EUROPE AND THE UNDERDEVELOPMENT OF AFRICA
Underdevelopment is tied to the fact that human social development has been uneven and from a strictly economic viewpoint, some human groups have advanced further by producing more and becoming wealthier,
The question of manufacturing in Africa before the time of the white man, it is essential to recognize where achievement have been underestimated.
African manufacture have been contemptuously treated or over looked by European writers, because the modern conception of the word brings to mind factories and machines, However, manufacture means literally, ‘things made by hand’. Moreover, Africa manufacture in this sense had advanced appreciably. Most African societies fulfilled their own needs for a wide range of articles of domestic use, as well as for forming tools and weapons. Though North Africa, Europeans became familiar with European superior brand of red leather from Africa, which was, formed ‘Moroccan leather’. In fact, it was tanned and dyed by Hausa and Mandingo specialist in northern Nigeria and Mali, when direct contact was established between Europeans and Africans on the east and west coasts. Many more impressive items were displayed, as soon as the Portuguese reached the old kingdom of Congo, they sent back word on the superb local cloths made from bark and palm fiber and having a finish comparable to velvet, The Buganda were also expert bark-cloth makers. Yet, Africa had even better to offer in the form of cotton cloth, which was widely manufactured even before the coming of the Europeans.
Economic development was reflecting in the separation of dyeing from cloth making and the separation of spinning from wearing. Each separation marked greater specialization and quantitative and qualitative changes in output.
Europeans industry has been intensively studied and it is generally recognized that in addition to new machinery a most decisive factor in the growth of industry was the change over from domestic production to factory system with the guild marking an intermediary stage.
Africa was a continent of innumerable trade routes across the Sahara or the routes connected with Katanga copper. But in the main, it was trade between neighbouring or not too far distance societies. Such trade was always a function of production.
Various communities were producing surplus of giving commodities, which could be exchange for items that they lacked. In that way, the salt industry of one locality could be stimulated while the iron industry would be encourage in be another. In a coastal lake or river rain area, dried fish could become profitable, while yams and millet would be grown in abundance elsewhere to provide a basis for exchange. The trade so readily distinguishable in every part of the continent between the 10th and 15th centuries was an excellent indicator of economic expansion and other forms of development, which accompanied increasing mastery over the environment.
The first significant thing about the internationalization of trade in the 15th century was that Europeans took the initiative and went to other part of all the world’s waterways, starting with the western Mediterranean and the Atlantic coast of North Africa. The Portuguese controlled the Atlantic coast of morocco and used its economic and strategic advantage to prepare for further navigations, which eventually carried their ships round the Cape of Good Hope in 1495. After reaching the Indian Ocean, the Portuguese sought with some success to replace Arabs as merchants who tried east Africa to India and rest of Asia. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Portuguese carried most of the east Africa ivory, which was marketed in India, While India cloth and the Portuguese, Dutch, English and French sold beads in east and West Africa. The same applied to cowry shells from the East Indies, Therefore, by control of the seas. Europe took the first steps towards transforming the several part of the Africa Asia into economic elites and on the other hand. Africa formed an extension to Europeans capitalist market, As far as foreign trade was concerned, Africans were dependant on what Europeans were preparing to buy and sell. From the beginning, Europe assumes the power to make decision within the international trade system.
An excellent illustration of that is the fact that the so-called international law, which governed the conduct of nations on the high seas, was nothing else but European law. Africans did not participate in its making and in many instances African people were simply the victims, for the law recognized them only as transportable merchandise. Above all, European decision-making power was exercise in selecting what Africa should expert in accordance with Europeans need.
The slave trade on the Indian ocean has been called the ‘East Africa Slave Trade’ and the ‘Arab slave trade’ for so long that it hides the extent to which it was also a European slave trade. When the slave trade from east Africa was at its height in the 18th century and the early 19th century, the destination of most captives was European owned plantation economics of Mauritius, Reunron and Seychelles as well as the American via the Cape of Good Hope. Besides, African laboring as slaves in certain Arabs countries in the 18th and 19th centuries were all ultimately serving the Europeans capitalist system which set up a demand for slave-grown products, such as the cloves grown in Zanzibar under the supervision of the Arab masters.
African economic activities were affected both directly and indirectly by population loss. For instance, when the inhabitants of a giving area were reduce below a certain number in an environment where tsetse fly was present, the remaining few had to abandon the area. In effect, enslavement was causing these people to lose their battle to tame and harness nature a battle that is at the basis of development. The opportunity presented by European dealers became the major stimulus for a great deal of social violence between different African communities and within any giving community.
All European power in the 19th century, indicated their awareness of the fact that the activities connected with producing captives were inconsistent with other economic pursuits.
That was the time when Britain in particular wanted Africa to collect palm produce and rubber to grow agricultural crops for export in place of slaves and it was clear that slave raiding was violently conflicted with the objective in western, Eastern and Central Africa. There were several reasons why the Africa workers were more crudely exported than his European counterpart was in the present century.
Firstly, the alien colonial state had a monopoly of political power after crushing all opposition by superiority armed forces. Secondly, the African working class was small, much dispersed and very unstable owing to migratory practices. Thirdly, while capitalism was willing to exploit all workers everywhere, European capitalists in Africa had additional racial justifications for dealing unjustly with the African workers.
The racist theory that the black man was inferior led to the conclusion that he deserves lower wages and interestingly enough, the light light-skinned Arab and Berber population of North Africa were treated as ‘blacks’ by he white racist French. The combination of the above factors in turn made it extremely difficult for African workers to organize themselves. It is the only the organization and restiveness of the working class which protect it from it natural tendency of the capitalist to exploit to the utmost. That is why in al colonial territories, when African workers realized the necessity for trade union solidarity, numerous obstacles were place in their paths by the colonial regimes.
The Portuguese and Belgian colonial regimes were the most brazen in directly rounding up Africans to go and work for private capitalists under conditions equivalent to slavery. In Congo, brutal and extensive forced labor under king Leopold in the last century where many Congolese were killed. The Portuguese stand out because they boasted the most and did the least. Portugal boasted that Angela, Guinea and Mozambique have been their possession for 500 years during which time a ‘civilizing mission’ has been going on. At the end of 500 years of shouldering the white man’s burden of civilizing African natives, the Portuguese had not managed to train a single African doctor in Mozambique and the life expectancy in eastern Angola was less than 30 years.
In predominantly black countries, it was also true that the bulk of social services went to whites. The southern part of Nigeria was one of the colonial areas that was supposed to have received the most from a benevolent ‘mother country’. Ibadan, one of the most heavily populated cities in Africa had only about 50 Europeans before the last war. For those, chosen few the British colonial governments maintained a segregated hospital service of 11 beds in well-furnished surroundings.
Means of communication were not constructed in the colonial period so that Africans could visit their friends. More important still, there were not laid down to facilitate internal trade in African commodities. There were no roads connecting different colonies and different part of the same colony in a manner that made sense with regards Africa’s needs and development. All roads and railways led down to the sea. They they were built to extract gold or manganese or coffee or cotton in most parts of Africa, the Europeans who wanted to see a railroad built offered lashes as the ordinary wage and more lashes for extra effort. Many of the entrepreneurs from the big Europeans port towns who turned to importing Africa agricultural produce into Europe were formerly carrying on the trade in slaves.