Encouraged by the findings of European explorers Livingstone, Pinto, Burton, and Grant in the early 19th century, hordes of Europeans backed by their armies sailed south of Europe and began the work of colonization. It was to avoid the infighting and conflict that the Berlin Conference was organized.
The colonization efforts were ruthless and resulted in the near-total destruction of African culture. Africa at the time was a land of more than a thousand tribal kingdoms, each with its specific culture and forms of government, and as is common with peoples the world over, likewise engaged in their own intergenerational and inter-tribal wars involving territory and natural resources. Ravaged by diseases and harsh living conditions, the populations of these African kingdoms were expanding slowly, limited only by their ability to tame nature. This was the continent which the Europeans invaded with "guns, germs, and steel" (Diamond 4) and set quickly to work in ravishing.
Another strong influence of the colonists was their belief that Afric...
Thus, aside from ambitious explorers, businessmen, and soldiers, the European nations sent Christian missionaries to teach Africans the European ways that the latter deemed more superior. How the combined efforts of material and spiritual colonization affected African culture explains much of what happened after their colonial masters left by the end of the 20th century.
The decision that probably caused the most damage was the territorial boundaries established by the European powers in complete disregard for natural boundaries formed by the language, religion, or ethnicity of the Africans. Almost overnight, tribes were split, dividing families and societies. Until 1914, the Europeans divided Africa into fifty states, putting together warring tribes and dividing friendly tribes. This explains the incidents of ethnic violence that continue to explode in recent times in countries like Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan, and Somalia. In each of these countries, different warring tribes were forcibly put together, continuing the tribal conflicts whenever people from each tribe assumed political power (Shillington 115; Pakenham 174).
It is this tribal conflict that is also a prime cause of so much government corruption, because the tribal links are stronger than the artificial sense of nation that decades of colonization failed to achieve. Aside from the forced union of tribes, colonization had as a major objective that of spreading cultural influence through the language, religion, and customs. This is what the French did, and explains why former French colonies like Algeria have better infrastructure such as a functioning education system, government bureaucracy, and are better assimilated with European culture. It also had better telecommunications and transport