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Africa: Don’t Blame the Whites

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Recently, as part of an academic assignment at school, I was engaged in an intellectual debate with a few colleagues. We were seeking answers to the roots of Africa´s problems. It was an interesting discussion for me. Shockingly, the majority of my colleagues subscribed to the idea that the major cause of Africa´s social-political and economic problems was the legacy left behind by the colonial masters. As far as they were concerned, the colonialists ruined Africa for good. For the record, they had some strong arguments to support their claims. I do not intend to go into that.

Africa is known as the problem continent. Indeed, the problems are legion — Poverty, diseases, famine, poor leadership, religious conflicts, ethnic clashes and corruption are a few of them. With each passing day, the problems increase. For long, the economic and social underdevelopment of the African nation has been blamed on white colonialists who exploited the land and left Africa bare. To this day the blame game continues.

Africans are usually quick to blame most of their problems on the evils of colonialism. We sometimes blame the violence on the borders colonialists created that ignored ethnicity. Many African nations have been independent for four decades. If colonial borders were a major problem, how come they haven't changed them?

Colonialism cannot explain Third World poverty. Some of today's richest countries are former colonies, such as the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. Some of today's poorest countries were never colonies, such as Ethiopia, Liberia, Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. The colonialism argument is simply a cover-up for the failings of African dictators and people.

As long as Africans keep bickering about the past without focusing on the future,  African people will continue to suffer. Pointing fingers at the colonial masters won't change the fact that the majority of people in Africa are living and dying in horrible conditions. The Europeans colonized Africa about 400 years ago. Right now, Africans are in trouble because they cannot manage their own problems. Instead of brainstorming and finding solutions to their numerous social and economic problems, the people hold out a begging bowl to the west in one hand, while punishing the remaining white people in the land with the other. (Does Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe and the Zimbabweans come to mind?)

We are responsible for our problems, but we prefer to blame others rather  than taking a good look in the mirror. Fine, the colonialists were a bunch of bunch of greedy no-gooders, but if truths must be told, the self-interest of early colonialists pales in comparison to the personal greed of African leaders today. Those who blame Africa's problems on colonialism must not forget that the experience was not unique to Africa. Generally, the Asian countries that also experienced colonialism are doing fairly well. So what has Africa, or to be more precise, its leaders, been doing for the past 40 years?

What Africa needs is a lot of self-criticism. The fact that Africa breeds and worships figures like Mugabe, because of their own anti-white racism is disheartening. It's incredible that any white sends aid to Africa when Africans are anti-white racists.

You can't solve Africa's problems until the lies are all stripped away and you start comparing yourself to say Taiwan. Taiwan is not white, yet they have made amazing progress. They made this progress by managing their economy properly, and by working hard.

We need to strip away the black ideology that says that whites didn't do anything other than enslave blacks and are rich because of the exploitation of blacks. Taiwan didn't get rich because of that. So why do Africans think that that's how whites got rich?

And blacks enslaved blacks too; it's part of human history everywhere. So why isn't Africa rich due to the enslavement of themselves?

Were Africans better off under colonial administration than the despots who replaced them? Most African countries have had their independence for over three decades, yet the report card our leaders have shown us is war, famine and gross corruption. While it may be argued that Britain and other European countries did us more harm than good in colonizing us, it is high time we faced reality and realized that we are the architects of our own destiny. We need to choose what is good and bad, what future we want, and whether colonialism took us closer to what we want.

It's time we  Africans take responsibility for our troubles and stop trying to guilt-trip the West into accepting responsibility for our problems. Since time immemorial, there have been empires — even African ones. These empires have always left great damage in their wake, but such damage is rectified through rebuilding and hard work, but not by laying blame and casting aspersions. As long as we look back in history to blame our troubles on the colonial masters, Africa will continually be the backward continent the whole world believes it to be. To turn around the fortunes of Africa will take work and vision.

Africa, enough with the blame games. Let´s shut up, re-examine ourselves, go back to the drawing board, rectify our mistakes and move on with our lives.

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About Mfonobong

  • John Lake

    Africa is being torn apart by rebels; Sharia based, or
    secular. Greed leads to enslavement of women, and fighting over valuable
    minerals, diamonds, ivory and live animals.
    In Mali, in 2012, the military there deposed President Toure, claiming he failed to subjugate the old order of Tuaregs, who still move about in Camel caravans.

    Islamic extremists are a global problem. In Mali, they fight and kill to enforce ancient principles; women are murdered for unchaste conduct and the chaste are forced to be veiled. Music, smoking , drinking, and watching sporting events on television are banned. Those accused of robbery have their hands cut off.

    Eventually France, the parent country of Mali intervened.

    But interventions are long lasting, expensive, and in most cases fail to work.

