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Past Influences on Present Societies

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Colonialism was a major milestone in world history. European nations took over countries in Africa, Asia, and America in order to exploit resources and find markets for their manufactured products. However, many other effects resulted from colonization of different countries. Current socioeconomic or political situations in many countries are influenced by the systems introduced by the colonialists. Different countries were influenced in various ways by colonization. Some of the legacies introduced by colonialism have ended while other persist and are part of the social organization of different countries. This paper will look into some of the legacies that have persisted in different countries from colonialism. It will involve examples of countries where the legacies of colonialism are reflected in the organization and social structures of the countries.

Ways through which legacies of colonialism are reflected in the world

Discussion of religion as an important legacy

Europeans travelled to their new colonies with the aim of converting the colonies into extensions of their home countries. This resulted in the expansion of their religious beliefs and practices to their colonies. Many of the countries that were colonized had traditional and indigenous religions that Europeans did not like. Christianity was the main religion practiced by Europeans. Therefore, the native communities in countries colonized by the Europeans were taught the importance and advantages of modern religions (Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin 40). Most of the countries that were colonized were converted into Christianity.

Religion is a central part in the organization and socialization of a country. Colonialists were of the opinion that their religion was superior to the indigenous religions practiced by the natives in their colonies. Changes that were made by the Europeans concerning the religious beliefs of people in different European colonies have persisted to the current state. Many countries in Africa, Asia, and America practice the religions that were introduced by their colonial powers. This situation resulted in variations along the lines of Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. These countries chose their religions based on the beliefs of their colonialists, as opposed to their early beliefs. Countries that were colonized by the Germans or Portuguese are mostly protestant while many Italian colonies are Roman Catholic (Poddar, Patke and Jensen 358). The colonialists discouraged the practice and teaching of other religions such as Islam.

The colonizers felt that their culture and religious practices were superior to those of their colonies, which they termed as backward. Most of the native people in the colonies were convinced about the superiority of European culture and religion and followed them. In light of this, most of the people in former European colonies still practice the religions introduced by their colonial leaders. The motives for colonization were varied, while most of the colonizers were interested in the resources that the colonies had, others were interested in spreading modernity. This resulted in their persistence in teaching the doctrines of westernization, which included teaching Christianity to the natives. Assimilation was the main strategy that Europeans used to get conformance from the natives. It was thus necessary for them to ensure that the teachings would be followed without rebellion.

Europeans gauged their power in comparison with other European nations by considering how much influence they had on their colonies. Therefore, they ensured that the doctrines of religion and their beliefs were incorporated in the administration of their colonies. Western imperialism was central in the indoctrination of native colonies for the Europeans. This perspective of the superiority of Western religions compared to native religions practiced in different colonies has persisted to the present (Duiker and Spielvogel 816). This makes religion one of the most significant reflections of colonial legacy in the world.

Discussion of Economic Activities as a Legacy of Colonialism

Economic activities practiced in different parts of the world vary depending on resource endowment. Colonialists viewed resource endowment as the main factor influencing their decisions to colonize other countries. Africa, for example, was colonized for its resources in minerals and arable land. The colonialists were only interested in the raw materials that they could derive from their colonies. This meant that little processing was done in the colonies. The colonies were also markets for the finished products that emanated from the industrial revolution in Europe (Chiriyankaandath 38). Colonialists were of the opinion that their wealth as nations could be increased by gaining control over resources in other countries and exporting as much as possible.

This legacy has persisted in many developing countries that were former colonies. They maintain trade ties with their former colonial superiors by exporting raw materials to them. The result of this is economic activities that focus on the production of primary products such as unprocessed raw materials and agricultural products. Most countries in Africa produce raw agricultural goods such as coffee, cotton and others, which are exported for processing in other countries. This was the organization of the economy during the colonial era. European nations wanted colonies to extract minerals and agricultural raw materials such as cotton, which were exported to Europe for processing.

Although this practice results in loss of revenue due to the low value of exports, many former colonies import the processed products from their buyers of raw materials. This practice was embedded in the policies implemented by the colonial rulers in order to retain economic control over their colonies. Policy change in these countries has been slow in these countries, with the former colonialists having control of government agencies in order to protect their interests. Production of primary goods is labor intensive, which the colonialists utilized for their economic progress.

Economic emphasis in different colonies was dependent on the abundant resource in the colony. This resulted in varied types of economies in the territories. Production was meant or exports, as opposed to local consumption, which has influenced economic practice in former colonies today. Many former colonies still focus on the producing of products for export such as production of cash crops, instead of food crops.

Legal and governance system as a legacy of colonialism

Many colonial territories had indigenous governance systems that they followed before their colonization. The colonial governments had to impose their rule on the territories in order to gain control and govern them effectively. The governance policies implemented in the different colonies were in line with the governance structures of their colonial rulers. The legal systems of many colonies such as those in Africa were deemed as being disorganized and ineffective in giving adequate control to a central government. Colonizers, therefore, had to implement their legal systems to govern the territories.

