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The Black Man’s Burden

So much has been said of the “white man’s burden:” namely, how the collapsing American Empire and bygone British Empire have shouldered the burden of civilising Africa and driving the global economy for centuries. The opposite is true. The fact of the matter is that not only was Western civilisation invented by black Africans in ancient Egypt, Africa has driven global economic growth for centuries.

African natural resources, labour, land, slavery and skilled émigré – as any decent economic historian will tell you – have fueled the world’s economy for many, many decades. To this day, Africa is the world’s engine-room for growth. In short, driving global economic growth abroad, whilst benefiting little at home is the “black man’s burden.” That Africans know that there are immense riches just beneath their feet as well as just above their heads in High Office, only adds to the burden.

The roots of “Western” civilization, technology, religion, culture and science are to be found not in Greece, but in Black Egypt. Infact as early as 9,000 BC to 500 A.D. black empires, from the prehistoric Zingh Empire of Mauritania to ancient Khemet of Egypt, were at the forefront of development in technology, politics and culture. Far from “civilising the natives,” Europeans replaced communitarianism, cooperation and spirituality – that prevailed across Africa – with a corrupt, aggressive and inhumane form of civilisation.

First there was the brutal kidnapping of millions of Africans, so as to replace the indigenous Americans that Europeans had wiped out. The slave trade broke the back of African economies whilst creating capital for plantation owners that kick started Europe’s industrial revolution.

Africans were stripped of their land and forced down gold mines and onto rubber plantations. The naked theft of African land and minerals including gold, copper, rubber, ivory and tin continued ravenously throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This culminated in the infamous Berlin Conference of 1884, where Europe gleefully divied up Africa and formalised the “Scramble For Africa.”

After World War Two, Europeans were severely weakened by years of unremitting industrial slaughter of each other. To make matters worse, liberation movements were gaining momentum. This ultimately made the cost of containing “restless natives” greater than the benefits Europeans could extract from them. As British power wained the baton of colonialism was passed to American imperialism.

Poverty and disunity have been the essential ingredients that have allowed this neo-colonial exploitation to continue. But, thanks largely to soaring mineral prices and Chinese win-win investments, poverty levels are beginning to tumble.

Disunity however persists. America is making sure of it. Washington is fomenting disunity by funding reactionary neo-liberal political parties across the continent as well as the odd “good dictator.” A bad dictator however, named Muammar Gaddafi, was hunted down and assassinated by Washington. Not least because of his plans for an African IMF, gold backed Afro-currency and a United States of Africa. In essence, Colonel Gaddafi’s plans for African unity were as good as a hand written suicide note addressed directly to NATO. By losing Gaddafi, Africa may also have lost Libya. For, NATO will ensure that Mr. Gaddafi’s plans for African unity will be smothered in their crib.

Then ofcourse there is United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) which will almost certainly establish a military base in Libya. Infact any African government that America offered money to host AFRICOM, Mr. Gaddafi would offer double the amount to refuse.

Mr. Obama would have us believe that hundreds of highly trained US Special Forces are braving tsetse flies, dengue fever and are running around in the African bush to flush out Ugandan rebels. All for freedom and democracy. Coincidentally in one of the most oil rich enclaves on earth. Home to Sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest onshore oil discovery in 20 years of two billion barrels.

The new cold war between America and China will be over resources, not ideology. Africa will take centre stage. Should America’s hard power and divide-and-rule approach triumph, Africa may descend into one large theater of war with many actors, chapters and a tragic ending. Should China’s soft power and win-win economic approach triumph, this may end up becoming a truly African Century.

To this day, Africans produce cheap, often slave labour and ship raw materials north for peanuts. In return Africans purchase finished products at a premium from the north. This skewed trade relationship is what helped build the west and underdeveloped Africa for centuries.

Reversing this trend would allow the black man to free himself of a centuries old burden. Reversing this trend is this generation’s struggle. That said, Africa’s future looks bright, for the ingredients are present for an economic boom, which actually benefits Africans: favourable demographics, a commodities boom, a burgeoning middle class and growing enthusiasm for technology with more than 600 million mobile-phone users—more than America or Europe.

If Africans resolutely build the capacity to refine their own crude oil, gold and platinum as well as the capability to cut and polish their diamonds, they will certainly turn this into an African century. If Africans staunchly defend their resources and turn them into finished products, they will finally turn the “black man’s burden” into Africa’s renaissance.



