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    The Struggles of the African People Under British Imperialism in The Fate of the Ndebele, Ndansi Kumalo

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    Modern History Sourcebook: Rudyard Kipling, The White Man’s Burden. 1899 is a poem which tells us of the perception of the White Man of his ‘uncivilized counterparts’. His imperialist motives, love of control and exploitation of tribal peoples, and the burdens which the natives were forced to bear. Subjection and servitude are ways which Europeans and Americans debased the natives, imposed their culture and consolidated their supremacy in foreign lands.

    The wars waged by the Euro-American were only labeled as ‘wars of peace’ but which in fact were expeditions for imperialism. Under the banner of ‘freedom’ the White Man brought a slavish mentality to the defeated, aboriginal peoples. The historical context of this poem comes in the wake of American Imperialism in the Philippines after the Spanish-American war in 1890.

    The Royal Niger Company – standard treaty is a contract which African chieftains. And British imperialists and capitalists used to legitimize European takeover of the lands and resources of the African peoples. Under the solemn oath to protect the tribal peoples and to defend them from aggressive neighbours, to improve the tribe through industry and infrastructure and to not interfere with the communal traditions, the Europeans made a pact.

    The African peoples were obliged not to do undertake any warring expedition, bestowed all legitimate authority to the British to mediate and negotiate and make decisions in political and economic affairs. This treaty comes in the wake of the commission of Queen Victoria of /England in 1886 for the Royal Niger Company to occupy and monopolize the resources of Modern day Nigeria. From this contract, the Royal Niger Company became a British colony.

    The Fate of the Ndebele, Ndansi Kumalo, His Story narrates the woes and hardship of African peoples under the yoke of British colonialism. The historical context is 1893-1897, South Eastern Africa which initiated imperialism of Africa by the British. The British got rid of the African King which facilitated rule of the tribal peoples. Broken contracts, dishonoured oaths, exploitation, greed and oppression are some of the elements which the natives of Africa had to endure.

    High taxes, Christianization, confiscation of the best lands, assault, corrupt British police. Education was a means by which the Africans hoped to regain their dignity, rise in status and improve not only the individual but the country by extension. Starvation was the devastating result of not only infertile soil but pestilence which befell the cattle and caused many to perish. Men and youth forced to work as farmers and mine labourers to work land and exploit resources for the benefit of the European.

    Taxation added to the already heavy burden of Africans in the race to survive. Arable farming was near impossible because the lot of the Africans were the barren, arid lands which produced unfruitful harvests. Pastoral farming was a difficulty because the sheep and goats got infected by cattle diseases. Advanced war machines of the British proved no match for the primitive simple implements of the Africans. Stripped of their land and property, for the Africans subsisted on the land (on which their little herds grazed, which they cultivated for food and which represented the legacy of their ancestors).

    Difficult Economic conditions rose and European currency became the standard of exchange hence subject to fluctuation and recession. The high price of food was an enemy against which the Africans had to strive. A theme for this passage is the high price of progress – for the only intention of the chieftains was to improve the condition of their peoples through civilization and the comforts that it had to offer. The Africans only had a wish to better their country but the European bourgeoisie took unfair advantage of their ingenuousness.

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    The Struggles of the African People Under British Imperialism in The Fate of the Ndebele, Ndansi Kumalo. (2022, Dec 11). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/the-struggles-of-the-african-people-under-british-imperialism-in-the-fate-of-the-ndebele-ndansi-kumalo/

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