The Black Man's Burden: A People's History of Not being Seen Nor Heard- Decapitation of Africa
The European West and The Rest Or Us
The Making Of Imperial Race Relations and Perceptions
The Opening Salvo
"To manipulate history is to manipulate consciousness: to manipulate consciousness is to manipulate possibilities; and to manipulate possibilities is to manipulate power. Herein lies the mortal threat of Eurocentric Historiography to African existence. For what must be the form and functionality of African consciousness and behavior if they are derivative of an African history written by their oppressors?
"The history of the oppressed, as written by their oppressors, shapes the consciousness and psychology of both oppressed and oppressor. It helps to legitimate the oppressive system and to maintain the imbalance of power in favor of the oppressor. Eurocentric history writing is essentially an exercise in publishing apologetics for the European oppression of African people; often a gross and crude attempt to create and shape subordinate and inferior African consciousness and psychology.
"It seeks to impose a social/historical/cultural amnesic tax on the heads of African peoples and thereby rob them of the most valuable resources — their knowledge of truth and reality of self; their cultural heritage and identity, minds, bodies and souls; their wealth, lands, products of their labor and lives. Eurocentric historiography is the most formidable ally of White racism and imperialism.
"It's treacherous role in this regard must be explored and reversed by an African-centered historiography, written by African historians, and dedicated to historical accuracy and truth — historians who are unafraid to speak truth to power. The clarion call for the writing of a restorative African-centered historiography — a critical undertaking — is a call for the healing of the wounds of African peoples; for African unity; for the freeing and expansion of African consciousness; for the re-conquest of African minds, bodies, lands, resources, and African autonomy.
"Every Eurocentric social institution conspires with Eurocentric historiography to handcuff and incarcerate African consciousness, to justify and facilitate the subordination and exploitation of African peoples." (Wilson)
The whole African Continent and its people, including those in the Diaspora are in serious trouble. Writing this hub is one of the most sad and painful experiences one has to go through, and not many people want to read much stuff about Africa. I am going to write about those issues one never sees on the Media, or are stored in far flung history books few bother to read and know about. There are many issues which need to be put in correct historical perspective so that we can see the history of Africans, not through rose-colored glasses, but what it is hand what has happened to Africans, and why the present Africans are still persona non-grata in many institutions, countries and history.
The actual and present condition of Africa is one of deep trouble, worse than the one imposed during the colonial times. Deserts have grown wider every year; the broad Savannas have lost their communities and have lost all their means of existence; tropical forest have disappeared through feeding the export maw; cities that do not deserve to called such, have spawned large scale poverty and plagues never seen, known or dreamed-of in human history.
Harsh and evil dictatorships who have ruled and are still ruling over people who distrust and hate them, and for a good reason; and in the case of Africa, one dismal tyranny gives was for another more worse one; despair rots civil society, and the state becomes an enemy, and bandits flourish. Meanwhile, the Developed World, or the industrialized world continues to take its cuts of Africa's dwindling wealth and America and countries of Europe have expanded in value annually. While this is going on, multitudes are starved, suffer many diseases, and are troubled by internecine wars with millions murdered, annually.
Africa's crisis of society derives from many upsets and conflicts. These arise from the social and political institutions within which 'decolonized Africans' have lived and tried to survive. African nationalism produced nation-states of newly independent Africa after the fall of colonialism. These nation-state state began with liberation and looked like liberated states.
What was happening was that this was not Africa's restoration of its own history but a perpetuation of new and indirect rule to the history of Europe. The 50 or so African states were formed as though its peoples possessed no history of their own, and they became the 50 or so states or nation-states formed and governed from the models of Britain and France. African liberation led to African alienation.
European of the 19 century believed that Africans had never built nations but, at best, only tribes. Europeans have continued to affirm that "tribalism" has been, and is still now, Africa's bane. In a large and broad historical sense, tribalism has been used to express the solidarity and common loyalties of people who share among themselves a country and a culture. The reference to tribalism today flourishes on disorder, utterly destructive of civil society, flouts the rule of law and makes hay of morality.
The groups of clans found by early visiting Europeans in Africa was a good force, a force that created a civil society and it depended on laws and the rules of law. Around the 1950s, historians from many cultures and countries have been busily studying the reversal of civil society amongst the Africans, and they found that this was the undermined civil society that was brought down by decades of alien rule after the Imperialists partitioned Africa in the 1880s, and this left no valid and functioning African structures for the future.
This then left the British to declare that its mission in Africa was "nation building"; this meant that, according to the British, they had to this because it was beyond the capacity of Africans to do it themselves. The British then moved ahead and invented tribes for Africans to belong to, making some assurances that these nation-states, under the British, will gain possible independence in the future.
British Assault on Africans and the Rest of the World
When the British were creating Nation-states in Africa, there was no African model they knew of that they could refer to, so they built these states based on European models. These alien models failed to gain any legitimacy in the eyes of the majority of African citizens, and they failed to promote the interests of these citizens, except for a few privileged Africans.
When these Africans were faced with these fallible civil societies and states, a majority of them sought ways to defend themselves. They began to utilize "clientelism" or as the British had framed it, "tribalism," which reflects, in a significant way, the pathological characteristics of contemporary African State: of the postcolonial or the "neocolonial" nation-states which came down from decolonization. (Christopher Fyfe)
When the Scramble for Africa began, Western expansionism had become infectious. It was at this point that Egypt, a nominal part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, wanted to carve-out an African Empire, and was looking at her backyard to colonize as did the European Empires. Egypt hired Werner Munzinger,who went ahead and in 1894 conquered Darfur, in Sudan, and in both 1875 and 1876 his expeditions into Ethiopia were defeated.
In the long run, this fiasco led Egypt to become occupied by the British in 1882. This was because Egypt had no industrial machinery and could not sustain herself, and depended on European financiers and soldiers, that in the end Egypt became bankrupt. The British occupied Egypt up until 1922.
Elsewhere in Africa, starting out from their toeholds of 1885, the industrial powers of Europe had by 1900 invaded, conquered and divided the entire continent, and this turned out to be the last free for all. Britain and France, who were the leading European powers of the day,obtained the lion's share of Africa, and Belgium, Germany and Italy obtained smaller amounts which corresponded to their levels of maturity of their industrial nationalisms.
Having gobbled-up Africa, the European powers turned their attention to East Asia, South West Asia and Eastern Europe. Their industrial appetites were focused on feudal China, the feudal Ottoman Empire and the feudal Hapsburg Austro-Hungarian empire. However, in these lands they were met with fierce resistance, and they could not succeed completely.
It was at this time that Russia was growing, under Czar Peter the Great, into a sprawling feudal, Euro-Asiatic land empire by the 1700s. Russia's reform of all her institutions and her subsequent beginning of industrialization had earned her a place in the powerful councils of western Europe. By the time Britain, France, Germany and Italy were preparing to carve-out China, Russia, China's neighbor to the North, was powerful enough to want a share for herself.
The Commodore Perry's mission in trying to force Japan to open herself to Western trade, failed and backfired. The autonomous reformation and industrialization known as the Meiji Restoration saved Japan from European conquest and colonization. Japan demonstrated this by wining the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-1905, and this proved her equality with the West, and then Japan joined in the Western scramble for China.
The United States had industrialized, and Japan was alerted of American gun-boat diplomacy, which provoked the Meiji reforms, the United States, with her post-Civil War industrial reform, made her expansionist mark by seizing Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines form what was still left of the Spanish empire. While Western Europe was carving-up Africa, the industrial revolution in Japan, United States and imperial Russia moved their various industrial nationalisms to expansionist maturity.
As the 19 century came to a close, these nations joined the old pac as it converged upon east and South West Asia and eastern Europe. As the days of imperializing weaker countries drew to a close, western Europeans were quickly running out of easy prey. With World War I approaching, the world was no more the same. The year 1914 would come to be regarded as the year that ended an era, and the shot at Sarajevo as the shot that shattered a comfortable and familiar world of easy predatory expansion.
History less Africa
Slavery and Dehumanization
Had European interest and entry into Africa been delayed for fifty or one hundred years, there might not have been any slavery at all. Most of the people on earth would be influenced by this expansion, both for the good and for the bad. The influence on African people was most negative and most tragic because the Africans were the least prepared for the disruption it caused. Africa was having difficulties in developing states between Africans in the East and west coast in developing nation-states.
These differences were accentuated by the both the Europeans and Arab presence in Africa who played a very cruel game against the Africans. Both used different methods and different circumstances by pitying one group of Africans against one another and eventually ended up conquering both groups.
The concept of slavery was not new to Africa. Various African nations and societies had known a form of slavery by this time. This slavery consisted mainly of indentured servitude, the use of prisoners-of-war as slave labor, and small clans of African nations came under the protection of larger and more powerful nations.
These indentured slaves engaged in faring, cattle-raising and sometimes served as shock troops in the armies of dominant nations. Their families were not broken up and a large number of them were permitted to have their own farms and won cattle. This system of slavery in no way resembled the systems of chattel slavery developed by the Europeans in by capturing Africans and enslaving them in the New World.
The concept of slavery was not new to Europe either. Europeans had experienced a thousand years of internal slavery before the start of the Atlantic Slave Trade. The internal slavery in Europe was called 'Feudalism,' and this was slavery in its truest sense because most of the population did not have the right to determine their own destiny. The people were controlled and manipulated by the sloppy politics of Europe and the Catholic Church.
During this period there had been an internal struggle between European nations. Europe that had drained its treasuries and taxed its human resources in a romanticized charade called the Crusades. After the crusades, Europe experienced famine and a drain on its human resources caused by diseases they had never previously known, and which were out of control. When the Europeans awakened to the nightmare of their existence, they began to search for land, food new energy and new resources beyond their shores.
Their knowledge of Asia, and Africa was limited to legend and tall tales, but they suspected that there was a source of food and other resources beyond their shores. With improvement in their maritime skills, they set out to find this new food supply and whatever resources they could find. In their search for Asia and treasures they believed existed there, they found Africa.(Clarke)
The Arabs had built a number of large settlements along the coast of East Africa with the cooperation of the Africans. By the fifteenth century, the Arabs were turning on the former African friends and enslaving them. Later the Portuguese moving up the coast of East Africa from the South, met with the Arabs moving down the coast from the North and they combined their respective slave trades.
Large numbers of these slaves were shipped to Brazil, other parts of South America and the caribbean islands. In West Africa, the Portuguese and the Spaniards dominated the early slave trade. The Danish and the Swedish came late into the trade and remained mostly middle-men. England too, entered the slave trade late because of the difference of opinion with the Catholic Church. However, when England entered, late and furious, the sloppy business of slavery became a business in every sense of the word.
It now had procedures, territorial assignments(for slave-catching and kidnapping), and a code of conduct, (between slave-catchers and sellers). In East Africa, the last of the great trading states were in some kind of disarray. These states were used as trading posts by the Africans and the Arabs at a time when more friendly relationship existed between the two.
In the inner West Africa, sometimes referred to as the Western Sudan,a number of great sovereign states had flourished. The last of these states was Songhay. This state was invaded by a combination of European, Arab and Africa troops in 1591. The wreck and ruin wrought by this invasion facilitated the spread of the slave trade inland.
This period was also a turning point in the history of the world. Europe was emerging from the lethargy of the Middle Ages. It was regaining its confidence, manifesting a new form of nationalism and extending that nationalism into Racism. The Africans had goods and services that the Europeans needed, and the Europeans had the basic technology that the African needed.
Soon after the onslaught of the trading centers of the East African Coast, a systematic traffic in slaves in West Africa was inaugurated by European invader A few Africans were reduced to slavery and transported to Europe early in the 15 century; but the African Slave Trade did not begin in earnest until a century later. This evil enterprise was the outcome of the Spanish conquest of Mexico and Peru. The natives of Peru and Mexico were reduced to slave status and forced to work in the mines.
Their death rate was so high that their foreign masters were compelled to look elsewhere for slave labor; but the question then was where? Bartolomeo de las Casas, Bishop of Chiapa. in 1517 came to their rescue by proposing that each Spanish gentleman be permitted to import 12 African slaves. This advice was adopted by the king of Spain, who issued a patent to one of his friends, giving him the opportunity to import 4 thousand black slaves annually to Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica and Puerto Rico.
This patent was soon sold afterwards to Genoese merchants, who allotted a share of the business to the Portuguese; and in a short while, nearly all of the nations of Europe were participants in the traffic. By this time there was no limit on the number of slaves to be imported to the Americas. To quiet their consciences, the European enslavers of africans invoked the endorsement of the Christian Church.
Chapman Cohen States:
"The peculiar and damning fact in the history of slavery[as is pointed out by a careful student of instruction], so far as the Christian Church is concerned, is this.... It was created by Christians, it was continued by Christians, it was in some respects more barbarous than anything the world had yet seen, and its worst feature were to be witnessed in countries that were most ostentatious in their parade of Christianity.
"It is this that provides the final and unanswerable indictment of the Christian Church. ... It should be added that , according to Livingstone, slavery was unknown to the Africans until it was introduced by Christians - the Portuguese." Rev. Loring Brace stated that: "the guilt of this great crime rests on the Christian Church as an organized body."
The first African Slaves were shipped from the coast of Guinea to Haiti in 1510; and by 1576, there were 40,000 black slaves in Latin America. By the year 1800 this number had increased 776,000.In Jamaica, in 1767, there were 140,000 slaves; by 1800 the number had reached 300,000. In the new colony of Virginia, in 1620, a group of 20 slaves were imported; but by the year 1760, the number of slaves had reached 200,000.
It has been estimated that the total number of slaves imported into the English colonies of America was at the least 40 million. The mortality rate of this sordid traffic was high. Livingstone said that one out of every three Africans captured was killed in the raids or on the trip to the coast. All told, the slave trade was responsible for the death of over 100 million Africans. ... Over a hundred Million people dead because of slavery.... This was seriously an african People's Burden....(Clarke)
African people in the United State still have some misconceptions out their education and education in general. They are under the assumption that they were brought to the United States, or the so-called New World, to be elevated and educated,when in fact their sole purpose for being brought here was to become part of a massive slave labor force. Professor Inikore reexamines the situation and tells the story for its very beginning:
"The export slave trade from Africa began early in the Christian era with exports to the Muslim world through the Sahara, the Red Sea ad the Indian Ocean. By the 9 century AD, the annual volume of exports to the Muslim world had become quite significant, and continued so up to the 19 century. For the period up to the fifteenth century, the Muslim territories around the Mediterranean and beyond were the main slave importing regions of the world, fed by supplies from both Europe and from sub-Saharan Africa.
