Topic 4: Colonial Social Services - History Form 3

Topic 4: Colonial Social Services – History Form 3

History Notes Form Three, Topic 4: Colonial Social Services - History Form 3, Topic 3: Colonial Economy - History Form 3, Topic 2: The Colonial Administrative Systems - History Form 3, Topic 1: Establishment Of Colonialism In Africa - History Form 3

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Colonial social services refer to the services that were provided in Africa by colonialists purposely to accelerate colonial exploitation and improve the welfare of colonial civil servants during colonial period. Such services include public health, education, transport and communication, water and housing and many others. For the purpose of this course our major concern will be on the following outlined aspects

These were the services e.g. Health services, education, water supply etc. which were introduced and provided by the colonial governments in Africa so as to facilitate the ambition and motives of imperialism in Africa.


  1. The major aim of colonial social services was to facilitate the ambitions and motives of the imperialists in Africa.
  2. To enable extensive exploitation of Africa’s wealth.
  3. It also aimed at supporting those few Europeans who happened to be in Africa.
  4. It also aimed at preparing few Africans to assist colonial administration.


  1. Establishment of settlers in the colony led to the establishment of some social services so as to meet for the white settler’s interest. Example, school and medical facilities were introduced in such area.
  2. Due to the existence of production. This means that some developments of social services were established near, plantations, so as to attract the laborer and facilitate the production. For instance, workers quarters for accommodation and transport net – work like roads and railways were established.
  3. Areas with raw – materials encouraged the establishment of transport network such as railways roads, in order to facilitate the transportation of raw – materials to the coast. Example in colonial Tanganyika all railways roads were running down to the coast.
  4. Areas where missionaries had dominated things like schools, medical centers were established to help them 9missionaries) and to convert the indigenous people having been attracted them.
  5. Due to the status of the colony itself. This mean that, the colony that was under trust ship of UN like Tanganyika, they were given few social services this was a case due to the fact that the colonialists never see a need to develop such colonies but in those mandatory colonies they were given many social services.
  6. Areas with migrant laborers, which preserved as labor zone, in these areas, infrastructures like railways, were established in order to transport laborers to the areas of plantations example rail line from Kigoma to Tanga was built so as to carry workers in sisal plantations.
  7. Existence of peasant agriculture like in Buganda and Kagera, This made possibility of establishing social services like schools so as to encourage the peasants to carry out with agricultural activities because with agricultural sectors they were able to get money that would be used to pay school fees for their children.


Education refers to as an endless civilization whereby knowledge, values, skills, experiences of the society are transmitted from one person to another or from one generation to another either formally or informally. On the other end of spectrum culture can be defined as the totality of people’s ways of living as they struggle to live, continue living and develop as nation. It is the total ways of living of a particular group of people in a given environment and time. It generally includes items like language, traditions, customs, arts and crafts, social institutions In other words, culture refers to as all that has been created by man except those created by God.

Education is of paramount importance in any society since it ensures the preservation of the lives of its members and the maintenance of its social structure. So far, there are two main types/forms of education, namely formal education and informal education.


Formal Education is the type of education, which follows specific programs and maintains a clear division between professional teachers and the students. It is offered in special designated institutions like schools, colleges and Universities. It follows specific programs, syllabus and curriculum. It is further guided by the rules and regulations of the state/government.


An Informal education can be defined as a set of values that youths as members of the society acquire (get) from the elders through direct observations. It is mostly based on one’s observation. Informal education does not follow specific programs; it has no syllabus, curriculum as opposed to the formal education. Informal education was predominantly practiced by every society in pre-colonial African societies. This was the most predominant type of education that existed almost in every society, it greatly based on the nature of the environment and the needs of the society.


The following are/were the aims of colonial education

  1. Colonial education aimed at paving the way for the colonization of Africa.
  2. It also aimed at destructing African culture and introducing the western culture.
  3. It further aimed at preparing few Africans for white-collar jobs.
  4. It also aimed at preparing puppet leaders who could be used in neo-colonialism.
  5. Colonial education aimed at creating classes amongst Africans so as to bring about disunity this delayed Africa’s independence.
  6. It aimed at fulfilling the aims and ambitions of the imperialistic nations.