    See my article here at Blogcritics: http://blogcritics.org/chaos-and-brutality-in-mali/

  • Eden

    Africa was not colonized 400 years ago [gratuitous vulgarity deleted by Comments Editor]. Less than 50 YEARS AGO Europe still had many colonies.

  • Canada rocks

    Comments by the africans on this board only prove the author’s case. I’ve also seen it on other boards as well. It seems to be that there is a shocking and pervasive lack of personal accountability in various African cultures. That would explain the corruption. But hey maybe they will be more satisfied when the Chinese own everything they have?

  • Thoko

    are yu crazy or something.we zimbabweans we won our independence in 1980 my ancestors were slaughtered by you whites,our heritage stolen by you whites.Now we are at least enjoying our land.Whats your comment on slavery,the wealth and stability you are enjoying in your countries is due to cheap labour that our ansestors were forced in during slavery.

  • Utterly nonplussed

    It’s sad that so many people are trying to sweep all the dirt under the rug. Haven’t any of you read The Heart of Darkness or Things Fall Apart or /anything/ that has to do with the plight of colonial Africa?

    So many are under the misconception that Africa was always /primitive/ because they’re /tribal/ people – “No matter how you look at it, we’re more /advanced/, that’s the truth of the matter!” – but then conveniently forget that cultural differences don’t equate to inferiority or superiority.

    Poor people. They read this and still privately (or not so privately, in Heloise’s case) think that the African people are not capable of effective self-governance. Jamaica? So Jamaica was a veritable utopia while under European rule? Well, were Jamaicans thrilled to be occupied by Brits in the first place? But, you probably think, “The Jamaicans /had/ to be /helped/, because that’s the white man’s burden, to make these people civilized and understand true happiness, which is rule by another system!”


    Africa was as fine as fine could be before the colonial era. There are so many who argue and point out that African women were poorly treated and that war was rampant and this and that, but then I’d have to point out a few more things, like:

    -up until the twentieth century, weren’t women poorly treated as well? Women weren’t even allowed to make credit card purchases unless they had the written and legal permission of their husbands. And, of course, you all remember the original “rule of thumb” when it came to husbands “disciplining” wives, correct?

    – “War” was widespread, yes. But if you’ve read Things Fall Apart, you’ll realize that that peoples like the Ibo had a more “humane” and “civil” system of war than any European nation did (however humane and civil a war can get, of course). They had PROXY wars (and if you grew up in a European/American system, then you won’t have ever heard of this system being used in it) where tribes sent a few REPRESENTATIVES to war on their behalf. Wars were settled by the “warriors’ honor.”

    There are an infinite number of facts about Africa that people conveniently forget, but just remember. It was colonialism and colonial (therefore European, frankly) ideas that sparked the genocides, the rampant poverty, the disease. Blame the Africans all you want (and true, there’s enough blame to share), but acknowledge that they aren’t the only ones to blame, by FAR. Everyone should at least remember where apartheid came from, and from whom. Just one example in an endless line of so /many/.

    Heloise pointed out that all the “unsuccessful” countries were run by Africans or some other super-generalized statement. I’m sure many of you can already see the fallacy of her words, as you already know that those countries were forcibly taken over by European powers and forced to accept a completely foreign system when theirs was already /working/ (remember, the colonizers were looking for gold and decided to implement governance systems that would facilitate that). And then the Europeans withdrew when they decided there wasn’t enough profit in such ventures, leaving rubble in their wake. How can you expect a nation to survive when you’ve torn it apart already? Nations don’t recover from that kind of wide-scale attack in just a few centuries, especially when those colonizers still insist on putting a leash on their lost “territory.” Not when you’ve taught them how to have “proper” segregation, greed, the pleasure of wide-spread war, etc.

    And I can name /so/ many “unsuccessful” countries run primarily by whites. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or brown (Heloise, you must not have read up on how the Brits treated their Indian subjects! Surely you know of how they strapped presumed rebels or Indian dignitaries to the mouths of cannons and literally blew them to smithereens in order to frighten the populace? Successful, indeed. Brilliant “direction.” In every direction, I suppose). Just look at Eastern Europe. Or perhaps everyone has conveniently forgotten that too…?

    It’s always amazed me how people compare the “success” of countries (and are we supposed to judge “success” based on Western ideals, now?) to each other. Colonial America became “successful” within two centuries because nations like France, Spain, and other predominantly white nations came to their aid in time. Can you imagine what would have happened if the Congo had decided to rebel? Do you honestly think that any European power would have come to Congo’s aid?


    I deeply appreciated what Jamal had to say, especially this:

    “Beating a man down to pieces and telling him to get up all by himself is a challenging thing to do; This [is] partially how i see the situation at hand.”

    And I nearly retched when I read this in Heloise’s comment:

    “It reminds me of what I said about public schools, look who’s in them!”

