Slave Trade, Colonialism and Europe's Disservice to Africa

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2 years ago

Out of over 50 countries in Africa, only two are said to have never been colonised by the Europeans. The two countries include Ethiopia – for their strong resistance and Liberia – which was more of a land for freed slaves from America. You see I recently read a publication which cemented in my head that colonialism didn’t happen by chance, it was a well planned mission to squeeze out raw materials for the benefit of Europe and its people.

You see, before colonialists took root in Africa, slave trade had begun and ended, and the trading of humans to be used as slaves in America and Europe I can argue was one of the reasons industrial revolution came so early in the western world. To simplify this, slavery provided cheap/free labour for maximum work time, and most of these slaves had worked in farms producing food crops. Abundant food leads to increase in population and increase in population demands lots of manufactured goods, thus, to meet this demand, there was need for industrialisation, which marked the birth of industrial revolution in the 19th century.

You see the problem I think wasn’t expected was that industrialisation came with the end of slavery which marked a decrease in agricultural produce (food crops and cash crops). For a balance in production, there had to be a sustainable supply of raw materials for these industries and food for the growing population. And where best to get raw materials and food than in an underdeveloped continent endowed with abundant untapped natural resources, cheap guaranteed labour, and favourable weather conditions for cultivation of both cash crops such as cocoa, oil Palm, groundnut, cotton, rubber, etcetera and food crops.

Of course, at this point, slave trade had been abolished, and even if it wasn’t, it will be very difficult to enslave a man for nothing in his own home. So, what’s the best way to get what you want? Colonialism. At that time, Africa as a whole was what some will call a primitive economy was based on barter system. European nations shared what they could get among themselves and tapped resources they could. I suppose they couldn’t trust Africans to do the job, neither could they trust Africans to efficiently use the capital they hope to invest, hence, the need to colonise and impose:

Their language for ease of communication;

Their currency for ease of exchange.

The main reason for this was so they can get constant raw materials for industries in Europe, and also, Africa can serve as a market for their industrial products. But the primary objective was sustainable supply of raw materials. Colonialism was a necessary tool to impose their whims to fuel their selfish interests. The colonialists controlled price of locally produced raw materials and imported manufactured goods keeping the former cheap and the latter relatively expensive. This was also a masterstroke as taxation was also imposed and in ‘their’ currency, so as to force the people to work for money in their mines and plantations.

In Nigeria for example, during the colonial era, mined raw materials and agricultural produce (cash crops) were the major economic goods, just for the sake of industries in Europe. Tonnes of raw materials are shipped to America and Europe yearly via the Atlantic ocean. Up till this day, this has affected the Nigerian economy and the African economy as a whole. The continent is till decades behind on infrastructure and technology. And till this day, we still walk the path paved by the colonialists by playing the role forced upon us in terms of production of raw materials for the benefit of Europe, America and the world market.

Nigeria for instance is one of the largest producers of crude oil, yet, still imports products from refined crude oil. This is like owning a cattle farm, selling out your cow and buying milk and meat from those you’ve sold your cow to.

Although, colonialism arguably brought development in to Africa railway, the mining industry, as well as a stance in the international market, I must express my disappointment in Africa and its leaders. For some reason, we seem to still be caught in the western web that has made colonialists have their way with us in the past.

I remember reading a book, and I saw the following quote in it:

“You see, they are not in the least like ourselves. They don’t need and can’t use the luxuries that you and I must have. They have the animal capacity to endure the pain of, shall we say, domestication.”

I remember reading this from Anthills of the Savannah, a book by Chinua Achebe. He had mentioned that it was the words used by a white man describing the entire black race.

Looking past the vile racism in those words, you can see that the Europeans didn’t think much of Africans and all the luxury that we can have in our own continent, we do not need. They need it, so they should have it. I believe that pretty much sums up the colonialists view.

The colonialists in a selfish attempt of getting what it needed did a disservice to Africa. First of, transportation routes and infrastructural development were concentrated at convenient places. Encouraging production of export products led to the Africans abandoning the production of crops for local market and this lead to the import-export economy which is practically what the African economy is about.

Also, the colonialists never for once intended to industrialise Africa, as that would mean production of cheaper manufactured goods which will displace the expensive imported manufactured goods from Europe and America. And to ensure this was so, the colonialists education was centered around literary studies and not technology. Prior to colonialism, Africans were into craftsmanship, which was a slow but sure way of improving on their technological development. But, the imposed role of production of raw materials completely destabilized technological advancement in Africa.

Perhaps I will continue this later.

Thank You For Reading 🖤🖤

 

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Comments

Even though the colonists weren't perfect and all sincere, I believe that they left a lot of ground work especially in Nigeria for us to build on.

We should stop blaming colonization for our misfortune but rather ourselves.

$ 0.02
2 years ago

Surely, our leaders are not innocent, and could have done things differently and better.

$ 0.00
2 years ago

Sometimes I wonder if we are truly free, we are still dependent on the whites for most things and a lot of Africans see the whites as a superior race

$ 0.02
2 years ago

That's simply because they've subtly made themselves seem superior, and we've let them and accepted it. It is the little things

$ 0.00
2 years ago

Today, we suffer neo-colonialism. We aren't free, we never were

$ 0.00
2 years ago

This is really an eye opener. I don't know why I always enjoy reading essays that has to do with the the history of colonialism and the emancipation of slavery

$ 0.02
2 years ago

It would seem you and I have that in common. I am glad the article was helpful

$ 0.00
2 years ago

Thank God Nigeria gained her independence already. Because I can't imagine how it will be being in slave. And yes, the colonials stole a lot from us.

$ 0.02
2 years ago

Even though we've gained Independence, are we truly independent as a nation? They did take a lot from us

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2 years ago

This is unfortunate what colonialism is doing to countries, stealing their wealth and enslaving their people economically

$ 0.02
2 years ago

Well, although it has ended for decades now, it is still a damage many countries and Africa has not been able to recover from

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2 years ago