NATIONAL ASSIGNMENT 3: THE BIG DEBATE
TASK: Without Colonization, most African countries would have become Super powers. True or False?
Take a position and present your points before a panel on Monday 12:00pm.
If African Nations will rise up from being the third world Nations to fully developed citadels of abode, we must move on to face the reality rather than playing the usual blame game on colonialism, even decades after gaining independence.
Before me this day is an argument that, without colonization, most African Nations would have become Super Powers.
The basis of my argument is “false” and I will be backing up my point with some underlying facts in the next few minutes.
Colonization officially started after slavery was abolished during the emergence of the industrial revolution in 1884 at the Berlin Conference in Germany.
Colonization itself can be best described as the act whereby a superior nation conquers another and afterwards subjects it under its government, civilization and authority by declaring a protectorate over the territory or the region.
Furthermore, I will like to describe what it is meant for a nation to be a Super Power. A nation can be referred to as a Super power one with respect to its effective national integration strategy, high level of human development index and the status of its economy. Analytically, for a nation to be termed as a Super power one, the resultant economic prosperity must be evenly distributed among its citizens.
However, many countries of the world can today be referred to as Super Power Nations, few decades after gaining independence from their colonial masters.
In the case of most African countries, certain underlying facts have been impeding their development at all facets of life, mostly, the refusal to move on and the usual casting of the blame game on the colonial masters’ interference in their evolution sequence.
Considering certain historical relevance, in the 18th century, the British newly actualized industrial revolution, hence, there was a quest for the sustainability of their newly acquired status. In search of mineral-based resources and agro-based raw materials such as cotton, sugar cane and others for their factories accompanied with the fact that they needed man-power to cultivate farms and at the same time for industrial operations. The British’s expedition for the sustainability made them travel down to the coaster territories of West African States. However, the coastal territories of the West African regions became a hotspot for the British.
Eventually, Lagos became a British colony in 1861. The Colonial Masters saw Lagos as an accessible trade route to Europe.
Not only that, the region was also seen as a channel to expand their religion missions, induce their formal education while at the same time stimulating their style of civilization in Africa. Civilization in this context can be referred to as the rejection of a primitive way of life to adopt an exposed and a more generally accepted one.
Historically, in 1990, the British Colonial Masters further declared a protectorate over the Northern Nigeria in an aggressive Military operation. In 1914, the British Colonial Masters amalgamated the Northern and Southern Nigeria for the “theoretical” purpose of the people to maximize the strength in their diversity for the pursuit of a prosperous nation. A common identity such as the Lingua Franca (English language), national flag, national anthem and other national identities were introduced to them in order to help them manage their multicultural and societal differences.
At this point, I will like to present a comparative analysis of some countries that were once under the influence of colonization before they eventually gained independence.
South Korea, Nigeria and South Africa were all colonized. Ethiopia is the only African nation that was not colonized, yet today cannot really be referred to as a Super Power Nation.
At this point, I won’t be too quick to conclude that colonization might not obstruct a nation from being a super power one. On the other way around, I won’t deny the fact that colonization can potentially inhibit the process of developmental evolution of the nation in question. There are always pros and cons of any evolution or revolution.
Despite the fact that the colonial masters truncated our process of evolution and development, while they also made our forefathers to forcefully serve, I will like to enumerate some positive impacts of colonization in Africa, in an attempt to solidify my basis of argument.
1. Colonial masters introduced and “refined” civilization to Africa, a modern clothing system in contrast to some traditional outfit of being half or almost naked, while also replacing certain primitive ways of life to a modernized and generally accepted one.
2. The British Colonial Masters introduced modern medical technology to Africa against the primitive way of medical treatments. I will not deny the facts that our traditional medical treatments are still functional; however, the contemporary medical treatment is just a mere plus with lots of advantages of making life better. Relatively think of the modern maternity treatment against the primitive way child-birthing, the difference is clear.
3. Education is the pathway to development, most especially, when science and technology are being fully maximized as an engagement tool. The Colonial masters introduced formal education to the most of their African colonies with the aim of fostering their all-round development. Though I won’t deny the fact that they had some vested interests in Africa.
4. Without the Colonial Masters’ impacts for making some African communities recognize the value for human life, certain activities like, the killing of twin babies in some communities among other barbaric traditional rites and cultures would not have been abolished. Mary Slessor and other Missionaries blazed a trail for this social revolution, most especially in some Nigerian communities.
5. The instrumentalization of modern transportation systems in Nigeria.
6. A tree does not make a forest, in 1914, the British Colonial Masters amalgamated the Northern and the Southern Nigeria for the purpose of maximizing the strength in their diversity, by harnessing the earth’s resources for national prosperity while also evenly distributing the generated wealth among the people. This was the initial game-plan. What could have happened along the line? It is so sad to note that our problem is the mismanagement and irrationalization of these blessed resources.