    …and? I just graduated from an engineering specialty program where the minority Asians and African-Americans outperformed the white majority every time. Race has no impact on capability. Whites statistically do fairly well when it comes to education, true, but that’s no basis to found your statement on, that black-run institutions are set up to fail. Surely you aren’t blind to the fact that predominantly-black schools get far less funding than predominantly-white schools, generally speaking. It’s a sad world that still practices segregation and discrimination, however subtle they think they are, but that’s our world. It’s been here with us all this time.

    So those of you who have closed your eyes: open them. I veered from the topic at hand, but only in service of the truth. African nations need not blame the whites entirely for their plight, but you better be sure that there’s enough blame for every “advanced” European and the American nation to share.

    A final note: as for the “advanced nation” label, I’m sure all of you will agree with this thought:

    “If I have seen farther it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

    And, of course, some trampling is involved, don’t you think?

  • Jamal

    While I do agree with some arguments of this post such as African’s needing to stop blaming the past for the present, there is however validity in their point of the past troubles . I am not type of person to dwell on the controversial issue of ‘while supremacy’ but it is an issue that exists whether one wants to believe it or not. This posts states that countries such as United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong were all once know as colonies and are now some of the richest countries of the world; For the most part, white people control these places. There are documentaries that show how white supremacy has effected places globally, and yes in the good country of the United States. I am not a radical, but this is something to think about. Beating a man down to pieces and telling him to get up all by himself is a challenging thing to do; This partially how i see the situation at hand.

  • Bri

    *Africa and the people of the diaspora

  • Bri

    “Africa:Don’t Blame the Whites”

    What!? No, it should be “Africa: Don’t Blame Just the Whites”, because of course we take some of the responsiblity for the position that we’re in, but to not give out the remaining responsibity to the Arab, Europeans, and Asians for the exploitation of Africa and its people of the land and of the diaspora is ridiculous. They deserve just as much blame or more than we do for the situation Africa is in. And anyone who thinks otherwise, you have lost your fucking mind. As a certain pastor says, “Ain’t nobody getting by!” I’m for Africa and the people of the diaspora, I’ll do anything I can to help my people to be proactive and self-sufficient, to get back control of their land and resources, of course it isn’t going to be easy but its not impossible.

  • johnny brown

    Putting my personal prejudice against the white race aside, there are many issues which the African people have to take up and resolve however I still think the majority of the problems faced in Africa are due to European exploitation. The arguments about Australia, US, Canada and New Zealand being former colonies and yet prosperous is a poor and inaccurate argument. These are white majority countries and the original inhabitants of these nations live in the most miserable conditions. Once again a legacy of European exploitation. Hong Kong is is a different category altogether as the island was ceded to Britain after the opium wars and in many cases, was not a true colonial subject as India or any other African nation. You people have caused so many famines in India which have had a major impact on the health and growth of our children. You stole all our wealth and drove the worlds richest nation to a third world hovel. I believe in Karma and I have noticed how many white people are complaining about a decline in their numbers! This is the universes way of shelling out justice to all the harm you people have done to the colored people and to nature!�

  • Abdi

    “For long, the economic and social underdevelopment of the African nation has been blamed on white colonialists who exploited the land and left Africa bare. To this day the blame game continues.”

    “African nation”? What exactly is the African nation? Please help me out here. [personal attack deleted]

  • Brian

    A significant issue is that groups have been exposed to different environmental pressures & genetic differences may have arisen. For instance, the onset of agriculture & population growth lead to increased genetic change (‘The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution). This may manifest in average physical and cognitive traits. There is considerable evidence that group differences exist in intelligence and this is significantly genetic. Rushton, J. P., & Jensen, A. R. (2005). Thirty years of research on race differences in cognitive ability. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 11, 235-294.

    Intelligence at the individual level is important for success in school (and nurtured by school attendance), for success in jobs, in health management, generally in the rule of one’s life (e.g. Gottfredson, 2002). It is also important for civic attitudes and behaviour like tolerance or voting decisions (Deary, Batty & Gale, 2008), for the success of politicians like US presidents (Simonton, 2006) etc. etc. At the macro-social level cognitive competence is more important than economic liberty for the economic growth of nations (Rindermann, 2008a) and it is more important than wealth for the democratic development of countries (Rindermann, 2008b). And intelligence seems to be a sensible measure of development up to indicating failing societies.

    Rindermann, H. (2007b). The big G-factor of national cognitive ability (author‘s response on open peer commentary). European Journal of Personality, 21, 767-787.

    Rindermann, H. (2008a). Relevance of education and intelligence at the national level for the economic welfare of people. Intelligence, 36, 127-142.
    Rindermann, H. (2008b). Relevance of education and intelligence for the political development of nations: Democracy, rule of law and political liberty. Intelligence, 36, 306-322.

