Decolonizing or Merely Customizing?


Decolonizing or Merely Customizing?

Over the past six decades, Africa has been engaged in a relentless struggle against neocolonialism, with movements like pan-Africanism, organizations such as the African Union, and courageous individuals calling out former colonial masters with strong voices. However, what intrigues me is whether this approach truly leads to decolonization or merely customization of what was imposed on the continent.

Customized Colonialism?

Take the example of language. While having a common language fosters unity and collaboration, the language inherited from the Europeans after colonization still serves as the primary means of conducting important business and promoting unity across Africa. I\’d view decolonization of language as one that would involve replacing it entirely with a new African language, rather than attempting to adapt it with African dialects and concepts. The latter might be viewed as merely customizing the language, copying and pasting it with some edits.

This same process of customization rather than decolonization is seen in various aspects of African societies, including education, governance, art, manufacturing, monetary systems, foreign policy, and more. While there may be efforts to adapt these systems to African contexts, they are still fundamentally rooted in colonial structures, rather than being genuinely reimagined from an African perspective.

A Battlefield Shift for Africa

I recall the proverbial story of the when the eagle and the snake are fighting, the eagle grabs the snake and flies with it up above. Motivational speakers say it is the concept of \’changing the battlefield\’ do you think the snake can beat the eagle in a fight that involves high heights? It is therefore essential to question whether Africa can truly overcome its colonial legacy by merely customizing existing structures instead of addressing the root of the problem.

What If Colonialism Never Happened?

I often find myself pondering this question: What would Africa look like today if it had not been invaded by Europeans? There would not have been slavery, harassment of women, hanging of freedom fighters, taking of fertile land, foreign armies might not have entrenched themselves on African soil, maybe we could not have heard of the IMF and the world bank, maybe, I could not have written this article… But could we have extracted and exported the minerals in the Democratic Republic of Congo and improved lives of the people or the oil in Turkana. Could we be living in the city today. Could we be farming with hoes and killing twins because it is evil? How could it have been?

Realignment or Recolonization?

Presently, some African countries have sought new alliances outside their former colonial relationships. While diversifying partnerships can be beneficial, questions arise regarding the extent of control that African nations have in such relationships. Aligning with other countries, including non-former colonial powers like Russia, raises concerns about potential dependence on new masters rather than achieving true sovereignty.

In conclusion, Africa\’s struggle against neocolonialism is a complex and challenging journey. While efforts have been made to adapt existing systems to African contexts, questions remain about whether this truly constitutes decolonization or is simply customization. The fight for a genuinely decolonized Africa requires deeper examination and bold steps towards reclaiming African identities and perspectives on all fronts.

-By Boniface Muema Harrison

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4 Responses

  1. “the step to be made by Africa through changing the battle filed(world structures) is a bold one yet achieving it would take a miracle.The odds are against Africa…
    I’m also greatful for this article it helped me understand more on decolonisation ad provided great insights during my research and presentation in Germany

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