Does History Contribute to Underdevelopment in Africa?

Topics: Africa, Slavery, British Empire Pages: 10 (3523 words) Published: March 21, 2006
I agree that history has a place in explaining underdevelopment in Africa. First and foremost the history of Africa is the history of colonialism and underdevelopment. It is the history of slavery, of wars, conflicts and hunger. It is also the history of the beginnings of man and civilization. However, while underdevelopment was as old as Africa itself, colonialism came about between 1885 and 1906. For most of Africa according to Akintoye (1976), colonialism lasted between six to eight years. At elementary level, colonialism is said to rule. This ‘doctrine' manifested in Africa after the Berlin conference, during which African countries were balkanized and shared into areas of influence among European states in 1884. These areas of influence were tagged colonies and protectorates. Arguments have been generated as per whether colonialism was beneficial to Africa. But we are not into such argument since each side has its own merits. However, since we are constrained to examine the circumstances which led to formation of the Organization of African Unity, it becomes imperative to look at this phenomenon even though briefly since again it features prominently at any attempt to explain efforts at the birth of the continental organization. Briefly on the other side, colonialism was not completely a bad event because whether one likes it or not, it brought with it western civilization with all its attractions. However, the critics of colonialism started with its method and ended up with its consequences. Africa was shared and conquered in most cases under force of arms. The method of governance was strange. It alienated African culture and tradition and ostracized both traditional and political elite. It was what many Africans perceived as a total loss of freedom. The culture of French territories were completely destroyed and lost in French tradition. SLAVERY. For more than 2,000 years, people in many different parts of the world have forced their fellow humans into slavery. Between about 1500 and 1900, Europeans forcibly uprooted millions of people from throughout West Africa and West Central Africa and shipped them across the Atlantic in conditions of great cruelty. To refer to the Africans who were enslaved only as 'slaves' strips them of their identity. They were, for instance, farmers, merchants, priests, soldiers, goldsmiths, musicians. They were husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters. They could be Yoruba, Igbo, Akan, and Kongolese. European slavers dispersed them across the Americas to lead lives of degradation and brutality, without thought for their personal lives. Millions died in the process. As a result, people of African descent are spread throughout the Americas and Western Europe. The loss of population was not more serious for Africans than the loss of history in their historic evolution. White people came to justify slavery by an assumed racial superiority. Black people were treated as inferior, their achievement scorned, their history buried and their resources plundered. Africans themselves had always been involved in the Atlantic slave trade, as chiefs importing guns from Britain in exchange for slaves and as traders rounding up the human commodities for sale. This slave trade bears the nature of Africa's underdevelopment. By providing firearms amongst the trade goods, Europeans increased warfare and political instability in Africa. Some states, such as Asante and Dahomey, grew powerful and wealthy as a result. Other states were completely destroyed and their populations decimated as they were absorbed by rivals. Millions of Africans were forcibly removed from their homes, and towns and villages were depopulated. Many Africans were killed in slaving wars or remained enslaved in Africa's Many states, including Angola under Queen Nzinga Nbande and Kongo, strongly resisted slavery. However, the interests of those involved in the trade proved too great to overcome. About...

References: Rodney, W., (1989). How Europe Underdeveloped Africa.Nairobi;Heineman Kenya Limited.
Meredith M.,(2005). The state of Africa ( A History of fifty years of independence; The Free Press.
Brown B.M,( 1995). Africa 's Choices. London; Penguin Books Limited.
Cheru, F., ( 2002). Africa Renaissance. New York; St Martin 's Press.
World Bank ( 1989). Sub-Saharan Africa from crisis to sustainable growth. Washington,D.C. Office of the publisher world bank.
Clapham C.,( 1996). African international system: The politics of state survival. London; Cambridge University Press.
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • History of Africa Essay
  • history Essay
  • History of Africa Essay
  • Essay about History of Africa
  • Essay about History of Africa
  • Africa History Essay
  • Argue for the view that underdevelopment in sub-Saharan Africa today is due primarily to the legacy of colonialism. Essay
  • History of Essays

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free