  • Shockingly, the majority of my colleagues subscribed to the idea that the major cause of Africa´s social-political and economic problems was the legacy left behind by the colonial masters. As far as they were concerned, the colonialists ruined Africa for good. For the record, they had some strong arguments to support their claims. I do not intend to go into that.

    Why would the author use the term “shockingly” to describe the idea that White Colonials screwed over Africans, given the legacy and history of White Colonials all over the planet?

    This is no secret, of course. But you know, there seems to always be a warm place in the hearts of Eurocentrics for indigenous non-whites who self-immolate to assuage White guilt and excuse historical attrocities.


  • STM

    Dave: “Another good example to keep in mind is the Maori in New Zealand”.

    I’m not arguing with the thinking of this story, but NZ may not be the best comparison because whites are still the majority in NZ.

    Actually, that might be a misrepresentation. In the north island, there’s been so much intermarriage there would be a huge proportion of people who are of mixed-race heritage.

    NZ is a really good example of cultures living together and showing mutual respect, though. It’s not perfect, but they do damn well considering.

    Certainly, I have known many, many kiwis and I have never heard white NZers – ever – say any racist things about their Maori countrymen and women and vice-versa (beyond things like very tongue in cheek comments about how nice pakeha -whites – taste when cooked in the hangi (earth oven).

    Nevertheless, the maori have been very vocal in demanding from modern NZ the rights they were promised.

    In NZ, the playing of sport – particularly rugby – and a genuine respect has had much to do with that.

    There is, however, some resentment from both pakeha (whites) and maori towards some of the pacific islanders arriving in increasing numbers.

    Even then, though, it is nothing like you would find anywhere else.

  • Which raises the politically incorrect question of whether Islam is inherently incompatible with modern civilization.


  • Dave,

    Very sharp thinking. Ethiopians, BTW, are very intelligent people, at least those I’ve met.
    But I think there has been a long history of religious persecution at the hands of the Muslims, which would tend to account for the present situation. But that’s it for me.


  • A great argument, therefore, against racism. It’s not the skin color but humanity in general – “the evil in all of us.”

    Sure, but there’s something more there. Why is it that of all cultures those of Africa have responded particularly poorly to colonialism? Or is it even colonialism? It could just be the modern era. Even African countries relatively untouched by the colonial powers have done poorly in the modern era.

    My first inclination would be to say that the problem is that they were more tribal and more primitive than other societies — it’s certainly true that the societies which were most advanced and closest to meeting Europeans as equals (China, Japan, India) came out of the colonial era in the best shape. But that leaves us scratching our heads about Ethiopia, which is one of the worst situations in Africa today, but had a very advanced civilization and was relatively untouched by colonialism. It should have come through the period much the way India did, but clearly something went very wrong.


  • It also needs economic development, methinks, and major effort in the area of education, and an outlook that would go beyond regional and ethnic differences.

    That’s where a concerted U.S. foreign policy, coupled with far-reaching economic development program, would do the greatest good.

    There’s no better PR I can think of.

  • Clavos

    Excellent, well-written and objective essay, Mfonobong. Africa needs leaders with your perspective.

  • RJ

    Excellent column. Africa is rich in natural resources. The continent’s future could be bright, if the people and their leaders make wise choices. Unfortunately, many of the leaders that the people choose are anything but wise (Mugabe, Zuma, etc.).

    Sadly, it seems to me that Red China is in the process of quasi-recolonizing the continent. This is truly unfortunate.

  • Dave,

    A great argument, therefore, against racism. It’s not the skin color but humanity in general – “the evil in all of us.”


  • The key point Heloise makes is the very important one that it is culture rather than skin color or ethnicity which seems to make the difference, and that’s a very important thing to remember.

    Another good example to keep in mind is the Maori in New Zealand who have fared relatively well in the post colonial period because their culture is adaptable and resilient and they’re as black as anyone.


  • Heloise,

    You may catch hellfire from some, I hope you’re aware, for being so brutally frank.


  • Glad someone can tell the truth about life in Africa. It’s been bad for decades. I used to work for a linguist professor who specialized in African languages. He used to get papers and information about Africa that the ordinary person did not. The news out of Africa was always shocking and brutal. And made me never want to even visit Africa.

    It reminds me of what I said about public schools, look who’s in them! There’s your problem…who peoples these places. Look at the African-settled or black-run countries and you can rest your case. They are all in a shambles and have been for some time. Poor Jamaica is a good case in point. When Brits pulled out Jamaica went under and has never recovered.

    That could be alinged with colonialism and the cause. But as you point out it’s the people stupid who are causing the problem. And those people are black not white.

    What about India? They were colonized by the Brits? They are faring much better than Africa. Now, they are not considered blacks, but they are brown and they were a ruled people.

    But truthfully they have some freakin direction. Africa sadly has no direction except to, as you say, worship dictators. Dictators are without direction, they are only about absolute power over the people.

    The problem with Africa is the Africans, sad to say.