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Impact of Nationalist Movements Against Western Colonialism and Decolonization

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Impact of Nationalist Movements against Western Colonialism and Decolonization

In Sub-Saharan Africa and India

Rocky Webb

Contemporary History FALA07, Section G

Professor John Radzilowski

December 15, 2007

Impact of Nationalist Movements Against Western Colonialism

in Sub-Saharan Africa and India

Colonialism is the exploitation by a stronger country over a weaker one; the use of the weaker country's resources to strengthen and enrich the stronger country. (Colonialism, no date, p.1) Besides the economic point of view, the process of colonialism can not be defined without the cultural concepts such as imposing a religion, traditions or a language of a nation upon a weaker nation. With these two main perspectives, Europe always executed the policy of exploiting the underdeveloped regions of the world. In contrast to European desires, the imperialistic policies were refused by the nationalist movements of the public of the exploited regions. The imperialistic policies of the West to gain economic benefits and cultural expansion resulted with nationalistic counter policies created by the elite were supported by the public of exploited regions in terms of liberation struggles and rebellions.

Western European countries favored colonialism as a foreign policy to reach the raw materials of underdeveloped regions and increase their market. By the industrial revolution, the production in Europe had accelerated immensely resulting with increasing importance and necessity of raw materials. Due to limited sources in Europe, contrary to the variety in India and Sub-Saharan Africa, European countries favored colonialism. Moreover, not only the necessity of sources, but also the need of market because of the increased production led them to perform colonialism. In this sense, India is a good example to emphasize the causes of colonialism. In the mid 18th century, Great Britain relied heavily on India as a source of raw materials. Britain profited from India's vast supply of tea and cotton that was exported back to England (Britannica, 1995, p.1).

In addition to the economic causes of colonialism, the desire of cultural expansion in terms of language, tradition and religion was another reason of European colonialism. One of the reasons for Europeans to have the aspiration to impose their culture was their thought of being more superior to other civilizations. They accepted neither any African civilization nor Africans as human beings. Therefore the Euro centric scheme based on creating an African civilization which did not exist forced them to use their language and be accustomed to their traditions and religion. The British continued to proclaim their rule in Africa as "a sacred trust" for advancing civilization. Their stated plan was to help their subjects to modernize and develop economically, a responsibility they said they would continue to perform until the Africans under their rule were able to stand on their own (Smitha, F., 1998). This was really just the Europeans excuse for imposing their imperialistic rule over countries so they could obtain the resources for their own economic needs.

Somehow, colonialist policies conflicted with counter policies of the exploited regions that colonialism is not an easy sustained process. There were those known as the elite which were made up of doctors, lawyers, scholars and other educated people who chose to oppose these policies. The elite of exploited areas created nationalism to prevent the colonialist countries' policies which is known as the elite manipulation. With the Elite being aware of economic damage of colonialism on their own prosperity, they tried to protest colonialism by nationalist policies. In fact these policies aimed to recover the economic prosperity of the country. However they seemed to be quite nationalist with the goal of gaining public's self determination. There appeared some institutions advocating these policies. One of these institutions was established in 1885 in India named "Hindu Indian National Congress" aiming the self determination of the public. Later joined by the Muslim League in 1906, many of the elite called upon the public to take more pride in their heritage and resources (Lewis & Lincoln, 1997, p.1). This action showed the importance of the policies of the elite through the process of self determination.

By the philosophy of these institutions, the public accepted policies of the elite and created their own self-determination struggle in terms of nationalist and cultural rebellions. As the time passed and colonialism was taking place, the public

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