"In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Western Europe, led by Portugal and Spain embarked upon voyages of exploration which gave rise to the establishment of European colonies in parts of the Atlantic territories and Indian ocean Islands. The great need for labor to exploit the resources of these colonies added a new sector to the export slave trade from Africa - the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The New branch quickly came to supersede the older one in annual export volume. For over four centuries, both sectors of the trade went on simultaneously, removing millions of person — men, women and children — from sub-Saharan Africa."
Pious Slave Catchers/Enslavers and God
The modern reader may find it hard to imagine the desolating impact of the slave trade on African society. An accurate picture of a raid by enslavers on a peaceful west coast village is given by a scholarly modern writer, as follows:
"From the black men digging in the village, a cry of sudden fear went up. Women shrieked and children scurried for hiding as if pursued by lions. one of the men, standing on a little eminence, pointed vehemently out to the sea, whose blue serenity was broken by approaching masts.
"Then all men, in terror, dashed to their huts, seized spears and any other weapons they could grab, and herding their families into the shelter of the surrounding forest, swore by all their 'tribal' go to sell themselves dearly.... They knew that other Africans, multitudes of them, had been captured; that villages had been left desolate and empty; that children had been orphaned, mothers wrested from their ons, sons from their mothers, husbands from their wives; and that the lives of whole communities had been devastated as by volcanic blasts. For these strangers from across the waters were pitiless hunters — hunters of men." Stanton A. Coblentz)
These kidnapers and enslavers of the fellow human beings were not inhibited by any pangs of conscience. From their own records we infer that they considered themselves to be very pious people. In the "Conquest and Discoveries of Henry the Navigator" we find the following discourse from a slave raider: "And at length Our Lord god, who rewardeth all that is well done, ordained that in return for the work of this day done by our men in His service they should have the victory and the reward of their fatigues and disbursements, in the taking of one hundred and sixty-five captives, men, women and children, without reckoning those that died or that killed themselves."(cited by Chapman Cohen)
The first Englishman of importance in the slave traffic was John Hawkings, who was later made a knight by Queen Elizabeth I and appointed Treasure of the Navy. Hawkings started out by assembling a fleet of five ships, which was soon augmented by three more, bringing the total to eight. Such a venture required capital, and such notables as Queen Elizabeth, the Earl of Pembroke, and the Earl of Leicester brought shares.
The flagship of the fleet was owned by the Queen, who obligingly lent it to Hawkings, and the name of this vessel was the good ship Jesus. Captain Hawkings was pious man, who admonished his sailors to "Serve God daily," and to "Love one another." On disembarking at Cape Verde, and finding the natives to be of "a nature very gentle and loving," Hawkings and his party proceeded to kidnap some of them.
Then after sailing along, "burning and spoiling" as he went, he visited settlements in Latin America, where he compelled the settlers to purchase slaves at his price. Sir John Hawkings was rewarded by a grateful sovereign by the granting of a coat of arms consisting of "a demi-Moor in his proper colors, bound and captive," as a fitting token of the new and lucrative trade which he had opened up to England.
The chief ports of the British slave trade were London, Bristol and Liverpool, with Liverpool carrying on the bulk of the business. In 1795, one-fourth of the ships sailing out of Liverpool were engaged in the slave trade. There was an increase from 15 vessels in 1730 to 136 in 1792. From January of 1806 to May 1807, 185 ships operating from Liverpool sailed from Africa with a total slave cargo of nearly 50,000. Mr. G. F. Cooke, a well-known tragedian, was hissed by certain members of the audience, while playing at a theater in Liverpool; and he retorted:
"I have not come here to be insulted by a set of wretches, of which every brick in your infernal town has been cemented by an African's blood." In 1781, a case was brought before an English court, in which the captain of a slave ship was charged with throwing 132 slaves overboard. The captain was not charged with murder; the court was only called-upon to decide whether the action of the captain was justified or not, and who should be responsible for the financial loss. [addition mine]
A well known English historian calls our attention to a case that shows the way in which the slave trade was conducted: "During the hearing of a case for insurance, the following facts were brought up. A slave ship with 442 slaves was bound from Guinea to Jamaica. sixty of the slaves died from overcrowding. The captain, being short of water, threw ninety-six more overboard. Afterwards, twenty-six more were drowned. Ten drowned themselves in despair. Yet the ship reached port before the water was exhausted."(Goldwin Smith)
As we have noted above, Christianity was the strongest bulwark of the slave system. The abolitionists of the 18th and 19th centuries were fought by the churches tooth and nail and the only Christian body that took a firm stand against slaveocracy was the Quakers. As late as the middle of the 19 century the Reverend James Wilson referred to slavery as:
"That gracious and benevolent system which elevates the heathen cannibal into the contented, civilized, intelligent domestics we see around us. Nay, more, into humbled, faithful and most joyous worshippers of the true and everlasting God. Bless God for such a system. We don't apologize for slavery, we glory in it, and no society shall exist within our borders that disqualifies or stigmatizes the slave trade."(report of the Anti-Slavery society)
We recall reading of a slave ship that landed on the West Coast of Africa and kidnapped a number of men, women and children; then headed for the New World with its human cargo. The captain of this vessel in checking his records was shocked to find that these hapless Africans had been kidnapped on a Sunday; so, the ship was turned around and headed back to the African coast. Here the captives were turned loose, and then recaptured on a weekday. In the eyes of the captain, God approved of his slaving activities, but frowned upon the desecration of the Sabbath day!
The Colonial Order and Africa's Disorder
How Europe and America Underdeveloped Africa
On how African Culture and society was destroyed by the Atlantic Slave Trade, here is a brilliant and concise summary by modern students of African Affairs: "Year after year, for more than three centuries, tens of thousands of African farmers and craftsmen were shipped away to work in the American plantations, mines and cities. with their labor, they created vast wealth and profits, but seldom for themselves and never for Africa. ... West Africa, like other parts of Africa, possessed its own craftsmen. Often they were highly skilled.
They produced goods that were sold from one end of West Africa to the other. But they produced them by old-fashioned hand-methods. Increasingly they had to face the competition of much cheaper goods made by machinery in Europe. Cheap and foreign goods, produced by europeans or Indians forced to work for very low wages, began to rein the market for cotton stuffs produced by self-employed and often prosperous African craftsmen.
Cheap European metalware, machine-made, competed with the handwork of african metal-smiths. Understandably, African craftsmen suffered from this rivalry. Yet, they were unable to meet it by going over to European factory methods, since they had neither the necessary money nor knowledge, while their way of life kept them faithful to traditional methods. So, the slave trade removed African labor from Africa, and did much to ruin the livelihood of African craftsmen and the continent of Africa(Davidson/Ajayi)
After the abolition of the slave trade, Africans were not given a chance to recover from centuries of bondage. Instead, the European powers got together, invaded the continent, and reduced the majority of African peoples to colonial subjects and status. This caused farther destruction of African culture and society. An example of this destruction is the case of King Leopold was given the Congo at the Berlin Conference of 1844.
He named the Congo the "Congo Free State," in 1885 and declared himself the sovereign of the realm Leopold issued decrees declaring all land, ivory and rubber as property of the state, namely, himself. When Leopold and his cronies said that the Governor-General of the so-called Congo Free State to "neglect no means of exploiting the forests." This was done with murderous cruelty; and Leopold derived a profit of about $1.5 million a year from the operation.
In the words of Lord Russell:
"The methods by which these vast profits were accumulated were very simple. Each village was ordered by the authorities to collect and bring in a certain amount of rubber- as much as the men could bring in by neglecting all work of their own maintenance. If they failed to bring the required amount, their women were taken away and kept as hostages in compounds or in the harems of government employees.
"If this method failed, native troops, many of them cannibals, were sent into the village to spread terror, if necessary by killing some of the men, but in order to prevent a waste of cartridges, they were ordered to bring one right hand for every cartridge used. If they missed, or used cartridges on game, they cut off the hands of living persons to make up the necessary number. The result was, according to the estimate of Sir. H. Johnston, which is confirmed from all other impartial sources, that in fifteen years the native population was reduced from about twenty million to scarcely nine million(Bertrand Russell)
The African peoples were vulnerable to conquest by European invaders on account of a profound difference in cultural outlook. Among Africans, society had a matriarchal basis. The cultivation of peaceful pursuits was a way of life; egalitarianism between sexes was practiced; the fundamental approach to life was hedonistic; religious beliefs were idealistic in form; and the concept of sin was conspicuous by its absence.
On the other hand, the Europeans developed a patriarchal society with an inferior status for women; the cultivation of warfare was adopted as their way of life. Associated with these traits are a materialistic type of religion and a highly developed sense of sin. The Europeans, being warlike, had a distinct advantage over the peaceful Africans. Another factor that aided the European whites in their destruction of African institutions was a strange mixture of race prejudice and Christian theology.
Now this type of propaganda and how it was put forth has been clearly presented by Chapman Cohen as follows:
"In nearly every case, the conquering white professes the Christian religion, and that nearly always the conquest of the colored people by whites is justified on the grounds that they are the carriers of purer religion and a higher civilization. In passing, it may be noted that the color bar is a question that belongs essentially to Christian times. No such distinction appears to have existed in antiquity.
"The Greek might take pride in his superior culture, the roman in his higher degree of salvation, or in the power of the empire to which he belonged, but I cannot recall any case in which the claim was made of superiority on account of a difference of color. To an ancient Greek or roman, nothing would have appeared stranger than to find a ruffianly,illiterate, uncultured white asserting superiority over another man,merely because of a difference in the color of his skin....
"It was left for this to develop under the influence of the Christian religion, and for Christians to provide a religious ground for the distinction in the curse that God had pronounced on the children of Ham. And, as the religious basis weakened, christianity effected here what is affected elsewhere. It provided a rationalization of the color bar on the grounds of here, a biological, there an ethical, elsewhere a cultural difference — all of which owed whatever force they possessed to the very distinction that had been created.
"The whites said it was impossible to mix with colored people on grounds of equality. Having said so, he proceeded to make it impossible. Having made it impossible, he produced the manufactured impossibility as proof of the soundness of the generalization." (Cohen)
When the first European navigators landed on the West African coast at Vaida, on the shore of the Gulf of Guinea, they found well-constructed streets and roads, lined for miles on one end by rows of shade trees; they travelled for days through vast fields producing valuable crops, in a country whose inhabitants wore magnificent costumes of the own manufacture. When they sailed further to the South in the Congo region, they found great states directed by powerful rulers.
The dwellers in this area were tastefully clad in fine silk and velvet; they were well endowed with industrial wealth and were thoroughly civilized. On the Eastern coast, similar condition of wealth, opulence and civility were found. After the onslaughts of slave trade and the invasions of the colonial era, this culture was reduced to a shambles; then the perpetrators of this destruction issued propaganda declaring that Africans had never been civilized. W. E. B. DuBois offered a moving account how African civilization was deliberately wrecked as follows:
There came into Africa an end of industry, especially industry guided by taste and art. Cheap European goods pushed inI and threw the native products out of competition. Rum and gin displaced milder native drinks. The beautiful patterned cloth,brocades and velvets disappeared before their cheap imitations in Manchester calicos. Methods of work were lost and forgotten. With all this went the fall and disruption of the family, the deliberate attack upon the ancient African clan by missionaries.
The invading investors who wanted cheap labor at the gold mines, the diamond mines, the copper and tim mines, the oil forests and cocoa fields, followed the missionaries. The authority of the family was broken up; the authority and tradition of the clan disappeared; the power of the chief was transmuted into the rule of the white district commissioner. the old religion was held up to ridicule, the old culture and ethical standards were degraded or disappeared, and gradually all over Africa spread the inferiority complex, the fear of color, the worship of white skin, the imitation of White ways of doing and thinking: whether good, bad or indifferent.
By the end of the 19 century, the degradation of Africa was complete as organized human means could make it. Chieftains, representing a thousand years of striving human culture, were decked out in second-hand London top hats, while Europe snickered." The African people fought valiantly to preserve their ancient ways, but the odds against them were overwhelming. DuBois continues: "In 906 when I penetrated the territory of Kassai Sankuru[states Frobenius],
I found still, villages of which the principal streets were bordered on each side for leagues, with rows of palm trees, and of which the houses decorated each one in charming fashion, were works of art as well.... Everywhere velvets and silken stuffs. Each cup, pipe, each spoon was an object of art perfectly worthy to be compared to the creation of the Roman European style. But all this was only the particularly tender and iridescent bloom which adorns a ripe and marvelous fruit; the gestures, the mannerism the moral code of the entire people, ... were imprinted with dignity and grace, ...
I know of no northern people who can be compared with these primitives for unity of civilization. And the peaceful beauty was carried away by the floods. It would be fitting to end this part of the history of the Burden Africans had to bear, by relating the story of Kwaku Ananse from West Africa. There was a missionary who came to Africa dressed in the usual attire,short pants and British colonialist hat; also, a bag of everything and they would look at him and spit. Then he went into the forest to pray to Jesus.
He said: "Jesus, I know you are still with me. You have not left me, you were just testing my faith." And just then a lion that somebody had shot cam limping by his side. He said: "Jesus, don't worry about it. I'll tell you, your words are always perfect. I didn't get the humans, but I got this lion. And so the lion sat down with his head and two front legs in the air, and said, while looking at the missionary, "Lord, I don't know what he's praying for, but thanking you , God, for my meal."
The Colonialist's Scramble for Africa and Indirect Rule
According to Lord Lugard, who became one of the most impressive of the British colonizing agents in Africa, the conqueror who brought both Uganda and Nigeria under British heels, and the Architect of Britain's staple colonial policy of "indirect rule, "the partition of Africa was, as we all recognize [italics mine], due primarily to the economic necessity of increasing the supplies of raw materials and food to meet the needs of the industrialized nations of Europe."
And so they called the Berlin conference in Germany in 1884, at that time, headed by Otto Van Bismarck and Kaiser Wilhem, attended by the same United States who apparently claim that they had nothing to do with the Scramble for Africa. At the Conference, as we have already noted above, they gave another 'Christian civilizer,' King Leopold II, the biggest and richest half of Africa, they thought at the time.
