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UNDERDEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA: My Hands Are Clean

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A (research) book, by Ewanfoh Obehi Peter, published on November 10, 2010, partly to commemorate the 15th year of Ken Saro-Wiwa's death (November 10, 1995). Also to Africa and Africans, in the Mid-50th anniversary of former independence in the African continent (1960-2010).

While the arguments in this (216 pages) book might appear harsh on Africa, it was never designed to merely apportion blames, but to react to the popular opinion that “the underdevelopment in Africa is the Europeans' fault”. In concrete terms, this research is an attempt to show that many Africans have actually played a key role in what eventually led to their underdevelopment. The evidence to support this view was provided in abundance.

The argument began with the “transatlantic slave trade”. This is because, apart from the fact that many African scholars and their western counterparts have sustained that the current underdevelopment in nearly all parts of Africa is a consequence of the transatlantic slave trade, there are lots of proofs that the pre-slavery African nations were not less developed, compared to other parts of the world, at the time. This was demonstrated with the 12th century Malian empire, the sophisticated Nubian society, Egypt, great Zimbabwe, ancient Benin and many more, unlike the 21st century African nations, which now appear to practically depend on other people for their survival.

This research, citing numerous evidences from different places, therefore, sustains that the transatlantic slave trade indeed created a background for the underdevelopments in many parts of the African continent. The removal of several millions of young Africans from their fatherland not only weakened the African states and made them easier for their European rivals to capture and colonies for their own interests; it equally allowed the European powers to freely install a system of exploitation of the African human and natural resources. This can better be understood, today, through the activities of the multinational corporations in Africa. In addition to that, the transatlantic slave trade primarily led to propaganda of cultural inferiority against the African people; it led to the distrust in many African institutions and the disorientation of the local people. See the evidences in the book.

Based on the popular viewpoint, the conclusion will be like this: “The Europeans are responsible for the above situations in Africa”. And it usually sounds as though the African people never had a choice and that they could not have prevented the same situations. This is the argument in this research and they were carefully treated to show a contrary view to the popular opinion.

Quite apart from slavery, there are diverse other arguments in the research, which showed that a lot of Africans have and are still creating similar conditions for their underdevelopments. Evidence are abundance, from the collaboration of African politicians, so that the European and the American multinationals corporations can exploit the African human and natural resources, to the detriments of the local people. The use of religion and tribalism to destabilise many African states, all to distract the local people, so that their natural resources can be stolen to grow the European and the American economies, while allowing few African elites to enrich themselves.

In an unbiased analysis, the above situations were addressed, pinpointing the role of the local people, all to remind the Africans that they really do have other choices, apart from playing “the victims”.

Naturally, the argument would have end here, but for the purpose of explaining that it is not mysterious if some Africans appear to be acting funny, by refusing to defend their collective interest, so they can grow as a people, the research was extended to cover the European intrusion and manipulation of the African mind. This part of the argument was equally treated with a great deal of attention, citing enough evidence to show how the European powers and institutions have manipulated the African people for the sole purpose of exploitation. While this part of the argument did not in anyway suggest that the African people have now become powerless or incapable of facing the challenges ahead of them, it must be pointed out that this manipulation is part of the post-slavery Africa. Therefore, if the Africans can have any reason to be guilty for selling out their fellow Africans into slavery, then they cannot wash their hands clean from the consequences of the same slavery.

In that sense, it is important for the African people to realise that they are not entirely innocent in nearly all the ills that have befallen their land, and that they still have the possibility of changing their own situation, if they really want to.

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