The reasons why Europeans were seeking colonies so fervently in
Africa are numerous, but none suggest cruelty, greed or
evil-heartedness for them.
Capitalism had reached a stage where control of capital was coming to be concentrated more and more in a few hands, which left too little purchasing power in the home market for the commodities that could be produced. Hence it created a situation of under-consumption. There was therefore the need to export to underdeveloped regions which might contain valuable raw materials.
The abundance of these raw materials in the underdeveloped regions might have caught the eye of these Europeans. And seeing that Africans obviously were not putting these vital raw materials into use as they would, naturally, they sought to put in mechanisms to dominate these resources. So with an upper hand in offensive weaponry, and no international laws to guard against an attempt to subjugate Africans, settled and dominated all facets of the African.
Another explanation borders on the prestige and honour it brought European governments, and the possibility to win voters when territories were won. Once again, it must not be forgotten that there were no international laws to make settling and domination illegal, nor were there global laws spelling out the rules of trade engagements.
Then there is the much hated reason, which is that the Europeans saw most of the practices in Africa and some parts of
as uncivilized, hence they took it upon themselves to embark upon a mission to
civilize the world. This proclamation by the Europeans, partly racial and
partly moral, may not be the best of remedies to what they saw as some of the
morally inappropriate practices of some people in the world, but a slight
justification comes for this mission to civilize when we consider human
sacrifices made in the nineteenth century by some chiefs i as a traditional
If thought determines action for persons, then by extrapolation the dominant ideologies in any period of time determine the phenomena of the world. The Europeans burnt women with strange behaviours at the stake in the era of witch-hunting. A phenomenon which occurred due to the idea of superstition.
This practice which was borne out of the belief in the supernatural does not exist anymore in these countries. The people who carried out acts like this and those of similar nature have gained the maturity in knowledge.
Africa facilitated the
European conquest. These internal dissension and conflicts said to have been
brought about by artificial barriers of the colonizers, thereby alienating
hitherto unified and organized African people existed even in pre-colonial Africa.
History attests that the states in pre-colonial
were plagued by internal dissonance because there were no widely accepted
methods of transferring political power. African rulers supplied the major part
of the 7.6 million slaves exported to the European colonies, as well as the
unknown numbers sent by Muslim traders across the Sahara and the Indian Ocean
There is a significant link between some of the reasons of
Africa's lateness to attaining socio-economic growth in
the measure expected by virtue of her vast reserve of natural resources, and
her colonial domination and slavery past.
Slavery and colonialism may have altered their path as Africans in their quest to the attainment of progress and the betterment of our living conditions. However, events in contemporary Africa, unpleasant as it may be, are caused by factors more within
less by outside influences (no continent is without external challenges).
The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade was a double-edged sword benefiting Europe and devastating
Africa. It initiated
the trafficking in African human beings to be enslaved and work in the " New World." It is an indisputable historical truth
that the wealth created by that enslavement fuelled the Industrial Revolution
that, if we honestly track the historical turn of events, has created this
century's "developed world." The complement to and handmaiden of
slavery and the slave trade was colonialism. It was to work the
"colonies" that Africans were first brought to the . The
colonies were exploited for their natural resources and for those that were
then created by unpaid labour. First and foremost the resources went always to
and for the benefit of the "Mother Country." Americas
The TAST depleted
Africa of millions of
its strongest and most fit workers. That loss in and of itself was devastating
to Africa's development. This dire situation
was further compounded by the colonization of the African continent. Racism,
the same ideology developed by Europeans to justify their inhumane trafficking
in Africans, was then used to justify the European colonization of, not only Africa, but the rest of the world. Racism, first directed
towards Africans, became the ideology of choice for European expansion and
colonization of Asia and the Pacific.
"Inferior peoples" (always non-white) were being brought the benefits
of civilization. In exchange for the wonders of Christianity, they need only
surrender their lands, its resources, their labour and right to
self-determination. Those who would not concede the advantages of Christianity
were to be convinced by steel and gunpowder. Thus by persuasion and force of
arms, Europeans implanted themselves on the American and Asian continents and
the . Often their strategy was
genocidal, elimination of the truly indigenous where they proved unwilling or
unfit to provide a sufficient profit for their colonial masters. Pacific Islands
The conditions of Africans in the Diaspora and the African continent are characterized by "underdevelopment." That underdevelopment is neither genetic or the result of individual character flaws but flow directly from the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, Slavery and Colonialism. They are inseparably intertwined and bound together by racism. Any attempt to sever them is ahistorical. Any attempt to redress one aspect without addressing the others is doomed to failure. This connection between racism, the TAST and colonialism is not simply an issue for
Africa and Africans.
Remember, "The sun never sets on the British Empire."
This is a global issue, which is why the West's resistance to it has been so
fierce, so "intransigent." If the WCAR establishes the principle of
the TAST and Colonialism as crimes against humanity, a precedent will be set
from which the vast majority of the world's countries, nearly all former
colonies, can benefit.
Colonialism and the slave trade represented an international criminal conspiracy of Europeans for Europeans. Like organized crime gangs who start out fighting for their own turf and, at some point realize, killing each other is counter-productive.
Europe summed up it is
better to divide the spoils amongst each other than to continually fight
against each other. The clearest expression of this international conspiracy,
of this European criminal enterprise, took place in in 1885-86. The Berlin Conference
divided Berlin Africa up between the colonial
masters. It made for a tidier racket. Don't infringe on each other's.
Notwithstanding, the fact that these gangs didn't always respect their
territorial agreements (WWI and WWII), they always submerged their differences
when a threat to white supremacy was posed by the "coloured" hordes.
In the case of Africa and the
region, the period of slavery and the slave trade was followed by the period of
colonialism. It can be argued that colonialism itself was a crime in
international law, for it was usurpation, imposed by force, of the rights of
the colonized peoples to their sovereignty. It was a the very least a crime
against peace, and, in most if not all colonized territories, crimes against
humanity were frequently committed. In the case of the ,
former slaves were subjected to a system of exclusive, separate development,
racial persecution, civil rights denials and ghettoisation, which has only in
part been overcome in the recent years following the civil rights movement. United States
The important point is that African peoples, until recently, had no independent voice, nor even any status in the world community. How could, the people of, say, Ghana o Jamaica make a claim for reparations when their country was considered to be an 'overseas possession' of the very country whose people had kidnapped and enslaved their ancestors? ... Even after the independence of African nations from colonialism, the shackles of neo-colonialism have fettered the power of African governments to speak with any real independence against their former conquerors.