The Willing Destruction of Self Belief in History: Africa

The most difficult continent for the layman to understand, in many ways, is Africa.  As a historian trained in European history, the lack of written records makes it challenging.  As does the historical neglect of the continent in secondary and primary sources.

What little I do know, however, was brought up recently in something of a debate about why the African continent often seems to be, “behind,” or, “messed up,” in some way.  On the outset, I want to say that I completely disagree with the sentiment that many people seem to share that this was simply how Africa (as opposed to a world system involving Africa) developed for some way.

The fictional country of Wakanda, of course, being a notable exception.

The fictional country of Wakanda, of course, being a notable exception.

The arguments that favor the idea that Africa has itself gotten itself into its troubles tend to be as follows:

1. European intervention in Africa was a positive as authority from outside had a solidifying affect on many fighting factions within Africa.

2. There was a, “tribal system,” that endorsed backwardness and violence before Europeans arrived.

3. African problems are far worse than other Third World problems; and if Africa were not at fault, there should be some reason an India, Morocco, or Hong Kong in Africa that made the best of a bad world system.

Now, to address the first notion first:

1. European intervention in Africa was a positive as authority from outside had a solidifying affect on many fighting factions within Africa.

European influence should have had a solidifying affect in Africa that helped areas improve.

This is horse shit.  Historically, it has almost never been the case that Europeans jam two people together and suddenly it makes things better for both, even if the intention is good.

Except for 100 years ago when peace was declared in the Middle East after the west did so, of course

Except for 100 years ago when peace was declared in the Middle East after the west did so, of course

In Africa, tribal conflict is most violent where the Europeans were most interested in social engineering and whatnot. Notorious examples include German East Africa (where Belgium and Germany separated the Hutu and Tutsi into camps based upon material wealth and spirituality); all the way west to the Belgian Congo (the crimes in which are notorious and will be looked at below).

A lot of the times putting various ethnic and social groups together in colonies was deliberate.  The Hutu and the Tutsi are a good example.  Being simple but brief, the Tutsi were a minority that the Europeans preferred as being more wealthy and looking more European (in their eyes).  The Hutu were poorer, and seemed more African in the eyes of the Europeans.  But the big difference were that the Hutu were the majority.  By putting the Tutsi in charge of the recognized imperial governments, the Tutsi were dependent upon Europeans in order to keep control.  As time went on, as inequality increased, the Tutsi became further reliant upon the Europeans and the Hutu became more upset with the system that was designed specifically to rule them.

This was a basic building block in the, “New Imperialism,” the idea of promoting one group of people (like a martial race) to control the majority.  The Middle East may be closer to everyone’s mind in order to draw a comparison.  When Iraq was carved out by the British, three groups were included together.  The Sunni, the Shia, and the Kurds.  Theoretically, no matter what group was in charge, it would be dependent upon the British to maintain control and stop everything from running into chaos.  There were attempts to stop that, King Faisal being notorious in attempting to keep everyone happy, but was also working with the British (and possibly murdered by the British).  Regardless of Faisal, the result is the Iraq today, and the Africa today where a lot of different people were put into conflict deliberately with each other so an outside force could run the region as cleanly as possible.

A final example that covers some of the 3rd argument I’ll be refuting is India being chopped up.

India was, in fact, explicitly run as divided people that played against each other, hence the, “martial races.” (primary source, secondary source). In India, specifically, the issue became the British infrastructure itself unifying too well. The Royal Indian Navy rebelled, putting three flags up: The Indian National Congress, the Muslim League, and the Red Flag of the Communist Party of India as their symbols.

They still haven’t really been able to unify since then. The Muslims became Pakistan, the National Congress became India, and the Communists were dealt with during the Cold War.

Africa was different for several reasons, most notably the way it was carved up, which I shall address later.

2. There was a, “tribal system,” that endorsed backwardness and violence before Europeans arrived.

This almost always stems from the idea that Africa has violence in it, thus Africa is violent.  But this isn’t necessarily the case—even if the logic initially seems sound.  The fact is that Africa has violence in it because it is part of a broader world system that endorsed such violent.

The accusation that the Europeans were just falling into native customs doesn’t check out for several reasons. First, our primary sources from missionaries and investigators like Roger Casement conflict with it. Further, we can track natives escaping Congo (and other areas) and arriving in other areas in order to escape from the violence imperialists brought with them. The British, especially, kept records of this as it was part of a broader campaign to recruit natives to their own side and pacify their own areas. Finally, there is no reason to assume that there was this kind of abuse before the imperialists arrived but there is all kinds of evidence that supports the notion that the kind of power structures the imperialists brought in encouraged a dehumanization and abuse of natives.