Leopold went all over Europe, England and the USA and as we have seen above, renamed the Congo to Congo Free State, and we have seen what he did to the inhabitants. There were African nations at the time of the Berlin Conference in 1884-1886. Haiti in the Caribbean Sea, Liberia in West Africa by 1847, and Ethiopia on the East side of Africa and all were not invited to the Berlin Conference. The Conference was strictly for England, twelve European states, along with the United States of America.
The USA of America sent representation in the Berlin Conference in the form of John A. Kasson, and Edwin H. Terrell at the Brussels Conference. Both of them carried the title of Minister Plenipotentiary and Ambassador extraordinaire, respectively. This whole saga has been told in the second volume of Sir Edward Hertslet's official documents on the Berlin Conference and Brussels Conference.
The scramble for Africa saw the destruction of Ancient Ghana, for which modern Ghana is named, in 1076 by the Almoravids, or otherwise Almahodes. The destruction of the University of Djenne, which was more than a thousand years before the university that was copied in Salamanca, Spain, Europe's first University. The University of Djenne was rebuilt as the University of Sankore, in the city of Tombut, which the French later called Timbuktu.
The scramble fro Africa was to continue even when the First World War, 1914-1918 AD, was over,in which Africans fought for their masters' freedom, i.e., France, England and everybody else but themselves. And when the Kaiser was defeated, nothing like "freedom" came for Africans. Africans again went to fight against Hitler to Free England, France and other nations of Europe. In this war, Africans were able to stop bombs from dropping on Coventry and elsewhere. But the "freedom" that the Europeans gained was not 'freedom' for Africans. That mad scramble for Africa went on until Dr. Kwame Nkrumah intervened in 1947 and fought the British until independence was won in 1957 for Ghana.
In May 1873, David Livingstone, the celebrated missionary-explorer, died at Ilala, in an unknown continent of Africa, and his sun dried body was buried in Westminster Abbey. From his brass-plated tomb under the nave, Livingstone sounded a call for a worldwide crusade to open up Africa.
A new slave trade was, arranged by the Swahili and Arabs in East Africa, was eating out the heart of the continent. Livingstone's answer was the '3 Cs': Commerce, Christianity and Civilization, a triple alliance of Mammon, God and social progress. Trade, not the gun, would liberate Africa. And it was in Protestant Britain, where God and Mammon seemed made for each other, that Livingstone's works struck the deepest chord. The '3 Cs' would redeem Africa.
That was not the way Africans perceived the Scramble. There was a fourth 'C' - Conquest - and it gradually predominated. At first European expedition were too weak to challenge African rulers. It was safe to use blank treaty forms, explained away by an empire-minded missionary, than to use live ammunition.
But paper imperialism proved to be inadequate, and when effective occupation became necessary to establish a good title, conflict became inevitable. The resistance came from Cetshwayo, King of the Zulus, King Lobengula of the Ndebele in today's Zimbabwe, the Emperor Menelik of Abyssinia, the Mahdi in Sudan, and the Boers in the Transvaal and Orange Free State.
Soon the Maxim - not trade or the cross — became the symbol of the age in Africa(although the Maxim was the superior part of the armament used to subjugate Africa, meanwhile, the magazine rifle did the job better). Most battles were one-sided(but not for the British against the boers, or the Italians against the Abyssinians). At Omdurman, British officers counted 10,000 Sudanese dead or dying in the sand. They made no effort to help the 15,000 wounded.
Atrocities were commonplace during the first phase of occupation by the Powers of Europe. When German brutality in South West Africa provoked a revolt by the Hereros, the German General, Lothar von Trotha,issued a Vernichtungbefehl ('extermination order') against the whole clan, women and children included. About 20,000 of them were driven away from the well to die in the Omaheke desert. Europe had imposed its will on Africa at the point of a gun. It was a lesson that would be remembered, fifty years later, when Africa came to win its Independence.
The Structure of the Colonial Order
Having by conquest become the masters of the continent, the European rulers of Africa began seize the resources and to organize their rule for a long and profitable stay. Firstly they took out of Africa land they wanted and simultaneously assembled African labor to mine the land for gold,copper, diamonds, asbestos, tin iron and zinc, or to farm it for wool, cattle, tobacco, timber, sugar, bananas, coffee, cashews, sisal, palm oil and kernels, cotton, cocoa, rubber and groundnuts.
When the Africans resisted their dispossession and the profiting of the Europeans, the Europeans confiscated land and compelled Africa labor under their employment. The means of doing this was: "The adopting by a white ruling race of legal measures designed expressly to compel the individual natives to whom they apply to quit land, and which they occupy and by which they can live, in order to work in white service for the private gain of the white man. When lands formerly occupied by native are confiscated, or otherwise annexed for white owners, the creation of a labor supply out of the dispossessed natives is usually a secondary object."(J.A. Hobson)
Legal or illegal, these measure were brutal. For example, the San, because they were considered too low and untamable to work in white people's mines and farms in South Africa, they were expelled from their homelands. In many cases, like the Amerindians in the United States, they were simply exterminated. War, murder, strong drink, syphilis and other 'civilized diseases' are chief instruments of a destruction commonly couched under the euphemism "contact with a superior civilization.
The land was thus cleared of natives and passes into white possession and white men must work it themselves, or introduce other lower industrial peoples to work it for them..." When extermination and expulsion were deemed unprofitable, they do what they did in Botswana land in 1897, when a small group of locals rioted involving a few of them inebriated, this was used as a pretext to expel 8,000 of them from land" inalienably" secured to them by the Botswana land Annexation Act of 1895. The rest of the population of 30,000 was forcibly evacuated to other and poorer districts.
During the Matebele War, wholesale confiscation of cattle of the Matebele for the purpose of stocking the farms of white settlers provoked a second war. The Matebele were defeated and this led to further confiscation of their cattle. The Matebele complained in despair:
"Our country is gone and our cattle; we have nothing to live for. Our women are deserting us; the white man does as he likes with them.
We are slaves of the white man; we are nobody, and have no rights or laws of any kind(Hobson). There was none to give them redress. Legal coercion was used to compel labor from Africans.
"In 1895 such an ordinance was passed in the Gold coast to compel chiefs to furnish carriers for a military expedition against the Ashanti. But where, as in South Africa, the chiefs did not, for whatever reason, provide their allotted quota of labor, native police were sent out to "collect the labor."
In South Africa, to meet the insatiable demands of the mines, compulsory labor ordinances were devised. The grand plan was to break up the 'tribal' system which gives solidarity and some political and economic strength to native life; set the "Kaffir"(African) in an individual footing as an economic bargainer, to which he is wholly unaccustomed, take him by taxation or other 'stimulus' from his locality, put him down under circumstances where he has no option but to labor at the mines.
Africans as Beasts of Burden
Against their sentimental qualms about destroying the "tribal" system of the "Kaffir"(African), lofty arguments were put forth, as in the case of one Magistrate who declared":... the labor question and the land question are indissolubly bound together. In my opinion, it is of little use framing enactments to compel unwilling persons to go out to work. It's like the old saying about leading a horse to the water; you can take him there, but you cannot make him to drink. In the same way you may impose your labor-tax, but you cannot make your unwilling person to work.
Create a health thirst in your horse and he will drink fast enough. Similarly, create the necessity for the 'native' to work and he will work, and none better. Hitherto, under our commercial-tenure system, there has been little absolute necessity for our young 'natives' to leave their homes and work.
The land supplies them with food, and a few shillings will buy a blanket, and as soon as the young man marries, he is entitled to receive his lot of arable land; but once this is stopped — and it will be stopped by the survey and individual tenure — a young man, before he marries a wife,will have to be in a position to support a wife, and to obtain this, he must work, and once having married her, he must still work to maintain her and himself, and once the necessity of work is created, there will be no lack of men ready and willing to work." (Policy of the Glenn Gray Act, South Africa).
Reassured by this magisterial opinion, the humanitarian missionaries dismissed their qualms and went along with the plan. It must have seemed part of God's work to teach the "lazy" Natives/Kaffirs the dignity of toil by creating in him a healthy thirst for doing the white man's work. In the region of the Congo Basin avaricious French and Belgian traders claimed to have come to Africa to bring law and order and enlightenment to a supposedly dark and disordered continent, and they practiced systematic cruelties on the African people to Nazi-style perfection. Their noble purpose was to extract rubber, cheaply and abundantly in the French Congo:
"The Concessionaire Companies acquired by their charters the sole right of possession of the negotiable products of the country. They became de facto owners of the rubber trees and vines within their respective concessions. This implies, of course, dispossession of the 'natives'. Dispossession of the 'native' implied, in its turn, the immediate cessation of the act of purchase and sale — otherwise trade — between the native population and white men…
The years which followed were to witness the attempt to compel "by force of arms" some nine million African 'natives', or as many of that total who could be reached, to submit not only to be robbed, but to spend their lives in the extremely arduous and dangerous task of gathering and preparing India-rubber in the virgin forests, on behalf of a few wealthy financiers in Brussels, Paris and Antwerp.
The Concessionaires settled down to their work ... of forcing as much rubber as possible out of the 'natives'. In the lower part of the French Congo, the effect was immediate. Here... the 'native population had been traders with white men ... for decades. To their bewilderment, they found themselves suddenly faced with a demand for rubber as a "tax" from the administration, and with demand for rubber as by right divine from strange white men who claimed to OWN it, and claimed power to compel the real owners to collect it for whatever the former chose to pay.
The trading stations where the 'natives had been wont to carry their produce and barter it ... they were forbidden to approach it. The 'natives' of the French Congo did what any people could have done, they declined to be despoiled of their property and robbed of the fruits of their labors. The chiefs appealed to the authorities and asked what they had done to be so "punished." Appeals were in vain. Refusal to 'work rubber' was met with attempted compulsion. The 'natives' rose.
In the Nguni region no fewer than five military expeditions had been sent against the natives in as many months at the request of the local Concessionaire company. In the Shari, the chief of an important clan had been arrested because his people did not bring enough rubber, and had died in prison. In the neighborhood of Bangui, an official had caused fifty-eight women and ten children to be taken as hostages to compel their male relatives to bring rubber: in three weeks,forty-five of these women and two children had died of starvation and want of air,packed tightly in a small dwelling place.
At fort Sibut, one hundred and nineteen women and little girls had been similarly arrested, and may had died. An official circular had prescribed that these "hostage-houses" should be erected in the bush and out of sight of possible travelers. In one of the concessions of the Lower Congo, the 'natives' had been forbidden to make salt in order to compel them to buy it from the company, which would only sell it against large quantities of rubber; widespread sickness ensuing, salt being an indispensable article of 'native' diet in tropical Africa.
Amidst this rubber-mad orgy of floggings and burning villages, of rape and mutilation, of natives being used as targets for revolver practices, and as human experiments to test the efficacy of dynamite cartridges; of "hostage houses" in which men, women and children perished".
A French Congo Official, himself as agent of this man-made holocaust, wrote: "The dead, we no longer count them. The villages, horrible charnel-houses, disappear in this yawning gulf. A thousand diseases follow in our footsteps.... And this martyrdom continues.... We, white men must shut our eyes not to see the hideous dead, the dying who curse us,and the wounded who implore, the weeping women and the starving children. We must stop our ears not to hear the lamentations, from every tuft of grass(E.D. Morel) and this was not war, but peace — "Paix Francaise"
On the French civilizing mission, Andre Gide, in 1926 wrote: "What have these big [Concessionaire] companies .... done for the country? Nothing. The concessions were given with the hope that the companies would develop the country. They have exploited it, which is not the same thing as development; they have bled and squeezed it like an orange whose skin is sooner than later discarded."
A Black Man's Burden has been hard to bear up to this point. But this dehumanization process continued unabated... The Africans bore the burden of being seen as backwards, uneducated, barbarian, devoid of culture and custom, and if they exist, they are labeled as pagan and full of fetishes, magic, mumbo-jumbo and irrelevant spirituality and backward medicine and healing.
The King of Belgium Leopold II reduced the population, within 20 years from over 20 million to under 10 million as noted above. He made the produce of the land his own; wrecked trade of the land and made slaves of those he did not kill. Lieutenant Tilkens, one of his agents wrote how this rubber was obtained: Commandant Verstraeten visited my station and congratulated me warmly.
He said his report would depend upon the quantity of rubber which I was able to provide. The quantity increased from 36 kilograms in September to 1500 in October,and from January onwards it will amount to 4000 per month, which will bring me a monthly premium of 500 francs. Am I not a lucky fellow? If I go on like this, within two years I shall have earned premiums of 12,000 Fcs.... S.S. Van Kerkhoven is coming down the Nile and will demand 1500 porters. Unlucky "Niggers"! I can hardly bear to think of them.
I am asking myself how on earth I shall be able to hunt up such a large number.... Marshes, hunger, exhaustion. How much blood will be shed because of this transport! Three times, already, I have had to make war upon the chiefs who would not help me get the men I needed. The fellows would rather die in the own forests than as members of a transport train. If a chief refuses, that means war, with modern fire-arms on one side against spears and javelins on the other!
A chief has just been to see me, complaining:
"My village has been destroyed and my wives have been killed! But what on earth can I do? I have often been compelled to keep these unhappy chiefs in chains until they get for me one or two hundred porters. Very often my soldiers find villages empty of men, and then they seize the women and children.... I see the likelihood of a general uprising. The 'natives' are sick of the regime, of having to work as porters, of gathering rubber, of being forced to to provide foodstuffs.
"Once more, I have been fighting for three months with only ten days' interval. I have 152 prisoners. For two years I have been making war in this district, but have not been able to force the 'natives' to submit; they would rather die. What am I to do? I am paid for my work. I am merely a tool in the hands of my superiors, and carry out their order as discipline demands."
Edmund Picard, a distinguished Belgian jurist and senator recorded what he saw:
"The inhabitants have disappeared. their homes have been burned; huge heaps of ashes amid neglected palm-hedges and devastated abandoned fields. Inhuman floggings, murders, plundering, and carrying-offs.
