Colonialism: A Case of Ghana and Role of Post-Colonialism
Until 1945, it had been acceptable for stronger and mightier countries to invade and control weaker nations. This caused countries to create and maintain hegemony and other subjugation programmes in different parts of the world. This paper examines the concept of colonialism and post-colonialism. It will review the nature of colonialism and its impact on an African country, Ghana. This will lead to discussions about the concept of post-colonialism and original essay on colonialisn and research about it.
“Colonialism is the maintenance of political, social, economic, and cultural domination over people by a foreign power for an extended period” (Ambenge, 2020, p. 52). This involves one country, extending its power and control over the realm where it functions legitimately to control a foreign territory by shaping its economic, social, and political systems.
Colonialism became the norm because European explorers on foreign continents in the Americas, Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Middle East sought to increase their wealth through various cruel measures against locals. Eurocentric colonialism of the world came with territorial, juridical, cultural, linguistic, political, and mental domination of natives by European colonizers (Murrey, 2020).
First, the European colonizer displaced the natives off their lands. Secondly, they declared their non-Christian and non-Eurocentric lives as inferior and harmful. Then, they set off to force these locals to give up their own identities and take up European identities. Colonialism involved creating new systems and pointers that sought to put the coloniser on top of the hierarchy whilst making the natives the lowest.
Slavery, which is a function of colonialism involved trafficking labour by Europeans from one part of the world to another, where they were stripped of their identity and given the identity of a slave. This dehumanisation meant they could be sold from one European owner to the next and cast as inferior. Thus, colonialism was a tool to enrich the coloniser, while making the colonised feel they are destined to be nothing but inferior and trained to do work that the coloniser feels to be below their dignity.
Colonialism in the Gold Coast, now Ghana
Portuguese explorers were able to make it to the coast of West Africa in the second half of the 15th century. Shortly afterwards, these explorers and colonisers made their way to the Americas and different parts of the world. When the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade began in the 16th Century, the country now called Ghana became a central point. A lot of strong and healthy Africans were captured from the coast of what is now Ghana and shipped off to the new world where they were promptly enslaved and used to create wealth for their white masters.
In the late 1800s, Britain acquired all the forts off the coast of what is now Ghana and established a formal colonial system. Britain insists that they were pursuing Rudyard Kipling’s 3Cs of colonialism: Civilization, Christianity, and Commerce (Emory University, 2021). They overlooked the natives’ system of governance, juridical control, and cultural system and instituted English as the formal language. The civilization process meant that the English man would always be the governor and top authority and no matter how well a native Ghanaian learnt English, he could never find a respectable job in England or any British colony.
Commerce was highly unbalanced and involved buying native products for very little while selling British products extremely high. Merchants were almost exclusively white British. The best a black Ghanaian could hope for was to become a retailer who bought from the British merchant and sold to the local Ghanaians.
Britain’s claim to Ghanaian lands internationally meant they simply built roads and railway lines to the mines and took an indeterminable quantity of gold, bauxite, and other minerals. Colonisation also means Britain had no obligation to develop Ghana. This uneven relationship is the basis of the negativity that comes with colonialism.
Today, we live under an international legal order which considers all states to be equal. Human rights are universal and everyone is to be treated fairly. However, questions of historic injustices prevail. In the quest to maintain a truly egalitarian global order, there must be a fair distribution of wealth and moves to heal old rifts. In our example above, one is forced to act, for how many years did Britain explore minerals from the mines they built in Ghana? 50 years? 100 years? 200 years? It is not clear. What quantity of minerals were extracted? What did the British do with so much money? Why should a Ghanaian languish in poverty and starvation when British nationals throw so much food away in their supermarkets? These are all questions that are essential in the analysis of post-colonialism.
Post-colonialism seeks to right the wrongs of the power dynamics caused by colonial hegemony in economic, political, religious, and cultural matters (Risam, 2018). Post-colonial studies raise theories and concepts that can apply ideas from ethics, political science, and epistemology to fix the wrongs of colonialism and its impacts on people (McLeod, 2010). This critical perspective helps to identify the elements of colonialism and imperialism to help resolve problems and make changes. This is aimed at humanising the degraded native and also seeking economic equality and better distribution of wealth.
Ambenge, J., 2020. Sociology. Conneaut Lake, PA: Page Publishing.
Emory University, 2021. Violence in Twentieth-Century Africa. [Online]
Available at: https://scholarblogs.emory.edu/violenceinafrica/sample-page/the-philosophy-of-colonialism-civilization-christianity-and-commerce/
[Accessed 11 July 2022].
McLeod, J., 2010. Beginning Postcolonialism. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Murrey, A., 2020. Colonialism. Human Geography.
Risam, R., 2018. New Digital Worlds: Postcolonial Digital Humanities in Theory, Praxis, and Pedagogy. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.