  1. It was pyramidal in structure. There were many students at the lower levels but the number diminished as they went to higher classes.
  2. It was more theoretical than practical this contributed to the decline of African technology.
  3. It was taught in foreign languages and not in African vernaculars. (Local language).
  4. It was discriminative in sex. In this way, girls and children of the lower class were denied to acquire education it was only boys and children of the chiefs that were given education this was because girls were regarded as less productive other than working in kitchen.
  5. It was discipline oriented. Because it aimed at producing royal and obedient students to the colonial government. Those who received the education were supposed to obey without questioning, this aimed at avoiding many questions to the existing colonialism.
  6. The syllabus was foreign oriented and examination based. This is because whatever was taught was based in Europe, nothing much concerned about Africa, students were taught mountains in Europe without ever studying about the Africa ones. These were also a series of examinations set in Abroad; nobody could go to another stage without passing the examination.
  7. It was too theoretical with little science practice. This was because; it aimed to produce job seekers instead of job makers. Minimum skills were provided, as the colonizers did not mean to develop technologically but to produce raw – materials for export and a market for European manufactured goods.
  8. It was racial oriented. i.e. based on color. This was because, Europeans got higher level, followed by Asians who got middle level, and Africans were the last who were in poor schools. There were separate school for each race and the syllabus differed accordingly, Europeans received better education where as African got poor education.
  9. It was religions biased. This was because, in the missionary schools non – Christians could not attend the missionary school, for instance Muslims and those who had not been converted to Christianity missed education.
  10. It only favored the sons and few daughters of chiefs for future administration in this way many of the people from ordinary families had no chances to secure education.
  11. It was un-even distributed This mean that, areas where production was high education was improved, where as in labor receives these were no schools, thus regions that produced cash crops for instance in Tanganyika regions like, Tanga, Moshi got many schools.
  12. It was taught in foreign language and prohibited. The African pupils from not using local languages, for instance English, French and German became dominant, in the colonial schools. This in turn brought inferiority complex in African pupils and brainwash.
  13. It had specific syllabus unlike the informal education in Africa,
  14. Exams were set so as to reduce the number of students.
  15. It was provided to few Africans especially the sons and daughters of the African chiefs only.
  16. It involved professional teachers.


The structure of the colonial education consisted of levels, which were in form of a pyramid. Its structure on the pyramid as follows.

  1. Primary education acted as elementary education, which mainly prepared children to remain peasant cash crops producers or farm laborers. It started from standard 1 to 4 in Tanganyika.
  2. In secondary or middle level (school) this was a post primary education; it had only few children who could offer services in colonial offices and industries a low wages. In Tanganyika they built, Tanga School, Tabora boy’s school, secondary schools started at standard 5 up to 8, in Uganda, Mengo day school and Kings College, Bodo and Kisubi area etc.
  3. Colleges like teachers and technical colleges n East Africa, makerere technical college in 1921, which offered vocational training in medicine, agriculture, mechanics, carpentry and teaching professionals, others were, Ukiruguru in Morogoro in 1939, Achimota in Ghana in 1924, Yaba higher college in Lagos in 1934.
  4. Higher education (University level) this was provided by universities, in this way few people who managed to get university education had to be taken abroad.


  1. The syllabus based largely on Europe and nothing about Africa.
  2. It promoted inferiority complex among the Africans that even Africans were punished when spoken their local language and everything evil has a black face and white is an angel.
  3. It produced job seekers and not job creators.
  4. On primary level, concentration was put on agricultural education and school gardens so as to teach Africans how to cultivate cash crops.
  5. It was not free; school fees were to be paid that is why very few acquired education white the majority did not.
  6. Learning was too bookish emphasizing on cram work, which was impossible for application in African situation.

Question : Topic 4: Colonial Social Services – History Form 3

  1. Compare and contrast between pre-colonial African education and colonial education


Pre-colonial African education
Colonial education
Existed in Africa before the intrusion of colonialism Brought in Africa during colonialism 19th C
Offered to all members of the society It was offered to the sons of chiefs only, i.e. it was discriminatory on one’s status
African oriented Western oriented
It was more practical as it emphasized “learning by doing” It was more theoretical it emphasized on three R’s i.e. 3R’s only (Reading, Writing and Arithmetic)
It prepared youths to be productive members of the society It emphasized on brain-washing and prepared a few class of Africans who could become loyal to the colonial governments officials
It was relevant to African culture since it emphasized on development and promotion of African cultural aspects It was irrelevant to African culture since it was western oriented.
Offered in African vernaculars Offered in Western languages like English, French, etc.
It had no specific programs, syllabus, curriculum It had specific programs, structure, syllabus and curriculum
It wasn’t It was pyramidal in shape-many Africans were at the lowest level while Asians at the middle and only a few Europeans who ascended to the apex of the pyramid.
No exams Examinations were used the means of reducing the number of students who would ascend to the top of the pyramid
It was based on the society’s culture It was based on religious (Lutheran, Catholic and Muslim schools. E.g. Pugu sec. school – R.C

