Third World History When someone mentions the state of Africa the first thoughts that enter your mind is poverty, poor government structure, and hungry people. But that has not always been the case. This was a rich, resourceful and beautiful country. The picture of pre-colonial Africa is much different than our ideals of it today. We see it as a land stricken with poverty.
The colonists saw it as a land with unlimited resources full of people that did not take, what they thought was full advantage of it’s treasures. Europeans used agricultural and religious differences to create a gulf between them and the Africans. Using such differences Europe colonized Africa for the ever growing European market. The depletion of the African resources forced the people into a food crises. The only hope exists is the organization from within the rural class.
Such organizations are fighting for basic human rights and others are coming together to make labor sharing possible. Pre-colonial Africa was full of resourceful and time honored farmers that knew the land that their ancestors have given them. They had the ability to know exactly which seeds and what soil to use under various planting conditions to produce not just enough food to keep their tribes alive, but produce a substantial surplus in event of a natural caused or political drought. Bill Rau states ” The ability of African people to feed themselves was based on a intimate knowledge of the resources needed for agricultural production. (p 22) ” He is trying to say that these people knew their land. A land that has it’s uncertainty. Weather that has an ability to wipe out tribes, and unpredictable political structure were all hurdles that these gifted farmers has to endure. As Europe was going through an industrial boom, their markets started to expand. Capitalists saw that it became harder maintain the profit at the current level.
Outside resources and raw materials that were used for production were needed. Africa was the answer. Bill Rau writes ” The increasing demand and competition for both resources and markets among Europe’s capitalist economies led them to carve out territories in Africa that offered the prospect of vast mineral and agricultural wealth.(p 29)” What Bill Rau is saying is that, for the capitalist to survive he must maintain a high profit. In order for him to achieve that goal he must expand his resource market at all cost. This is one of the first contributing factors to the colonization of Africa.
Colonialism was the tool for the European market demand being met. Once the decision to colonize Africa was made, the colonist had to establish an explanation for the colonial takeover of Africa. Two main differences between the cultures were found and exploited. The first is the production of food. Africa was an agricultural country, depending on every person to accomplish its share of the work.
Weather it may be making tools to picking crops, every person was a contributing factor towards the production of valuable resources. Europe on the other hand was a industrial society depending on division of labor as a production of their needs. “Labor was central to production, which was overwhelmingly agricultural, while in Europe labor became subordinate to machines and the value of labor and machines was redirected to the owners of capital(p 29)” Rau states. He is stating that every African had an important role in the production of resources for the well-being of the community. Europe on the other hand was geared on private profit. The second difference between the cultures is their religious views.
Europeans felt that they were blessed with god giving them Christianity. Africans prayed to pagan gods. This created a big gap between the two cultures. Bill Rau stated that ” The economic forces of imperialism were integrated with perceived moral issues – saving African ‘pagans’ from their ‘idolatry’ for Christianity (p 30)” Christians felt that they were so right about everything, including religion that must not just teach, but force their ideology on the Africans. The fact that the African people used old methods of production, and different form of religion, doesn’t mean that they are wrong. These are the reasons that the colonist used for the takeover of Africa. With cultural differences established, Europe began to colonize Africa. Africans did not welcome them with open arms, they fought strong and hard, but Europe’s organization and technology prevailed in the end.
Africans were no longer able to make enough agricultural gain to feed its people, because of the past and current resources that exited the country. Rau points out ” A world economy existed at least from the sixteenth century that closely bound Africa and her people to external economic forces.(p 32-33)” what he means here. With famine and hunger problems getting worse, the people began to resist development plans and policies by organizing. Organizing is the beginning of a resistance against famine and hunger problems. Bill Rau states ” Labour organizing is spreading as a way for workers to protect and expand their rights.(p 169)” Bill Rau is trying to say that workers can strengthen their demands by uniting together. Whether one is organizing to negotiate a shorter work day, or forming a group to obtain contracts for specialized farm task, the key is uniting in numbers. A strong example of a labour cooperation, is a group called GARY.
People in the group are taught on the job mechanical skills in construction and maintenance of well in drought villages. In conclusion, imperialism was the factor in European need for the control of rich African resources. The ever expanding capitalistic market needed resources for its high demand markets. Resources and materials that were used for production needed to increase. Africa was a perfect opportunity for satisfying that need. Religious and technological differences were used as explanations for the colonizing of Africa.
The extraction of valuable resources placed the African people into hunger crisis. But these people are not willing to stand on the sidelines and do nothing. When the people organized during the colonization of Africa, to fight courageously against the invaders. Now they must do the same to rid their country of food, famine and political problems. During difficult hardships people’s actions often take a positive approach toward their problems.
With the desire to change, and the will to fight people not only live on, but create a new social order. History.