The institutions of imperialism and colonialism have shaped the face of growth and development of the social, political, and economic forces in Africa. As outlined by Boahen, the extent of the “influence” that these institutions asserted varies and has both positive and negative aspects. Several of these aspects that exists in Africa are mirrored in Latin America, while others differ quite extremely.
An important observation that can be made immediately, is that each positive has a related negative. It is not as if the positive aspects stem from one source while the negatives stem from another, but rather it is as if they both stem from the same related source. Each of the colonial impacts on both Africa and Latin America has both a good and a bad. Therefore, instead of assessing the positives and negatives as separate entities, one must explore them in context of the underlying colonial impact, and from that derive the benefits and detriments.
Political development in both Africa and Latin America relys quite heavily on the institutions introduced by imperialists. Boahen claims that the introduction of a new beauracracy and a new judicial system into Africa as a beneficial social impact. The republican form of government adopted in Latin America are similar to the bureaucracies adopted in Africa in the sense that both have been adopted from similar western political systems which were put forth to assert imperial rule in the respective continents. On both continents, the political structure that was established by the imperialialists remained much the same after independence.
Another political development which bears similarities between the two regions is the emergence of nationalism. This onset of a group mentality has both positive and negative consequences. On one hand, it acted as a binding force between intra-cultural ethnic groups and provided a sense of identity within African colonial states. Much the same way, the ethnically diverse populations of Latin America felt the emergence of a group consciousness. However, because this nationalism was a reactionary force to colonial oppression, after independence was achieved on both continents, it lacked the cohesiveness to bind the masses to the nation’s welfare.
Another key political development which is mirrored on both continents was the emergence of a professional military as an important political device. In both Latin America and Africa, the military has been a source of instability and confusion. As Boahen states, the military has a record of unnecessary and unjustifiable intervention in the political process in Africa. The same was the case in Latin America, where military intervention in government has had a poor economic and political performance.
Economically, there is almost a startling resemblance between the development of Africa and Latin America. On both continents, the emergence of a monocrop, export-oriented economy created states that immediately became dependent on other states or the international market for other goods. This dependency was facilitated by the colonialists, and then by the elites who gained power after independence. Focused on immediate growth rather than development, these export economies became tied to the international market, and therefore never created much of a diversified infrastructure to provide stability. Both continents, reeking of a wealth of resources, had their economic potential squandered by the colonists.
When one examines these similarities between the impacts on both Latin America and Africa, immediately a common trend begins to arise. The political and economic structure in these independent continents almost mirrors that of the imperialists. The bureaucracies were put forth by wealthy elites who had profited during the colonial era, and in order to protect their interests after independence employed the same tactics as the imperialists. Because these tactics were also put forth economically, there lacked a full development of the an infrastructure to support a competitive and diversified economy.
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