The Atrocities of the British Empire


Maryam Al`Shahwani

British history may not be what we know as Britain today, but in order to properly understand the present, we must fully understand the past. People may say that there is nothing we can do now to change history but learning about historical events can enlighten people on what basis a country was built on and how these former actions have shaped their modern-day society.

Currently, Britain lives with the legacy of colonialism and many people are still treated differently due to the color of their skin. Going back in time may shed some light on why this is still in place.

Between the years of 1562 to present day, British history consisted of events such as the transatlantic slave trade, the opium wars, the opium trade, and Boer concentration camps. As said by an interviewee, “European economies wouldn’t have been able to prosper like they did without the introduction of vast new resource and trade networks and the use of mercantilism and imperialism.” Although these events can be seen as necessary measures taken to grow the British economy, when considering the cruelty and amount of money and resources that were used in the process, they do not seem reasonable from a modern-day point of view.

The areas that suffered the most from this exploitation were India and South African countries such as Botswana, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Lesotho. The early acts of imperialism and colonialism that were carried out by the British Empire resulted in the death of millions of civilians in these countries. Additionally, trillions of dollars’ worth of jewels were stolen in past years that the last Queen of England refused to give back to their original owners. To this day, these colonies have not received compensation from this mistreatment.

As these examples show, former actions committed by the British Empire were against racial or ethnic groups, contributing to the prejudice imbedded in their current culture. The past acceptance of colonial violence may offer a partial explanation for why there are still numerous discriminatory habits and attitudes entrenched in British society today.