Role of Culture in Anti-Colonial Resistance

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This essay will focus and critically evaluate the role of the culture of different communities around the globe in anti-colonial resistance. The article will also discuss how and why culture played a significant role in opposition of the colonial oppression by the colonial masters to different communities around the globe and reveal the importance of these different cultures of various communities that resisted the colonial rule and how their culture was helpful to them. The paper will conclude by restating and revealing the importance and the role of culture in opposing the colonial laws as it will be discussed in the body of this essay.

Culture is a custom, social behaviour and ideas of a particular people or the entire society. Culture is an essential aspect of the history of various communities and is also a product of history. Since it is related to history, it allows people and equips them with the knowledge to know the dynamic synthesis which is as a result of the establishment by conscience to resolve various conflicts at different evolution stages. Different people have different cultural affiliations.  The history of national liberation reveals that these liberation struggles were resulted by an increase in the cultural discrimination among the colonised communities. Different communities’ cultures led to an increase in anti-colonial resistance among various communities especially communities in Africa, South and North America. It played a great role in the struggle for liberation among the colonised communities. In some instances, culture contributed greatly in the achievement of the independence of communities such as the South African communities in their struggle for the abolishment of the Apartheid regime, and the South African communities' cultures majorly contributed this. Different cultures were essential to the anti-colonial resistance such as religion, music, languages and among others.

Traditional music such as goombee which were common among the black communities both in Africa and America played a significant role in the anti-colonial resistance in various cities in different ways. In 1855 to 1858 the British government described the goombee dance as an immoral dance of the Freetown inhabitants (Bohlman, Blumhofer and Chow, 2016). The dance was associated with drum beatings which were called the gumbe which consisted of a square drum that was placed between the legs when playing the goombee music’s. The British government betrayed inhabitants of the Freetown after the peace treaty, and this resulted in them being taken to Nova Scotia and finally to the Freetown by the British government. This led to an increase in resistance to the British colonial rule since the British government betrayed them. These communities used the traditional music and drums during their struggle for independence to communicate and pass messages to numerous people and also to give plan and strategies on how to conduct various resistance attacks. These music aided in the resistance of the colonial rule in multiple ways. The language used in these songs were only familiar with the local communities, and this made it difficult for the colonial officials to know what was being communicated. These songs were also crucial since the message passed by these means was fast and a cheap. These songs could even reach an infinite number of people in different geographical positions at a shorter duration of time. The songs such as goombee

were famously used by various communities since they had experience in this kind of music genre and the majority of the people knew how to sing these traditional songs. These songs were also used to warn about future attacks organised by the British government and reduce the confrontations between the British soldiers and the African warriors hence lowering cases of deaths among the African warriors since they were equipped with inferior weapons to compare to their counterparts (Bohlman, Blumhofer and Chow, 2016). Currently, the drums are also used to predicts future events such as weedings and baptisms.

Culture also played a great role in the resistance of colonial rule in different communities. Different colonial powers used various administration methods to administer and colonize different colonies. These colonial powers were majorly the European nations. These administrative systems and strategies included assimilation, direct rule, indirect rule and association. These systems were used in different colonies depending on the attitude and the perception of the colonial authorities about the resistance of the colonized nations. Assimilation was an administrative system majorly adopted by the French to administer their colonies. Assimilations was a process where French assumed and made the colonized communities to be similar to the French people and assumed all the colonized communities belonged to one Nation which was France and every member in these colonized nations were issued with French passports and were taught French cultures and were supposed to learn the French language. Different communities colonize by France were opposing this French strategy of abandoning their culture an embracing a foreign culture. This led to increases in resistance to this colonial rules by various colonize communities whose colonial masters were France. Various communities viewed assimilation as a way of destroying their culture since they were scared that their new generation would not be familiar with their language and culture but will learn the new French cultures. Hence culture played a significance role in the resistance of the colonial rule. Culture was important in the following ways. The colonized communities were not willing to abandon their various cultural practices such as mode of dressing, marriage ceremonies, polygamy, inheritance practices, dowery payment, language and finally, sacrificial offerings as opposed to the assimilation administration system. These communities used various cultural aspects to resist this colonial assimilation rule.

These communities used their language to plan for attacks to the camps of the colonial officials. Language played an essential role since this language was only familiar to these communities and it was difficult for the colonial oppressors to know what was being communicated (Faraclas, 2016). It made it easy for this communities to plan their resistance activities and attacks everywhere without worry since their language was unfamiliar to the colonisers. The process of trying to convince these communities to abandon their culture increased anger and disagreement among different leaders such as religious leaders and elders who were supported, and the majority of the community members followed their command. It increased unity among the resisting communities hence strengthening them to continue struggling hard since they were motivated by these leaders who were role models and idols to this communities and individuals.