Tabora boys – R.C

Kigurunyembe – R.C

Seminary schools etc

Produced Africans to be able to undertake all forms of tasks especially physical and practical tasks
  1. It produced people for white collar jobs or office clerkships
It aimed at utilizing African resources for community development
  1. Aimed at exploiting African resources both natural and human resources
It did not
  1. Aimed at creating puppet leaders and elites who were to be loyal to the imperialists


  1. Both aimed at imparting skills, knowledge and valves to the members of the society
  2. Both were practice in Africa.
  3. Both forms of education were accompanied by ceremonies upon completion of the specified programs/teachings/level. In Africa-Traditional ceremonies /Graduation.


  1. It divided people into groups of educated (elites) and un – educated. This resulted to disunity among Africans because educated Africans had a tendency of despising non – educated Africans.
  2. It transmitted European, values rather than African values from one generation to the next. For instance in French colonial Africa like Senegal and morocco, the educated African became like the French except their color.
  3. It trained very few Africans in which after independence African lacked enough labor to run the government office.
  4. It contributed to the development of African nationalism in a sense that, colonial education produced African elites who became political aware and started to challenge colonialism example, J.K. Nyerere, Kwame Nkrumah and many other.
  5. It promoted Africans under development. This was because colonial education abandoned (killed denied) African education that was practical and based on African environment as a result Africans were given education which no application in their life, thus economic well being in Africa declined.
  6. The colonial education introduced foreign culture like education and religion, which began to distort the African values, and traditions and African local beliefs were despised, Africans were seen as pagans and un civilized people.
  7. The colonial education trained colonial collaborators who later helped the colonialist to consolidate exploitation, as many educated Africans worked as clerks, office attendants, messengers, as well as primary teachers, also little emphasis on technology and creativity was accompanied with this.
  8. It segregated Muslims from political and economic activities as Muslims regarded missionary education as Christianity and feared their pupils to be converted into Christianity and hence they decided to take their sons to madras and ignored the education, this made the Muslims to be segregated in political activities.
  9. It also prepared the fertile grounds for neo-colonialism in Africa since the whole system of this education discouraged the development of science and technology in Africa.


  1. The education, which was given to Africans, was too inferior from that which was given to the whites.
  2. Few Africans received this kind of education especially the sons of chiefs while majority remained illiterate.
  3. It was based on race and religion. This was because there were schools for the Africans and other races. Muslims could not join the missionary schools.
  4. There was regional imbalance in the provision of this education.
  5. Boys were much preferred to girls this led/contributed to poor development/ gender imbalanced kind of education.
  6. Education always aimed towards serving the colonial state rather than indigenous people their environment and development.
  7. The curriculum was on European countries, therefore the learners were taught geography of Britain instead of geography of Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana or Senegal.


The colonial infrastructures were also important social services established in colonial Africa. These colonial infrastructures were roads, railways, ports, harbors and airports. Examples are central railway line from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma via Tabora to Mpanda and Dar es Salaam to Tanga.

The Germans firstly built Tanga line in 1893, and reached Mombo in 1905, it was later extended to Moshi in 1912, where it served the settlers in Usambara and plantations owners and African peasants in Kilimanjaro. They also constructed the central line from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro in 1907, and reached Tabora in 1912 and Kigoma in 1914. It was 1928 after WWI when it was extended from Tabora to Mwanza. Other railways was in Kenya – Uganda made by British, it started at Mombasa in 1896 and reached Nairobi in 1898. It was in 1928 when it was extended to Jinja and Kampala.


  1. They ran perpendicular to the coast. This was done so as to ease importation of manufactured goods from Europe and exportation of raw – materials from the interior to Africa.
  2. Roads and railways were very few only covered short distance concentrated in the areas of production and not much developed
  3. Construction of these roads/ railways was done through forced labor but under the supervision of white man.
  4. There was no international linkage in transport. Colonial infrastructure did not run from one territory to another except where only the colonies belonged to the same colonial master e.g. Uganda and Kenya shared railway because they were under British.
  5. They were seasonal. This means that, most of the roads were mostly used during production and harvest season only hence in effectiveness roads and railway.
  6. They experienced frequent reconstruction. This was because, in some areas Africans used to destroy them more especially during night e.g. Nandi and Masai, thus frequent repair became very important to make it function able.


