African Journal of
History and Culture

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Hist. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6672
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJHC
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 187


Colonialism and African cultural values

Benson O. Igboin 
Department of Religion and African Culture, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State, Nigeria. 
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 19 May 2011
  •  Published: 31 July 2011



It is no longer a debate that pre-colonial African life was heavily influenced by religion. Almost every aspect of life was seen and interpreted in the supernatural. The belief that the ancestors played prominent roles in the maintenance of morality in the community hardly dies, even today. However, it is true that colonialism altered the belief and values of the Africans significantly, just as its structure was almost completely eroded. Today, the argument oscillates between a return to the ‘glorious’ pre-colonial past as the minimum requirement  for moral rearmament and a total break with the past. This paper clarifies these positions and posits that even though it is not practically possible to have a total return to the past, there are certain cultural values that consistently define the African personality, history and belief that cannot be jettisoned without consequences. Through the gristmill of scholarly and analytical framework, this paper argues that these values are critical to African identity in a post-colonial, global community, and as such, there is the need to revisit some of them in order to keep pace with the history and identity in the face of current global challenges.


Key words: Colonialism, Africa, values, religion, culture, morality.