 1 Dec. 2016.
- Frcp(C), Seggane Musisi Md., Phd Nakanyike Musisi, and Uganda Makerere University. “http://www.who.int/global_health_histories/seminars/nairobi02.pdf.” THE LEGACIES OF COLONIALISM IN AFRICAN MEDICINE (n.d.): 1-20. www.who.int. Web. 1 Dec. 2016. <http://www.who.int/global_health_histories/seminars/nairobi02.pdf>.
- “Chapter 10 Notes.” Pinterest. German Historical Institute, n.d. Web. 1 Dec. 2016. <https://www.pinterest.com/pin/457819118339674529/>.
- New Vision. Makerere University. Digital image. AllAfrica. AllAfrica, 14 Aug. 2013. Web. 1 Dec. 2016. <http://allafrica.com/download/pic/main/main/csiid/00251393:6090a11376eca662 282711bf2b685beb:arc614x376:w1200.jpg>.
- Thomas, Jason E. “Enlightenment and Colonial Effects on Education in Africa.”Academia.edu – Share Research. Academia, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.