  1. To facilitate transport of raw materials from the interior to the coast for easy shipment to Europe. E.g. cotton, minerals and coffee.
  2. To facilitate the transportation and distributed imported European manufactured goods from the coastal areas to the interior.
  3. To easy the transportation of African laborers from one colonial economic sector to another.
  4. To interlink various important colonial centers or zones such as colonial districts, provinces, projects, e.g. plantation and mines.
  5. To easy transportation of colonial officials and solders from one place to another in running and administering the colonies.
  6. To easy the colonial states to collect revenue from communication system in form of taxes from goods and raw – materials.
  7. To open up the interior of Africa for exploitation of cheap labor, markets and raw – materials.


This was the railway, which was constructed by the British colonial government. It ran from Mombasa in Kenya to Kampala in Uganda in 1896 to 1907.


i) In order to transport raw materials. Especially copper from Kilembe, cotton from Uganda. In addition, it transported coffee and tea both from Kenya highland through Mombasa.

ii) To transport manufactured goods. The manufactured goods from Europe were to be transported from Mombasa harbor to the interior of Kenya and Uganda.

iii) To travel military troops. This was the case because these troops needed to supervise African resistance. For example, British travelled military troops for suppressing Nandi resistance in Kenya.

iv) Transportation of laborers. The African laborers especially migrant labors were taken from their home in various parts in Kenya and Uganda to the producing centers like in mining and agricultural centers.

v) To transport administrators. The colonial administrators or official were transported in various areas so as to supervise colonial economic projects.


Most of the roads and Railways in colonial Africa were directed towards the coast. This was due to the following reasons.

i) Roads and railways were directed to the coast so as to transport various raw – materials such as cotton, sisal, tobacco from the interior to the coast for easy shipment to Europe.

ii) They were constructed perpendicular to the coast so as to take manufactured goods from Europe like, clothes and distributed them in the interior of Africa.

iii) They were directed the coast so as to transport African migrant laborers to the various economic projects which were established along the coast e.g. Sisal in Tanga

iv) They were constructed towards the coast so to transport colonial officials who could supervise colonial economic projects, which were established along the coast.

v) They were constructed towards the coast so as to facilitate transportation of European soldiers to the economic projects, which were constructed along the coast. These soldiers were sent mainly to ensure that all economic activities went on smoothly.


Political administrative and economic functions determined the nature of housing and water service provided to the residents. Many Africans were attracted to move to urban centers after the World War.

In Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia, some 4000 African male workers and unknown number of women and children were reported to have been housed in squatter settlement by late 1930. Africans lived in slums and were scattered in different parts of the capital city. Such slums were made using cheap materials poles, grass and tins. Dar-es Salaam encountered unemployment problem. The population increased but the number of houses did not increase. Many slums emerged at the begging of colonialism. Example in Nairobi Kenya slums were scattered while the Europeans settled in better- drained neighborhoods.

Conditions of living in the rural areas were becoming difficult especially in the white settler colonies. Where a lot of African land was alienated. There also was great pressure for Africans to pay taxes. Africans who lived in urban centers were overcrowded, the wages paid were much better than in the rural areas.

Improvement in transportation also encouraged mobility to the urban centers. The introduction of passenger buses and train coaches facilitated the movement towards the urban centers especially in colonial Tanganyika.

Impact of the provision of colonial water and housing services.

(i) Africans viewed urban centers as a place for temporary settlement after which one would go back to the rural areas as most of the service was provided for the Europeans.

(ii) Due to fewer houses in urban centers, Enterprising Africans construct logging houses.

(iii) Slums emerged due to lack of adequate shelter. In these houses, illicit activities such as the sale of illegal liquor, theft and drug trafficking take place All these contributed to the emergence of nationalism against colonial injustice. Example, Mau mau liberation war.

(iv) African civil servants in the colonies got better housing and water services after the Second World War

(v) Racial discrimination in the provision of water and housing services contributed to the emergence of African Welfare Associations in Urban centres like Dar- es -Salaam.

(vi) Diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria affected Africans due to poor water services and housing available for African communities. Many Africans died because of poor condition of living in colonial urban centers. In addition, prostitution became widespread in colonial urban centers result to move social problems such as spread of sexually transmitted diseases.


This involved the provision of medical needs to the white men and colonial subjects it was affected by the construction of government and missionary hospitals, dispensaries in the colonies mostly were found in key forces stations like; armed forces stations, in production areas and Urban centers.

Objectives of the colonial health services

1. Health services aimed at giving medicine to Africa peasants and labors in order to maintain the labor power.

2. Were designed in order to improve the living standards of the whites since they received the best services than the other races.

3. Aimed at destroying the African medication services.

4. Aimed at preventing and cure the white imposed diseases such as tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases etc.

