Thursday, August 04, 2016

Reverse Colonisation

South Africa has 9 provinces. I wanted to get a tongue in cheek T-Shirt printed shortly after I arrived in London with the UK in the Rainbow Flag colours and the words, 'South Africa's 10th province'. London, like South Africa, is multi-cultural. It feels as much an extension of a home city as Joburg, Durban or Cape Town. As communities form all over the world, people are able to leave without leaving. Effectively little colonies in the opposite direction. A taste of home.

Colonialism in Africa as we know it now only properly kicked off after the Berlin Conference in 1885 as a response to the rise of Germany as an Imperial Power. The Holy Roman Empire had been replaced by a loose confederation of 39 German states in 1815. In 1871 the were unified after the end of the Franco-Prussian War as the German Empire. Worry over Germany's ambitions led to the Scramble for Africa. Up until that point, colonialism in Africa was different from other parts of the world. The focus had been on Ports and trading routes. There were attempts at Military and Economic dominance but less direct rule. There were established African Kingdoms. It was the Muslim expansion that had influenced and traded with Africa from the north, and pushed a southward migration. Europeans were late to the party.


The Game of Thrones in Europe led to attempts to extend empires abroad. Many of the colonies had been set up by companies. The government only had indirect control and these companies had their own armies. The East India Company was chartered in 1600 and eventually the Company ruled India from 1757-1858 and only then did the British Government take control. British interest in South Africa only really kicked off after the fall of Napoleon and the decrease in Dutch Power. Many of the 1820 Settlers were poor and sent South as a way to decrease the unemployment issues. Britain only won full control of South Africa after a series of Anglo-Somebody wars in 1902 with the Union of South Africa formed in 1910. Then the Game of Thrones turned into a couple of World Wars that ended a bunch of monarchies and made Europe far too weak to sustain its colonies. The Decolonisation of Africa kicked off less than 60 years after those crusty old men in Berlin carved it up. There would have been people who lived through the start and end of colonies.


India has a population of about 1.3 Billion people. The United Kingdom has a population of about 65 million people. Africa has a French speaking population of 392 million people in 2015 that is estimated to reach about 850 million in 2050. France has a population of about 65 million people. The legacy of colonialism won't be a legacy of power.

The world wasn't always as it is. People living now don't tend to remember America as just the original thirteen colonies from 1776. Political maps change dramatically. Walls, built of dust, return to dust. Rulers lose. People get empowered. The colonised stand up. We can remake the world each day, and one day perhaps there will be no borders.

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