This paper reveals relationships between Europe and Africa, particularly how the first one influenced the regression of the latter. I present the explanation of the following statement: “colonialism in Africa was a one-armed bandit” providing convincing facts and arguments.
The highest peak of colonialism in Africa took place in the 19th century. No doubt that there were plenty of positive features of the European colonialism in Africa. For example, Europeans brought to Africa a new civilization, culture, and built cities and roads. Along with soldiers, there were Christian missionaries, who wanted to turn the local population to Christianity (either Protestantism or Catholicism). Moreover, colonialists also contributed a lot to the education of Africans building schools and teaching African natives European languages (mainly English but also French, Spanish, Portuguese, German) and other sciences.
What attracted Europeans in Africa? First of all, many natural resources as well and human resources, in other words, slaves, in which the Europeans are actively converted the local population (Rothenberg 127). After that, slaves were taken to the New World for the hard work in the local sugar or coffee plantations. Using African natural resources, European powers enriched and showed their influence during several centuries colonizing any land they wish by means of exploitation of the local population. In general, the slave trade is one of the darkest pages of African history. These lands were famous by the developed agriculture, so the conquerors organized their large estates with the extensive land, which forced labor of Africans. Indigenous peoples convened for the construction of facilities for the needs of the occupants (roads and ports). In addition, the negative impact of colonialism after its collapse was the fact that some of the newly created African countries contain diverse cultural and even hostile relation to each other. Sometimes it has led to veritable civil wars as in Nigeria, a former British colony. Since the country acquired independence, Ibo and Yoruba tribes living in it appeared to be hostile to each other. Therefore, Rodney calls colonialism in Africa a “brazen fraud to weigh the paltry social amenities” (108).
The formation of colonial regimes entailed profound changes in the economic situation of the Africa reflecting on its nature. It was obliged to work on building sector a certain number of days per year. Besides, the governor of the colony had the right to bring to such work any number of Africans without limitation. In the case of disobedience, Africans were subjected to a fine or even been jailed. In order to ensure the smooth export of minerals and agricultural raw materials, colonialists began to create a transport network in the colonies. Roads, including iron, had to join the significant administrative and commercial centers to the coast. They were based mainly on the money collected from the British taxpayer and African population. Moreover, the labor of Africans was almost unpaid. The local population was also obliged to procure ivory and rubber, take it to the collection points of the company, and to supply food for the European administration and garrisons scattered throughout the colony. In addition, residents of the Congo African settlements, for example, had to practice every fourth day on the so-called public works construction of roads, portering, etc.
The analysis of the data that was made by the author can be proved. It could not be easily argued and denied, as there is evidence of it being taken from reliable sources. In addition, he provides convincing arguments; therefore, the historical information presented in the article appears to be accurate and trustworthy. It is necessary to note that in his article, Rodney described Africa, exploited by European colonialists and imperialists leading directly to the modern underdevelopment of the most of the continent. The book was highly influential and controversial. «How Europe Underdeveloped Africa» became innovative as it was one of the first books that offer a new perspective on the issue of the backwardness of Africa. Rodney’s studies differ from hitherto generally accepted a view of the underdevelopment of the Third World. Precisely speaking, he focused on the agricultural sector of African communities, on the productive forces in them, and the processes of the division of society into classes. As a result of his research, he raised a fresh set of questions about the nature of African social institutions on the Upper Guinea Coast in the XVI century and the impact of the Atlantic slave trade. Almost immediately, he shared what has been written and studied in West Africa. It marked the beginning of a debate that continues nowadays, too, passing through a series of events of African history.
In conclusion, it should be stressed that in this article, Rodney pointed out the main ideas, changes and institutions that were connected to the negative and, as a result, an underdeveloping effect of the European colonialism in Africa. Consequently, one may conclude that the goal desired by the author was achieved because he provided an average reader with the useful and comprehensible information.
Rodney, Walter. “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa.” How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. New York: Howard UP, 1982. 107-25. Print.
Rothenberg, Paula S. Beyond Borders: Thinking Critically about Global Issues, New York: Worth Publishers, 2006. Print.