The colonization of Africa by European powers had a dramatic negative impact on the continent. The Europeans had a dramatic effect on the cultural traditions of Africans through assimilation. Africans were acculturated in almost every area of their culture. Colonial rulers had every expectation that the countries they ruled should model the cultural traditions of Europeans. They viewed Africans as culturally inferior. As a result, cultural characteristics like language and religion changed for Africa.
Many Africans learned the European languages so they would have the opportunity for economic mobility. Christian missionaries flooded the continent to convert Africans to Christianity. Christianity has been the fastest growing religion in Africa since the 19th Century while the amount of people practicing traditional religions has declined significantly.
Africans did not traditionally have formal educations systems. Europeans introduced formal systems to train Africans to partake in the colonial process. In other words, the schooling of Africans was not done for their benefit, but to indoctrinate a segment of the population that could be mobilized to assist in the political, social, and economic exploitation of Africa.
In most colonies in Africa, the Europeans utilized existing government systems and leadership. The natives that worked in the government did not have any real autonomy or sovereignty. The village leaders would govern for the European power. This collaboration had economic and political benefits for Africans in these positions. This indirect system of rule caused a lot of resentment between African groups, which ultimately led to civil wars.
After Europe was through exploiting the continent of Africa, it simply left. No measures were taken to help Africans transition to self governance. Consequently, Africa was not prepared for a modern economy that would benefit from industrialization and was plunged into a primarily subsistence farming economy. Also, because of the lack of authentic political experiences, African leaders were not equipped to govern. This plunged Africa into poverty and civil war.