"The people flee.... A continual succession of blacks, carrying loads upon their heads; worn-out beasts of burden, with projecting joints, wasted features, and staring eyes, perpetually trying to keep afoot despite their exhaustion. By thousands they pass, in the service of the State,handed over by their chiefs,whose slaves they are and who rob them their wages. They totter along the road, with bent knees and protruding bellies. crawling with vermin, a dreadful procession across hill and dale, dying from exhaustion by the wayside, or often succumbing even should they reach home after their wanderings(Ludwig Bauer)
The 'system' brought such havoc to the peoples of the Congo basin was remarkable. Within 12 months of its introduction in 1891: "The whole country was transformed. It was as though tornado had torn across it and destroyed everything in its passage. But the effects were more lasting than any natural phenomenon. Thriving communities had been transformed into scattered groups of panic-stricken folk: precipitated from active commercial prosperity and industrial life into utter barbarism."(E.D. Morel)
For twenty years there endemic fighting in the region: "There is not an inhabited village left in four days' steaming through a country formerly so rich: to-day entirely ruined. ... The villages are compelled to furnish so many kilos of rubber every week. ... The soldiers sent out to get rubber and ivory are depopulating the country. They find that the quickest and cheapest method is to raid villages, seize prisoners, and have them redeemed afterwards for ivory."
An American missionary reported: "It is blood-curdling to see them[the soldiers] returning with hands of the slain, and to find the hands of young children amongst the bigger ones evidencing their bravery.... The rubber from this district has cost hundreds of lives and the scenes I have witnessed, while unable to help the oppressed, have been almost enough to make wish I were dead.... This rubber traffic is steeped in blood, and if the 'natives were to rise and sweep every white person on the Upper Congo into eternity, there would still be left a fearful balance to their credit."(quoted by Morel).
Colonialist Europeans and the Rest of Africa
European penetration to the markets of the interior also dislocated trade patterns of the hinterland. For example, for over a thousand years West African Gold, ivory and kola nuts had gone north from the forest belt and together with leather, ostrich feathers, handicrafts and slaves from the Savanna belt, had crossed the Sahara in great Caravans from such centers as Kano, Gao. Kukawa, Timbuktu and Walata. desert salt, silks, paper and assorted goods have come back with caravans and been distributed along the trade routes down to the coast.
One of the grievances of the European invaders had been that Africa's hinterland still looked across the desert for its trade. They felt that Europe should have that trade. With conquest they took control of it. Entreports were established on the coast to fetch the cotton, groundnuts, tin, gold, iron, copper, rubber and palm produce. Africa's transcontinental routes disappeared; with this coastward shift of the export trade, the caravan trade decline, and Africa's internal trade followed the easier communication and organized itself around the European economic and communications grid.(Ajayi/Tidy)
Europeans in other areas of economic activity began to dictate patterns of African development. Old iron, tin, copper and gold mines were expanded, and new ones opened. Europe wanted coffee, cocoa, rubber and bananas in huge quantities. New plantations rose to supply them. With the rise of the Eurocentric sector, a dual economy was created: it had two largely unintegrated parts — export and subsistence. As has been shown, land and labor were extensively coerced from their traditional employment and turned into production for export to Europe.
African food production consequently suffered. In the case of Senegal, the French organized a program to grow all the groundnut and they took manpower away from food production, by the end of the Colonial era, instead of being self-sufficient, Senegal had become heavily depended on imports to feed her population. By the 1960s she was importing up to 40 per cent of her grain. In both the economical and political sense, the conquered areas became parts of Overseas France, Overseas Portugal, Overseas Britain and Overseas Belgium. Like colonial administrations they were controlled from London, Paris and Brussels.
African traders and entrepreneurs who retailed imports, supplied produce to the foreign cartels, and served as labor contractors to the plantations and mines. These African entrepreneurs were effectively kept out of the profitable reaches of trade. To hinder their growth, loans and credits were denied to 'natives' and prices fixed to hold their profits down. Below the stifled African entrepreneurs was the general African population to whom they retailed imports: the workers in the towns; the peasants in the countryside, whose farm produce they brought for the European companies; and the laborers in the mines and urban shantytowns.
An Appendage Economy of Europe in Colonized Africa
Colonial Cultural Reorganization of African Culture
Under this general agreement there was a European monopoly of profit and resource, both were creamed off to Europe by the white management at the top of the economic pyramid. Such was the colonial economy: an appendage economy of Europe, an economy whose productivity was geared to the requirements of foreign trade; an economy designed to bleed the continent and to neglect African needs. The founders of the Colonial Order, to buttress and crown their creation embarked on a cultural reorganization of Africa.
The Europeans made sure that their African auxiliaries were docile and loyal servants to the empire and their allegiance to Africa undermined. Total admiration of Europe was instilled into them. Besides their technical skills, they were to be taught christian values of the servile-making sort. Unquestioning obedience to white men was presented as a cardinal virtue.
The retooling of the minds and values was entrusted to the schools. Whether run by missionaries hunting for black converts for their white heavens, or run by colonial bureaucrats, these imperialist schools not only taught reading, writing and arithmetic to their inmates, they also stuffed the heads of their victims with church devotional hymns, filled their psyches with submissive Christian attitudes, and undermined their attachment to the culture of their ancestors.
These schools inculcated in their wards a Christian theology and cosmology, and a western individualist ethos that weakened their African identity, destroyed their commitment to an African Communalist ethos, and erased their sense of patriotic responsibility to Africa.
Weaned on other folk's tales; schooled in the anthologies of Judeo-Christian lore; fed a truncated history of Africa according to the European arrival, save perhaps "primitive savagery"; indoctrinated with an anti nationalist history in which the invading Lugards and Mungo Park's were portrayed as heroic saviors of Africa, and in which the leader of the African resistance were, if mentioned at all, portrayed as savages and venal obstructors of civilizing European influences; and taught to venerate the heroes of European history(Napoleon, Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal, Elizabeth the pirate queen of England), the minds processed by the colonial schools were left in gaping ignorance of their separate past. Where they were given a glimpse of their separate, they were taught to hold it in embarrassed and even hostile contempt.
They were made to feel that their History, their worthwhile African history at any rate, began with their introduction into the western orbit of affairs. Where their separate cultural and historical identity was not obliterated, it emerged confused. Their loyalties were consequently transferred from their genetic communities to those of their conquerors. After their indoctrination, some came to view themselves as black Englishmen or black Frenchmen or black Portuguese. Thus did the colonial schools manufacture meek, grateful and loyally submissive Africans in many, of whom had been abolished every desire for that cultural and political sovereignty which their ancestors had fought to keep.
The substitution of European values for African values was not only done in the schools. African values were derided and attacked. for example, the individualist principle os private property, when applied to land by the new laws, attacked those African principles of land tenure whereby rights of ownership belonged to the community as a corporate entity, and rights in used were periodically assigned to individuals by the community through its trustees, be they chiefs, kings or elders. only the community or its representatives could dispose of land, and then only for a limited time and after adequate consultation with the community.
But under the new dispensation and through the general upholding of European attitudes, more and more land was alienated from corporate trusteeship and transformed into private property. Thus did all the colonial institutions contribute to fashion a breed of Euro-Africans, and to refashion Africa in some debased image of Europe.
To look upon this colonial order as a purely African entity and ignore its links to Europe, is to find an African class of chiefs,minor bureaucrats and traders tying the toil and lives of the populace to the interests of the ruling white administrators, businessmen, missionaries and settlers. In the economic sphere, they are the roads and railways connecting the farms, mines and markets to the ships in the ports;
The banks, and the mining and trading companies were bound by legal and financial threads to their parent organization in Europe; the currencies pegged to the franc or the pound; and last but far from last, the commodity prices set in London, Paris and Brussels that determine prices in Africa. In the political sphere these links are the district officer, the commandant and the resident, the police, the courts, the army and other arms of the colonial bureaucracy all headed by the governor, and all under the control and guidance of the colonial office of the European national government which sent them out to Africa. In the cultural sphere, the links are the colonial schools and the religious and secular organizations which operate as field agencies for nurturing Euro-africans.
Such, then was the structure of the Colonial Order in Africa, which today has morphed into Post-colonial or neocolonial structures which will be discussed in some future hub.
African World Revolution
Westerners are often surprised by what they learn from Africa. The much-neglected and often-persecuted Falasha, the indigenous black Jews of Ethiopia, arrive in Israel in rags after a long and harrowing journey, only to find that have much to teach their new countrymen about traditional, fundamentalist religious observances. The Dogon people of Mali are one of the rare civilizations in the world that have managed to preserve their ancient culture, with their own unique mythology and numerology.
They still live in remote villages along the sides of vertical cliffs and tend to their onion fields, almost entirely free of external influences. They are the ones who talk about the Sirius Star and other Universal and cosmological phenomenon.(See my Hub called "The Genesis of African Science and Technology: The Stars of the Deepest Origins," which deals fully with the Dogon peoples knowledge of the cosmos, universe and their theory of the Big Bang. Griots from Senegal tell stories that have come down though their families over seven centuries or more, accompanying themselves on twenty-one-string instruments that produce sounds totally unfamiliar to the Western ear.
Folk tales that seem to encompass all there is to know about the relationships between people and governments and machines and nature emerge from every part of Africa. There are places in Africa where, when you are there, many things happen everyday that relate to fundamental issues of life and death, to humanity's effort to organize and improve itself. And yet, it is as if these events are a secret, as if nobody in the rest of the world is paying attention, seeing anything nor hearing that concerns African people. Africans are seen, not heard or acknowledged.
Africa in Focus and on Center Stage in America
There are now more than fifty independent countries in Africa, but the world and most Americans would be hard-pressed to name half a dozen. even those that are individually almost a third the size of the Continental United States(Sudan, Zaire and Mali), the one that for ten years was the second-ranking foreign supplier of crude oil to the United States(Nigeria), or those that are viewed as potential basis for the US rapid deployment force being developed to deal with the Crises of the Middle East and Persian Gulf crises(Kenya).
Indeed , Africa, for some Americans, is one vast exotic place, perhaps a single gigantic country, where wild animals roam and where the people cannot resist killing and perhaps even eating each other. For others,the only part of the continent that truly mattered was South Africa, which was purported to be a bastion os white Western civilization, and was holding out against what were seen as the hordes to the North and was supposedly fighting against the Communist during the cold war era.
In some respects, Africa never had a chance to taken seriously by America and the Americans. From the earliest references in literature, both scholarly and popular, the continent suffered from the vision of "darkest Africa" — a place of savages, jungles and chaos. The puritans made much of the negative connotations of 'dark skin,' and they were among the first to invoke biblical support for theories of black inferiority, including such devices as Noah's Curse.
The ideas arose about Africans' closeness to the "natural life," their similarity to apes and other dark animals, their tendency towards promiscuous sex and other sins(the Eugenicists are one other groups perpetuating this rubbish). All of this pseudo religious and pseudoscientific analysis gained currency in the United States during the late 19th and early 20 century. Melville Herskovits, an anthropologist who became a preeminent student of Africa, explained in 1961 that, "Africa's people were held to have fallen behind in the march of progress, with ways of life representing early stages in the evolution of human civilization."
As I have already pointed out in this hub, this was not new and surprising at all. It was not as if those who denounced Africa knew it well. European colonization had not yet begun in earnest at the turn of the century, and few outsiders had not really penetrated Africa except for south Africa. Even in Angola, the largest European settlement outside South Africa then, there were barely two-thousand Portuguese, mostly traders, administrators and exiled convicts. Only one white settler had arrived in the Kenya Highlands by 1885, and about 125 Europeans were living in the area of Dakar, Senegal.
In 1899, Sir Harry Johnston, one of Britain's foremost empire builders said that: "The Negro has been marked out by his mental and physical characteristics as the servant of other races.... A born slave." There was constant reinforcement of this view in respectable publications by people of high standing and good reputation,not to mention staunch religious beliefs. The refrain continued well into the twentieth century.
It would be as insane to give [Africans] a smattering of our involved religious beliefs and so-called education as it would be to give our children sticks of dynamite with which to play," wrote Major Frederick Russell Burnham, a pioneer in the Boy Scout movement, in a book of tales from Africa. "Only as the blacks' skulls grow thinner and their brains heavier will they absorb our ways and standards," he said.
"At present, they are at the stage of development equal to that of children eight or ten years old." Even Leo Frobenius who contributed a great deal to Western understanding of African societies, sometimes contemptuously mocked Africans. Describing one discovery in a West African tomb as "strange and mysterious ... delicious," and he added for style and content, "typical of African trash."
Prejudice towards Africa was strong in the he United States as it was in Europe, and was related to the virulent racism in the American society towards its own black citizens. American white supremacists who had never been to Africa spoke the same language as the colonists and missionaries. In 1907, Ben Tillman of South Carolina, in a senate speech, defended the lynching of blacks as a punishment for alleged rape of white women:
"Look at our environment in the South, surrounded, and in a very large number of countries and in two states outnumbered, by the Negroes-engulfed ... in a black flood of semi-barbarians. ... For forty years these have been taught the damnable heresy of equality with the white man. ... Their minds are those of children, while they have passions and strengths of men."
This is what Henry Garrett, once the head of the Psychology Department at Columbia University put it in his book: "... over the past 5,000 years, the history of black Africa is blank. How could black children study alongside whites, when the Africans had no written language; no numerals; no calendar or system of measurement? He did not devise a plough or wheel, nor did he domesticate an animal; he built nothing more complex than a mud hut or thatched stockade." Though denying centuries of african culture, religion, political sophistication, and productivity, such prattle had its effects.
Negative stereotypes of blacks were presented to generations of American school children in their mostly segregated classrooms Books like "The story of little Black Sambo, by Helen Bannerman, an Englishwoman living in India, published in 1898 and in the US in 1900. This book caricatures black children as lazy, slow, and stupid- loyal to their master, but liable to lie and steal- it did incalculable harm, but remained on the standard American lists of recommended books through the late 1960s."
The rich American comic tradition, on stage and screen, often used Africa as the but of its jokes. In animal Crackers, one of the high points in the development of the Marx Brothers' slapstick style, where in Kaufman and Rsykind wrote a part for Groucho as a madcap African Explorer called Captain Jeffrey T. Spalding. Spalding's grand entrances included scantily clad African bearers, and he continually confused Africa with Harlem. Alexander Crummell, rector of St. Luke's Church in Washington, published in 1891, contain such references:
"The redemption of Africa cannot be effected through the influence of trade and commerce. In every instance that we know of, where men have been morally elevated, they have always had missions, from superior people, of either letters or grace, as the origination of such elevation."
