Judicial Wigs, Language and Three Other Colonial Legacies Africans are Upholding by Choice

In blunt terms, the very process of colonization left Africa, quite literally, a scene after the crime.

The generations in the last six decades of decolonization have found that there are such things we need to contend with because of European domination and exploitation.

Some of these challenges are those problems we may not be able to deal with in any small time. We can refer to these problems as the psychopathology of colonization, borrowing Frantz Fanon’s description.

However, there is another set of challenges, not exclusive from the first, but can be differentiated. These are the colonial legacies that Africans are upholding by choice.

As follows are five examples of such legacies.

Judicial wigs and gowns

You might not be in an African court if you do not see the judges and the lawyers wearing wigs and gowns. This holdover of British judicial culture from the time of colonization can be seen in more than 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

The establishments in these countries have unsurprisingly defended the wigs citing the fact that certain traditions cannot be broken even by decolonization.

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Only a handful of African countries have decriminalized homosexuality. Photo Credit:

Colonial-era anti-gay laws

The push towards making African countries more tolerable to LGBT rights is essentially a struggle against punitive colonial-era laws in many African countries.

But with time, Africans have accepted these laws as their own and even tightened them. Conservative religiosity has been the strongest anti-LGBT force in these African countries.

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The CFA zone comprises 14 African countries. Photo Credit: Al Jazeera

The currency

Under a pre-independence accord with sub-Saharan countries in the late 1950s, France demanded that all countries that wished to be free needed to pay for the “positives” colonization had given Africans.

One of the ways colonized Africans were “offered” their freedom was a “suggestion” of a common currency zone authored by France.

Currently, 14 countries abide by the accord. They are Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

France insists those countries that prefer to leave the CFA zone, may do so freely.

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A cartographical comparison of Africa after the Berlin Conference and at World War I. Photo Credit: Pinterest

International borders

The cartography of 21st century Africa is not exactly as in 1885 but the Berlin conference more than anything gave birth to the layout we know today.

After gaining their freedom in droves in the 1960s, African countries persisted with the colonial era borders even against some suggestions to the contrary.

It is known that the hostility between Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah and Togo’s Sylvanus Olympio, was due to a misunderstanding over a proposal to merge the two countries.

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Children as young as two are made to learn English in many African countries. Photo Credit:


The languages of their former colonialists have been maintained by choice as the official languages of most African countries.

This choice is in some way understandable since the independence-seeking generations were taught in the language of either France or Britain, for the main part.

The world too, as we know it, was construed according to the dispositions of these European superpowers. Africa countries would simply not have wanted to opt out.

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