Lessons From Africa: Part 2

From the very beginning, Africa has opposed colonization, but I could only find examples dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s.  There were many reasons for their resistance, but for our purpose, I’ll on focus on the economic reasons.

“During this time period economic opposition was often not well organized. However, there were attempts in the 1920s and 1930s by mine workers in southern Africa and port workers in West and East Africa to organize into unions. Of greater impact were the less organized but more widespread efforts of African farmers to resist colonial demands on their labor and their land. Amall scale African farmers in Mali quietly, but effectively, resisted the attempts by colonial officials to control the production of cotton.”

Around this specific time period started World War I. Despite their opposition, most of Africa had been colonized. Africans that had come from Britain or France were recruited to help the allies. The reasoning of the Allies? Soldiers would be helping protect the world against the evils of Fascism and Nazism. Africans came back asking the question, “Why should I give my life to keep Europe and America free, when I am not free in my own country?”

“To the ordinary African, life as a colonial subject was hardly better than life under Fascism or Nazism.”

By the end of the 1960s, all but six African colonies had pulled away and demanded independence.

“For many years, the white settlers in these colonies had the right to vote. They used this vote to elect representatives who passed laws that protected the power of the European settlers and discriminated against Africans. African nationalist leaders believed that if franchise was the right of all citizens, the majority population would use their vote to bring in majority, independent African rule.

The settler colonial governments responded to the non-violent constitutional demands of African nationalist parties with laws that banned all political protests and with violence. Repressive legislation allowed the settler governments to arrest and imprison the leaders of the banned African political parties.”

http://exploringafrica.matrix.msu.edu/students/curriculum/m7b/activity4.php

I stumbled onto an article that talk about Uganda herders are nomadic. They are nomadic because water is scarce and pasture is scarce, but mostly because it’s part of their way of life. Uganda policies are trying to prohibit them from doing this. Why? So they can modernize this group of ‘ill-educate’ nomads and replace them modernized and commercialized farming methods. They plan to use the land to grow biofuels and as mining areas.

“This, say critics, will only increase conflict and hunger, force more young people to move into cities, and will destroy a rich way of life that has proved resilient and economically viable.

In fact, research by the International Institute for Environment and Development in London shows that nomadism is ideally suited to Africa’s semi-arid lands, especially as they are now experiencing increasing droughts, floods and unpredictable rains. It found that the nomadic cattle of west Africa, Ethiopia and Kenya produced more and better quality meat and generated more cash per hectare than “modern” Australian and American ranches.”

I read another article that talked about the idea that there is no true democracy. It was titled, “Why Africa Must Trash Western Liberal Democracy?…..& Their Way of Life Too?” It compared Libya to America to see which had a better system. The criteria of the best system (best because there is no perfect) is based on philosopher ideas from the 1700s or so. Because of the way our system is set up, we are more susceptible to corruption and the like. It made some good points and your thoughts will probably depend on what you love or hate about each system. It’s just something to think about.

I said all of this to say that maybe, just maybe they live that way because it works for them. Just like in America when the government gets too involved in the economy things start get messed up, maybe when we push our beliefs on other countries things get messed up for them. Africa clearly has a lot of problems now, but I think that many of them weren’t caused by the country’s inability to take care of themselves, but the result of people trying to take care of them.

The Libya protests that happened not too long ago suggested that they were completely happy with their situation at that time. It wasn’t the government that they hated, but their dictator Gaddafi.

The European colonization is said to have had a devastating effect on them. It disrupted any kind of natural order they had. That’s where it started and everything kind of snowballed from there, but you can read about that in the link.

The extreme poverty just seems to negate any chance they have of having a democratic system. Despite the billions of dollars that America and European counties have poured into the place, corruption seems to creep back in through the African leaders unwillingness to step down from power.

I think we can learn a couple of things from this. One, that democracy may not be the answer for everyone. Several African countries live in a decent place and several more could with the right leaders. They seem to know what system would work best for them. They could do better eventually, but it’s not something can be pushed. America has the tendency to push their ideas and beliefs on others, sometimes for the good of the other country and sometimes for their own agenda.

Two, I think we could end similar to Africa if we’re not careful. Not exactly how Africa ended up in that place, but the same place nonetheless. Some corporations have more money than the country does and they use that money to buy their way in policies.

Three, we should appreciate our government. I believe we are extremely blessed to have this form of government, but I’m starting to feel as if it slipping between our fingers. The way it was several years ago with the American dream and all that was a good place to be and we not have live it the same was as was initially intended, but the fact that we still have it within our grasp is still something to be positive about. Africa never had that. It would be such an insult to those who never had that chance to give it up without a fight.

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