Charles E. Silberman pointed out in his classic study, 'Crisis in Black and White' published in 1964 that "African Americans had no defense against the consistent picture of Africans as inferior savages; they had no way of knowing that picture happened to be false. It would be understandable if all this induced in them the shame about their origins and , in many instances, a sense of worthlessness — only to be followed by anger, when they later learned the truth about Africa."
Twenty years after the Silberman's study, however, prominent white Americans were still playing on the distinction between Africans and American Africans. William K. Coors, the head of a Colorado brewery firm told a group of black businessmen at a seminar in Denver in 1984 that the problems of black-ruled countries in Africa resulted from "a lack of intellectual capacity and one of the best things[the slave traders] did for you was to drag your ancestors over here in chains!"
Africans have been trying to attract American attention for more than two centuries, especially since the late 1950s and early 1960s, when they're newly independent nations began to command greater notice on the world scene. The Africans have been unable to help focus American attention. One officer in the Washington embassy of a former British colony said: "We have learned so much in school about Western cultures, and we made naïve assumptions that you were learning about us, too — especially with all your media.... Alas, that turns out no to be the case. Finally, I Iearned that part of my job was to try and educate Americans"[about Africa - my addition]
American Presidents and Africa
In 1909 Theodore Roosevelt said: "On the whole, the African regions which during the past century have seen the greatest cruelty, degradation and suffering, the greatest diminution of population, are those where 'native' control has been unchecked. The advance has been made in the regions that have been under European control and influence." Theodore Roosevelt was second to none in his condescension towards Africans, wherein he further wrote:
"The porters are strong, patient, good-humored savages, with something childlike about them that makes one really fond of them. As a public figure, he gave Africa a kind of respectability in America by simply going there. He also thought that Africa was a good place for missionaries, as well as adventurers like himself, and at the turn of the century, we begun to see US missionary activities including many black emissaries from the African Methodist Episcopal(AME) Church. The Americans translated the bible into African languages and occasionally pressured colonial administrators to have a more benign attitude toward the local population.
In 1936, in the midst of the appeasement period in Europe, the Roosevelt administration vetoed British government suggestion that Nazi Germany be allowed to take over administration of Liberia. That transfer had been proposed as a way to satisfy Hitler's desire for new colonies to compensate for what Germany had lost after World War I. Theodore Roosevelt authorized the first official American delegation, led by the consul-general in Marseilles, took nearly two months to reach the capital of Addis Ababa, but it was dazzled by the court of Emperor Menelik when it got there. Menelik proved to be a shrewd negotiator, well aware of events in the world despite his physical isolation from them News reached him in this manner:
Reuters dispatches received in Aden were typed and sent by weekly bat to Djibouti, then by train to Dire Dawa, where they were translated into French and taken by messenger to Addis Ababa. Menelik was also an obsequiously gracious host, sending back to Roosevelt two eight-foot-long elephant tusks and two lion cubs.
The Atlantic Charter, issued by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in 1941,like other grand pronouncements before it, proclaimed the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they would live. Roosevelt seemed to intend that this and his own declaration of the "Four Freedoms" - Freedom of Speech and Expression, Freedom of Religion, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear - apply to the developing world along with the rest.
Cordell Hull put it this way in 1942: "We have always believed ... that all people, without distinction of race, color, or religion, who are prepared and willing to accept the responsibilities of liberty, are entitled to its enjoyment." That language left a few definitions to be worked out. Franklin D. Roosevelt had he lived past the end of the war, probably would have tried to follow through on the promise of the Atlantic Charter.
Even while the wartime alliance with Britain was still the overriding principle of American foreign policy and Anglo-American unity was a fundamental need, FDR criticized the British for their record on Africa. Roosevelt held out the example of the American administration of the Philippines as something the British might follow-encouraging self-government by gradual steps- and he urged American blacks to take a special interest in the African situation His special concern was to diffuse black concern about civil rights at home.
He also suggested that an early postwar task of the United Nations be to inspect Europe's colonies and evaluate their progress toward self-determination. That suggestion upset America's wartime allies and also ran into opposition in the United States. Churchill rejected it out-of-hand as meddlesome and foolish. For other British and especially the French, it revived old suspicions about American imperial and commercial designs in Africa-as if nations that became free with American encouragement would somehow automatically fall under American influence.
European leaders were also horrified by Roosevelt's attitude because they were counting on the continued exploitation of colonial resources as part of their won postwar economic recovery. Roosevelt's unofficial "assistant president" for the home front, James Byrnes, a former governor of South Carolina, who was a conservative on racial issues, had his own doubts, too; he felt skeptical of Liberia and contemptuous towards the rest of Africa.
The United States did not worry about events in Africa during the early years of the twentieth century. The First World war, had profound African implication for the European belligerents-Germany lost all of its colonies to Britain, France, Belgium and south Africa-but not for the United States. Woodrow Wilson's "Fourteen Points," enunciated at the end of the War, with all their talk about self-determination, seemed to be defined as not applying to Africa and other parts of the non-Western World.
(There was a "Pan-African" delegation to the Versailles Peace Conference, led by the black American philosopher and activist W. E. B. DuBois, but it had little effect.) Woodrow Wilson was instrumental in preventing South Africa from imply annexing south-West Africa, but otherwise he showed little interest inn Africa. At home, Wilson was never particularly sensitive to the needs and attitudes of blacks.
He initiated, and declined to modify, a system of segregating black and white employees in the federal civil service. When a delegation of blacks protested, he felt insulted and insulted them back. Wilson also sent an emissary to France during World War I to warn black Americans fighting there, who made up 13 percent of the US forces, not to get any ideas about equal treatment with whites on their return.
On succeeding Roosevelt to the presidency, Byrnes was named secretary of state and US policy in Africa was brought back in line with European thinking. Truman tended to follow Churchill's lead, and Dean Acheson, the man who later became Truman's secretary of state, was Africa as a pawn in the Cold War, but one that was Western Europe's job to control. In the classic struggle between realpolitik and idealism, realpolitik was the winner.
The United States would feel no breeze from the "winds of change" blowing through the African colonies until or unless Europe sent a weather report. In a sense, sub-Saharan Africa was better-off out of the limelight during the early part of the Cold War period, when-by comparison to the dramatic events in Europe and Asia-African affairs were thought by American policy makers to have little strategic significance. Once the doctrine of 'containment' came to the fore in the early 1950s, Africa's distance from the Soviet Union and its satellites made the continent seem irrelevant.
For the moment, geography protected African Nations from becoming an arena of East-West struggle. The only exception to this new phase of Washington's benign neglect of Africa was a quiet one: a mutual defense assistance agreement signed with Ethiopia in 1953, which provided for modernization of Haile Selassie's army and development of an air force. It also gave the United States a base in Asmara, on the Eritrean high plateau, for the conduct of electronic intelligence. The allies had encouraged Ethiopia to annex the Italian colony of Eritrea at the end of the war.
In his first inaugural address in 1953, he did not mention Africa. His State Department, under John Foster Dulles, cut US diplomatic representation in Africa by nearly 40 percent. Africa(like Central America) traditionally had been a place of non preference in the foreign service,and this was reflected in the diplomats stationed there. When Democratic statesman Chester Bowles toured Africa in 1955, he was alarmed by what he found in the U.S diplomatic missions; among the fewer than fifty American representatives in all of colonial Africa, he noted, "None had a significant background in African Affairs."
Bowles also noted that many of them seemed to be racially biased and considered their responsibilities to consist only of day-to-day contacts with the colonial administrators. He found that out of 680 people who borrowed books form the US Information Agency Library in Leopoldville, only 12 were Africans.
The library had just 280 books in French, compared to 4,020 in English, although educated Congolese generally spoke French(or perhaps Flemish). The pool of Americans eligible to serve knowledgeably in Africa was small. In fact, the first African Studies program at any American University began in 1948 at Northwestern; eight years later there were only two others, Boston University and Howard University in Washington.
Congressional interest in Africa developed led by Democratic Senator Theodore Francis Green of Rhode Island. In 1958,both houses of congress established African Affairs subcommittees. The first chairman in the Senate was an enterprising politician who knew a good issue when he saw it, John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts. The achievement of a bureaucratic entity was a symbolic victory for those few who had struggled for years to obtain recognition of Africa's significance and potential.
It also put the American dilemma over the decolonization of Africa into shaper focus. The African American Institute began to publish Africa Report in 1955 to help fill in the gaps in public awareness. Nineteen-sixty was known as "the year of Africa." In a short space of time, seventeen more African colonies became independent. On a single day, September 20, sixteen African countries became independent and were admitted to the United Nations, substantially increasing the volume, if not necessarily the effectiveness, of the continent's voice in world affairs.
In its last months in office, the Eisenhower administration tried to catch-up with events. speaking to the United Nations General Assembly just two days after so many new nations of Africa have been accepted as members, Eisenhower proposed a five-point program for Africa-including a pledge by all UN members to respect the Africans' right to self-determination; a UN effort to help African countries 'maintain their security without wasteful and dangerous competition in armaments', the UN help with long-term modernization efforts; a UN-sponsored effort to improve education in Africa; and support for the UN role in the unfolding Congo crisis
Eisenhower emphasized the need to develop multilateral rather bilateral aid to developing countries-an idea whose time had not yet come-but other decisions he made that year were disheartening to those Africans who had high hopes of America. Eisenhower decided not yo name individual ambassadors to each of the newly independent African States. Coming from America, African nations took it as an insult because they had exotic names and uncertain leaders and that they felt like the US is saying they do not deserve full rank in the world family.
Eisenhower's aides worried about the importance of south Africa's strategic minerals to American defense and made agreements that would assure access to them; they also arranged for a tracking station for the new American space program to be located safely in South Africa. In December 1960, the lame-duck Eisenhower administration abstained on a general vote in the United Nations condemning colonialism.
The American vote was withheld at the last-minute request of British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, who was himself edging many British colonies toward independence at the time. The United States seemed at worst duplicitous, or at best confused. After that symbolic parting shot from Eisenhower, the Africans wee especially pleased with the arrival of John F. Kennedy in the white House in 1961.
John F. Kennedy
Kennedy had a reputation of being on Africa's side. As early as 1957, he had taken the bold step of supporting Algerian independence from France, warning that, "Colonies are like fruit that cling to the tree until they ripen."
His speech on the issue, entitled "Facing Facts on Algeria," scarcely attracted attention at home, but it created a major sensation overseas. African nationalists immediately called him a hero, and whenever they were in Washington, they made it their business to call his office. although he only covered three meetings of the Senate African Affairs committee during his year and half a chairman, but the fact that he played that role well not only the Africans, but American blacks, and this helped him win important black votes and victory over Nixon in his bid to become US President.
Kennedy advocated a new, progressive policy on African issues. Addressing the American Society of African Culture in June 1959, he spoke of Africa a s "a land of rich variety-of noble and ancient cultures ... of vital and gifted people." Kennedy mocked Nixon's statement that the United States should be "winning the battle for men's minds in Africa."
Kennedy stated that African people are more interested in development than they are in doctrine. He said that they are more interested in achieving decent standards of living than in following standards of either West or East. He sounded like Kwame Nkrumah speaking. In his campaign speeches, he made 479 references about Africa.
In 1961 Kennedy warned that many new nations in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world were under "communist pressure." But he insisted that: "The fundamental task of our foreign aid program in the 1960s is not negatively to fight communism [but] to help make a historical demonstration that in the twentieth century, as in the nineteenth-in the southern half of the globe as in the north-economic growth and political democracy can develop hand in hand."
Beyond rhetoric, Kennedy did change American policy in Africa. He increased direct loan to 459.6 million dollars and allocation of "Food for Peace" and financing guaranteed by the Export-Import Bank. By 1962, Kennedy would be increasing military aid to Africa as well. He also named ambassadors to all independent African countries, and as assistant secretary of state for African Affairs, he selected G. Mennen "Soapy" Williams, the former Democratic governor of Michigan.
The secretary of state and J. Wayne Fredericks of ford foundation flouted the segregationist law by inviting a multiracial group to official function for the first in that country's history. The African Bureaux for the first announced a self-imposed arms embargo against South Africa, and a few days before a UN security Council had adopted a similar measure. Kennedy was even prepared to insult a NATO ally Portugal by speaking of independence for is African colonies.
His bother,Robert F. Kennedy, met with the leader of the Mozambique resistance movement, Eduardo Mondlane, in a public display of his efforts; he later arranged CIA funding for Mondlanes's early activities against the Portuguese. Kennedy gave twenty-three major speeches on Africa in 1961.
He sent young Peace corps to African villages, who were an embodiment of american liberal idealism. These liberal Arts graduates went to Africa and they helped amend the image of America as a place of unbridled racism and materialism. On one side they helped spread American culture and its artifacts — from rock music to blue jeans to new magazines into some remote communities in Africa.
To this day you can still find those symbols of America in humble homes in the tiniest villages in Africa. So can pictures of John F. Kennedy. There were indications at the time that Eisenhower knew about- and perhaps even directly authorized the CIA effort to kill Lumumba. Kennedy's experience in the Congo was full of other pitfalls. When Tshombe murdered Lumumba, Kennedy vetoed the proposal that american naval task force to the Congo when Tshombe was about to win.
When the Kennedy flair was gone with his assassination, the next several changes of administration in Washington-from Lyndon Johnson to Richard Nixon to Gerald Ford to Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan-seemed calculated, form an African point of view, to render the United States incomprehensible. Some aspects of African policy shifted as mysteriously and arbitrarily as the sand of the Sahara. With that being true, the Africans had to wait. We are now in the Obama era, and Africa seems to be receiving some attention.
It may be that this is where the central count against the colonial process is to be found. The colonizing process was invariable presented by its promoters, and explained by its propagandists, as a "modernizing" process. In fact, as we have seen, it induced in practice one after another form of moral and political disintegration. The decolonization process has repeated this downward slide.
Once the force of the 'social struggle' that of the colonized was spent, the drive against social inequalities and perceived injustices was supplanted by a "national struggle" within the institutional "containers" of an imported nationalism. At this stage, there ensued, and evidently a dogfight and scramble for state power by would-be-ruling groups acting outside and against the rules and restraints of historical cultures and their compromises. To reach for the AK-47 was then a step both short and easy.
