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Lawrence Audu: Europe’s part in Africa’s underdevelopment and continuous challenges – Deconstructing Rodney’s worldview



Professor Patrice Lumumba once described Africa as “a curiosity,” referring to it as “Francophone Africa” by the French, “Lusophone Africa” by the Portuguese, and “Anglophone Africa” by the British.

Curiosity is profoundly ingrained in the problem of African ownership. Lumumba went on to say that the Western world feels it has a divine right to prescribe to Africans, and as a result, Africans have failed to liberate their thoughts, acting as if they are inferior people—or, to put it another way, “Children of a lesser God.”

This unfortunate worldview has exacerbated Africa’s immobility, trapping it in a web of competing beliefs. The legacy of colonialism and later neocolonialism imposed by the West has had a profound impact on our brains.”

Despite the continent’s enormous potential, the worries and opinions stated by critics and early writers throughout the post-colonial era are emerging in 21st-century Africa. This is obvious in Guyanese historian and economist Walter Rodney’s publications, particularly his 1972 book “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa.” Rodney’s perspective critically explores European colonialism’s historical and contemporary influence on Africa.

Rodney claims that Africa’s underdevelopment is not due to intrinsic inferiority or a lack of resources but rather to the exploitative connection that developed between Europe and Africa during centuries of colonial dominance. He dives into the economic, political, and social variables that have influenced the history of Africa and led to its underdevelopment. It is mystifying, for example, that despite having one of the world’s greatest stores of uranium, on which France primarily relies for nuclear energy, Niger remains one of the world’s poorest countries.

The book traces the origins of African underdevelopment back to the age of European exploration and the subsequent rush for Africa in the late nineteenth century, when European countries partitioned the continent for commercial and political reasons. Rodney contends that colonialism undermined pre-existing African socioeconomic systems, allowing European powers to capture and exploit Africa’s resources.

Rodney also emphasizes European capitalism’s involvement in sustaining Africa’s underdevelopment. He contends that the capitalist system, motivated by profit, led to the extraction of African resources, the destruction of native businesses, and the establishment of an economic structure that benefitted European countries at the expense of Africa.

Rodney also investigates the impact of colonial schooling and European nations’ cultural dominance over Africa. He claims that European education systems in Africa were designed to generate a class of Africans who would act as go-betweens between colonizers and locals, preserving European interests while repressing indigenous knowledge and culture.

Rodney’s study refutes the widely held belief that Africa is intrinsically underdeveloped and gives a framework for comprehending the historical processes that have produced the continent. He contends that true progress in Africa necessitates a break with colonialism’s exploitative legacy and the construction of a self-sufficient, independent African society.

The continuing proxy conflict between major powers, which is mostly taking place in Ukraine, has the potential to spread to African soil. Following the recent military coup that toppled Mohamed Bazoum, the United States, France, and the United Kingdom are encouraging the Nigerian-led ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) to intervene militarily in Niger under the guise of “Restoring Democracy.”

Many observers may not comprehend that if this war occurs, it will benefit the Western powers, particularly France, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Their main aim is the ongoing exploitation of Niger’s resources. It symbolizes a final attempt by France, in particular, to keep control over one of its few surviving colonies. Russia, on the other hand, sees this potential confrontation as an opportunity to earn support among Africans, who regard it as a new savior capable of giving security free of the burdens of colonialism.

Regardless of one’s point of view, it is universally acknowledged that a Nigerian military intervention in Niger is highly unlikely. Because of its shared borders with seven Northern Nigerian states, where people have coexisted peacefully and intermarried for centuries, many see Niger as an extension of Northern Nigeria.

Fortunately, the Nigerian Senate has earned the respect of many Nigerians once more by rejecting President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s proposal to send the military in the event that diplomatic attempts fail. Nigeria has already encountered various obstacles, including Boko Haram, insurgencies, and other types of violent crime. As a result, participating in a foreign military operation would be pointless.

At the moment, it would be more appropriate for the United States, France, and Russia to send special forces to Niger to restore democracy. Africa should learn from its mistakes and avoid fighting other countries’ fights on its own turf. This was especially evident during World War I, as represented in Ferdinand Oyono’s “The Old Man and the Medal.” Meka gave the colonial French everything he had, even surrendering his only plot of land for the construction of a church. In addition, his two sons were drafted into the army to fight for the French. However, when his sons are killed in a battle that benefits neither him nor his village, he is forced to face the terrible reality. To make matters worse, he is refused a prominent position in the Church, despite the fact that it was built on his land. What does he get in return for all of his sacrifices? A medal with no value.

Whose sons is Tinubu willing to exchange for “A worthless medal? No not again!

Lawrence Audu writes from Bangui, Central African Republic

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