5. Aimed at maximizing the interests of capitalism in Africa.

Features of colonial health services

Many hospitals or dispensaries were built in urban areas, plantations areas and in areas, which had settler’s farms i.e. Tanga, Kilimanjaro, Arusha and Bukoba

Had racial discrimination i.e. the whites received the best health services followed by Asians and Africans.

The hospitals/ dispensaries only provided western medication.

Highly medical personnel were the whites e.g. the British, French, Portuguese, Belgians etc Africans served as dressing sweepers and other lower rank jobs.

They were religious biased i.e. there were catholic hospitals, Lutheran hospitals etc.

The impact of colonial health services.

Expanded the market of the western capitalism industry in Africans consumed various medicine from Europe.

They maintained the labor power for peasantry settler and mining sector of colonial economy.

Provided employment to their people in Africa.

African herbs were almost replaced by the consumption of western medications.

Strengthened classes during the colonial period i.e. the white civil servants, settlers and managers got high quality health services while the African received poor health services.

Other social services were such as; electricity, water, infrastructure, housing.


i) The colonial health services such as hospitals and dispensaries ensured good health condition to the African laborers who were working in various colonial economic sectors such as Agriculture, mining etc hence consolidated and promoted for colonialism.

ii) The health services ensured good health condition to the colonial administrators who effectively supervised various economic sectors thus promoted and consolidated colonialism.

iii) The colonial housing services helped the African laborers to attend the work at right time hence promotion and consolidated in Africa.

iv) The colonial housing helped to reduce resistance from African since the laborers stayed in the camp under close supervision of the European soldiers’ police etc. thus promoted colonialism.

v) The colonial housing also to some extent reduced expenses to the colonialists who regularly recruited the laborers from the distant areas which is very expensive, thus under this situation the colonialists minimized expenses and maximize colonial production.

vi) The colonial electrical services provided in Africa facilitated exploitation in the colonies since some of the colonial works were due up to right time.

vii) The water supply attracted the European to feel comfortable to live in Africa and they supervised

QN.1. The factors that determined the distribution of social services during colonial period were:

  • The status of the colony, this is to say, Trust ship or Mandatory colony. In this case, it was seen that those colonies that were under ship were given very low priority in the provision of social services. Subsequently, those colonies that were under Mandatory were much favored.
  • Existence of Migrant laborers, this is to say those areas that were regarded as a source of labor like Kigoma European powers did not see any important of constructing other means of transport beyond rail way line this was because it could enable them to transport laborers to plantations.
  • Areas where peasant type of agriculture dominated such as Uganda much emphases was put on the improvement of services like, schools as to encourage peasants to carry out with agriculture.
  • Whether whites like Missionaries services like schools, hospitals, dominated a certain area were improved as it would enable them to convert the indigenous people.
  • Presence of white settlers encouraged the colonialists to improve social services like schools, health centers and better infrastructures as to meet their interests.

QN.2. The role of colonial social services in the consolidation of colonialism in Africa is as follows:

  1. Education trained few Africans especially sons of chiefs who eventually could serve in the colonial state especially in administrative matters like tax collection, clerks, police or messengers.
  2. Education introduced western values and civilizations to the Africans as opposed to the African ways of Africa in this case it later created a sense of individualism to Africans, royalty, and obedient to the colonial masters.
  3. Colonial health services were essential in treating migrant laborers who worked in different plantations and mines peasants who involved in cash crop plantations thus more production. In rural areas, missionary medical services and education were used in this case they acted as corner stone in consolidation of colonialism.
  4. Education taught different agricultural production techniques to Africans. For example in Buganda Sir Apollo Kagira who was a British collaborator helped the British to introduce a new agricultural techniques especially in cotton production for Buganda.
  5. Religious services were used as a tool to purify people by making them become obedient and royal to the colonial government, hence no much resistance would be waged by Africans against the colonialists.
  6. Housing and water supply were provided to highly class people whose duty was to supervise production as well as to camp the laborers (the lowest ones) to facilitate efficiency in production
  7. Where the colonial transport systems were treated as a social services they facilitated the transportation of raw materials from the interior to the ports and import goods from Europe to the interior parts, they also transported migrant laborers to plantations and mines, troops, and administrators also were transported to their respective areas.

Conclusively: It can be concluded that the despite the fact that the colonialists established different social services such as roads, rail ways as well as education, still these did not aim to benefit their subordinates (Africans) rather they were regarded as the catalyst to implement their goal of gaining super profit. This is because all these social amenities were put in place only in those areas where colonialists discovered that it was rich in accumulating of raw materials in terms of mineral and agriculture