Religion was another aspect of culture that played an enormous role in the anti-colonial resistance in various ways. Region are believes of different communities about their creation, origin and the existence of a supreme being who is their creator who gives laws that must be adhered to by all humankind. Colonial oppressors were opposing the religion of their servants they view this religious practices as a method of planning resistance against them and also these religious activities were considered as being demonic. Colonial masters perceived themselves to be superior to their servants hence they degraded their religious beliefs and did not acknowledge or respect any of the religious activities of their servant. These religions were affiliated with idol worship and it was believed that they worship creatures that did not exist. Majority of these colonisers forced their servants to denounce their religious beliefs and embrace Christianity since this was a dominant religion of the majority of the colonising nations. This increased resistance and conflicts in different colonies. These communities were not ready to abandon their religion and embrace foreign religion this created a negative reception among the colonized communities to the colonizers. Religious leaders who acted as mediators between the people, the ancestral spirits and the gods gave force prophecies about the intruders who were the colonial officials as lousy omen to the land. These prophecies by these religious leaders gave courage and strength the community warriors to fight and resist the colonial authorities. These leaders could bless the warriors before they could go to the battlefields and give them false future predictions about the war outcomes, this installed courage, unity and positive attitude about the war and negative perception about the colonisers. These communities believed that their gods were against these colonial rules and their resistance was god supported. Different African religious leaders such as Koitalel Arap Samoei of Kenya and Kijikitile Gwale of Tanzania gave false hopes among the warriors and performed religious practices to them, which installed false believes that they were resistance to colonial bullets (Faraclas, 2016).  

To a great extent in the cases of the Afro-Brazilian religion where their religion was associated with slavery by the colonial authorities increased colonial resistance to these colonial authorities. Excess powers were imposed on the racialised slave society and also the Iberian Catholicism marginalised African religious practices, these led to the organisation of rebellious protest. Brazilian black activities resisted colonial rule due to racial discrimination. They were also opposed to the Catholic saints that were viewed to be the legacy of the white acculturation and were also associated with slavery. These movements resisted colonial rule since they wanted separation between the African deities and the Catholic saints.

In South Africa, culture played an enormous role in resistance to the apartheid regime. Apartheid was a system of racial segregation and discrimination in South Africa which was based on white supremacy and the suppression of the black majority. This apartheid law restricted the majority of the South African black people culture. This law limited cultures such as traditional music, intermarriages, religion and dowery payments activities to Africans (Keohane, 2016). This led to an increase in resistance among the black communities in South Africa since they perceived this law to be oppressive to them. Culture played a significant role in the abolition of this rule since a lot of black communities were motivated by the passion of their restricted cultures to fight and resist this law. After years of resistance this law was finally abolished in 1991 (Keohane, 2016).

Culture played an essential role in the success of the Cuban revolution and overthrowing of the authoritarian government of President Fulgencio Baptista (Sarduy, 2015). Afro-Cubans were discriminated regarding race, education and employment during the reign of President Fulgencio Baptista. It led them to join Fidel Castrol liberation movement to fight against the authoritarian government. In Senegal, the French colonisers acknowledge the majority of the communities accepted the abolition of slave trade hence their rule. But some resisted this colonial rule since they did not want their culture to be absorbed by these foreign cultures. In Chile, culture contributed significantly to the resistance of the Spaniard rule. During this period the Chilean people were discriminated regarding culture. Their culture was perceived to be inferior compared to that of the Spaniards. Through cultural discrimination, Chilean were motivated to uprise and resist the Spaniard rule.


In conclusion, it is evident that culture played an essential role in the colonial resistance to different communities under different colonial oppressors as revealed in the discussion of the body of this essay. It is evident that cultural aspects such as music, language and religious beliefs of different communities motivated the communities to resist different colonial rules since their rule was perceived to be discriminating various communities' cultures since different communities valued their culture more than anything else. Religious leaders also played a significant role in the colonial resistance since these leaders had a substantial influence on the entire communities. These leaders were opposed to the colonial perception of the religion of the colonised servants. They viewed these colonial masters as a lousy omen of the land. Through this, it is evidently clear that the culture of religion indirectly increased anti-colonial resistance. In some cases of colonial resistance resulted to different religious leaders being killed by the colonial authorities marking an end to the anti-colonial resistance. And this also reveals the importance of culture in the anti-colonial resistance.


Bohlman, P., Blumhofer, E. and Chow, M. (2016). Music of Black American cultures. 7th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, pp.45-186.

Faraclas, N. (2016). Role of Culture in Colonial Resistance in Africa. 5th ed. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Pub. Co.

Keohane, D. (2016). The Apartheid Regime: Role of Culture in Resistance to Apartheid in South Africa. International Affairs, 57(12), pp.150-183.

Sarduy, P. (2015). Culture and the Cuban Revolution. The Black Scholar, 20(5-6), pp.17-53.

August 14, 2023

Culture Music

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