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Africa has experienced poverty, oppression, and underdevelopment on a large scale since the time of colonization. Why?

Basil Davidson, in his book The Black Mans Burden: Africa and the Curse of the Nation-State, takes an integrative approach in explaining why Africa has poverty, oppression, and underdevelopment. Africa became cut off from their own history through colonization. When the colonial powers controlled Africa, they took Africa off their own path (and history) and put Africa on the path that the West determined; the path of the nation-state. This nation-statism looked like a liberation and really began as one. But it did not continue as a liberation. In practice it was not a restoration of Africa to Africas own history, but the onset of a new period of indirect subjection to the history of Europe. (p. 10) the process, largely, of nationalism that has crystallized the division of Africas many hundreds of peoples and cultures into a few dozen nation-states, each claiming sovereignty against the others, and all of them sorely in trouble. (p. 13) Nationalism first started to take route in when recaptured slaves were taken back to Africa. These former slaves had been separated from the history and culture of Africa and as a result were much more open to European ideas. They were pro-colonial and helped to shape the ideas of sovereignty that later took hold in the colonies. Africa would be free: except, of course, that in terms of political and literate culture, Africa would cease to be Africa. (p. 38) Davidson examined the Asante nation and argued that Africa was not foreign to organized government. (During the colonial times, many Europeans argued that Africa was uncivilized and needed help.) Africa was developing before the Europeans invaded and colonized Africa but in a way that was unique to Africa. There were several functioning nations throughout the continent. The tribalism that was present in several parts of Africa was similar to

the feudal system that had been present in Europe. Tribalism has always been a present in African society however, the tribalism that is present in Africa today. The form present today is a brutal form of tribalism that takes the shape of clientelism. The nation-state and nationalism has caused issues for Africa because it has taken Africa off of their own path and onto what the West expected them to be. Democratic participation would have to be mass participation. And mass participation, patiently evolved and applied, would be able to produce its own version of a strong state: the kind of state, in other words, that would be able to promote and protect civil society. (p. 294-295) The nation-state does not work for Africa. This is not because Africa is not capable of having a nation state and nationalism (the Asante nation that existed before colonization is proof that this is not the case) but rather because the West is draining the resources of Africa. Davidson centers his argument on the concept of the nation-state. The nation-state has failed Africa and is contributing to the poverty, oppression, and underdevelopment in Africa. Davidsons argument seems to be getting to one of the core reasons why Africa has suffered the Wests infiltration through the nation-state into their society. Racism and the idea of West superiority has played a role in the nation-states that the Europeans put in place in Africa. There was a thought held by many that Africans were inferior in almost every way to Europeans. This helped to drive the implementation of the Western nation-state and ideals into African society. There was the assumption that they did not have a

functioning government and that they would not be able to develop government so the West needed to step in and do it for them. Another reason why the nation-state system put in place by the European colonizers was that there were assumptions. There was the assumption that the colonies would develop into nation-states. These nation-states would resemble the democracy and free market found the Western nations. A middle class would emerge. This has not happened. Davidson argues that the nation-state is the reason why Africa suffers from poverty, oppression, and under-development.