6 thoughts on “The Black Man’s Burden

  1. Good intentions, but way too sentimental my friend. Lets bring you to the real world. I have to say you are forgetting two critical ingredients in your theorising. (1) Capital: Africa doesn’t have enough of it going around to power a 21st century economy – when equipment and otherwise costs thousands of dollars, and those dollars are not easilly accessible to those who are serious about economic change. (2) Unity: African unity may well be an Oxymoron. Not only are the leaders cripplingly divided, but the people can’t work together,on anything! Let alone support each other to achieve a meaningful cause. There are other ways (much longer ways) to foster this unity:- use of film, music, art, culture, etc to plant and paint a message of unity and togetherness.
    Look at China, why is China strong. Do you remember what Mao did as soon as he was in charge. He closed off China, and began planting a message. On a smaller scale Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Iran did the same when he took power during the Iranian Revolution.
    So, that critical phase is why China is very strong today. Because on top of the cheap labour and centralised control on what the people saw and heard, there was principles, there was a common understanding..which made it easier to get people to do things.
    This unity (whether you describe it as of fear or otherwise – its unity nevertheless. Hard and concrete unity). Until Africans can learn these two pillars, its virtually impossible to have any meaningful progress, and 200 years from now, Africa will be where it is, if not behind, with very little progress in comparison to everyone else – and here’s the best bit – in the hands of another economic master.
    Don’t get me wrong, there will be some progress, but I so doubt it will be substantial – let alone stand the test of time.

    Posted by Gnstr | March 9, 2012, 9:08 pm
  2. I would like to commend you for the effort but the article ,at least to me, is merely summarizing what is already known.Your argument is not offering anything new however i was compelled to respond.

    You write and I quote “This skewed trade relationship is what helped build the west and underdeveloped Africa for centuries”- this is well documented and forms the basis of the dependency theory .I do however find this part troubling and confusing -” Reversing this trend would allow the black man to free himself of a centuries old burden” how do you propose the black man free himself and from whom is he freeing himself ? Africa is rich and that can not be disputed but the question is why are we still mired in poverty when we could be the richest continent and our people well off?Why are we failing to provide for our people and resorting to begging all the time?I agree capitalist and imperialist policies have contributed to this quagmire but do you honestly think that this is the only reason?Why are our African leaders not taking responsibility for this mess.Why is so corruption so rife in Africa.The problem is not just the West,its us and until we realize that Africa will remain where its at.If we put our house in order we will take care of our own

    Posted by Brendon Jaricha | March 12, 2012, 6:16 pm
  3. Garikai Chengu, Great article, I will respond in more detail later on.

    @ Brendon, you will be surprised at what is ‘already known’, the vast majority have no knowledge of what has really transpired (don’t expect this information to be found in school text books). Keep in mind we cannot divide the past, the present and the future. All are one and these cannot be split up. What this means to me is that we cannot have a clear picture of tomorrow if we do not have clarity of what has already transpired. Believe me when I say there are many who will ensure you never know your own past. A good analogy would be that of psychologist treating a patient by way of examining one’s past.

    Posted by sky11 | March 13, 2012, 10:33 am
    • @Sky11

      I am not disputing the fact that history has played a part in this situation that Africa and her people find herself in.Its not a secret that colonialism which led to exploitation has led to what Africa is today- underdeveloped.Remember development means underdevelopment somewhere.I do get that part.The West has a 400 year-head start , a gap that is not going to be covered anytime soon, and ofcos they are developed today because they screwed Africa.You and I know that and yes this may not be in school textbooks but Africa is independent, at least politically.Has been for more than 60 years now but guess what we are still poor this despite the fact that we are rich in natural resources.What do u think is the problem?Clearly the West shares the blame but what about our own leaders.I dont hear u talking about them.Corruption is what is bringing us down and I know you know that.No one is running away from history, it will always be a part of the future and the present.I am a proponent of the development theory and i agree that the West exploited Africa but that should not be enough to allow us to turn a blind eye on the corruption that is in African countries

      Posted by Brendon Jaricha | March 13, 2012, 4:55 pm
      • They say perception is reality, but African Edenic people have come face to face with what has created this black mans burden you speak of & still haven’t figured out yet how to stop the machine. What machine? Its not specifically the white man, bc as you’ve noted, their civilizations have carbon copied ancient black civilizations (babylon, khemet, soddom, ghommorah).
        The problem is metaphysical, spiritual; its a matter of culture. the more of ourself we lose to accommodate their ways of life, the more power that we inherently deposit into their account. its not about money bc its the perceived value that gets placed on money that makes it worth anything. Africans don’t have to buy into anything & we don’t have to sell what we have to show we value someone else’s value system. the hard part is re-creating value from what was once highly valued and what was/is organically an african ideology with little to no western influence. its there laying around, begging not to be ignored, waiting to be the light & source of human/spiritual enlightenment again. peace!

        Posted by yitslakh | March 19, 2012, 4:00 am
  4. It seems there are so many historic and offshore excuses for Africans to ignore or even forgive the African Man especially, not woman, for underdeveloping the continent. The progressive advancement of women’s rights in Africa has been largely responsible for a lot of African men’s growing awareness of the wider concerpts of universal Human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of association. In short the hope for democracy and an end to corruption in Africa lies in the continued efforts to liberate its women.

    Posted by FreedomTrapped | June 16, 2012, 4:57 pm

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