I’m moving away from Africa again for good example of the dehumanization deliberately brought to areas—this is sometimes necessary as abuse in Africa has historically not been well documented.  Let’s look at the Dutch policies in Southeast Asia.  Because he does a good job summarizing it, I’m going to quote from Justin Tung:

During the 19th century, the Dutch colonial government like other European colonial governments in Southeast Asia executed their plans to civilize and modernize the region. The ideology held by these governments was that there was single evolutionary path to modernity and Europe was at the highest point of human development (Loos). Because of this view, which matched with concepts of imperialism and colonialism, the colonial government felt it necessary to portray the superior elements of European society to the natives and clearly delineate the separation between the colonizer and the colonized (McClintock et al. 348). The ability to achieve these political goals was due to the colonial authoritarianism that existed in the Dutch East Indies throughout most of the colony’s history (Taylor 7). In her essay “Making Empire Respectable”, Stoler argues that the part of the colonial government’s goal to preserve European superiority was through “sexual” (European male) dominance in domestic affairs (McClintock et al. 346). As a result, Stoler states that sexual prohibitions were “racially asymmetric and gender specific” (McClintock et al. 366). This resulted in male dominated Dutch populations such as the 2:25 women to men ratio in Sumatra during the late 19th century.

The regulation of gender in the Dutch East Indies that first appeared in the early 18th century was specifically targeted at restricting female immigration to the colony either by preventing female immigration or refusal of employment of married men by colonial Dutch companies (McClintock et al. 349). The reason for this policy was due to the nature of the women who had come to the colonies previously. Many of these women came from the lowest elements of European society and it was government’s view that these women “scandalized” the natives through their actions by misrepresenting European society. As a result, the colonial government placed a ban on female immigration exempting only wives of officials. The Dutch colonial government then went further to secure its goal of portraying the Europeans society as superior by banning European males from returning to Europe unless they had financial capabilities to provide for their natives wives forever. Since many of these men were poor workers or soldiers, it was essentially a disincentive to marry native women (Loos). Therefore, by the late 18th century, women in the Dutch East Indies faced more rigid social regulation in Southeast Asia than in metropolitan Europe (McClintock et al. 344). The government’s answer to the “needs” of European males was concubinage. Stoler defines concubinage as the “cohabitation” of European men with native women for domestic and sexual affairs (McClintock et al. 348). The government and Dutch colonial companies adopted a policy to promote and accommodate such a lifestyle to compensate for the lack of European women in the colony. Concubinage suited the colonial political goals at the time and encouraged a cheaper, healthier, and more stable lifestyle for European males corresponding to the development level of the colony. As a result, the policies mentioned above and native concubines were the core gender regulations of the Dutch government before the early 1900s.

There’s also a wiki, if anyone is interested.

This, like the division of the Tutsi and Hutu was a policy based on European notions of racial and cultural supremacy that, by purpose or not, completely undermined everything that made the native cultures work and instead brought chaos.

Africa had the same problems.

In Northern Africa, it was often the Europeans arriving and starting a war that led to evacuation of the natives. In the interior we get some of that (The Kingdom of Kongo for instance, and maybe even the Zulu), but we also see a lot of exploitation and profit-mongering. I keep going back to Belgian Congo, but that’s because we know most about it. The Europeans wanted rubber. They don’t know how to get rubber, so they gather up a bunch of the natives and abuse them horribly and send them off to go find rubber through threat of starvation, hostages, etc, etc. While there, they also promote another class to watch the majority of the workers, the so called, “forest guards.”

This system looks totally legit in the 20th century.  I don't know why people complain about it.

This system looks totally legit in the 20th century. I don’t know why people complain about it.

The forest guards had to account for every bullet shot by proving it was used efficiently via producing a hand, head, or penis.

In doing this, because it’s very hard to kill someone with one shot, a black market develops of native hands, heads, and penises. As it becomes a currency, it also becomes a standard punishment. So when you see pictures of Africans escaping, they often are handless:

I'm not even going to try to be sarcastic in this.  It's just depressing.

I’m not even going to try to be sarcastic in this. It’s just depressing.

Obviously, this being the late 19th and early 20th century, they did not document the penises visually, but it was well known.

