How Europe underdeveloped Africa

The last time I wrote about this, I referred to the work of Walter Rodney.

Albert Schweitzer, in his autobiography, writes and I am compelled to agree

Thus it becomes very difficult to pursue a program of colonization that would lead toward a real civilization. These people could achieve true wealth if they could develop their agriculture and trade to meet their own needs. Instead they are only interested in producing what the world market requires, and for which it pays well. With the money thus obtained they procure from it manufactured goods and processed food, thereby making home industry unnecessary, and often even endangering the stability of their own agriculture. This is the condition in which all primitive and semiprimitive peoples who can offer to world trade rice, cotton, coffee, cocoa, minerals, timber, and other products find themselves

and when he writes this

We should never force the African to work by demanding ever-increasing taxes. He will, of course, have to work in order to pay taxes, but hidden forced labor will no more change him from an idle into an industrious man than open demands. Injustice cannot produce a moral result.
In every colony in the world today the taxes are already so high that they can be paid by the population only with difficulty. Without much thought, colonies everywhere have been burdened with loans the interest on which can hardly be raised.

the hut tax, poll tax and many such taxes that were introduced here come to mind. These taxes were introduced not because the colonial government badly needed the revenue but it was to force Africans to work on white owned farms.

Their existence is threatened by alcohol, which commerce provides, by diseases we have taken to them, and by diseases that had already existed among them but which, like sleeping sickness, were first spread by the traffic that colonization brought with it. Today that disease is a peril to millions

which reminds me of this time some fellow came pontificating on this blog that the problem of Africa is too much disease forgetting that while some of the diseases that burden us have their origin in Europe and the Americas.

Some of the issues stated above, unfortunately haven’t changed much. We still grow tea, cotton and many others for export while our industries are either dead, dying or non existent. It will be many years before Africa is industrialized and with globalization, even much longer.


In unrelated news, Albert S felt we had lost reverence for life. And i think writing sometime before, during and after the war, he must have felt this so deeply. He writes in his autobiography that our material progress has not been matched by moral progress. Hermann Hesse echoes the same thought when he writes

the neuroses of the poets today may be a form of health, the only possible response of soulful people to an age which recognizes only money and numbers and has lost its soul

Hermann Hesse, The seasons of the soul