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September 23, 2001

Classical colonial paternal thinking and rhetoric has always stated (by way of rationalization) that colonization was good for the colonized, that it helped to "develop" them. However, a brief look at the history of the colonial and post-colonial world shows us nothing but deeply rooted structural distortions, conflict and lowered sociocultural efficacy.

Some hold that Fiji Indians were crucial to Fiji’s economic development and that Fijians should be thankful for this supposed salvation. Others, like myself, hold that colonialism is always more about the "underdevelopment" and the undermining of a people.

While it’s true that colonialism often brought some of the trappings of "development" such as infrastructure, trade, commerce and industry, the negative impacts more than outweighed any supposed benefits. These negative impacts include loss of control over resources and the means of production, and the loss of sociocultural efficacy – or that feeling by a people that they are in control of their destiny by way of their society and culture.

If the colonizers of the 19th and 20th centuries had truly gotten into the colonial enterprise just to develop people then they should have trained and integrated the colonized people into the transplanted capitalist economy from the start as their primary objective. They should have also seen to it that the people developed a strong control over their own destiny and not be dispossessed. But that is not what colonialism is all about and that is not what transpired in any part of the colonial world including Fiji.

Robert Churney Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia Email: 

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