Communities in Africa have practiced communal sharing of knowledge for centuries and they have various means of protecting their knowledge systems. Their ways are indeed different from the western ways. Nonetheless research shows that the protection of intellectual properties based on their knowledge system is not a new phenomenon in these communities and there are rules on how to use and when to use available knowledge. Traditional knowledge did not require protection from people in other continents until interactions through colonization, foreign trade and technology (biotechnology in recent times) threatened the economic returns to African societies. These interactions increased access to knowledge and resources in Africa which benefited industrial development in Europe but not in Africa. This paper examines the effect of adopted laws (intellectual property to be precise) and western knowledge on traditional legal systems and knowledge prior to, during and after colonization. It is proposed that aspects of the colonial legacy in Africa contributed to the devaluing of traditional knowledge systems and lack of protection.