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United States International University – USIU


Term Paper; Spring 2010

Africa's Emancipation: A Thought Influenced Process

BY: Martin KARIMI; ID 629697


Prof Macharia MUNENE

Africa's Emancipation: A Thought Influenced Process


Old pirates, yes, they rob I;

Sold I to the merchant ships,
Minutes after they took I
From the bottomless pit.
But my hand was made strong
By the 'and of the Almighty.
We forward in this generation
Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom? -
'Cause all I ever have:
Redemption songs;
Redemption songs.

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;

None but ourselves can free our minds.
Have no fear for atomic energy,
'Cause none of them can stop the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look? Ooh!
Some say it's just a part of it:
We've got to fulfil de book.

Won't you help to sing

These songs of freedom? -
'Cause all I ever have:
Redemption songs;
Redemption songs;
Redemption songs.

These songs of freedom,
Songs of freedom.
Redemption Song, Bob Marley, from the album: Uprising, recorded in 1980

Jamaican musician and songwriter, Robert Nesta Marley, commonly known as Bob
Marley performed ‘Redemption Song’ from his 1980 album, Uprising, on September
23 of 1980 in Pittsburgh. This was to be his last live performance before his death in
May of the following year, 1981. The significance of this song is in the fact that in the
early 80s, Bob Marley, a passionate believer in freedom, still called on the black man
to liberate himself from ‘mental slavery’, 20 years post-independence in most African
countries. Perhaps even more importantly, this song was inspired by a speech that
Marcus Garvey, a Pan-Africanist credited for popularizing the movement, and a civil-
rights campaigner, gave on September 25 1937, in Ontario, Canada during the launch
of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). Garvey (1937) said:

We occupy the world by a system of Government, by drawing lines and boundaries of

demarcation. There is nothing for you because you want nothing. ... Ask the white man what
he wants most and he will tell you national power, material power, the power to rule the world
and dominate men. What a difference is that from the Negro who only wants a piece of
watermelon. We ... are no watermelon babies. We are men standing erect and looking God in
the face and speaking as men. When we talk of African redemption the watermelon Negro
thinks we are mad, but the serious Negro understands. …Get intelligence. See that no man is
more intelligent than you. So long as one man is more intelligent than you he will be your
superior. Until you can produce what the white man has produced you will not be his equal.
When you have built your cities, your cathedrals and know that you did it on your own
initiative no man will turn his back on you.

43 years later, the voice of Garvey resonates in Marley’s music, calling for
emancipation of the black man’s mind, to seek an education, to think for himself, to
realize that ‘man is man’ regardless of colour.

This paper attempts to discuss the liberation process of Africa through three
generations of Pan-Africanists and demonstrate how scholarship either consciously or
inadvertently helped pass the baton from one generation of activists to the next. This
paper will discuss the contributions of three scholars to the subject of the
emancipation of the black man as seen first in the fight for civil rights in North
America, which is historically tied to the clamour against slavery and the more recent
fight against racism; second, in the fight against colonialism in African colonies; and
third in the struggle against neo-colonialism in independent Africa.

This paper will assess the impact the William Edward Burghardt Du Bois and
particularly his role as the ‘father of Pan-Africanism’ drawing from vast literature
mainly informed by the 1903, Souls of Black Folks. The second scholar is Aime
Cesaire, of the French Carribean Island of Martinique, also known as the ‘father of
the black consciousness movement’, for his 1955 work, Discours sur le colonialisme
(Discourse on Colonialism), and thirdly, we will examine the 1972 book, How
Europe Underdeveloped Africa, by Walter Rodney, a scholar from Guyana, but who
is better known for his work and time in Tanzania.


In his 1937 speech, Garvey was emphatic that the civilisation then was carefully
crafted and intended for the black man to be subservient to it (Garvey, 1937), a
civilization he hoped to counteract through the Universal Negro Improvement
Association (UNIA) a grass-roots movement that became popular with the masses.
Garvey noted that the civilization was backed up by a philosophy that served the
master, the white man and the result was to confine the negro to a state of slavery,
physically, but unknowingly, mentally and psychologically. Garvey was speaking at a
time when African nationalism was on the rise. This was the period after Mussolini’s
invasion of Ethiopia in 1935 and Pan-Africanism was very much in fashion among
the black scholars in the US.

Garvey’s assertion that ‘man is man’ can be easily connected to events that had
happened earlier and spearheaded by the ‘father of Pan-Africanism’. This discourse or
at least the idea behind the utterances can be traced to the wordings of the manifesto
of the Niagara Movement, birthed in 1905, in a secret meeting involving Du Bois and
other scholars. In an address to the people of Niagara, Du Bois uttered these words:
‘We are men; we will be treated as men. … We will never give up, though the trump
of doom finds us still fighting. And we shall win!’ (Du Bois, 1906). Though this
movement was short lived, it gave way to the National Association for the
Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) in 1909. Du Bois was the founder and
editor of the Crisis magazine for 25 years, a magazine which propagated the NAACP
policies and news concerning blacks (Hynes, 2003).