This is the gospel truth of the matter; “There is always a price to pay for any form of revolution. No gain without a pain. The British Colonial Masters exposed us to civilization, Western education, modern health care technologies, modern transportation systems, respect for humanity and many other positive developmental changes in Africa, most especially taking Nigeria as a critical example. All these were done at the expense of making some of our forefathers to forcefully serve them, while at the same time exploiting our diverse resources for their nepotic interests. This is what I term as a 50-50 situation, nothing goes for nothing and something goes for something.
I also need to point out that, without colonization, most African nations “might” still be Barbaric up till today like the people of the uncolonized Papua New Guinea in the Asian continent. Research results clearly show that there is evidence of human settlement as long as 35,000 years in the territory, yet no glaring wave of civilization. I think colonization would have been helpful in fostering the region’s civilization, though somewhat disadvantageous.
So why can’t we just accept out fate and move on to face the reality rather than shifting the blame on colonization for the major reason for our glaring under-development in Africa.
At this point, I will like to expatiate on certain critical factors that have led to the wailing under-development problems of most African Nations’ inability to be termed as a Super power Nations.
Lack of vision and direction:
It is so sad to note that most African Nations don’t have a well-defined sustainable economic and national development agenda. Most of them don’t even know where they are going to in the next 5 years.
As a practical example, the vision to make Singapore a world class financial and trading centre of the East Asia was conceived by Stamford Raffles, a dream that was actualized few years later by subsequent visionary leaders. Just one leader, just one visionary transformationist is needed to take the people to the aspired greener pasture.
Today, Dubai is a world class Tourist destination, a vision that was conceived several decades ago by some visionary and futuristic leaders, while the long-term goals were actively pursued by the cooperation of the government and the people, and today a reality.
Hypothetically, I hope that I won’t be too quick to conclude that colonization is not the major impedance to the all-round development of most African Nations. Rather, Africa’s present status is traceable to the mismanagement of their endowed mineral resources, natural resources and human resource capacity coupled with the lack of sustainable socio-economic development frameworks.
However, if Africa nations will ever rise up again, Nigeria being the most populous African Nation must act as the Trailblazer.
– The issues of tax payment:
An average black man does not pay tax. We have several cases of tax avoidance and evading of tax in most African Nations.
These public funds should have been acting as the citizens’ personal social responsibility in contributing to the development of the nation. On the other way around, taking the short-comings on the paths of some nepotic leaders into consideration, in some cases, even when the taxes are paid, such public funds are often diverted for selfish and personal use. No country can develop with this kind of attitude. In my oft-recited maxim of National development; “the Government and people both have crucial roles to play in the nation-building process”.
Taking Nigeria as a critical example, viewers out there, let us ask ourselves, when last did we update our tax records in the Federal Inland Revenue Service of Nigeria? A moment of ponderous reflections. You see! We are all guilty of impeding the actualization of the goals to make Nigeria a Super Power Nation. And besides, if I may ask, does the Nigerian Government have an effective database to manage the transactional activities of all her citizens in order to keep an updated track record of their income details and tax activities?
We need to get back to work!
Research results have clearly shown that most of the Super power nations of the world today all have their citizens duly complying with all the tax laws while also adhering to the fulfillment of other basic common laws.
– The crude and primitive mentality of an average black man:
Most African nations would have been working together, duly maximizing their distinct comparative advantages for the development of their nations.
On the other way around, it is so sad to note that in this modern age, black still rise against black, not only within local communities, but also within the African continent. We still have recurring issues of jungle justice incidence in different societies instead of letting justice take its natural course, knowing fully well that a suspect is innocent until proven guilty.
In addition, we still have recurring issues of xenophobia in some African countries, we still have ethnical strife, racial discrimination and so many other divisive tendencies that have led to insecurity issues. We should also note that, security of lives and properties is one of the foundational step towards the all-round development of any nation.
Without any iota of doubt, if most African Nations will be counted as super power Nations in the nearest decade, there is a pressing need for mental restructuring, a viable human development strategy, a new national ideology and an intellectual revolution which entails the productive exploitations of our endowed human resource capacity in Africa.
– Active participation:
If most African Nations will be referred to as super power Nations, the government and the people both have tasking responsibilities to assume.
On the path of the Government, the example of the Asian Tigers Shows us an alternative path to development, a central government guiding the economy forward through distinct stages of development until it reaches full industrialization.
On the path of the African people, they must be ready to set
aside their personal economic interests for the sake of the national interests, in the pursuit of actualizing a well-laid down socio-economic blueprint. In addition, I need to note that the future of the African economy depends on how entrepreneurial or how self-reliant the African youths are.
On a more serious note, most of the African Nations are blessed with good agricultural land values for the cultivation of cash crops and arable crops, but it is so sad that they still import processed and canned foods for daily sustenance.
If I may ask, what stops the youths from collectively engaging in the large scale farming of some locally consumable and exportable agro-products? Today, Nigeria as an example still imports petty items like toothpicks from China despite the fact that we have bamboo trees in the Southern part of Nigeria.
In order to conserve the much needed foreign exchange in African nations, the lackadaisical attitudes of being consuming nations rather than producing ones must stop.
