Home Features / Articles THE ROOTS OF POVERTY IN RESOURCES RICH AFRICA

THE ROOTS OF POVERTY IN RESOURCES RICH AFRICA

Vintage engraving of a Plantation Master with whip at the Slave market, while a man begs not to be separated from his son and daughter. From the anti slavery story De planter brunel en zijne slaven asa en neno, by Henderikus Christophorus Schetsberg, Netherlands. 1858.

BY JOEL SAVAGE

Africa, especially the region located in the south of the Sahara, is the poorest territory of the planet. At the end of 1993, 11 African countries were among the 15 poorest countries. Although this can not be said about North Africa because of oil.

The poverty of the African continent is exacerbated by a population explosion. Since the continent is unstable many think Africa is unattractive for capital investments. Despite the vast resources, there is poverty in Africa and the poor totally dependent on agriculture.

Although there are a lot of modern reasons for such a lag in development, however, the roots of the problem go to the distant past, when Europeans who believed that they were superior and more civilized, needed people with different skin color to work for them.

From the middle of the XV century, slave markets and the sale of African slaves began. They were used as domestic servants and a great percentage was used in agricultural fields.

After the Europeans destroyed the indigenous population of the New World, slaves from Africa were exported to America. Only a hundred years from the 1680s, through the 1780s from Angola to the Spanish colonies of the West Indies took about a million people.

During the slave trade, peculiar slave routes arose. From Europe to Africa, merchants carried firearms, cold arms, alcoholic beverages, copper, iron products, dishes, and glass baubles.

There they exchanged these cheap things for the lives of African slaves, which were delivered to the American colonies. In turn, in the New World, black slaves were exchanged for colonial goods highly valued in Europe, such as tobacco, sugar, cotton, etc.

This brought huge profits to European traders, especially the English ones. Many cities, such as Manchester, London, Liverpool, Bristol, France Nantes and Rouen, Dutch Amsterdam, and many others, owe their well-being to the slave trade.

It was only after the European powers divided the whole of Africa among themselves that their governments began a determined struggle against the slave trade. The colonialists did not regard black people as humans and treated them worse than animals.

In Africa itself, the slaves were very cheap, and their influx to the markets of the New World, led to the fact that their prices were rather low, therefore, the ‘living goods’ traders, striving for the highest profits, tried not to spend money on the slaves.

In shackles, they were carried in a cramped ship and the only possible way for them to survive was to sit. Swimming from the coast of Africa across the Atlantic took several weeks, so often slaves died on the way.

According to some scientists, for every black African brought to the American colonies, there were about 8 people killed during the voyage or during the transition to the coast and roughly in total,
Africa had lost over 100 million people in the slave trade.

The slave trade struck the development of the African continent, hindered the development of agriculture and prevented the creation of African states.

According to historians, the slave trade was one of the reasons why the majority of the African population still lives in abject poverty.

Surprisingly, Africa is still not free. Since slavery and colonization are no more possible, Africa is now being targeted with strange diseases from ‘heaven’ yet created by man, not God.

The writer Joel Savage is a Ghanaian-Belgian journalist and author. The accredited press-card holder of the Flemish Journalists Association once contributed regularly to the features column of the Daily Graphic, The Mirror, Ghanaian Times and the Weekly Spectator. He currently lives in Belgium.

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