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Book review

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Exploring the Roots of Africa’s Underdevelopment in Walter Rodney’s ‘How Europe Underdeveloped Africa’

“How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” was released in 1972. In his book, author Walter Rodney asserts that Europe, both during and after colonial rule, deliberately stunted Africa’s economic, political, and cultural development through a variety of means.

REVIEW

The first part of the book provides an overview of Africa’s pre-colonial history, stressing that the continent was not a “blank slate” when Europeans began colonizing it. Rodney goes on to discuss the many ways in which Europe stole wealth and resources from Africa, including the slave trade, land expropriation, and the exploitation of natural resources.

The author makes the central claim that European development was built on the underdevelopment of Africa. According to Rodney, the wealth and resources extracted from Africa were critical to the Industrial Revolution and the subsequent economic growth of Europe. Moreover, he claims that the structural adjustment programs of the IMF and World Bank, along with other European economic policies imposed on Africa, have hampered the continent’s progress.

Rodney elaborates on the cultural effects of colonialism in Africa, highlighting the imposition of European ideologies and the denigration and suppression of African cultures. He argues that many Africans’ lack of self-assurance and self-determination can be traced back to Europe’s cultural dominance, which in turn has contributed to the continent’s ongoing underdevelopment.

The history of Africa and its relationship with Europe is explored in “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa,” which is a powerful and thought-provoking book as a whole. Rodney’s critique of Europe’s marginalization and exploitation of Africa is compelling and well-supported by historical evidence. Those curious about Africa’s past and present will find this book to be essential reading.

THE AUTHOR

Born in Guyana in 1942, Dr. Walter Rodney was a scholar, politician, and historian. After finishing his undergraduate degree, he went on to earn a Ph.D. in African History from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

Additionally, he took part in liberation movements in the Caribbean and Africa.

He was only 38 years old when he was assassinated in Guyana. Decades after his passing, people continue to honor his contributions to politics and history.

@Tony O. Lawson

 

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