The result, as these years most copiously show, became the reverse of whatever may be meant by 'nation building.' Rather, it promoted the destructive spread of 'kinship tribalism.' And from this to Doe-ism, to a form of 'killing on command,' has proven to be even shorter stop. After that there can be nothing to be done to 'save and invent the future' as Thomas Sankara put it before they killed him too; however hard this invention may be, and however long it ay take to realize, the years now ahead, the years from the 1980s up to today, might indeed be called the decade of the handiest automatic weapon then available: the AK-47...
New hopes were to be in a constant struggle of old ghost-kings, colonial professionals and clerks and the colonial privileged few pitied against the liberated masses and guerrillas on the other hand; in this case, ALUTA KONTINUA...…!! The vestiges of imperial colonial fix, plants, creations and shenanigans, are still the Black Man's Burden in the 21st Century, unshakeable and tightly shackling the African to old and outmoded stereotypes and old style oppression, repression and depression, the kind of yesteryear era...
Our Worst In life - Stagnant Africa in the 21st Century
In post-Apartheid South Africa, the ANC Government faced the challenge of restructuring an unsustainably large defense sector. This was in the context of economic and social problems and a declining international arms market. This part of the Hub considers the restructuring of the South African industry over that period and more recently, restructuring in a small industrialized economy.
It considers how the public sector and private sector responded to the cuts in defense spending and the impact of the Government’s decision to modernize the South African State of stagnation-connected to the whole of Africa. But is of questionable value to the South African economy. While the defense projects seem to have some successes the experience of the non defense projects is poor and overall the value of the deals is nowhere near the promises made at the outset.
Lack of transparency has created an environment where corruption was almost inevitable and successful industrial planning almost impossible. While there is still some way to go, the skepticism of offset programs expressed by the disgruntled poor should be given a voice in our writings.
I would like to cite a piece from Che who writes:
‘In contrast with the surging growth of the countries in our socialist camp and the development taking place, albeit much more slowly, in the majority of the capitalist countries, is the unquestionable fact that a large proportion of the so-called underdeveloped countries are in total stagnation, and that in some of them the rate of economic growth is lower than that of population increase.
‘These characteristics are not fortuitous; they correspond strictly to the nature of the capitalist system in full expansion, which transfers to the dependent countries the most abusive and barefaced forms of exploitation. It must be clearly understood that the only way to solve the questions now besetting mankind is to eliminate completely the exploitation of dependent countries by developed capitalist countries, with all the consequences that this implies.(’Che Guevara, 1964).
This is what Walter Rodney identifies and the causes of stagnation and underdevelopment from a historical perspective:
"The situation is that Africa has not yet come anywhere close to making the most of its natural wealth, and most of the wealth now being produced is not being retained within Africa for the benefit of Africans. Zambia and Congo produce vast quantities of copper, but that is for the benefit of Europe, North America and Japan. Even the goods and services which are produced inside of Africa and which remain in Africa nevertheless fall into the hands of non-Africans.
Thus, South Africa boasts of having the highest per capita income in Africa; but as an indication of how this is shared out, one should note that while the Apartheid regime assures that only 24 white babies die out of every 1,000 live births, they are quite happy to allow 128 African babies to die out of every 1,000 live births.
In order to understand present economic conditions in Africa, one needs to know why it is that Africa has realized so little of its natural potential, and one also needs to know why so much of its present wealth goes to non-Africans who reside for the most part outside of the continent.
In a way, underdevelopment is a paradox. Many parts of the world that are naturally rich are actually poor and parts that are not so well off in wealth of soil and sub-soil are enjoying the highest standards of living. When the capitalists from the developed parts of the world try to explain this paradox, they often make it sound as though there is something ‘God-given’ about the situation.
One bourgeois economist, in a book on development, accepted that the comparative statistics of the world today show a gap that is much larger than it was before. By his own admission, the gap between the developed and the underdeveloped countries has increased by at least 15 to 20 times over the last 150 years.
However, the bourgeois economist in question does not give a historical explanation, nor does he consider that there is a relationship of exploitation which allowed capitalist parasites to grow fat and impoverished the dependencies.
The interpretation that underdevelopment is somehow ordained by God is emphasized because of the racist trend in European scholarship. It is in line with racist prejudice to say openly or to imply that their countries are more developed because their people are innately superior, and that the responsibility for the economic backwardness of Africa lies in the generic backwardness of the race of black Africans.
An even bigger problem is that the people of Africa and other parts of the colonized world have gone through a cultural and psychological crisis and have accepted at least partially the European version of things. That means that the African himself has doubts about his capacity to transform and develop his natural environment.
With such doubts, he even challenges those of his brothers who say that Africa can and will develop through the efforts of its own people. If we can determine when underdevelopment came about, it would dismiss the lingering suspicion that it is racially or otherwise predetermined and that we can do little about it.
When the ‘experts’ from capitalist countries do not give a racist explanation, they nevertheless confuse the issue by giving as causes of underdevelopment the things which really are consequences. For example, they would argue that Africa is in a state of backwardness as a result of lacking skilled personnel to develop.
It is true that because of lack of engineers Africa cannot on its own build more roads, bridges and hydroelectric stations. But that is not a cause of underdevelopment, except in the sense that causes and effects come together and reinforce each other.
The fact of the matter is that the most profound reasons for the economic backwardness of a given African nation are not to be found outside that nation. All that we can find inside are the symptoms of underdevelopment and the secondary factors that make for poverty.
Mistaken interpretations of the causes of underdevelopment usually stem either from prejudiced thinking or from the error of believing that one can learn the answers by looking inside the underdeveloped economy. The true explanation lies in seeking out the relationship between Africa and certain developed countries and in recognizing that it is a relationship of exploitation.
Man has always exploited his natural environment in order to make a living. At a certain point in time, there also arose the exploitation of man by man, in that a few people grew rich and lived well through the labour of others.
Then a stage was reached by which people in one community called a nation exploited the natural resources and the labour of another nation and its people. Since underdevelopment deals with the comparative economics of nations, it is the last kind of exploitation that is of greatest interest here — i.e. the exploitation of nation by nation.
One of the common means by which one nation exploits another and one that is relevant to Africa’s external relations is exploitation through trade. When the terms of trade are set by one country in a manner entirely advantageous to itself, then the trade is usually detrimental to the trading partner.
To be specific, one can take the export of agricultural produce from Africa and the import of manufactured goods into Africa from Europe, North America and Japan. The big nations establish the price of the agricultural products and subject these prices to frequent reductions.
At the same time the price of manufactured goods is also set by them, along with the freight rates necessary for trade in the ships of those nations. The minerals of Africa also fall into the same category as agricultural produce as far as pricing is concerned. The whole import/export relationship between Africa and its trading partners is one of unequal exchange and of exploitation.
More far-reaching than just trade is the actual ownership of the means of production in one country by the citizens of another. When citizens of Europe own the land and the mines of Africa, this is the most direct way of sucking the African continent. Under colonialism the ownership was complete and backed by military domination.
Today, in many African countries the foreign ownership is still present, although the armies and flags of foreign powers have been removed. So long as foreigners own land, mines, factories, banks, insurance companies, means of transportation, newspapers, power stations, etc., then for so long will the wealth of Africa flow outwards into the hands of those elements.
In other words, in the absence of direct political control; 'foreign investment ensures that the natural resources and the labour of Africa produce economic value which is lost to the continent.'
The long quote above from Walter Rodney is summed up by the last sentence above, to which I reiterate, 'modernization today in Africa portends doom and gloom-stagnation and underdevelopment.'
Africa Will Have to Disentangle Itself From The Past Colonial Control, Completely
A Birds-eye view of The Corruption,Stagnation and Underdevelopment By Africans Elected As Government in South Africa
Dysfunction, Nepotism, Cronyism Tenderism, Corruption, Financial Waste/Theft
Theft and General Disorder in South Africa On ‘Service delivery in the changing political landscape in South Africa,' Maserumule made a very important observation, which could be used to contextualize the theme of this Special Issue of the Journal of Public Administration. He said:Service delivery protests are becoming a more ubiquitous aspect of the current changing political landscape in South Africa.
Lately, not even a week passes without headlines on service delivery protests. This is in spite of the fact that the African National Congress’s (ANC) 2007 Polokwane Resolutions adopted a more pro-poor stance on issues of socio-economic development. The phenomenon of service delivery protests dominates the public intellectual space. It is a subject of much speculation from which fundamental questions that need scientific answers emanate. (Maserumule, 2010)
At the same time, we learn from Z. Mphehle that:
The introduction of democracy in South Africa brought some hope to millions who were previously marginalized. The new government transformed the public service by developing and enacting policies that would ensure fairness and equity in the provision of services. Notwithstanding the progress, government’s failure to adequately meet communities’ needs has led to recent service delivery protests.
The empirical evidence has revealed that communities are unhappy because of, among other things, the deployment of unskilled, unqualified and inexperienced cadres to municipal management positions, the accumulation of wealth by a few individuals through the abuse of the tendering system, inadequate revenue due to centralization of funding, and absence of proper systems of collecting revenue by municipalities, which have impacted negatively on service delivery.
And Thabo Mbeki, as President of South Africa in 2006, said:
"Clearly, the matter of service delivery is central to our freedom because we cannot enjoy this freedom while our fellow South Africans have no clean water, have no sanitation and are still using the bucket system. We cannot enjoy this freedom while many among us still have no electricity and other basic services. It is therefore very important that all spheres of government combine their efforts to ensure speedy implementation of programs around these basic services."
So that, we look at the failures of the ANCe in contributing to stagnation and under-development according to Provinces in South Africa:
• The province has failed in service delivery, and blamed the private sector for not delivering textbooks in schools, drugs in hospitals and for not playing an active part in the building of houses
.• Scopa revealed that there was gross financial mis-management in the 2007/2008 financial year.
• Corruption was in abundance in the tendering and procurement processes, which robbed citizens of quality services.
• The province has failed in service delivery, and blamed the private sector for not delivering textbooks in schools, drugs in hospitals and for not playing an active part in the building of houses.
• Scopa revealed that there was gross financial mis-management in the 2007/2008 financial year.
• Corruption was in abundance in the tendering and procurement processes, which robbed citizens of quality services.
• The Departments of Health and of Education, plus Housing and Development were identified as having financial mismanagement.
• There was a lack of rural development
• In 2004 in more than half of the 61 municipalities,less than 60% of households had access to formal housing, water and electricity
• Only 45% of municipalities had the capacity to provide refuse removal and sanitation services.
• Decline in the standards of education: in 2007 it was revealed that
• 8,000 children of school-going age were not attending school, and approximately 600,000 of the population above the age of 15 were illiterate.
• The number of matriculation exemptions produced has given rise to incompetence of civil servants in the delivery of services.
• The lack of service delivery is compounded by the fact that there is no proper mechanism for monitoring their performance.
• Provincial Government does not know how people feel about the services rendered because of the lack of follow up on the implementation of Batho Pele principles by government institutions
.• Regarding the Government’s output, it seemed the thing that matters is the quantity rather than the quality of services rendered.
• The illiteracy level is quite high.
• Poor planning plagues the Provincial Government, and as a result there has been a lack of focus, which led to change of programs time and again.
• The lack of qualified staff in the health care service has adversely affected the quality of service despite Northern Cape being one of the provinces that received a substantial amount of money.The budget was doubled from R836m in 2004/2005 to R1.77b in 2008/2009.
• The lack of qualified staff in the healthcare service has adversely affected the quality of service despite Northern Cape being one of the provinces that received a substantial amount of money. The budget was doubled from R836m in 2004/2005 to R1.77b in 2008/2009.
• Poor financial management
• Lack of funds
• Lack of staff: there are many vacancies but no people filling them because of lack of funds. A great deal of money is spent on consultants, marketing strategies and parties. Top management positions are in abundance but there are few people in service delivery positions.
This is just a smattering of the dysfunction that is taking place in South Africa. Z. Mphehle gives us a bit of the breakdown of the causes of the social malaise in the brief below:
Lack of qualified and skilled managers.
One of the underlying causes of lack of service delivery by municipalities in South Africa is the inadequate human capacity. The common perception held by71% of community respondents is that municipal officials, particularly those in key positions, had not been put there because of their qualifications, competence and experience, but rather on political affiliation and nepotism.
The redeployment of cadres into senior municipal positions, as admitted by President Jacob Zuma(Times Live, 08 August 2010), has affected the performance of certain municipalities. This is a major concern as it adversely affects service delivery. Furthermore, South Africa, like any developing country, is faced with the challenge of attracting professionals at all levels of government, and the most affected are provincial and local governments.
One of the defining features of a government able to run itself successfully is the ability to effectively and efficiently collect revenue, and use that revenue appropriately and economically for the delivery of services. Out of the nine municipalities visited, six officials asserted that they did not have sufficient funding to take care of all the service delivery needs of citizens.
One of the causes was the unpaid services by residents that ran into millions, as expressed by one official. Again, six municipality officials interviewed raised a concern over limited financial resources in municipalities and the allocation of funds by central government.
Although South Africa has partly adopted a federal system of government, there is little autonomy given to municipalities to raise their own revenue. The distribution of funds to local municipalities is still highly centralized, mainly coming from the national level of government. The provinces that have limited revenue sources are mostly disadvantaged, and therefore cannot deliver services effectively and efficiently.
Lack of proper financial and record-keeping skillsAbout 65% of the respondents alleged that the officials put in charge of financial management did not have the necessary basic skills and abilities, and therefore cannot manage even the limited resources available to them.
This concurs with the report that was released by the Accountant-General and the Auditor-General in the2006/2007 financial year: only 56 municipalities out of 284 country-wide receivedUnqualified Audit Reports. In 2007/2008 only 23% municipalities received an unqualified report, the main reason being that some municipalities were unable to keep financial records, and that made it difficult for auditors to effectively conduct proper auditing (Annual Report 2007-08).
About 85% of respondents from the nine municipalities expressed concern about the level of the political and power struggles that persists within municipalities. As expressed by one municipal official, the unabated infighting is crippling service delivery as the focus has shifted from service delivery to job positions in municipalities.