– Not patronizing African made products;
An average black man does not appreciate his or her locally made products, they rather patronize or import some petty outlandish commodities. Why not encourage the local manufacturers?, the gesture which could have fostered the conservation of the much needed foreign exchange in most African Nations. The responsibility of the people in the nation building process is to patronize their locally-made products while at the same time giving feedback to their manufacturers for improvement and perfection. We all know the story of “China phones”, how they were discriminated at during the initial stage of dabbling into electronics productions at the inception of the China industrial revolution era. They did not allow those negative feedbacks to weigh them down; rather, they were seen as a viable tool for improvement and perfection. Today, most of the electronic gadgets being used in Africa and other continents of the world are majorly Chinese products with competitive edge above the already existing ones.
I need to also emphasize on this fact, that on path of manufacturers of locally made products, at the initial stage of productions, there is always a need to strike a balance between the two major discrepancies in production – profit and quality. Manufacturers must not use sub-standard and low quality raw materials for production in an attempt to maximize profit. Putting all these things together, Nigeria and other African Nations are at the edge of actualizing the long-awaited industrial revolution.
– Irrationalization and mismanagement of resources by means of bad leadership structures:
I need to point this out again, that Ethiopia was never colonized, yet not still referred to as a Super power Nation today.
South Africa on the other way around experienced more period of colonization than any other African country, today, one of the most developed African country in terms of infrastructural development with well-structured academic systems. Infact, some of the citizens of the nations that have gained independence from the colonial masters’ rule since far back as 1960s now troop in to South Africa for an advanced educational experience.
Though South Africa is still battling with some ethnical issues among other forms of domestic challenges, but I hope that I won’t be too quick to conclude that the long presence of the Colonial Master in South Africa fostered the appropriate rationalization and the management of her resources in attaining such a commendable substantial infrastructural and national development.
Taking Nigeria as another case study, crude oil was discovered few years after independence was gained from the British Colonial Masters’ rule. Along the line, the discovery of this valuable mineral resource which could have been an element of an evenly distributed national wealth paradoxically led to the streamline of the economy over the decades, thereby leading to a glaring impedance to our socio-economic development.
The mineral resource has been mismanaged and has also led to the neglect of other auxiliary driver of the economy (such as Agriculture) that could have saved the Nigerian economy from the brim of collapse.
In this modern age, while France is planning on how to ban the usage of Petrol Vehicles for a more eco-friendly mode of transport, most African Nations are still being faced with the problems of leadership disaster – the major developmental nuclear holocaust in Africa. There must be a change of attitude for the full-flowering of African development.
As I round up, I need to make certain points clear. Without Colonization, some African nations would not have been exposed to civilization haven missed an experience of the ideological revolution.
Hear this out; it will sound like a shock to know that up till today, in this modern age, there still exist several uncolonized countries. A good example is the Papua New Guinea being rated as one of the least civilized country in the world. Eventually, the United Nations recently gave a directive that the country should not be colonized by any superior one. Her process and sequence of evolution should not be influenced, interfered into or truncated.
Experimentally, to the best of my understanding, let us see how long it will take the uncolonized nation to catch up with the wave of modernization. Back to my point, this fact clearly depicts that most African Nations would have still be wallowing in the darkness of living a barbaric and underdeveloped way of life if not for colonization. It is good we call a spade a spade and not a farm tool.
It is however so sad to note that, up till today, Africans are still playing the blame game on their colonial masters for their present quagmire state of all-round development.
In a wider view, Malaysia was once colonized by Britain just like Nigeria. However, instead of trading blames, they have accepted their fate and moved on. Malaysia has so advanced economically, socially and politically that today, it is common to see a huge number of British residents in the country. It took the country few decades from independence to become a fully industrialized economy. Malaysia identified agriculture as its cardinal comparative advantage for economic revolution and therefore took drastic measures to maximize its potentials, while at the same time developing other light and heavy industries.
South Korea is also a perfect example of a nation that was once colonized, engrossed with the challenges of the Korean war experience, resiliently moved forward from being a third world nation to a fully developed nation of the world today. Today, KIA Motors, Hyundai Motors, LG products, Samsung products and other movers and shakers competitive export products being massively consumed across the world today originated from South Korea. The South Koreans did not allow their ugly colonial pasts and painful war experiences to weigh them down in the peninsula and dungeon of under-development. They moved on. So if I may ask, what is stopping us in Africa? For how long shall we blame our socio-economic woes on our colonial masters rather than rising up to the task of facing the realities?
At this point, I can rightly conclude that colonization is not the impedance to the all-round development of most African countries in becoming Super Power nations. The problem is the refusal to move on by always playing the blame game on their colonial masters, the refusal of the people to take responsibility, while the leaders are somewhat myopic in their national development strategies coupled with the poor structures on how to manage and rationalize their endowed mineral resources and human resource capacity.
Written and Delivered By Jawolusi Oluwaseun Solomon.
(Solution to a task given to the Ekiti State Labour Room Governor during the course of his stay in the Labour Room National Development Reality TV Show)