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Old 01-02-2016, 03:29 PM
1,603 posts, read 1,461,693 times
Reputation: 2024


Originally Posted by caribny View Post
Of course you cite the most backward parts of Africa.
Well, you can credit Shaka Zulu for creating a very advanced army with an exceptional organisation, something not backward at all (and something that many other African states failed to do).
After all, Zulus were among the few able to inflict such a decisive defeat as Isandlwana on a European army (not the only ones obviously).

Do you know that slaves from certain parts of what is today Nigeria were valued because of their high level of skill in metals? Both in metallurgy, as well as in the manufacture of metal items? Benin and Oyo empires were renowned in this activity.
No, I didn't know that and I'm glad to learn.
Any other information?
17th C accounts by European sailors showed that they were reasonably impressed with the Yoruba empires if Oyo and Benin. The cities were as large as some of the European cities at the time, with vastly higher standards of public hygiene.
Portuguese were rather impressed by both Ethiopian churches and Kongo's court as well.
Please, I may have expressed myself badly, but I wasn't saying that Africa was a hellhole of huts and primitive cavemen, I simply countered the statement that Europe as a whole was less advanced of Africa in the 19th century.

Independent African nations might have well ended up like Asia, were there not certain dislocations caused by colonialism, the most ridiculous being arbitrary borders. In fact a big problem of the slave trade is that greedy African elites, in a rush to acquire short term wealth actually undermined their own manufacturing sector (textiles and metals) by purchasing them instead from the Europeans. So the most advanced parts of West Africa didn't move beyond the Middle Ages.
It might be: lots of variables to check (how Europeans could have been staved off, how trade could bring technology to Africa, how Africa would interact with the rest of the world etc).

Given that literacy was quite low in Europe, literacy was of benefit only to the very small elites which existed before the Renaissance.
which is what I said and that was the norm all over the world until literacy began to advance in Europe in the 19th century.
The Mali empire (the location of Timbuktu) was one of the world's richest. Given the abundant poverty which existed all over Europe in the 17th C I wonder why the poverty of Africa would have been an issue. In fact some claim that the larger African empires were no worse off than those of Europe.
They weren't and probably untill the beginning of 20th century, a European farmer didn't live that much better than an average African peasant.

I don't know if you know this, but at its peak the Ashanti had armies of 200,000. Poor societies CANNOT sustain armies that large.
As a matter of fact, I mentioned Ashanti Empires among the most developed African nations.
Please put aside your Tarzanesque images of pre colonial West Africa. The universities of Timbuktu were just as respected as those elsewhere.
In mere numbers though Europe surpasses Africa in almost all fields related to scientific development: from inventions to innovations.

The same way that Italy currently benefits from modern US technology, so would Africa, colonial or not.
Completely different scenario with different actors (Italy and the US), different technologies (the Iphone is rather different than the railroad), different world (globalisation?) and so on.
Aside from racial motivations, Europeans did what every other nation did throughout history, i.e. invade, expand and conquer.
Put this in perspective, what happened in Africa is the result of a whole series of events that set in motion the scramble for Africa; it didn't happen "by chance", it wasn't the result of the decision of a single man and it wasn't a unitary project.
What I'm saying is that what happened in Africa has happened all over the world in similar trends: wars, invasions, exploitation.
I'm not saying that this justifies or absolves anybody, I'm saying that the whole colonisation issue must be consider after realising this.
Likewise, Europeans didn't fall in the Dark Ages because they were inherently inferior, the Middle Age (which wasn't that dark by the way) happened for a simple reason: an organised authority that granted stability collapsed and plunged Europe into anarchy.
Similarly, China went from being a superpower to a decadent nation falling victim of European interests (Opium wars etc).
It's an endless cycle of up and downs.

The fact is that we do NOT know what West Africa would have been like had it not stupidly got itself involved in the Transatlantic slave trade, or become colonized from the late 19th to the mid 20th C.
The question is: could Africa avoid colonisation?
Originally Posted by caribny View Post
Other regions had also developed farming techniques which the Europeans copied. It seems apparent that the European farmers weren't too adept at the use of fertilizer, as they borrowed techniques from BOTH the Africans, and the Native Americans.
I would be interested in knowing more. Can you send a PM detailing this?
West Africa was developing at a reasonable rate and in the Medieval era its peoples in the most developed areas (today's Sahel, and south west Nigeria and Ghana) had living standards which matched that of the average Europeans.
Nigerian towns were as large as those in Europe. They already had systems for removing human waste, unlike Europe, where it ended on the streets, to be feasted on by rats, and creating the infamous numbers of plagues.
We don't need to romanticize Africa. Some areas were down right primitive, while others had advanced to reasonable levels.
The Transatlantic slave trade had the same impact on the Akan, Fon/Dahomey, and the Yoruba empires as oil has on many developing nations. The sudden burst of wealth encourage greed, corruption, and short term thinking. In fact by the 19th C the more advanced regions Africa was LESS developed than they were 400 years earlier.
Sadly for too many, the image of Africa is the Masai and the Zulu, two of the most primitive groups.
One question, though.
You compared the slave trade to the discovery oil thus meaning that it led to a burst of wealth coming into the coastal nations: in other terms, aside from the inhumane part of the slave trade, Africans 'failed' to effectively exploit the wealth accumulated by selling slaves?
from those regions. In fact even today the metal art of these peoples attracts much respect.[/quote]