This wasn’t limited to the Congo, incidentally. When the Europeans went into Central and South America, they often used a similar system. Here is a Putomayo Indian pulled from the forest and forced to gather rubber:


If the natives didn’t find enough rubber, they were often beaten or chopped up by being tied to the ground. Here’s the former (again, no pictures of the latter as this was its time and place):


You’ll note too that the guards were imported blacks from colonies held by Europeans—though, of course, always under orders from the Europeans.

There had been accusations that some of these abuses were the Europeans adapting to African customs.  This is not true.  The hands are well known to have been cut off.  From Yale:

Genocide scholar Adam Jones comments, “The result was one of the most brutal and all-encompassing corvée institutions the world has known . . . Male rubber tappers and porters were mercilessly exploited and driven to death.”[6] Leopold’s agents held the wives and children of these men hostage until they returned with their rubber quota.[5] Those who refused or failed to supply enough rubber often had their villages burned down, children murdered, and their hands cut off.[1,3] 

Although local chiefs organized tribal resistance, the FP brutally crushed these uprisings. Rebellions often included Congolese fleeing their villages to hide in the wilderness, ambushing army units, and setting fire to rubber vine forests.[2] In retribution, the FP burned villages and FP officers sent their soldiers into the forest to find and kill hiding rebels. To prove the success of their patrols, soldiers were ordered to cut off and bring back dead victims’ right hands as proof that they had not wasted their bullets.[3] If their shots missed their targets or if they used cartridges on big game, soldiers would cut off the hands of the living and wounded to meet their quotas.[3]

From The Independent:

Villages were assigned a quota for the amount of rubber they had to collect and process and terror ensued if they failed to meet that quota. Military personnel, mostly made up of west Africans, ran the show and carried out the infamous practice of cutting off the hands and feet of villagers who failed to meet the quota.

“The violence was triggered by a bureaucratic system that meant these mercenaries had to justify the use of every one of their bullets by bringing back severed and smoked hands and feet,” says Van Reybrouck, who was the first to gain access to rare testimonies of the time. “I read accounts of villagers who had pretended to be dead hoping to escape the terror but who then felt their limbs being cut off.

“But there is an obsession with these hands and people also forget that most of those limbs were cut off from people who were already dead.”

Women would also be taken into custody until their husbands came up with the required amount of rubber. “It was a relentless policy of squeezing out local populations. Apart from the manslaughter, there was huge migration as people fled into the forest as they didn’t want to work in the service of the King anymore.”

Historians have struggled to come up with an estimate of the scale of the slaughter, though they are revising downwards the former figure of 10 million victims, as many deaths were also caused by disease.

As for the other mutilations, we have a harder time tracking them down because some of the abuses in Africa were so bad that they were not published.  As Hartford writes:

Casement’s findings were so damning that the Foreign Office in London was too embarrassed that it could not publish the original.

Casement’s description of “sliced hands and penises was far more graphic and forceful than the British government had expected”. When the Foreign Office finally published a sanitised version of his report, an angry Casement sent a stinking 18-page letter of protest to his superiors in the Foreign Office, threatening to resign. He called his superiors “a gang of stupidities” and “a wretched set of incompetent noodles.”

Why are people so cruel? There are theories that they were in a new place, with a diverse group of people, and perpetuating atrocities on the natives was a sort of psychological way to deal with it. Maybe there’s something to the idea, but really I think it comes down to money. You can make these people work for free by terrorizing them, and you get more money in the end. Meanwhile in Europe, they get their rubber and gold and whatnot, and don’t have to see where it comes from.

The official policy in colonies was often to brutalize the men and impregnate native women in order to, “fix,” their genetics. And, of course, destroy the old culture. There are some interesting articles about the topic, specifically how the young women born were often brought into such concubines or at least with European men. Then the native women would be disgusted with the native men, who were used as labour and whatnot, and they could try to run a line out. 

