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Colonialism is a situation where in
an individual or groups have authority over a state as well as the activities
of the people (Horvath, 1972:3). The rationale of colonialism among others was
a way to subdue people forever. It is an economic management tool by the West
intended to enhance profit for the colonial masters. So, primarily the idea of
colonialism is centered on commercial interest as argued by Sindima (1995). The
end of colonialism means that those countries that were under the colonial rule
should now govern themselves. However, Ajayi argues that despite the so many
changes caused by the European rule, to him, colonialism is a continuous
process of African history, and he added that it must not be construed to be a
new period of event (1968: 194). Given the decades of colonial rule by
Europeans, the point being made is therefore, as Myers (1988:2) argued, the
legacy of colonialism is evidenced in Africa’s “politics”, “economic”, “cultural”,
“geographical” and even education today. 

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In light of the foregoing, this
essay assesses the statement as to whether the legacy of colonialism could be
linked to the character of former colonial countries today. Adopting a
conceptual approach and in order to increase confidence in the analyses
offered, the essay will limit its assessment to Sub-Saharan African countries,
with a closer assessment of the impact of colonialism on the governance and
education systems in these countries. In the governance arena, the essay will
assess the indirect system of colonial rule through state institutions to
understand their political and economic systems brought about by colonialism
and how these legacies have impacted development on these nations. The second
half of the essay will assess the educational heritage of these countries
passed on by the colonial masters. In the end, the essay will weigh the various
arguments, together with the examples to provide plausible explanations as to
the extent to which colonial legacy defined the character of former colonial
countries today.

Legacy of Colonial Rule on the Governance Systems in Former
Colonial African Countries:

The system of governance during
colonialism can be characterised as either direct rule or indirect rule. The
Indirect rule was a method used by the colonial master to govern through
chiefs.  These chiefs were responsible among
others to raise revenue through taxation, in charge of local policing to uphold
law and order and custodian of land (Acemoglu, Chaves and Osafo-Kwaako, 2013:3,Mizuno
2016:4 and Mamdani, 1996:54).


However, Mamdani(1996: 54) argues
that this system gave “chiefs” enormous power that they  become autocratic coupled with the fact that
they only report to their colonial masters and not to the people they govern.
This system of governance had negatively impacted on the political institutions
in Africa.

However, In the case of Sierra Leone,
Amcemoglu et. al., (2013:4-5), argue that the indirect rule system still exists
in Sierra Leone where the local sates or rural districts are under the
supervision of the Paramount chiefs(PC). The current state of Sierra Leone was
established through the chiefs. The first political group that ruled the
country for an extended period, even after independence, emerged out of this
system. Furthermore, Amcemoglu et. al., (2013:5), explained that the indirect
rule did not establish a strong state in the country for example, the
chieftaincy or “local state” was formed according to tribes, ethnicity, and
family background. They run the states based on their interests coupled with
lack of transparency and control in the handling of resources as Mamdani (1996)
pointed out.  The legacies of this
indirect rule left colonial countries with weak formal and informal
institutions and the emergency of tribal and regional divisions and conflicts,
all of which continue to affect social economic development in these countries
in modern day. The local chiefs were unable to provide adequate basic social
amenities despite the revenue collected from taxes and other resources Mamdani
(1996). Lange, Mahoney, and Hau, (2006:33) further argue that the system of
indirect rule gave more power to the chiefs to misuse the revenue collected and
the bylaws for their own financial gains.

Consequently, Nunn argues that
underdevelopment of Africa’s economy can be inevitably linked to the “slave
trade and colonial rule”(Nunn, 2005: 2). While, Mizuno (2016: 4) argues that
the method of indirect rule created a rivalry of authority between the chiefs
who are in charge of land and the state over revenue collection. This method
poses a challenge for development in some African countries. And this is
further argued by Lange, et al. (2006:33) that this style of governance created
the basis for economic under development based on the weak institutions
established. Besides, Ankomah (1970:5) argues that the economy during the
colonial era was concentrated mainly on the provision of raw material and
market for the industrialised countries. The development of the industrial
sector was not part of the primary interest of the colonial powers, and
industrialization is a key tool for modern development. However, he further pointed
out that the legacy of colonial governance severed as an obstacle to
development in Africa today as their administration did not create the platform
once they had left. And even the initial support received by the colonial
administration was meant to secure the agricultural produce areas to guarantee
its safe delivery to the world market and not for the development of the
protectorate (Sindima, 1995:16).

 Thus, Acemoglu et al. (2013:3) also argue that
the poor quality of current state is the legacy of ‘indirect rule’ during the
colonial era. Colonialism brought tribal and ethnic differentiations (Ndulu and
O’colnell, 1999:10), which one could reasonably argue largely accounted for
much of African’s civil wars almost immediately after their independence.

Apparently, Lange states that “the
colonial state in indirectly ruled colonies lacked the capability to implement
policy outside of the capital city and often had no option for pursuing policy
other than coercion”(2004,:3). Furthermore, the divisionalisation of ethic
and tribes and also the demarcation of boundaries had an impact on the
political stability of former colonial countries, which also directly affected democracy
in these countries ( Hariri, 2012:6; Acemoglu et al., 2013 and Mamdani 1996:24).

And finally, the legacy of colonial
politics which was described as a politics of suppression still exists in most
Africa today (Sindima, 1995:21). For this reason, Harris (1972:182) as cited in
Sindima, (1995:21) argued that “the very same ’emergency regulation’ under
which African political leaders were imprisoned by the imperialists are once
again being used in many independent African states to silence and destroy
political opposition”.

