Serious People's views on whether Africa could have developed without colonization.

Hi! I'm a 14-year-old Nigerian. I've been living in Lagos-third-worst city in the world, as said by times-my entire life, and people's views on this thread's topic has ranged from intriguing to...startling.

I bring this up because recently, in my history class, I threw the entire class into a whirlwind by trying to challenge the idea that colonization may have been responsible for technological advancement. People called me racist, started naming African inventions, denouncing the facts provided by historians-it was overwhelming. I had to wonder; is this true, or are people just biased?

Being racist is awful, and no one wants to be seen as one-so are people stating this to avoid being called out? Or is it a legitimate opinion? Honestly not sure anymore; but I'll say that if I wasn't black, I wouldn't be questioning it out of fear that I'd get the racist card, either.
 
Africa certainly could have developed without colonization, though that's not to say some inventions from the colonizers didn't speed things up a bit. That being said, colonization is definitely more of a bad thing than a good thing. Imperialism is invariably wrong, even if there are occasional side effects that are beneficial to those being colonized in the long run.
 
I agree with HailFall. The main reason why Africa is so war torn today is the absolute stupidity of the colonialists when they drew up the borders. Gotta have those neat straight lines.
 

Audiosurfer

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also nigerian and the answer to this question is "yes". have absolutely no idea why you'd base your idea of technological progress on the ideas of a category of people who've not only caused massive levels of human misery everywhere in the world they've went (including nigeria), but who are currently on the brink of destroying large swathes of life entirely w/ global warming, a phenomenon that they caused, and constant wars and political conflicts (which in many instances they directly engineered).

any notion of progress worth considering positively isn't about just making cool-looking inventions or having shiny new things to buy, but about meaningfully bettering the world, a standard by which much of what passes for progress in western thought is an absolute failure. instead of actually bringing the world into some better future, much of modern life simply takes the suffering and inequalities present in older times and reproduces it at a new scale. as such, people are meant to view it as some human triumph that there is enough wealth in the globe to end abject poverty and hunger but it is instead used for the ultrarich to go to the moon or build luxury shelters to hide from the climate change and political instability they caused or for countries to horde enough weapons to bomb the world into non-existence or for massive amounts of money to be sent around the world instantly while human beings are trapped in violent and environmentally ravaged landscapes with no way out.

Africa certainly could have developed without colonization, though that's not to say some inventions from the colonizers didn't speed things up a bit.
and just to be clear this isn't true. colonialism brought zero positive benefits to the colonized countries, full stop. it isn't something that's "more of a bad thing than a good thing" because there is no good thing, nor is it a 'thing-that-wasn't-all-bad-but-we-still-shouldn't-have-done it". it was literally strictly evil and a low point in human history.
 
I don’t see how you can argue this point without it eventually just boiling down to racism. Unless you believe there’s an inherent reason African people couldn’t have made those advancements on their own in time if they hadn’t had their development irreparably stunted by colonization, there’s no foundation to your argument. In other words, if it wasn’t the result of having all their resources (including their population) ravaged by colonization, what’s your alternative explanation for why those countries didn’t develop at the same rate?
 

Ninahaza

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Yes. Africa is a wealth of resources, and human beings are built to thrive and survive. Even after colonization, Africa is still a wealth of resources till this day.

Pure human potential dictates that Africa would have been fine if they weren't fucked over by overall progress of the world,
and you can substitute Africa for a number of people/locations fucked over throughout history. its nothing new

/goes back into slumber

Edit: The key is to keep moving forward, and perhaps someday you may be the one doing the fucking
 
Bit of a distinction required re: the context. Colonization itself isn't really a function of development so if you're using development as a barometer are you asking if you'd reach similar development if Africa were isolated entirely or of they were treated as a traditional nation such as China?

If they're treated as a typical nation than Africa probably develops technologically at a similar pace to other nations, or course without the inhibitions placed on them by systemic oppression. The nature of trade would guide their advancement with interaction from whichever country was slightly more advanced at the time and they'd develop along similar paths.

If they were fully isolated it's probable they would develop in a completely different direction from the rest of humanity. As noted they have a wealth of resources and without outside influence their cultural markers are likely to show innovation unseen today, with possibilities existing both where they advance at a faster or slower rate than other socities depending on how well their innovations obviate the survival pressures to drive future innovation.
 