Anyway, here’s a report given to Edward Grey from the Congo from Sir Roger Casement:

August 12- (Enclosuere 3) Bikela’s Statement. “Ehanga did not want to take rubber to the white man. We and our mothers ran far away very far into the bush. The Bula Maradi soldiers are very strong and they fought very hard. One soldier killed and they killed one Ehanga man (this would be Bikela’s person]. Then the white man said let us go home and they went home, and then we, too, came out of the bush…After that another fighting took place. I, my mother, grandmother, and my sister Nzaibiaka, we ran away into the bush. The soldiers came and fought us, and left the town and followed is into the bush. When the soldiers came into the bush near us they were calling my mother by name, and I was going to answer, but my mother put her hand to my mouth to stop me. Then they went to another side, and then we left that place and went to another. When they called my mother, if she had not sopped me from answering, we would hall have been killed then. A great number of our people were killed by the soldiers. The friends who were left buried the dead bodies and there was very much weeping. After that there was not any fighghting for some time. Then the soldiers came again to fight with us and we ran into the bush, but they really came out to fight with [the] Iyembe. They killed a lot of Iyembe people and then one soldier came out to Ehanga, and the Ehanga people killed him with a spear. And when the other soldiers heard that their friend was killed they came in a large number and followed us into the bush. Then the soldiers fired a gun and some people were killed. After that they saw a little bit of my mother’s head, and the soldiers ran quickly towards the place where we were and caught my grandmother, my mother, Nzaibainka, and another little one, younger than us.

“Several of the soldiers argued about my mother, because each wanted her for a wife, so they finally decided to kill her. They killed her with a gun-they should her through the stomach-and she fell and when I saw that I cried very much, because they killed my mother and grandmother and I was left alone…and I saw it all done. They took hold of Nzaibiaka and asked her where her older sister was and she said: “She has just run away.” They said, ‘Call her.’ She called me, but I was too frightened and would not answer, and I ran and went away and came out at another place and I could not speak much because my thread was very sore. I saw a little bit [of] ‘kwanga’ lying on the ground and I picked it up to eat. At that place there used to be a lot of people, but when I got there there were none. Nzaibiaka was taken to Bikolo, and I was at this place alone. One day I saw a man coming from the back country. He was going to kill me but afterwards he took me to a place where there were people, and there I saw my step-father, Nzaibiaka’s father. He asked to buy me from this man, but that man would not let him. he said, ‘She is my slave now; I found her.’ One day the men went out fishing and when I looked I saw the soldiers coming, so I ran away, but a straight caught my foot and I fell, and a soldier named Lombola caught me. He handed me over to another soldier and as we went away we saw some Ikoko people fishing, and the soldiers took a lot of fish from then…and they took me to the white man.” “The white man set me to work.”

We do it today. We know the computers we’re on right now were assembled by children for an almost nonexistent salary. We all don’t really like the idea that much, but it’s across the seas and we can pretend it’s someone else’s problem. But it’s not. We’re as guilty as any other individual person.

But, I should point out, it isn’t exactly hopeless.  One of the people that exposed a lot of this stuff into our common knowledge was Sir Roger Casement.  A northern Irish Protestant, employee of the British Foreign Office, and a knight.  Very few people would dispute his claims, though he did become a rebel and disgusted with the kind of imperialism he saw in Africa.  From a private letter he sent to Alice Stopford Green:

It is a mistake for an Irishman to mix himself up with the English. He is bound to do either one of two things – either go to the wall, if he remains Irish – or become an Englishman himself. You see I very nearly did become one once! At the Boer War time. I had been away from Ireland for years – out of touch with everything native to my heart and mind – trying hard to do my duty and every fresh act of duty made me appreciably nearer the idea of the Englishman. I had accepted Imperialism – British rule was to be extended at all costs, because it was the best for everyone under the sun, and those who opposed that extension ought right to be ‘smashed.’ I was on the high rod to being a regular Imperialist jingo – altho’ at hear underneath all and unsuspected almost to myself I had remained an Irishman. Well, the war gave me qualms at the end – the concentration camps bigger ones – and finally when up in those lonely Congo forests where I found Leopold – I found also myself – the incorrigible Irishman. I was remonstrated there by British, highly respectable and religions missionaries. ‘Why make such a mother’ they said – ‘the state represents Law and Order and after all these people are savages and must be repressed with a grim hand.’ Every fresh discovery I made of the hellishness of the Leopold system threw me back on myself alone for guidance. I knew that the FO [Foreign Office] wouldn’t understand the thing – or that if they did they would take no action, for I realized then that I was looking at this tragedy with the eyes of another race – of a people once hunted themselves, whose hears were based on affection as the root principle of contact with their fellow men and whose estimate of life was to something eternally to be appraised at its market ‘price’. And I said to myself then, far up the Lulgana river, that I would do my part as an Irishman, wherever it might lead me personally…When the Irish had lost their freedom they were to be used to destroy the freedom of others.