Upon independence, many former colonies did not change the legal systems that were put in place by the colonialists. In many cases, colonies had a common constitution with their colonizers. The government structures in these colonies, therefore, resemble those of the colonizers. Judicial and other administrative systems are also derived from the colonial government. The maintenance of law and order in the colonies was the main reason for the setting up of colonial governments. This resulted in a government that did not act in the interests of the natives. Therefore, the governance structures were undemocratic and imposed rules and policies on people. Decisions and policies were made in the government without any input from the local people.

This practice has persisted in many former colonies especially in Africa, where government policies are implemented with minimal input from the citizens. Though most countries have adopted democratic forms of government, participation of people in decision-making is limited in matters such as formulation of the national budget.

Government and legal systems are very crucial in a country. The legacy of colonialism on the legal system adopted in the countries is significant because it was difficult for the former colonies to change these structures after the end of colonialism. The legal and governance structures of many countries are greatly influenced by the structures introduced by the colonial government.


Spread of Christianity in the Philippines

The Philippines is the only country in Asia, which is predominantly Christian. A majority of the people in this county are Roman Catholics, with only 5% being followers of the indigenous Asian religions such as Taoist Buddhism and other indigenous animistic religions. This spread of Christianity in the country resulted from the long period of colonization of the country by Spain. Spaniards colonized the Philippines between 1550 and 1898 and influenced the religious beliefs of the Natives. Most of the communities in the country were not centralized, and power was vested in few individuals such as warriors and headmen (Russell). The political organization of the country enabled the Spaniards to convert large numbers of people. 

One of the first strategies used by the Spaniards in converting the natives to Roman Catholicism was mass baptism of locals as a favor from Chief Humab for healing his son. The Spanish friars were protective of the people against colonial oppression, which won them favor from the locals. Christianity is practiced in a variety of forms in the country; the native Filipinos adapted the practices of Roman Catholicism. Initially, the Spanish clergy destroyed indigenous religion by destroying their places of worship and their idols. New moralities were also imposed on the Filipinos by discouraging polygamy, slave holing, and consumption of alcohol (Russell).

In essence, the colonization of the Philippines resulted in a legacy of syncretism in the form of Christianity practiced in the country. Catholic practices introduced by the Spaniards blended with the indigenous practices of the native Filipinos. The legacy of colonialism on the religious practices of Filipinos is evident in the enactment of Christian scriptures, which were used to teach Christianity to the natives by the Catholic Priests (Russell).

Kenya as an Agriculture-Driven Economy

Kenya was one of the countries in Eastern Africa that was colonized by the British. The British colonialists were interested in the agricultural potential of the country. The central highlands were especially lucrative for the British due to the resemblance of the climate to that of their homeland. Their exploitation of the country was in introducing cash crops such as coffee and tea, which would be exported to Europe for processing. The native4s were forced to grow coffee and tea on their land, as opposed to food crops such as sorghum and sweet potatoes, which were common. The productivity of the land in these crops was high, and the British discovered the importance the climatic conditions for these crops, which were important for their industries (Ndege 10).

Development of development of the economy and over reliance on agriculture can be traced to the colonial economy. The British exported the harvested tea, coffee, and other products for processing in their country meaning that there was little development of industries in Kenya. The market for these primary products was used as a tool for exploitation and political control. This legacy has persistent in recent times through the regulation of prices by the government (Ndege 7). The economy also has a narrow base, which was inherited from the colonial structure of limited diversification. The economy is also dependent on Britain in terms of technology and financing. This means that the deficit in the balance of trade because of the economic structure is a significant impact of the legacy of British colonialism in Kenya (Ndege 8).

French colonial governance in Guinea

The governance institutions implemented by the colonial government in Guinea were meant to suppress the natives. This was aimed at allowing the French exploit the resources available in the country. They were mainly principles of denomination, which was the mission of colonialism (Sawyer 3). Democracy was not a very significant item in the agenda of governance practices implemented in the country. The government is over centralized, which results in too much control on the founders. 

The structure of governance implemented in Guinea was specifically meant to prevent rebellion from the natives such as the Samoure Toure led resistance. The nature of the colonial experience in Guinea shaped judicial and other forms of legal governance in the country. The French administration was repressive and extractive, which resulted in low levels of goodwill between the elites and the government. Guinean leaders wanted immediate freedom from the French, which caused an angry response from the French. The abrupt departure of the French resulted in destabilization of the country. The Malinke leadership took over the social order in the country causing a divide in the country. Political parties that were formed in the country were aimed at filling the gap left by the abrupt exit of the French. The first political party was formed by trade unionists and focused on democratic centralism (Sawyer 5). Therefore, the structure of political parties in Guinea is a direct replication of the structure of governance adopted by the French colonialists.


From this analysis, it is clear that colonialism resulted in aspects that have persisted in the social, economic, and political structures in the former colonies. The religion imposed on the natives in The Philippines resulted in development of syncretic religion, which incorporates aspects of the indigenous religion in Roman Catholicism. The legacy of colonialism on economic development is clear from the analysis of the Kenyan economy, which is based on agriculture and little diversification in manufacturing. French colonization of Guinea led to development of democratically centric political parties modeled after the policies implemented by the French colonial government in the country. This paper, therefore, provides some of the examples of reflection of legacies of colonialism today. 

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