IntroductionColonialism is a situation where inan individual or groups have authority over a state as well as the activitiesof the people (Horvath, 1972:3). The rationale of colonialism among others wasa way to subdue people forever. It is an economic management tool by the Westintended to enhance profit for the colonial masters. So, primarily the idea ofcolonialism is centered on commercial interest as argued by Sindima (1995). Theend of colonialism means that those countries that were under the colonial ruleshould now govern themselves. However, Ajayi argues that despite the so manychanges caused by the European rule, to him, colonialism is a continuousprocess of African history, and he added that it must not be construed to be anew period of event (1968: 194). Given the decades of colonial rule byEuropeans, the point being made is therefore, as Myers (1988:2) argued, thelegacy of colonialism is evidenced in Africa’s “politics”, “economic”, “cultural”,”geographical” and even education today. In light of the foregoing, thisessay assesses the statement as to whether the legacy of colonialism could belinked to the character of former colonial countries today.
Adopting aconceptual approach and in order to increase confidence in the analysesoffered, the essay will limit its assessment to Sub-Saharan African countries,with a closer assessment of the impact of colonialism on the governance andeducation systems in these countries. In the governance arena, the essay willassess the indirect system of colonial rule through state institutions tounderstand their political and economic systems brought about by colonialismand how these legacies have impacted development on these nations. The secondhalf of the essay will assess the educational heritage of these countriespassed on by the colonial masters.
In the end, the essay will weigh the variousarguments, together with the examples to provide plausible explanations as tothe extent to which colonial legacy defined the character of former colonialcountries today.Legacy of Colonial Rule on the Governance Systems in FormerColonial African Countries:The system of governance duringcolonialism can be characterised as either direct rule or indirect rule. TheIndirect rule was a method used by the colonial master to govern throughchiefs. These chiefs were responsible amongothers to raise revenue through taxation, in charge of local policing to upholdlaw and order and custodian of land (Acemoglu, Chaves and Osafo-Kwaako, 2013:3,Mizuno2016:4 and Mamdani, 1996:54). However, Mamdani(1996: 54) arguesthat this system gave “chiefs” enormous power that they become autocratic coupled with the fact thatthey only report to their colonial masters and not to the people they govern.This system of governance had negatively impacted on the political institutionsin Africa.However, In the case of Sierra Leone,Amcemoglu et. al.
, (2013:4-5), argue that the indirect rule system still existsin Sierra Leone where the local sates or rural districts are under thesupervision of the Paramount chiefs(PC). The current state of Sierra Leone wasestablished through the chiefs. The first political group that ruled thecountry for an extended period, even after independence, emerged out of thissystem.
Furthermore, Amcemoglu et. al., (2013:5), explained that the indirectrule did not establish a strong state in the country for example, thechieftaincy or “local state” was formed according to tribes, ethnicity, andfamily background. They run the states based on their interests coupled withlack of transparency and control in the handling of resources as Mamdani (1996)pointed out. The legacies of thisindirect rule left colonial countries with weak formal and informalinstitutions and the emergency of tribal and regional divisions and conflicts,all of which continue to affect social economic development in these countriesin modern day. The local chiefs were unable to provide adequate basic socialamenities despite the revenue collected from taxes and other resources Mamdani(1996).
Lange, Mahoney, and Hau, (2006:33) further argue that the system ofindirect rule gave more power to the chiefs to misuse the revenue collected andthe bylaws for their own financial gains.Consequently, Nunn argues thatunderdevelopment of Africa’s economy can be inevitably linked to the “slavetrade and colonial rule”(Nunn, 2005: 2). While, Mizuno (2016: 4) argues thatthe method of indirect rule created a rivalry of authority between the chiefswho are in charge of land and the state over revenue collection. This methodposes a challenge for development in some African countries. And this isfurther argued by Lange, et al. (2006:33) that this style of governance createdthe basis for economic under development based on the weak institutionsestablished. Besides, Ankomah (1970:5) argues that the economy during thecolonial era was concentrated mainly on the provision of raw material andmarket for the industrialised countries.
The development of the industrialsector was not part of the primary interest of the colonial powers, andindustrialization is a key tool for modern development. However, he further pointedout that the legacy of colonial governance severed as an obstacle todevelopment in Africa today as their administration did not create the platformonce they had left. And even the initial support received by the colonialadministration was meant to secure the agricultural produce areas to guaranteeits safe delivery to the world market and not for the development of theprotectorate (Sindima, 1995:16). Thus, Acemoglu et al.
(2013:3) also argue thatthe poor quality of current state is the legacy of ‘indirect rule’ during thecolonial era. Colonialism brought tribal and ethnic differentiations (Ndulu andO’colnell, 1999:10), which one could reasonably argue largely accounted formuch of African’s civil wars almost immediately after their independence. Apparently, Lange states that “thecolonial state in indirectly ruled colonies lacked the capability to implementpolicy outside of the capital city and often had no option for pursuing policyother than coercion”(2004,:3). Furthermore, the divisionalisation of ethicand tribes and also the demarcation of boundaries had an impact on thepolitical stability of former colonial countries, which also directly affected democracyin these countries ( Hariri, 2012:6; Acemoglu et al., 2013 and Mamdani 1996:24).
