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Colonialism Blamed for Africa Wars

New Vision (Kampala)
August 22, 2002
Posted to the web August 22, 2002

THE colonial system of administration perpetuated cultural divisions and is responsible for the current civil wars in Africa, renowned scholar, Prof. Mahmood Mamdani, has said.

Mamdani, a professor of anthropology at Columbia University in the US, also blamed the colonialists for the fundamentalist beliefs of some cultures today.

Addressing a workshop on "Post-colonial Studies in Africa" at Makerere University on Tuesday, Mamdani said while the Europeans suppressed cultural diversity in their countries, they did the opposite in Africa.

"They pretended that between the various cultures in Africa, there was a Chinese wall in between. They promoted cultural differences and even used laws to enforce it," Mamdani said.

"The races (Europeans and Asians) were governed under a single civil law. But the tribes were governed under the customary law with each tribe having a different law," he said.

At independence, Mamdani said, the natives found themselves under a single territory but with no common culture leading to tension. He described as malicious the use of laws to guard against cultural change.

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