Pyritie

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I remember reading somewhere that a major reason why africa didn't technologically advance as quickly is because they lacked some things that places like europe/asia didn't, such as:
- horses and other beasts of burden
- easily accessible basic metals like iron, tin, copper
- a climate with seasons that force things like farming over hunting/gathering

how true is this?
 
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Cresselia~~

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Alike Nigeria, Hong Kong (where I'm from) was colonized by the British.

However, the majority of Hong Kong's older generation people believe that if Hong Kong was never colonized, Hong Kong would have been a poor shithole, and still remain a poor shithole.
(Prior to colonization, Southern Chinese were heavily discriminated by Northern Chinese, and Northern Chinese would often call Southern Chinese savages)
And people in Hong Kong do not get unhappy or offended when people point this out, even if they disagree.

But I do not think that Hong Kong or Nigeria needs British colonization in order to develop.
I think each country would still develop via trades of raw materials into high tech products.

For example, both Thailand and Mainland China (technically, China was briefly colonized by Mongolians, but hey, Mongolians aren't Europeans so) were never colonized, and they are doing well now.
On the other hand, India and Singapore were also colonized by the British, and they also, are doing well now.

Therefore, I don't think colonization affects a country's development much.
And I think your class should learn to discuss this without being so emotional/ playing the victim card, etc.
(But it's probably quite difficult, since your class is still very young)



I remember reading somewhere that a major reason why africa didn't technologically advance as quickly is because they lacked some things that places like europe/asia didn't, such as:
- horses and other beasts of burden
- easily accessible basic metals like iron, tin, copper
- a climate with seasons that force things like farming over hunting/gathering

how true is this?
These are myths.
They have camels.
Africa has a very abundant supply of metal, and many African countries export them as a viable income.

and just to be clear this isn't true. colonialism brought zero positive benefits to the colonized countries, full stop. it isn't something that's "more of a bad thing than a good thing" because there is no good thing, nor is it a 'thing-that-wasn't-all-bad-but-we-still-shouldn't-have-done it". it was literally strictly evil and a low point in human history.
I'd argue that the Mongolian colonization on European countries bought some great stuff to Europeans.
(Yes, Europe was colonized by Mongolians before)
Don't act like Europe was never colonized by the others.

Positive Effects on Europe
Although the Mongol invasion of Europe sparked terror and disease, in the long run, it had enormous positive impacts. The foremost was what historians call the Pax Mongolica—a century of peace (c. 1280–1360) among neighboring peoples who were all under Mongol rule. This peace allowed for the reopening of the Silk Road trading routes between China and Europe, increasing cultural exchange and wealth all along the trade paths.

Central Asia was a region that had always been important to overland trade between China and the West. As the region became stable under the Pax Mongolica, trade became less risky under the various empires, and as cross-cultural interactions became more and more intensive and extensive, more and more goods were traded.

Spread of Technology
Within the Pax Mongolica, the sharing of knowledge, information, and cultural identity was encouraged. Citizens could legally become followers of Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, or anything else as long as their practice didn't interfere with the political ambitions of the Khan. The Pax Mongolica also allowed monks, missionaries, traders, and explorers to travel along the trade routes. One famous example is the Venetian trader and explorer Marco Polo, who traveled to the court of Genghis Khan's grandson Kublai Khan (Quibilai) at Xanadu in China.

Some of the most fundamental ideas and technologies in the world—papermaking, printing, and gunpowder manufacturing, among many others—made their way across Asia via the Silk Road. Migrants, merchants, explorers, pilgrims, refugees, and soldiers brought along with them their disparate religious and cultural ideas, domesticated animals, plants, flowers, vegetables, and fruit as they joined this gigantic cross-continental exchange. As historian Ma Debin describes it, the Silk Road was the original melting pot, the lifeline of the Eurasian continent.
 
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I've heard this asked so many times but I've never once seen it considered the other way around: If the western world would've even existed without Africa. The topic question and its surrounding attitudes are just silly to me -- there would literally be no human life on the planet at all without our first ancestors surviving there and eventually migrating out. So the pov framing of derisively viewing the literal human cradle (Africa) like "lol could they even have done it wihtout us?" is just ignorant when the posibility of human life and even "progression" itself are all owed to Africa in the first place.