It should be noted, that he wrote that while he was investigating a company in the Amazon that was getting rubber the same way Belgian had in Africa. Britain had published the report and Casement was a hero, but upon finding the same or worse abuses in Brazil, he also learned that the British did not want to publish the report because it was a British company that was making the crimes.

Regardless, nobody questions Casement’s findings. They were collaborated several times over, most notably by Graham and Morel.

To get to one of the big points, historically, slavery was an issue that was brought forth by the Europeans for the Europeans, even if there certainly was slavery before the Europeans, and war and everything else. But it was a different kind of exploitation. It was like the slavery and war that existed in Europe or the Americas before expanding out.

We can tell this from the Kingdom of Kongo as they converted early to Catholicism and had a good relationship (initially) with the Pope. Alfonso was very devout, but as the Portuguese began to get bigger and more powerful, Alfonso’s prisoners of war, and murderers, and other people that were slaves as punishment were running low. African slaves were desirable because they were easy to see, didn’t know the terrain like the Native Americans, and were more resistant to diseases than the Native Americans. We have letters of Alfonso protesting when the Portuguese stop getting slaves through POWs and whatnot, and start just grabbing any black person.  Alfonso wrote the pope (from a source I can’t link on the internet):

Each day the traders are kidnapping our people – children of this country, sons of our nobles and vassals, even people of our own family. This corruption and depravity are so widespread that our land is entirely depopulated. We need in this kingdom only priests and schoolteachers, and no merchandise, unless it is wine and flour for Mass. It is our wish that this Kingdom not be a place for the trade or transport of slaves.”
Many of our subjects eagerly lust after Portuguese merchandise that your subjects have brought into our domains. To satisfy this inordinate appetite, they seize many of our black free subjects…. They sell them. After having taken these prisoners [to the coast] secretly or at night….. As soon as the captives are in the hands of white men they are branded with a red-hot iron.

The Vatican, actually, took the side of Alfonso, and reiterated that there had to be some kind of reason for slavery instead of just grabbing a bunch of people. But the Europeans kept doing it, and I really think it proves how powerful the financial incentive was: they were willing to go to hell to keep the system going. So slavery and these other things take on a huge exaggerated bearing in Africa that they didn’t have before the Europeans arrived.

Like every other continent, African slavery was historically used mainly upon prisoners of war. Same as the Greeks, the Romans, and the rest of the Europeans. The British initially used the Irish they would capture in war to populate their slave colonies, notably Barbados. However, as more labour was needed in the New World, it was easier just to buy a bunch of blacks than to wait until you’re in another war and capture prisoners of war.

Let’s use this time period as an example, the 1600s. The Portuguese had already been in Africa for some time, and had made some allies (like Alfonso of the Kingdom of Kongo). They need more slaves as they go to the New World, so they just keep grabbing more blacks from Kongo until the kingdom essentially disintegrates (it’s more complicated than that, but let’s just leave it there). In order to keep a foothold and destroy the last of the Kongo that had been resisting them, the Portuguese make a new friend in the region, specifically the Mbwila. They give the Mbwila a shitload of guns and they get put in charge (again, I’m really simplifying the history here).

So now the Mbwila go around and expand out. Everyone in the area clamors toward the Portuguese to get guns so that they can defend themselves. The Portuguese are there to make money and so ask what they have in exchange. Fucking beads or something that Portuguese has no use for? Rubber that has no use yet? No, the Portuguese want only slaves. So the neighbor sells off as many people possible, either from themselves or by raiding another neighbor to get prisoners of war so they can bring a bunch of slaves to the Portuguese in exchange for guns. Now the Mbwila lose against the neighbor, both need more ammunition, so they both go find a bunch of slaves to give to the Portuguese in order to get guns.

Right, so this was the Portuguese at their least offensive as it was them starting a domino going (though they’re still probably raiding at this point). They need these slaves though. So let’s say this neighbor and the Mbwila decide to fuck Portugal, just like the Kongo had done when they were over slaved.

The Portuguese come in there and murder the fuck out of everyone until someone comes to power that will play ball. 

It was hardly the Africans having this amazingly active slave system that the Europeans just tapped into. The Europeans had their own slave systems until the African slave system was set up; and the African slave system was very deliberate.

For the last half a millennium, Europeans had been in there thoroughly fucking everything up. Borders alone account for a huge amount of problems in Africa as the Europeans drew their borders to be in compliance with the Berlin Conference, not so that it made any sense for Africans. And, to loop back to the beginning, so that Africans would be deliberately lumped with their rivals and reliant upon the west.