And finally, the legacy of colonialpolitics which was described as a politics of suppression still exists in mostAfrica today (Sindima, 1995:21). For this reason, Harris (1972:182) as cited inSindima, (1995:21) argued that “the very same ’emergency regulation’ underwhich African political leaders were imprisoned by the imperialists are onceagain being used in many independent African states to silence and destroypolitical opposition”. Legacy of Colonial Rule on the Educations Systems in Former ColonialAfrican Countries:The colonial educational scheme wasmerely introduced to aid them and few individual interests (Court andKinyanjui, 1986). The enrollment rate of those that were supposed to attend atvarious levels in Africa then was about one-third in primary school, while below3% in secondary and few in higher institutions of learning (Court and Ghai,1974 – cited Court and Kinyanjui, 1986: 361). Education was not extended to thehinterland in those countries and even the few areas that benefited were thosebased on the colonial residential areas, where the missionary could access orthere was an economic activity (Court and Kinyanjui, 1986:362). However, forthe case of Sierra Leone, Banya (1993:8) argues that, initially, the colonialeducation was only taught in the capital city – Freetown for the freed slavesso that they could help in the management of the economy.
But, later, it wasextended 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 controlthe number of educated “elites” among the populace. So that majority of thepeople would become less aware of British rule. This consequently contributedto the high level of modern illiteracy rate in country. According to the HumanDevelopment Report (2016:233) the literacy rate for Sierra Leone as at 2015was 48.1%. Thus, Banya (1993) emphasized thatSierra Leone current educational system is the legacy of colonialism which was plannedto purposely give support to their management.
The missionary schools were primarily established for the freedslaves so that they could be taught how to read the bible and then turn out tobe religious teachers. Sierra Leone modern education is mostly centered in theCity and relatively affordable to a specific class of people. However, the focus on educationduring colonialism was to teach how to read and write and not much of technicaland agricultural skills. Even the girls’ school, only a few attained secondaryand tertiary level (Court and Kinyanjui, 1986: 362). As such, the educationalsystem inherited did not support economic growth either address the socialneeds in Africa countries. Currently, the educational provision is grosslyinadequate as more pupils are now enrolled in schools without the necessaryinfrastructure and as such the overall quality is failing in most countriestoday, hence a contributing factor to underdevelopment in the Africa continent (Courtand Kinyanjui, 1986: 362-363).
Similarly, Ndulu and O’colnell, (1999:3) arguethat in 1960, African countries were considered the less developed and largeportion of their export was controlled by individuals. They used the localmethod in the production of agricultural produce with low output and inadequatetechnical personnel. This was as aresult of the educational system inherited as people were only taught how toread and write with no technological skills, which is important for modern development.The focus of colonial education was on higher education and not on technicaland vocational education. Besides, Banya, (1993:9) arguesthat much emphasis was placed on government employment in the colonial era, andthis was done to support their administration and economic concern. This trendcontinues today as the government employed the majority of the workforce in thesecountries. Davis and Kalu-Nwiwu (2001) noted that, education is considered toplay a vital role in promoting national development. For instance, capacitatingthe human resources to address the socio-economic problems in the country isimportant for development.
In contrast, the colonialgovernment created some infrastructural facilities to aid development as notedby Gann and Duignan (1970:4), who argue that the establishment of the railwaysdid contribute to the economic progress of the continent for example the easyand 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 varioussettlement areas and the agricultural produce could easily find their way tothe world market for a better price. This infrastructure then exposes Africacountries to the world market. Bernhard,Reenock and Nordstorm, (2004:9) further argue that the system of indirect rulewhich includes the lower level interest is a positive effect of Britishcolonial legacy as it introduced an inclusive political process even thought itwas done for their own administrative convenience. There where institutionallegacy of colonialism that helped the states to execute developmentalactivities for example, through the “legal administrative institutions”. Theseinstitutions control commercial activities, which promoted development in thosecountries (Lange, et al., 2006: 25).
Conclusions Colonialism is a practice of onegroup taking control over the other. The main motive of colonialism was basedon economic interest. Africa was undercolonial rule for decades and its legacies are still visible today. This essayhas showcased these legacies through analyses of governance and educationsystems in former colonial countries, drawing on real-life scenarios and casestudies to demonstrate the implications of colonial legacies on the currentdevelopmental state of Sub-Saharan African countries.
Based on the evidence presented anddrawing the consensus from the previous two sections, colonial legacies inSub-Saharan African countries, viewing from their governance and education systemshave inevitably defined their character today. From the governance standpoint,the legacy of indirect rule of governance is evidenced in Africa countriestoday and Sierra Leone is a typical example (Acemoglu et al. 2013). Thisindirect rule via the chiefs promoted “decentralized despotism” as Mamdani(1996:18) portrayed it.
This further means that the system created room forlack of transparency and this formed the basis for corruption in the Africacountry today. While Lange (2004) concludes that this system has negativeimpact on development. Besides, Bernard et al. (2004:6) and Taiwo,(2010)regards colonialism generally as underdevelopment.
On the other hand, the educational legacythat still exists today was designed purposely to suit the interests of thecolonial masters. They were introduced in specific areas within countries. InSierra Leone, the missionary schools established were to teach freed slaves howto read and write so they would become religious teachers (Banya, 1993). Thetechnical aspect of education like technology, innovation etc.
were not taught,rather the interest of the colonial masters was to train ‘clerks’ and juniorCivil Servants to aid in the economic management. This contributed to the highilliteracy rate in Sierra Leone and the continent in general, which one couldinvariably link to the current underdevelopment in these nations.However, there are stillinstitutional and infrastructural legacy that can help the state to undertakeits modern development derives.