Even if that's not your attitude or intent at all when asking that kind of question, it certainly inspires that type of attitude and subconciouss validity towards it. That's how we ended up with shit like "Race IQ Realism." Not saying that there can't be an honest exploration into these kinds of hypotheticals, but they shouldn't at all be entertained without a lucid social conciousness of the consequences thereof.

This should perhaps explain the reactiveness of your classmates to the question posed, even if they didn't exactly answer the question in the first place.
 
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Plus, people like to pretend Africans always lived in small tribes, but there were several great African civilizations. Egypt is obvious, but you also have the kingdom of Kush, the kingdom of Aksom, the Kongo Empire, ancient Carthage, the Mutapa empire, and the Ashanti empire.

Then the goddamn colonizers fucked everything up. Just like they did in the Americas and Oceania =/
 
Alright let's beat the shit out of a dead horse.

I remember reading somewhere that a major reason why africa didn't technologically advance as quickly is because they lacked some things that places like europe/asia didn't, such as:
- horses and other beasts of burden
- easily accessible basic metals like iron, tin, copper
- a climate with seasons that force things like farming over hunting/gathering

how true is this?
Not true at all. Wherever you read this from is incredibly false. In many areas of Africa-notably ancient Africa-horses were used frequently in the wars between tribes and even the great civilizations, such as Sudan and Nubia. Heck, Nubia itself was famous for the amount of iron that they possessed-as for the other two, these have never been in scarcity. And farming in Africa was a major part of life-and to an extent, it still is. False as fuck.


I've heard this asked so many times but I've never once seen it considered the other way around: If the western world would've even existed without Africa. The topic question and its surrounding attitudes are just silly to me -- there would literally be no human life on the planet at all without our first ancestors surviving there and eventually migrating out. So the pov framing of derisively viewing the literal human cradle (Africa) like "lol could they even have done it without us?" is just ignorant when the posibility of human life and even "progression" itself are all owed to Africa in the first place.

Even if that's not your attitude or intent at all when asking that kind of question, it certainly inspires that type of attitude and subconciouss validity towards it. That's how we ended up with shit like "Race IQ Realism." Not saying that there can't be an honest exploration into these kinds of hypotheticals, but they shouldn't at all be entertained without a lucid social conciousness of the consequences thereof.

This should perhaps explain the reactiveness of your classmates to the question posed, even if they didn't exactly answer the question in the first place.
Well, the thing is if you considered it the other way around, the answer is extremely clear-cut and you already pointed out the answer-civilization as a whole wouldn't have existed. However, the rest of this post is fine-apart from the last line. While it could explain their behavior, most pointed out the benefits slavery had given to the countries who practiced it rather than the benefit of the continent itself back in the beginnings of earth.
Alike Nigeria, Hong Kong (where I'm from) was colonized by the British.

However, the majority of Hong Kong's older generation people believe that if Hong Kong was never colonized, Hong Kong would have been a poor shithole, and still remain a poor shithole.
(Prior to colonization, Southern Chinese were heavily discriminated by Northern Chinese, and Northern Chinese would often call Southern Chinese savages)
And people in Hong Kong do not get unhappy or offended when people point this out, even if they disagree.

But I do not think that Hong Kong or Nigeria needs British colonization in order to develop.
I think each country would still develop via trades of raw materials into high tech products.

For example, both Thailand and Mainland China (technically, China was briefly colonized by Mongolians, but hey, Mongolians aren't Europeans so) were never colonized, and they are doing well now.
On the other hand, India and Singapore were also colonized by the British, and they also, are doing well now.

Therefore, I don't think colonization affects a country's development much.
And I think your class should learn to discuss this without being so emotional/ playing the victim card, etc.
(But it's probably quite difficult, since your class is still very young)
Good points overall, however I'd like to mention that a major reason as to why slave trade was so prevalent and africans couldn't unite against it (initially) is because African was a nation deeply rooted in war; tribal conflicts and feuds between civilizations were massively commonplace, far more so of your typical colonial countries. These nations were sparring against each other for many, many years-in fact, I don't think it's even stopped. The Nigerian Civil War was a direct byproduct of this tribal warfare, and this occurred in the late 1900's.
 