That’s not even getting into 500 years of sheer brutality being thrown at them constantly.

3. African problems are far worse than other Third World problems; and if Africa were not at fault, there should be some reason an India, Morocco, or Hong Kong in Africa that made the best of a bad world system.

So I’ve covered the abuse, but why has Africa had a harder time bouncing back in decolonization than, say, Asia?

Asia wasn’t divided out in an organized way like Africa had been.  Everything Europe did in Africa was rubber stamped by everyone else exactly because Asians learned to play imperialists against each other and retain some shred of autonomy as a result. Africans had no chance to do this as European imperialists went into Africa with specific play books they followed.

Europe had been pretty much everywhere by the 19th century, but Africa was still largely an unknown. As Europe poised to go into Africa, Portugal was worried about losing their colonies to France and the UK; France and the UK were worried about going to war with each other over land; and German wanted in on this; as did Italy. Bismarck organized a conference, the Berlin Conference.

If you always suspected that a room full of white men tried to control the world...Congratulations, you're right.

If you always suspected that a room full of white men tried to control the world…Congratulations, you’re right.

Here they agreed on how Africa would be carved up by the Europeans. It would make sure everyone got something at least, that the Europeans wouldn’t go to war with each other, and that commerce could pass through everything and everyone would get more money. It was a calculated colonization with everyone working together to break Africa up into colonies that could be run. The Germans helped the British, the French, and everyone helped everyone.

This was much different than in Asia or the Americas where wars would frequently break out. I don’t know if you’re American, but a good example is the Seven Years War (and French-Inidian War, same thing) in which the natives chose sides with the French and colonists took sides with the British, and then a war broke out. Had there been, say, a London Conference about the colonization of the Americas, the primary concern of both France and Britain would be to break the backs of the natives and keep the colonists in line. There would have been no question of them going to war because they both would lose money and lives in it, when they could work together to both pull in more money.

Africa, alone, was subjected to that kind of very particular and clean imperialism. 

It lasted until WWI, where the Germans actually had an undefeated front.

It goes back into a kind of unofficial place between the wars (Germany has to cede everything to Belgium, Britain, and to a lesser extent Portugal and France), and after the wars it falls apart and decolonization begins.

Because of the way that the Berlin Conference was organized, there was no general revival to kick the Europeans out by a major empire.  Like, say, China.

China made a comeback as it held out for long enough and didn’t succumb to being formally broken up into new countries as it was being pushed into at the end of the 19th century, and China is a huge mother culture to Asia in the same way Rome is in Europe. It would be like the Songhai Empire never collapsed in Africa, or came back and rallied the Bantu people in Africa.

This was symbolic of the old Asian ways throwing out the new imperialism. Symbolic for the Arabs, Russians, everyone else. Really, not so much the Japanese as they came into the fold earlier and dealt with their stuff, but Japan was an enemy of Korea and Vietnam while China was a distant memory—like Rome or Babylon. Not any more of course, but uniting and beating themselves back up to fight for themselves was probably a model for what worked if nothing else.

The Sokoto, a major African Empire, was divided by the French and British with more organized brutality than China had been for various reasons. Had the successor to the Mali risen up and thrown the Europeans out, it would have had two big likely affects:

1. The Africans would have a template or pattern for how to deal with imperialism from Europe. The Chinese, really, benefitted much from the Russians having come to the same conclusion in undermining the market entirely instead of making deals in trying to work with it. 

2. There would have been a skew of support from everyone attempting to emulate the success. You’ll note, for instance, Vietnam copied China’s model. As did Korea.

This did not happen in Africa, mainly because of the Berlin Conference.

So all of this together comes into why Africa is the way that it is.  It has nothing to do with the African people, but because of a world system that was put into place going into Africa.  This is more dicey ground to go into, but one may well say that Africa is often portrayed as bad off exactly because it was strong enough to resist Europeans longer than, say, China where a lot of wealth was stored and the Europeans wanted to get in.

The Europeans had to team up to get into Africa, and in doing so made a much stronger and more organized approach to get into it.

I could go on, but I think 6,000 words is more than enough to have put ye all to sleep.

  1 comment for “The Willing Destruction of Self Belief in History: Africa

  1. July 20, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    Thanks for the reference in your article to my Dutch East Indies essay. Your analysis of the Berlin Conference in comparison to Asia and North America is insightful. The picture of the conference is quite scary in retrospect that a group of people laid out borders for economic and diplomatic gain.

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