Legacy of Colonial Rule on the Educations Systems in Former Colonial
African Countries:

The colonial educational scheme was
merely introduced to aid them and few individual interests (Court and
Kinyanjui, 1986). The enrollment rate of those that were supposed to attend at
various levels in Africa then was about one-third in primary school, while below
3% in secondary and few in higher institutions of learning (Court and Ghai,
1974 – cited Court and Kinyanjui, 1986: 361). Education was not extended to the
hinterland in those countries and even the few areas that benefited were those
based on the colonial residential areas, where the missionary could access or
there was an economic activity (Court and Kinyanjui, 1986:362). However, for
the case of Sierra Leone, Banya (1993:8) argues that, initially, the colonial
education was only taught in the capital city – Freetown for the freed slaves
so that they could help in the management of the economy. But, later, it was
extended to other areas through the indirect rule system. Even, in the provinces,
it was restricted to certain ‘ruling class’. The idea behind this is to control
the number of educated “elites” among the populace. So that majority of the
people would become less aware of British rule. This consequently contributed
to the high level of modern illiteracy rate in country. According to the Human
Development Report (2016:233) the literacy rate for Sierra Leone as at 2015
was 48.1%.



Thus, Banya (1993) emphasized that
Sierra Leone current educational system is the legacy of colonialism which was planned
to purposely give support to their management. The missionary schools were primarily established for the freed
slaves so that they could be taught how to read the bible and then turn out to
be religious teachers. Sierra Leone modern education is mostly centered in the
City and relatively affordable to a specific class of people.

However, the focus on education
during colonialism was to teach how to read and write and not much of technical
and agricultural skills. Even the girls’ school, only a few attained secondary
and tertiary level (Court and Kinyanjui, 1986: 362). As such, the educational
system inherited did not support economic growth either address the social
needs in Africa countries. Currently, the educational provision is grossly
inadequate as more pupils are now enrolled in schools without the necessary
infrastructure and as such the overall quality is failing in most countries
today, hence a contributing factor to underdevelopment in the Africa continent (Court
and Kinyanjui, 1986: 362-363). Similarly, Ndulu and O’colnell, (1999:3) argue
that in 1960, African countries were considered the less developed and large
portion of their export was controlled by individuals. They used the local
method in the production of agricultural produce with low output and inadequate
technical personnel.  This was as a
result of the educational system inherited as people were only taught how to
read and write with no technological skills, which is important for modern development.
The focus of colonial education was on higher education and not on technical
and vocational education.

Besides, Banya, (1993:9) argues
that much emphasis was placed on government employment in the colonial era, and
this was done to support their administration and economic concern. This trend
continues today as the government employed the majority of the workforce in these
countries. Davis and Kalu-Nwiwu (2001) noted that, education is considered to
play a vital role in promoting national development. For instance, capacitating
the human resources to address the socio-economic problems in the country is
important for development.

In contrast, the colonial
government created some infrastructural facilities to aid development as noted
by Gann and Duignan (1970:4), who argue that the establishment of the railways
did contribute to the economic progress of the continent for example the easy
and quick transportation of people, goods and materials at a very minimal cost.
The advantage of the railway among others was that it helped to develop various
settlement areas and the agricultural produce could easily find their way to
the world market for a better price. This infrastructure then exposes Africa
countries to the world market.  Bernhard,
Reenock and Nordstorm, (2004:9) further argue that the system of indirect rule
which includes the lower level interest is a positive effect of British
colonial legacy as it introduced an inclusive political process even thought it
was done for their own administrative convenience. There where institutional
legacy of colonialism that helped the states to execute developmental
activities for example, through the “legal administrative institutions”. These
institutions control commercial activities, which promoted development in those
countries (Lange, et al., 2006: 25).


Colonialism is a practice of one
group taking control over the other. The main motive of colonialism was based
on economic interest.  Africa was under
colonial rule for decades and its legacies are still visible today. This essay
has showcased these legacies through analyses of governance and education
systems in former colonial countries, drawing on real-life scenarios and case
studies to demonstrate the implications of colonial legacies on the current
developmental state of Sub-Saharan African countries.

Based on the evidence presented and
drawing the consensus from the previous two sections, colonial legacies in
Sub-Saharan African countries, viewing from their governance and education systems
have inevitably defined their character today. From the governance standpoint,
the legacy of indirect rule of governance is evidenced in Africa countries
today and Sierra Leone is a typical example (Acemoglu et al. 2013). This
indirect rule via the chiefs promoted “decentralized despotism” as Mamdani
(1996:18) portrayed it. This further means that the system created room for
lack of transparency and this formed the basis for corruption in the Africa
country today. While Lange (2004) concludes that this system has negative
impact on development. Besides, Bernard et al. (2004:6) and Taiwo,(2010)
regards colonialism generally as underdevelopment.

On the other hand, the educational legacy
that still exists today was designed purposely to suit the interests of the
colonial masters. They were introduced in specific areas within countries. In
Sierra Leone, the missionary schools established were to teach freed slaves how
to read and write so they would become religious teachers (Banya, 1993). The
technical aspect of education like technology, innovation etc. were not taught,
rather the interest of the colonial masters was to train ‘clerks’ and junior
Civil Servants to aid in the economic management. This contributed to the high
illiteracy rate in Sierra Leone and the continent in general, which one could
invariably link to the current underdevelopment in these nations.

However, there are still
institutional and infrastructural legacy that can help the state to undertake
its modern development derives.


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