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

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

26 thoughts on “How Europe underdeveloped Africa

  1. There is no doubt that all European nations have reaped the profits from the African continent. Their will full exploitations and destructions of the cultural hearts of the African nations since the seventeenth century is still continuing with impunity nor taking responsibility.
    What I cannot quite comprehend is the indignation now displaced by those countries about the influx of desperate people, escaping from those conditions created by those colonial countries in the first place?
    We cannot remind ourselves often enough, we cannot judge people in terms of history. People are unavoidable biological continuum. But we must judge a cultural for its excesses and influences on the minds of its people!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. basenjibrian says:

    Another interesting case study is when The Owners, in their never ending pursuit of PROFIT, decide to deindustrialize their own countries rather than accept sharing more with the workforce and refraining from poisoning their own countries. I note, for example, that the Italian bicycle industry has been largely hollowed out. Except for a few scrappy custom and high end makers, almost all “Italian” bicycles are Chinese. Just like the biggest American producers, Trek and Specialized, source their bikes from Asia.

    China was, of course, eager to go along with this. They were not so directly colonized by the west, and they had a very self aware elite.

    But hey…it doesn’t matter. The investor class still collects its vigorish, no matter where the real work is done.

    Liked by 3 people

    • makagutu says:

      This is a good perspective Brian. They leave in their wake abandoned factories and warehouses.


    • makagutu says:

      And joblessness in one place all in the name of sourcing cheap labour


    • That’s a reasonable outline, but there are a few extra layers of complexity. For the machine to work as it does, consumer desire had to be pushed at a global level. And this had/has to be done at such a scale that exploitation of “others” takes a backseat to the desire to consume. In the post-war era the class systems of the west broke down, so finding “others” depended on moving production abroad.

      Liked by 3 people

      • basenjibrian says:

        Excellent analysis! Modern capitalism is all about hiding the real costs of our lifestyles! At least for the short term. Eventually, the exploited “others”(or at least the elites in those far off dusky places where the piles of plastic junk accumulate) accumulate enough wealth to buy out and dominate their erstwhile masters. See: China, which is slowly buying up the world. 🙂 But OUR elites in the west will still, for the moment, retain their comforts. At least until climate change crashes EVERYTHING.

        Liked by 3 people

      • makagutu says:

        All that was needed was good advertising

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Ron says:

    On the bright side, the ~$150 billion in Chinese loans and infrastructure investments will blunt the pain.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. basenjibrian says:

    In all honesty, I am more resigned to what we call “corruption”. Greasing of palms is an inevitable part of every advanced state economy, no matter how “socialist” it claims to be. See the gloriously corrupt and horrible post-Apartheid rule of Mugabe in Zimbabwe.

    Liked by 2 people

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