He further said that the infighting among the ruling party’s councillors is driving a wedge between the ranks of the party, thereby bringing service delivery to a halt. This is often due to intolerance within the ruling party which undermines the electoral process of councillors and interferes with their duties. As long as councillors see leadership and management positions as a means of enriching themselves, the present service delivery crisis will continue.
About 91% of respondents accused municipal officials and politicians, especially those who play a role in the recruiting of personnel, of corruption and nepotism. They also allege that substantial amounts of money within municipalities have been reported missing. The services cannot be met because some officials are only concerned about enriching themselves through tenders and awarding themselves high salaries at the expense of service delivery.
The view expressed by questionnaire respondents of the present emergence of classes and status-concerned public officials who perceive the State as a vehicle to enrichment is of primary concern. Official A indicated that the Black Economic Empowerment strategy is being abused by a few elite who are associated, one way or the other, with politicians, to accumulate personal wealth.
Of the 18 officials interviewed, 10 expressed concern at the abuse of the procurement system by certain officials, particularly at the municipal level where there are no records of goods and services that have been procured, and at fraudulent practices such as kickbacks and nepotism which are manifested in the growing number of court cases against officials, and at the lack of accountability that is left unattended. Despite initiatives by government that show a political will to combat corruption, there is still a challenge in the implementation of policies that intend to fight corruption.
Lack of community engagement in decision-making processes. A communication gap exists between the elected and the electorate, as expressed by 72% of respondents. The view expressed is that politicians usually think they know what communities need, and therefore bring programs that are irrelevant.
Official B alluded to the system that often fails people, of electing parliamentarians, and said, for instance, the South African election system is not a constituency-based one; members of parliament are chosen from the political party list. This has caused serious problems as far as representation of constituencies and their views in parliament [are] concerned. It has given rise to politicians, particularly members of parliament, not really serving the communities they say they represent, [but] instead serving their own interests.
Members of Parliament who claim to represent us are rarely seen and heard in their constituencies, and some constituencies do not know who their representatives are. This has caused a gap in communication between parliament and ordinary citizens. (Official B). Although the South African Broadcasting Corporation has introduced a parliamentary service station in order for citizens to hear what is said in parliament during the debates, some citizens do not have access to electronic media and cannot access the information.
Even those who can afford televisions cannot fully follow debates because the language that is used is often English. Therefore members of parliament are detached from their own communities.
The provision of services as the basic right of citizens remains the core business of government, and it requires efficiency and effectiveness in order to satisfy citizens. The transformation of the public service by the present government from a racially based one to an all-inclusive one has been accomplished through the enactment of legislation that promotes equity and fair treatment of all citizens.
Although certain services have improved, the research findings reveal that improvement has been minimal in a number of municipalities that were and still are affected by service delivery protests. The question, however, remains: are these protests justifiable? In an attempt to answer the question the following facts need to be taken into consideration.
While millions still live under appalling conditions and do not enjoy the fruits of democracy, the chosen few reap the benefit of Black Economic Empowerment, which was supposed to do good to ordinary citizens who were previously disadvantaged, while others who are in power involve themselves in corruption and nepotism which manifests in the abuse of the tender system and the appointment of friends and relatives, respectively, which robs millions of citizens of their right to quality service delivery.
A case in hand is the demolition of the hundreds of the shoddily built houses by the Minister of Human Settlements, which serves as evidence of the abuse of the tender system. In a similar vein, the deployment of unskilled, unqualified and inexperienced cadres, who are only concerned with holding prominent portfolios without being accountable,has detrimental effects on the provision of quality service delivery.
The inability of government to have adequate community consultation and engagement in decision-making processes, particularly in matters that affect communities, limits the voice of communities on the type, standard and quality of services they need. Against this background and the fact that the country is almost seventeen years into democracy, and has a Constitution that upholds the right of citizens to receive quality public services and to protest when they are dissatisfied with the services they receive.
The answer to the question that this article raised is in the affirmative. It is imperative, therefore, that the government takes full cognizance of the need to improve the socio-economic conditions of the public through effective and efficient delivery of public services, and takes appropriate steps to address the pertinent issues raised by communities.
Thirsty and Fleeced for Water in South Africa
"Water", As A "Basic Right" In South Africa, Are Both For Sale
Contemporary Popular Struggles In Mzantsi: The Water Wars
At this juncture, I would like to delve deeper into an issue where the ANC has made promises to people and did a three-sixty and betrayed those promises. This is the issues of water, which the government claims it owns, but has not told the people that it has sold the water to a French Company. I would like to take up on the Water Wars that are taking place in South Africa today.
Since the ANC took over its lackey power, they have been in many negotiations with international Capital and governments in parcelling out land and resources of the people of South Africa. Al they are interested in the kickbacks they get from such illicit and illegal shadowy transaction out of sight and in secret without their voting polity being made aware. That is why I have said from the outset that the ANC will have to begin to tell the people the truth because it is in the interest of the ANC and the people that such a dialogue and interaction take place, as will be noticed from the article below.
Water Has Become More Precious Than gold
The theme that constantly jumps at the reader is the oft repeated comment by the poor that, "The ANC promised us free water and they said it is our basic right," and one resident wryly observed in one article above that, '[The ANC) has overturned our basic right to water and has put it up for sale." The struggle of water in South Africa, and in particular, the Big Suburb/Ghetto of Soweto] has begun to set up the stage for a future war(which people sense is coming) or revolution, which has some ANC people worried.
Activists in the forefront of these popular struggles are facing intimidation and constant harassment for enabling the residents whose water has beens liters has run out, since the water has been commercially outsourced and commercialized to foreign companies and this has required the residents to pay over R10.00 per liter for Water, of which some say they really are not getting the allotted amount. so that, within the articles, one can see the whole modus operandi of the ANC and its handlers to profit.
The residents are made to pay exorbitant water and electric bill, of which, the water, which has been sold to a French company, and that same company pays the City of Johannesburg and R60 million in interest, and R40 million in 'greasing' the loan they got hen they paid R187 million, and were able to pay R116 million, of which the R71 million will have to be paid by the poor residents, plus the raising interest on the payment, that, in the final analysis, there is really no payment made, because people have no money to buy or pay for water and electricity.
Even the local ANC leaders, who are now facing pressure, like those that were in a meeting this Friday with the resident, really do not understand what I have just said, or as cited by Bond in his article above. The question that come from the locals are met with a sense of obduracy, arrogance/ignorance and disregard by these ANC representatives for the problems facing them.When one of the local resident in effect told the ANC reps that they came to their communities to tell them about the way water has to be paid, without asking the resident what they think of it and/or should be done-he was hauled out of the meeting by some ANC spooks and honchos.
Right now, there is a problem facing the denizens of Soweto where people in areas known as "Deep Soweto" have to go about at night stealing water from the taps of their neighbors for they have none to drink or wash with. In fact, the ANC cadres could not answer the people in this meeting in Diepkloof, Soweto, when they asked them what are they supposed to pay after their 6,000 liters run out, per liter. None of the Officials could answer the public. Instead, these officials are intimidated by the members of the locals who are feisty and articulate about the Water Wars that have begun since the ANC sold their Water to the French, and they are getting commission from these companies. The locals are ignored, and intimidated
What the ANC is ignoring is what Samora Machel said:
"The truth is that we understand fully what we do not want: oppression, exploitation, humiliation. But as to what we do want and how to get it, our ideas are necessarily still vague. They are born of practice,corrected by practice. ... We undoubtedly will run into setbacks. But it is from these setbacks that we will learn."
In addition to the story of the inhabitants of Orange Farm(as written by Bond above) using 'bootleg' plumbers and 'izinyoka'(snakes) to reconnect and bypass the water systems and give water to their resident, or reconnect those who have no electricity(which has become one of the many ways that the people are learning and fighting back), we will add the issue and problems of water in the following article written by Marti Wenger to show the extant and breadth and depth of this miasma:
All indications are that the controversial water quality problems in Carolina are the tip of the iceberg.
Louis Trichardt (in the Makhado municipality in Limpopo) has been without water for two months now. Ratepayers in the town of Louis Trichardt and parts of the Free State are reportedly preparing to go to court to demand improved water access. In addition, Hoedspruit, Boskbokrand, Brandfort, Winburg, Soutpan, Verkeerdevlei and Marquard have all been left without clean water for significant lengths of time this year.
The question is: what is Minister Molewa's plan to prevent further problems and to ensure that potable water is delivered to these and other towns across the country that face severe water shortages?
I have today written to the Minister to furnish me with a progress report for all of these areas, including Carolina, which is still without safe water.
In the wake of the court ruling against the Gert Sibande Municipality to deliver potable water we cautioned that it was not clear that any of the structural issues contributing to water delivery failure had been adequately addressed. Carolina, along with Caropark and Silobela townships, has gone without drinking water for at least six months. This is six months too long, and reports indicate that safe water is still not being delivered.
The Minister herself has noted in reply to a DA parliamentary question that it is estimated that up to 25% of people who have access to a tap are without an acceptable level of service. This is principally a result of failing municipal infrastructure, but management problems are increasingly highlighted as a contributing factor.
Unfortunately, it appears that the Blue Drop Report that the Department of Water is currently using to aid water service authorities to improve their ability to deliver potable water is not performing adequately as an early monitoring system, despite 'process control management' and 'water safety planning' being prominent scorecard indicators in the Blue Drop system.
The Vhembe water service authority, under which Louis Trichardt falls, scored 74.85% on the Blue Drop Report assessment and was one of the most improved performers in the latest edition of the report. Makhado scored 75% on 'process control management' and 57% on 'water safety planning'.
It is becoming clear that the Department of Water will have to go further than the annual production of the Blue Drop Report. We need stronger action from the Department in the form of directives and even criminal charges against municipal authorities that are failing in their duty to deliver potable water to all South Africans.
The Minister has been at pains to point out that the national department is the regulator and not responsible for water provision on the ground. That is true, but then her Department must do the job of the regulator.
Minister Molewa called the Carolina court action a war against the state and said that it was municipalities' responsibility to ensure water access in their jurisdiction. But municipal water service authorities fall under the ultimate responsibility of the Department of Water Affairs. It is time for Minister Molewa to stop passing the buck and start taking responsibility.
The lack of action in all these places to address the concerns of water shortages in these areas is still not being addressed. Instead, this company is busy putting up meters, as we have see that the very same meters ended being banned in England, so that, what will make them succeed in the Soweto's of South Africa? At present, they are not really succeeding, and in the meantime, the residents,those who cannot afford to buy water or electricity, are suffering and getting very restless and angry.
The ANC, instead of listening to the people, are focused on increasing their commissions and fat checks, and ignore or try to intimidate the locals of these suffering enclaves. The thing about this is that eventually there is a price to be paid, and the ANC does not think that will happen to them… Well time and history will tell. Water has become a very scarce commodity in a land with many rivers, and most of it is being redirected and channelled to the Coal Mining Interests along the Limpopo and such places. Underground aquifers have been shut down to redirect water to these burgeoning mining companies… Well, that too, has come within the purview of the poor, and they have begun to learn how to correct their bungling errors, and enter into a revolutionary mode in dealing with their detractors-both the ANC and the Multi-corporations
How Africa is Slowly and Steadily Being Destroyed
The Desolation of a Continent: Africa
Africa faces unimaginable problems and they really seem insurmountable. We have a lot of political and economic strife; diseases and poverty;unemployments, depression and heightened hypertensions and Sugar Diabetes to contend with. The leadership is immersed in self-aggrandizement and do not give a rats ass as to what the poor do with themselves.
Meanwhile, we are not even talking about another important facet of this suffering-how nature is being laid to waste. This is endemic to the continent, and it s about time we revisited this topic and reality. The destruction of Africa, as I have mentioned above, comes to us in many forms and ways. Michael McCarthy reports:
"It was long shrouded in mystery, called 'the Dark Continent' by Europeans in awe of its massive size and impenetrable depths. Then its wondrous natural riches were revealed to the world. Now a third image of Africa and its environment is being laid before us — one of destruction on a vast and disturbing scale.
Using "before and after" satellite photos, taken in all 53 countries, UN geographers have constructed an African atlas of environmental change over the past four decades — the vast majority of it for the worse.
In nearly 400 pages of dramatic pictures, disappearing forests, shrinking lakes, vanishing glaciers and degraded landscapes are brought together for the first time, providing a deeply disturbing portfolio of devastation.
The atlas, compiled by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) at the request of African environment ministers, and launched yesterday simultaneously in Johannesburg and London, underlines how extensively development choices, population growth, regional conflicts and climate change are impacting on the natural world and the nature-based assets of the continent.
The satellite photos, some of them spanning a 35-year period, offer striking snapshots of environmental transformation in every country.
The purpose of the atlas is to inspire African governments to improve their records as environmental custodians, and as such, its language and tone are studiously neutral, generally referring to environmental "change" rather than destruction. But although there are some examples given of change for the better, the vast majority of the case studies are of large-scale environmental degradation, and the atlas compilers freely accept that this represents the true picture.
They write of "the swell of grey-colored cities over a once-green countryside; protected areas shrinking as farms encroach upon their boundaries; the tracks of road networks through forests; pollutants that drift over borders of neighboring countries; the erosion of deltas; refugee settlements scattered across the continent causing further pressure on the environment; and shrinking mountain glaciers."
For its visual impact, the atlas takes advantage of the latest space technology and Earth observation science, including the 36-year-old legacy of the US Landsat satellite program, demonstrating the potential of satellite data in monitoring ecosystems and changes to them.
The "before and after" shots show vividly just how vast the changes have been, not only since the first Landsat satellite in 1972, but on much shorter timescales. Deforestation is shown not only as mass forest disappearance in countries such as Rwanda, but also as the insidious spread of logging roads through once entirely untouched rainforests in countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the replacement of natural forest by bright green rubber and palm plantations in Cameroon.
Urban spread is illustrated not only by the dramatic expansion of the Senegalese capital Dakar over the past half century, from a small urban centre at the tip of the Cape Verde peninsula, to a metropolitan area with 2.5 million people spread over the entire peninsula, but by the rapid development of a small town like Bangassou in the Central Africa republic, now beginning to affect the nearby forest.