This is kind of silly imo. Where there's water, civilization inevitably follows.
I'm not familiar with colonization of Africa but I feel like it was more of a "there's stuff here that we want to take back" than "this place is cool and we want it".
 

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America developed because of colonization after all?
Not sure how much the native population benefited from the colonization tho, with the colonizers never leaving after all and greatly affected the lives of the natives for the worse.
 

kilometerman

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I remember reading somewhere that a major reason why africa didn't technologically advance as quickly is because they lacked some things that places like europe/asia didn't, such as:
- horses and other beasts of burden
- easily accessible basic metals like iron, tin, copper
- a climate with seasons that force things like farming over hunting/gathering

how true is this?
Guns Germs and Steel is meme-tier pop history that's been discredited a shitload of times. All of those things you listed are present and have been present for centuries in Africa.

I agree with HailFall. The main reason why Africa is so war torn today is the absolute stupidity of the colonialists when they drew up the borders. Gotta have those neat straight lines.
But there are African nations that were never colonized (Ethiopia) but still suffer from the same widespread corruption, poverty, and war as their neighbors?
 

Asek

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ehtiopia is brught up in the same conversation as japan and thailand as modern non eurpean nation states that have never been colonised but you cant really argue that any of them were unaffected by its prescence.
 

Cresselia~~

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Whilst Japan was not exactly colonized, its governing system was pretty much Westernized after the incident of "Black Ships" -- a fleet of ships made of metal and were steam powered, lead by Matthew Perry.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Ships

The Japanese were really frightened by it, and the Emperor surrendered.

This lead to "the opening of Japan" and eventually the modernization (or Westernization) of Japan.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakumatsu
 
Whilst Japan was not exactly colonized, its governing system was pretty much Westernized after the incident of "Black Ships" -- a fleet of ships made of metal and were steam powered, lead by Matthew Perry.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Ships

The Japanese were really frightened by it, and the Emperor surrendered.

This lead to "the opening of Japan" and eventually the modernization (or Westernization) of Japan.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakumatsu
not to detract your overall point but you have it a little mixed up, Perry's ships/foreign influence eroded the power of the ruling shogunate, not the Emperor. Perry's trips didn't "colonize" Japan but simply opened the country up to trade. But the threat of foreign colonization is what really became problematic for the shogun - they were seen as too weak to protect Japan against this threat. the Meiji Restoration happens and Japan "modernizes" with the dissolution of the shogunate and the Emperor "restored" to the place of the head of the Japanese state. The Japanese weren't Westernized in the same sense that Africa was - nobody outside of Japan forced the Japanese to change their ruling system - instead, I would argue that they chose to modernize/Westernize themselves in order to protect themselves from external pressures from other nations.
 

Cresselia~~

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not to detract your overall point but you have it a little mixed up, Perry's ships/foreign influence eroded the power of the ruling shogunate, not the Emperor. Perry's trips didn't "colonize" Japan but simply opened the country up to trade. But the threat of foreign colonization is what really became problematic for the shogun - they were seen as too weak to protect Japan against this threat. the Meiji Restoration happens and Japan "modernizes" with the dissolution of the shogunate and the Emperor "restored" to the place of the head of the Japanese state. The Japanese weren't Westernized in the same sense that Africa was - nobody outside of Japan forced the Japanese to change their ruling system - instead, I would argue that they chose to modernize/Westernize themselves in order to protect themselves from external pressures from other nations.
Emperors in Japan do not really have power politically.

And Japan was pretty much forced to Westernize.
 
right but the important distinction pre and post meiji restoration was that before, the emperor was literally a nobody without any form of power. nobody in japan would have been able to recognize who the emperor was. he had no political power to do anything within japan let alone outside. post meiji restoration, the emperor was returned to the role as the head of state. politically speaking, the meiji constitution gave the emperor a lot of power and elevated him to the position of the head of the nation. yes, this was partially symbolic in order to unite Japan around a Japanese symbol, but in comparison to the emperor under the shogunate, the emperor had very real power (until end of ww2 obviously).

I wasn't trying to detract from your conclusion, I just wanted to make the distinction between actually being colonized and acquiring technology and modernizing because of that verus being able to make the decision to modernize. I absolutely agree that the west/colonial powers affected Japan and spurred their decision to become modern. I just don't think it's accurate to characterize them as actually being colonized, as that downplays what colonialism really is.
 
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