[quote=caribny;42477418]Yes in the 19th C.
Which European nations were richest in the 17th and 18th C? Those which engaged in the slaves. Britain, France, Holland, Spain and Portugal.[/QUTE]
And, as a matter of fact, I was talking about 19th century which is when Europe colonised Africa.
It also discounts how Northern Italy, Flanders and Germany were very wealthy area despite having no involvement in the slave trade.
Spain also accumulated most of its wealth through the goldmines of South America.
Note that prior to the start of the exploitation of the Americas, which led to the development of the transatlantic slave trade, these nations were quite poor.
I beg to differ that any of those nation was 'poor' given that they still dominated much of the trade, diplomacy and war in Europe even before the slave trade.
Beware, I'm not saying that the average Spaniard was wealthy, I'm saying that Spanish or French kings weren't poor at all before the discovery of the New World.

Germany benefited from the wealth of these nations, which provided markets for its industrial products. The industrial revolution in the UK was funded from the tremendous wealth created in its sugar colonies in the Caribbean. You mightn't believe it, but in the 18th C some of the richest places on a per capita income basis were small islands like Barbados, Haiti, St Kitts and Jamaica.
Germany benefited because it had one of the most literate population in the world at that time, it had among the richest coal reserves in the world and it could count on an disproportionate amount of scientists and qualified workers.
Even at the peak of Imperialism, colonies were just a very marginal market for European products and investments, to the point of that most colonies were unfruitful.
Thirdly, the industrial revolution has a long genesis: it suffices to say that, despite "this tremendous wealth", it started in Britain where factories where, it was done by British workers (not slaves) and it happened right at the end of the slave era (from 1770s onwards).
Your theory might be correct when dealing with certain entreprise which may have been funded by privates with slave trade wealth, but it doesn't explain how Belgium could industrialise so early or how 2nd cycle of industrialisation started.
On the other hand, slavery has been one of the main enemy of industrialisation and one of the main reason for its abolition.

So claiming that the slave trade wasn't highly beneficial to Europe is pure unadulterated NONSENSE!
It wans't beneficial to 99% of Europeans: no Pole, Finn or Italian actually benefited that much from that.
Slavers benefited a lot, like modern CEO benefit from corporations, like a doctor benefits from the wage, like Bush benefits from oil trade and so on.
Spain and Portugal were among the most active slave trading nations, yet they didn't really industralise until well into the 20th century.
Arabs probably sold more slaves than Europeans, yet nowhere industrialisation appeared.
Japan never sold any African in slavery, yet it was able to industrialise, the same goes for Germany, Italy, Sweden,Russia and so on.

Originally Posted by caribny View Post
So why cite the writing systems of Europe when these were beneficial only to the aristocrats (not all of them) the priests, and a few learned people?

For most people in 1650 education was passed on by observation, and by apprenticeship. True in Africa, and true in Europe. The "illiterate" peoples of the Benin and Oyo empires had levels of metallurgy that the 17th C Europeans certainly respected.
That's what I have been saying all along: it was the other user who stated that Africans were all literate and graduated from Ivy League whereas Europeans were all illiterate.
It still doesn't explain why Europe has been at the forefront of scientific achievements since 1500 and Africa has been lagging behind since.
It wasn't thanks to the slave trade that Newton discovered gravity or that Galileo made those observations.

A measure of a society is how the AVERAGE person lives, and evidence is that those living in the larger West African empires didn't live worse lives than those living in rural areas of western Europe during the 17th C.
I doubt that the common European living in a slum in London in 1850 lived that better than a Nigerian.
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Old 01-04-2016, 10:42 AM
Location: Howard County, Maryland
5,683 posts, read 3,655,932 times
Reputation: 16625
Originally Posted by SuperiorMegaman View Post

The British and American forms of Government are the worst in the world--certainly not to be emulated.

"Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." Winston Churchill

So, if the British and American forms of government are the worst, which are the best?

As for the original topic, I think it would be reasonable to consider the conditions under which nations become wealthy. It seems that one must have the rule of law, private-property rights, the enforceability of contracts, the protection of intellectual property, transparency in official dealings, lack of corruption, and things of this sort. Those African nations (nation-states; tribal confederations; etc.) that could offer these conditions would likely have prospered; those that did not, probably wouldn't have.
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Old 01-04-2016, 12:51 PM
Location: In the heights
22,163 posts, read 23,691,169 times
Reputation: 11628
Probably a much, much heavier Arab influence throughout the region especially along the Sahel and East Africa and spreading out to other parts of the continent from there and along much of the coasts. These won't necessarily be outright conquests, though that was likely to occur, but also by bringing people into the cultural sphere under a variety of processes as the coastal trade cities, especially on the east coast, grew in power and expanded into the interior.

Strong Bantu kingdoms might have arisen in South Africa and likely would have almost completely assimilated the Khoisan peoples as the larger, sedentary people start doing more irrigation and agricultural practices (basically a continuation of the process before Europeans arrived and did the same). Maybe a bit of friction between South Africa and East Africa as they start pushing further into each other?
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