The white man and the western world gets a pretty bad rap in Africa and is resented for a great many things. I am hoping in this article I can clear up a number of those misconceptions and explain a little about the white man's history and what we're all about.
I have found that a few of the common misconceptions that I tend to hear are that we invented slavery, violence and oppression. Unfortunately these attributes can not be solely blamed on us, we just happened to be the best at it! Historically the world was an extremely violent place.
In every corner of the globe there was continual conflict between people because of the need to survive or to just conquer your enemies for their resources or just because you never liked them. These conflicts even occurred in Africa itself.
This concept that Africans were living in some kind of Ubuntuesk utopia before colonialists arrived is hugely incorrect and laughable. It is worth mentioning one of the most famous, our national hero/warlord Shaka Zulu who would violently conquer his enemies taking their land and property and absorbing the remnants of the communities that he had subdued. Wow he sounds like a colonialist doesn't he?
During this time living conditions had become so desperate that people had resorted to cannibalism just to survive. It was not a pretty place pre colonial Africa. About Europe, oh where do I begin. European history is fantastically vast and diverse spanning thousands of years and some of the greatest civilisations the world has ever seen.
This may come as a surprise to some but Africa was not the only place to experience colonisation or just down right conquering. This happened constantly throughout Europe and the rest of the world. People would migrate in order to survive and this would often mean conquering the people of the land you decided to move into and enslaving them.
To use England as an example the tribal communities that originally inhabited the island were first invaded by the Romans then the Aglo Saxons then Vikings then the Normans, wow that's a lot of invaders. Eventually this mix of many different people became what is today modern day England.
This happened throughout the world, to not use a European example please reference the vast Mongolian empire lead by the fiery yet lovable Gengis Khan. So what do we owe Europeans? OMG there is so much that it is hard to narrow down. Firstly there is a lot that is still used to this very day that we can attribute to just the ancient Greeks, a civilisation that is over two thousand years old.
Mathematics, engineering, history, philosophy, literature and art to name but a few, one of the greats worth a mention is democracy. Still to this very day there are many nations around the world that are battling with this concept, though the Greeks had already devised the basics for modern day democracy thousands of years ago.
If any want to read about a few true freedom fighters please take a look at Leonidas, Zenaphon and of course Alexander the Great, now these are some truly inspirational leaders that modern day leaders could certainly learn a thing or two about discipline and honour from.
The Greeks were then conquered by the Romans, the Romans conquered many with their exploits and in the process they spread technology and information that most of rural Europe had never seen before. The Romans were subsequently conquered too and so on.
Should Africans hate Europeans as some seem to today? I would say no. Many might ask the question would Africa be a better place today if colonialism never happened? Again I would like to think no. Before the evil colonialist reached Africa the local inhabitants were only in an iron age and in constant conflict. People must understand that Europeans had already been through a similar tribal iron age many thousands of years before.
If colonialists never arrived then Africa, considering the speed of technological advancement, would still be in an iron age today while the western world were putting men on the moon. So sure there was a degree of oppression as was the norm for the time but nothing like what most Europeans had suffered up until that point, constant wars, plagues, religious oppression you name the atrocities, Europe suffered them.
As previously mentioned like the Roman invasions, colonialists brought thousands of years of hard earned technological advancement that had never even been seen in sub-Saharan Africa, the wheel and alphabet just to name a few and good old medicine of course. A similar example to the South African story is the country of Japan.
At the end of World War 2 Japan had had two nuclear bombs dropped on it killing thousands of people. How did the Japanese react, did they resent and hate the west for evermore and moan that they were owed everything? No, they took that amazing technology they were given and decided to work really hard taking these concepts and ideals and they made it work for them. 20 years after having two nukes dropped on them they were on their way to becoming one of the biggest economies in the world, truly amazing.
Do they hate the Americans? No they're one of their biggest trade partners. Recently there seems to be a lot of reference to the west being imperialists and wanting to colonise Africa again. All I can say is lol... Let's talk about slightly more modern times. The big WW2. Lucky for Africa and the rest of the world a whole bunch of Europeans and Americans (just to mention a few) on the side of the allies put an end to the rantings of the fascist Adolf Hitler.
If he was not stopped trust me Africa would be a very different place. So thank them for that at least. After this war that claimed huge amounts of needless death there was a huge turning point in the western world. People wanted freedom and rights and equality and they wanted their voices to be heard. The west understanding that this was the only way to go, began to adopt many of these ideals and liberties and the west became what it is today. What is the west today? Some of the most liberally free and diverse countries in the world affording their citizens many rights and opportunities.
New York and London are two of the most diverse cities in the world. America has a black president think about it. So next time you hear the hypocritical rantings of Robert Mugabe who constantly denounces the west while he uses the American currency, drives luxury cars, wears western business suits, speaks English has British Empire inspired military parades etc. Makes me a little sick in my mouth! He is lauded as the one spitting in the eye of the west, oh please.
Africa's major problem is their poor leadership and he is the prime example. This man is an 89 years old. That is old. How can a man of that age be expected to work? I would not want anyone of that age doing work for me, shame they need a rest. Is the cultivation of new leadership so poor that we have to rely on and old man to lead. Surely there is a young dynamic African that can be the voice of the future and can take the reins and govern the country? What will happen to Zim when old Bob dies, if he ever does, wont there be anybody that will be able to take his place.
Democracy needs new perspectives and a leader that represents the demograph of the majority. Surely the average age in Zim isn't 90! Please Africa understand that the west has done a great deal for this world hence the reason the entire world has become westernised, look at China. If you despise the west please relinquish everything that is associated with them and return to your African roots. Please do not be a hypocrite, good luck!
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