It is not fair to blame all of Africa’s problems on colonialism, because we are at fault for refusing to uproot these evil seeds and/or attempting to uproot them in the wrong manner.
There is no denying that colonialism sowed the seeds that birthed the concept of separatism which evolves into civil wars. But to allow this seed blossom before our very eyes and continue to water it while its roots continue to rapidly destroy our foundation is entirely our faults and ours alone.
The conflict of interests and dual-ownership experienced in the control and financing of activities in African territories during the colonial era is one of the greatest reasons behind the concept of separatism which is gaining ground in many African countries. It is giving rise to civil wars that further give opportunity to the slave masters to achieve their aim of neo-colonialism and imperialism.
The issue of multiple controls during the colonial era has affected Africa in no small way. For example, in the early 1880s, the British occupied Egypt but this was not regarded as a total control as they had to share financial control with the French until 1904. The face-off between the two countries meant that they had to form allies with other rival powers to substantiate their claims.
Also, many of the colonial boundaries that emerged after the Berlin Conference grouped different tribes and people who have no business together to form artificial states. This is one of the underlying reasons to civil wars in the continent today and the argument brought forward by those who favor the idea of separatism. They claim that tribes and regions should be allowed to disintegrate since these artificial states have gained independence from the colonial masters.
Their argument is further backed with the claims that these tribes, kingdoms or regions were independent before colonization and if independence has been gained from their common enemy, everyone would be allowed to go his own way. This further goes on to reveal the direct and indirect consequences of colonialism and how it will continue to affect the continent negatively for many years to come.
African leaders do not subscribe to the concept of separatism and often prefer the option of a civil war rather than separation. This is because separatism brings instability and successful separatism succeeds in inspiring others to demand such also – something that threatens the authority of governments.
African countries are usually composed of different people with relatives in neighboring countries. The success of a few countries like Namibia and Eritrea in breaking up has not failed to inspire others, and this has led to increased bloodshed in the continent.
The Nigerian-Biafra civil war (1967 – 1970) appears to be a divisive piece of history that proves that regions are willing to do whatever it takes to gain ‘freedom’ and the government of the state is ready to match this ambition with firepower at whatever expense, to keep the state together.
Despite the unsuccessful attempts of many civil wars, the concept of separatism and decision to fight for it has not reduced. This is the reason for the unnecessary wars in the Congo Democratic Republic, Sudan, Zimbabwe, etc.
We cannot continue to give the excuse of colonialism for the disunity, conflict, and wars in our continent today. As a people, we should come together and solve our problems rather than play puppets in the hands of these erstwhile colonial masters who continue to play god in the African continent and move us about like pawns on a chess board.
Only time will tell whether there will not be more successful attempts of separatism in the near future. Either way, we are playing perfectly into the plans of the colonial masters, who like Kwame Nkrumah said, never left Africa.
Header Image Credit: The African Center for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes