Essays / Generic

Can colonialism still be blamed for Africa’s problems today or should Africans take responsibility for the poor management of their count…

Answer by Ayo Sogunro:

Manufacturers have a legal duty of care to the ultimate consumers of their products if it is not possible for defects to be identified before the goods are received — Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] All ER Rep 1

The colonial governments manufactured modern Africa. Yet, the wonder is that modern Africa still manages to exist at all–and doing fine in some places–considering the timebomb of the colonial legacy and its indifferent recipe for interethnic violence and class divisions.

There's no avoiding the continuing effects of the colonial systems in modern African countries. Colonialism left a mixture of arbitrarily manufactured countries, civillian-unfriendly armed  and police forces, elite-based economics, a nepotism fuelled bureaucracy, "Victorian-era" legal systems, and a patronage-based political system.

For decades under the colonial governments, these negative systems were the only type of systems that modern Africans knew and understood. And so, they became the norm.The African culture.

Of course, postcolonial governments had the opportunity of  dismantling these flawed structures and starting afresh. For example, they could have redrawn the national maps, or renegotiated the basis of the nationalities. They didn't. Instead they simply stepped into the shoes of the colonists and inherited their powers and privileges. A lot of the postcolonial governments merely aspired to the colonial lifestyle, and they were backed by the military machinery founded and bequeathed by the colonial governments. The more radical individuals rarely got into power under the colonists.

Hence, the bloody civil wars, genocides, coups and counter coups that followed independence in most African countries.

It's difficult to totally erase the systems and structures that were built by the colonial governments. Presently, most African countries are simply  trying to find a steady balance between the sociocultural norms, the legacies of the colonial systems and the modern aspirations of their citizens.

It's not yet paradise, and there's still a lot of sectional conflict, but socio-political awareness of systems and structures  in Africa today is far better than the conditions that were left behind by the colonial governments.

Can colonialism still be blamed for Africa's problems today or should Africans take responsibility for the poor management of their count…


8 thoughts on “Can colonialism still be blamed for Africa’s problems today or should Africans take responsibility for the poor management of their count…

  1. RE: Ayo Sogunro’s “Can colonialism still be blamed for Africa’s problems today or should Africans take responsibility for the poor management of their countries?”
    I read a piece written by Ayo Sogunro on Africa, colonialism and a question of who is to be blamed for Africa’s ills.
    Now, I have read articles on the issue and hear people asking why Africans can’t just move on and stop blaming colonial ‘masters’ for their woes. While Ayo’s piece was a bit different in that it conceded the fact that most of the problems faced by Africa today was caused by the colonialists, he got it wrong when he claimed that African LEADERS (I use this word consciously) had the ‘opportunity’ to dismantle colonial structures but they didn’t.
    You see, there is a difference between leaders and dealers. The people who took over leadership of African countries after the colonial ‘masters’ LEFT (Again, I use this word consciously) were the genuine African leaders. But while they tried to dismantle those colonial structures, the people who thrived on those structures’ continued existence resisted them.
    I could go on and cite examples pf such (and I will). Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah, Burkina Faso’s Thomas Sankara, Guinea’s Amilcar Cabral, Nigeria’s Muritala Muhammed, Congo’s Patrice Lumumba, Burundi’s Louis Rwagasore, Morocco’s Mehdi Ben Barka, Mozambique’s Eduardo Mondlane and recently, to Libya’s Gaddaffi, African leaders who attempted to deviate from the structures left by the colonial ‘masters’ were either removed through CIA-sponsored coups, cut down through NATO-championed assasinations or eliminated by their ex-French, Portuguese, Belgian colonial masters.
    When Nelson Mandela was to be released from jail, initially, he stuck to his guns about their inability to share power with the whites (colonial ‘masters), but as ‘negotiations’ developed, time dragged by and the violence continued unabated, he agreed to power sharing. Now, the power sharing might not have been evident in the VISIBLE political structure back then, but allowing whites (colonial ‘masters’) to still control the economy was his biggest mistake – a mistake that means the blacks are still second-class citizens in their own country. Now, the argument back then was that you can’t effect all the changes at once. And maybe it sounded good back then, but the resultant effects of that decision to share ‘breathing space’ with the colonialists has cost South Africans a lot.
    Murtala’s attempt to detach Nigeria from the powers that be by delivering his “Africa has come of age” speech in Addis Ababa led to his death after just 200 days in office.
    Africa is not plagued with bad leaders; it’s just that when the good ones stand up, they are silenced and replaced with puppets whose strings can be tugged wherever the ex-colonialists like.
    No genuine African leader can take a genuine step towards the total liberation of his people without clashing with the self-appointed big brothers and ex-colonialists. A genuine movement towards lasting progress in Africa cannot but unsettle the ex-colonial masters who thrive on Africa’s backwardness, whose businesses boom when there is war and violence, who live off Africa’s oil, gold, diamond and other natural resources, and who know that it is in their best interest that Africa and Africans continue to grope in the dark under puppets whose loyalties lie with their western masters.
    Some claim that African leaders are architects of their own deaths because they stay too long in power. But I ask, is it possible to dismantle colonial structures that have been around for more than 40 years under just 4 years? Should Africans trade ‘dictatorship’ for western democracy just for the sake of being a democracy? Libyans under Gadaffi lived better than they do now after NATO served them their dose of western democracy.
    This much is clear; Africa does not lack good leaders, but the good leaders are either being stiffled or killed off by those who thrive on Africa’s continued backwardness.
    If Sankara had lived, If Lumumba had not been killed, If Gaddafi had not been disgustingly shod down, If Cabral had been allowed to lead his people, Africa would not be where it is today.
    The ex-colonialists and western ‘uncles’ described by Julius Nyerere in his address to the people of Congo are the ones responsible for where Africa is today.
    We know when the fault is ours and when we should accept blames; this is not such a time. The people of Afrika must decolonize their minds. They must see the ex-colonialists and their outstretched hands of ‘help’ for what they are: hypocrites. The fact that the ex-colonial masters are not here again does not mean that they have left. They are still very much around, breathing fearfully on the necks of their puppets. While they may have done away with whips, they now control their puppets with aids and stringent policies.
    Africans must begin to reject leaders who go to foreign lands to pay homage to ex-colonial masters when seeking for power. Africa is a continent old enough to stand on its own, solve its own problems and reprimand its erring leaders.
    James Ogunjimi


  2. There is a proverbs in my mother native Language,which says the tree which refused to bear fruits, the people are blaming the tree but not checking out the roots. African countinet was flourishing and highly developed, economically with powerful Kingdoms. Before the European powers came to destroy and share Africa land as a piece of bread. European power’s and USA are frustrating the Good Africa leaders, who have great dreams for their people. Bini Kingdom,Old Oyo Empire and Fulani Empires all in Nigeria , Ahsanti Kingdom in Ghana. Egyptian Kingdom, Ethiopia since bible times and the Zulu Kingdom in South Africa. Most of the theory, that African nations where highly undeveloped, unintelligent and backward is highly unacceptable and unrealistic which I totally disagree with. African countinet is being suppress, exploited, molested and denial opportunities to develop and untilitze it’s resources. Why are the Western powers allowing bad African leaders steal Billions of dollars and laundering it to Forigen banks? Why are Western countries interested in giving Forigen Aid to us, instead of investing in our economy, Industrial sectors, Agricultural sector etc? Why do they overthrown African leaders like Gaddafi etc and support dictators .If Western countries really love why are they not stopping bad leadership in African


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