Shrinkage of mountain glaciers is shown only in the well-known case of Mount Kilimanjaro, but also in the disappearing glaciers in Uganda's Rwenzori Mountains, which decreased by 50 per cent between 1987 and 2003. And to the well-known cases of the drying up of Lake Chad, and falling water levels in Lake Victoria, the atlas adds new cases of disappearing water bodies like the drying up of Lake Faguibine in Mali, as well as many examples of desertification, unsustainable large-scale irrigation and degraded coastal areas.
Put it all together and you have a picture that is hard to credit, so enormous is the destruction. Statistically, the atlas finds that deforestation is a major concern in no fewer than 35 African countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Nigeria and Malawi, among others. Africa is losing more than four million hectares of forest every year — twice the world's average deforestation rate.
That problem is closely followed in significance by major loss of biodiversity [wildlife] which is occurring in 34 countries, such as Angola, Ethiopia, Gabon and Mali. Land degradation is similarly a major worry for 32 countries, including Cameroon, Eritrea and Ghana, with some areas across the continent said to be losing more than 50 metric tonnes of soil per hectare per year.
The atlas shows that erosion, as well as chemical and physical damage, have degraded about 65 per cent of the continent's farmlands. In addition, slash-and-burn agriculture is adding to the number of wildfires which are naturally caused by Africa's high prevalence of lightning.
Rapidly rising populations account for one of the principal pressures on the natural resource base. Between 2000 and 2005, the atlas says, Africa's population grew by 2.32 per cent annually — nearly double the global rate of 1.24 per cent per year. Twenty of the 30 fastest growing countries in the world are in Africa, including Liberia, which has the highest annual growth rate – 4.8 per cent — of any country in the world. In the next half century Africa will have twice the population growth rate of any other region.
This means that more and more land must be devoted to agriculture, but as the amount of available land is limited, the amount available per person is swiftly shrinking. The atlas points out that in 1950 there were 13.5 hectares of land per person in Africa, but by 1990 this had shrunk to 4.7 hectares per person and by 2005 to 3.2 hectares per person — while on present population growth estimates, by 2050 the amount will be 1.5 hectares per person.
And now, it says, climate change is emerging as a driving force behind many of these problems and is likely to intensify the "already dramatic transformations" taking place. Although Africa's 965 million people produce only 4 per cent of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions, they are likely to suffer disproportionately from the consequences of global warming, not least because African nations' ability to adapt to climate change is relatively low.
One of the key points the atlas makes is that environmental degradation is likely to have a higher human cost in Africa than in other regions, as people on the continent live in closer relation to the natural world than elsewhere: they are often directly dependent on the environment.
It was for African governments themselves to address the problem, said Marion Cheatle, chief of UNEP's Early Warning Branch, who introduced the atlas in London. "In many places you have a problem of policies being enforced. Not that policies and legislative instruments [to protect the African environment] are not in place, but very often they're only on paper, and they don't have the management to follow that really should be in place."
In A rear-view Mirror tilt: Let's Tell Out Own Story(History)
I wrote up the following piece and posted it in the social media. It is my reaction and observation to a people who have been oppressed and are still trying to configure their bearing in the melange of attacks that they are subjected to by their former masters and new oppressors of all stripes.
In this piece, I was simply exhorting the poor to begin to think things anew. I was going to basics of social existence and life of a people who are today forlorn and very angry for their decrepit state and reality. I chose to look at or address the issue of consciousness since I think the poor have been rendered comatose. This was my take:
"Consciousness: How Can We forget? Looking Now Into The Present Future...
For us to gain "True Consciousness, we've got to know and understand what Consciousness is, means to us and for us and what can we do about it. To be conscious is to be aware of the 'here and now,' and what it all means to one and ones collective(people). It is to be aware of one's history: Past, Present and Future, very well. For, if we read up and try and understand Wilson below, this will help in being conscious, achieving consciousness in the Biko sense(African(Black) Consciousness).
"To manipulate history is to manipulate consciousness: to manipulate consciousness is to manipulate possibilities; and to manipulate possibilities is to manipulate power. Herein lies the mortal threat of Eurocentric historiography to African existence. For what must be the form and functionality of African consciousness and behavior if they are derivative of an African history written by their oppressors?
The history of the oppressed, as written by their oppressors, shapes the consciousness and psychology of both oppressed and oppressor. It helps to legitimate the oppressive system and to maintain the imbalance of power in favor of the oppressor. Eurocentric history writing is essentially an exercise in publishing apologetics for the European oppression of African people; often a gross and crude attempt to create and shape subordinate and inferior African consciousness and psychology.
It seeks to impose a social/historical/cultural amnesic tax on the heads of African peoples and thereby rob them of the most valuable resources — their knowledge of truth and reality of self; their cultural heritage and identity, minds, bodies and souls; their wealth, lands, products of their labor and lives. Eurocentric historiography is the most formidable ally of White racism and imperialism.
It's treacherous role in this regard must be explored and reversed by an African-centered historiography, written by African historians, and dedicated to historical accuracy and truth — historians who are unafraid to speak truth to power. The clarion call for the writing of a restorative African-centered historiography — a critical undertaking — is a call for the healing of the wounds of African peoples; for African unity; for the freeing and expansion of African consciousness; for the re-conquest of African minds, bodies, lands, resources, and African autonomy.
Every Eurocentric social institution conspires with Eurocentric historiography to handcuff and incarcerate African consciousness, to justify and facilitate the subordination and exploitation of African peoples. (Wilson)
According to Wilson, our Consciousness has been "handcuffed" in order to facilitate for the "subordination and exploitation of African peoples."
What are we talking about here? We are in effect seeing ourselves in the piece above. We have been conquered, Apartheidized, and now a discombobulated and a half-slave society that is running around like a headless chicken. We do not even want to face that reality and possibility that we have been Had… Bamboozled..Flummoxed and outwitted that we end up thinking that condition is our natural state of self and national development.
That could not be far from the truth because so long as we do not accept the fact that we have been dominated and socialized by Apartheid, and now being dumbed-down by the imperial invested interests in our minerals, lands, people, labor, families, communities, societies, and everything else that we do not own, it is important that we begin to reconsider this statement up to this far.
Our Youth cannot go it alone. That is a recipe for disasters. The elderly need to begin to speak their truth and with strength conviction, whenever talking to our out of control youth. To the Youth I will, it is very futile to go against your people, because when time comes, it will be necessary to become a fish in the masses who will be your ocean for sailing and hiding.
Just because you can speak English, or are now using a smart=phone, are working and are the highest earner in you household or family, that does not mean the youth has to become arrogant, abusive and ignorant and very mean spirited to their elders. The task of the Youth is to build and organize, move forward the people in their struggle for liberation and dignity-plus ownership of the land and its people and resources.
It is the duty of the Youth to organize sports, community safety, education, reading, perpetuating cultural continuation and propagation, take care of the young and very old, work very hard to read and understand the world. The Youth has to understand that to be "Men" of tomorrow begins now when they are young. As it is oft said, "You reap What You sow": the lifestyles and mannerism and disrespect that the many of the Youth cadre are displaying, are going to be detrimental to them 10, 20 and 30 years down the road. We might see the re-enslavement of our people, again. And this process has just about begun.
Drunkenness(Alcoholism), Drugs, Sex, Aping Western values and mores, discarding of our own cultures, traditions, history, custom, traditional sacred rites and practices, our own local music(and that of the Diaspora), can no longer be acceptable. We are not Americans, nor British, neither European no Asiatic. We are Africans, and we better recognize and be very cognizant of that fact and reality. We should not apologize to nobody whenever we say we are Africans. That we are, and even if we use the foreign English language, that should not be at the expense of our mother tongues.
The parents and elders should begin to talk to the Youth in a way that is informative, even if so many of them are not yet ready to listen. The elders should stop hero-worshiping their children. Love them, Yes. Discipline, Very much. And there should be impartation of our culture and traditions and their diversity, and customs, traditions, music and so forth, are not different, but a diverse mosaic of one culture of the Africans of Mzantsi. We should get this straight:
"Our culture in South Africa is one even if it is made of 10 peoples, and I will never accept us being referred to as 'Tribes'. No. We are a Nation with a very diversified and unique culture-of one people - Nguni/Bakone, etc. We have a very dynamic culture, and we cannot talk about it if we do not know it. This means we have to go back and study all the 10 cultures of the Africans of Mzantsi and then we can begin to talk about our culture from an informed perspective.
By informed we should know all the traditional, customary, cultural, historical, musical, sacred rites and practices of the Africans of Mzantsi. This is our homework, we better know ourselves, thoroughly. We should also work on enhancing the fusion of our languages by knowing each fully and developing from that knowledge to create a language of the Africans of Mzantsi, and make it official and national/international.
Our Youth should be encouraged to teach their elders in Night and day schools and vocational training institutes; the Youth should be encouraged to learn about culture, sports, drama, arts and the whole bit and be able to use it for the good of their societies. The whole act or action is the raising of consciousness-the here and now.
I am more enamored by the formulation of our struggle from the perspective and lives of the people, more than from some unrelated intellectual to our struggle. Our people offer too much material to work with in order to set them in motion and help them champion their own liberation.
We have already seen the past twenty of Shamocracy here in our country. We have heard and are still hearing some vain prattle and lies about what to vote for and why. We know the deal. We ain't-ish here in our land, no matter how you cut it. You might be rich today-tomorrow is not guaranteed. You are not sure whether your bond house and your futuristic foreign car will last till you age and die.
There is no guarantee even to those who consider themselves our elites for they are fully dependent on a local or foreign masters to be rich and prosperous. We all know we are not depended on the army of the poor, except to abuse and exploit them. All of us with heady titles in government and the private corporations and are in the employ of foreign capital, so is our government of the day. We do not own our land nor control our politics and economy
Our culture, politics, education, society, psyches and the whole bit, are still being shaped and dictated to by others. We do not want some of us to point to the opportunistic tendencies and nature of what some of us imbibe, and yet, we are going nowhere fast.
We are all in a rat-race(Marley) to be one-best to your neighbor, friends, and all the farce of upmanship-poorly copied by us from western civilization of the day.
So that, to be conscious, then, is to begin to be a pro and master of ones destiny and whatever ones existence is left from the cruel oppression and miseducation that we have suffered/endured for many centuries. The combination of the elders and the youth is very urgent. The youth have to begin to calm down and learn to listen, and read a lot. We need to try and use Facebook to get books from all over the world and of all types. We should also begin to write our own books, just as we need to develop our musical traditions/performances, drama, art, culture, and so forth.
We do not need to ape nor copycat nobody but our modus operandi should be from what we already have. The world adores our culture, but we do not think so. We have been suffused with the mind-set of 'imports', that in the end we have ignored the local motion and paradigms. We shift with foreign values, cultures, dress, locomotion, are on Facebook and all types of social media, but never at home/to ourselves.
We better understand the media and its mediums. Here we have been afforded a chance to dialogue with one another, but we present and pretend by staying aloof of the contents, issues and topics that concern us. The social media fall right into the middle of our culture in its nature of communication with one another. We do not respond nor care, we think. That is a design of an imprisoned populace.
We know that everything we say is being monitored here on Facebook, but we can at least talk to one another unless there's a more non-public way like the viral stream. Understanding the Media(as espoused by Marshall McLuhan) is key to our contributing to the liberation. Social action is and should be the norm. Tangible results should be the objective, and social gluing and cohesion the primary focus.
Consciousness therefore, in my own paltry way, is an attempt to wake up the people, everyone poor and oppressed, to the reality that is looking at us in the face and eliminating us in various ways. The awareness of such truth about ourselves is one other steps towards resuscitating our embattled people.
The immediate past, Apartheid, is still with us. We have now one more load on our tortured backs, our own elected leaders-who are inept and corrupt in the governance of our democracy. We should always make the point that we all consciously demand that we come first, we the people of Mzantsi. Everything that happens in our country must first benefit us-the rest we will decide later at our own discretion. There is nothing wrong in saying that, and we should be instilling and helping our own folks understand what it is we mean when we say "'WE' Come First!"
A Conscious people can demand social engagement in social change. Those two are inseparable. Whatever action it is, it should be geared towards the upliftment of the common and poor Africans. We cannot all be filthy rich, but all of us can live decently and comfortable enough in the land of our birth. In a short historical summation I say:
There are many issues which need to be put in correct historical perspective so that we can see the history of Africans, not through rose-colored glasses, but what it is hand what has happened to Africans, and why the present Africans are still persona non-grata in many institutions, in their countries and within their history.
The actual and present condition of Africa is one of deep trouble, worse than the one imposed during the colonial times. Deserts have grown wider every year; the broad Savannas have lost their communities and have lost all their means of existence; tropical forest have disappeared through feeding the export maw; cities that do not deserve to called such, have spawned large scale poverty and plagues never seen, known or dreamed-of in human history; harsh and evil dictatorships who have ruled and are still ruling over people who distrust and hate them, and for a good reason; and in the case of Africa, one dismal tyranny gives was for another more worse one; despair rots civil society, and the state becomes an enemy, and bandits flourish.
Meanwhile, the Developed World, or the industrialized world continues to take its cuts of Africa's dwindling wealth and America and countries of Europe have expanded in value annually. While this is going on, multitudes are starved, suffer many diseases, and are troubled by internecine wars with millions murdered, annually.
Africa's crisis of society derives from many upsets and conflicts. These arise from the social and political institutions within which 'decolonized Africans' have lived and tried to survive. African nationalism produced nation-states of newly independent Africa after the fall of colonialism. These nation-state state began with liberation and looked like liberated states.
What was happening was that this was not Africa's restoration of its own history but a perpetuation of new and indirect rule to the history of Europe. The 50 or so African states were formed as though its peoples possessed no history of their own, and they became the 50 or so states or nation-states formed and governed from the models of Britain and France. African liberation led to African alienation.
As we look at African Nationalism, we must also present its history in the different epochs and geographical locations throughout Africa and the Diaspora. Marcus Garvey achieved this and it even spread right here in south Africa. There are a lot of books written about South African African Garveyites one can look for and read up on. There are books that give the history of Africans who were fighting aware units during the Anglo Boer War and yet no mention is made of those. Our History will only be valid when we begin to talk and write about it.
There's still a lot to be done, as Lenin once wrote a book called "What's to be done". I will be citing from him too, to answer the persistent question, if we are to achieve our own and earned autonomous Consciousness, What's To Be Done? I think we should be more Consciously immersed, embedded and swirling/acting within our communities, maybe we can affect and effect the much needed change, today.