The Pan-Africanist movement gathered momentum in the late 19th Century largely
due to the clear exploitation of the African continent by its colonial rulers, the
Europeans. Pan-Africanism was established with the goal of eliminating the
perceptions and beliefs that the African man was inferior. Henry Sylvester-Williams,
a West Indian Barrister, formed the African Association in London to encourage Pan-
African unity, in 1897, and in 1900, he organized the first Pan-African meeting
bringing together for the first time, opponents of colonialism and racism in an
international meeting in London (Adejumobi, 2001). Du Bois was in attendance and
he would later become the major driving force for the subsequent Pan-African
Congresses, almost singlehandedly galvanizing the emancipation movement.

Du Bois has a somewhat privileged background. Born in 1868 in Great Barrington,

Massachusetts, he first experienced discrimination during his college years in
Nashville, Tennessee and it is here that he developed a determination to expedite the
emancipation of his people (Hynes, 2003). During his stay in Berlin he was exposed
to the race problems in the Americas, Africa, and Asia and this gave him the impetus
to fight against discrimination on the basis of race as best uttered in his 1900 speech
‘To the Nations of the World’, that the problem of the 20th Century, is the problem of
colour line. In the 1920s, Du Bois was active championing the rights of the blacks
through the NAACP as well as organising several and some of the most successful
Pan-African Congress meetings. The activities of the Pan-African movement slowed
down with the World War II but Du Bois revived the movement soon after the war
organizing the 1945 Manchester, meeting, one of the most influential congresses in
the liberation of Africa.

This initial phase of agitation for freedom may have slowed at the onset of the World
War II, but out of the war came some good. One of the unintended effects of the
World War II was that it acted as a catalyst for the emancipation movement. During
the World War II, Africans from west, east and South Africa participated in the war
against the Italians in Ethiopia and later in the invasion of Italy. African soldiers
participated in the Burma war having been conscripted by the British and the
independence of Burma in 1948 enlightened them to their own situation. Upon return
from the war, the African soldiers found their countries still being ruled by the
Europeans and they increasingly influenced the emancipation movements and

rebellions across the continent. During this period, several African intellectuals were
receiving education in Europe and were meeting with leading civil rights activists.
The 1945, and the last of the six pan-African congress meetings organized by Du Bois
and George Padmore, a West Indian Marxist, was perhaps the most successful of the
Pan-African congresses from the African point of view. The fifth Pan-African
Congress in New York in 1927 had 208 delegates in attendance where Africa was
sparsely represented mainly due to travel restrictions that the British and French
colonial powers (Adejumobi, 2001). The 1945 Congress in Manchester, England
however saw the presence of representatives of political parties from Africa and the
West Indies attended the meetings, for the first time. This congress was most vocal in
demanding an end to colonialism in Africa.

In the same year, 1945, a young French Communist and a son of a seamstress was
beginning his political career in Fort De France. Born in 1913 in the French
Caribbean island of Martinique, Aimé Césaire was educated in Paris and became
accomplished as a poet, playwright, and politician, one of the most influential authors
from the French-speaking Caribbean. Aimé Césaire met Léopold Senghor (who later
became president of independent Senegal), during his studies in Paris and together
with Léon Gontian Damas are credited for forming the negritude movement, which
was defined as affirmation that one is black and proud of it (Liukkonen, 2008).

André Breton, French poet and one of the founders of the Surrealist movement was
key in encouraging Césaire to use surrealism as a political weapon during the World
War II period and post 1946, several of Césaire’s surrealism poems were collated in
various writings. After the war, Césaire was active in political action and supported
the decolonization of the French colonies of Africa (Liukkonen, 2008). Between
1939 and 1955, Césaire actively wrote poetry focusing on the subjects of slavery,
freedom, and paradise. In 1955, Césaire wrote the Discours sur le colonialisme
(Discourse on Colonialism), a sharp critic of the European civilization and colonial
racism, and the main scholarly work under examination in the second section of this

Aimé Césaire returned from his studies in Paris to settle and actively participate in the
politics and development of his home island Martinique. In 1945, Césaire was elected

Mayor and was also a deputy of the island in the French National Assembly.
Meanwhile, 920km south of Martinique, another seamstress was nursing a three-year
son in Georgetown, Guyana. His name was Walter Rodney.

Rodney heavily researched on slavery in the Upper Guinea Coast by studying the
records of Portuguese merchants both in England and in Portugal for his doctoral
thesis. He later furthered the same subject for his PHD dissertation published under
the title, A History of the Upper Guinea Coast, 1545-1800. Rodney extensively
challenged the assumptions of western historians about African history and setting
new standards for looking at the history of oppressed peoples. His contribution to
literature and the movement for the emancipation of the black person is critical and he
is one of the post-independence scholars that are seen to question the way post-
independence African governments handled the affairs of the state and especially in
relation to poor.

Rodney started his teaching career in Tanzania in late 60s and was greatly enthralled
by the Black Power Movement. African liberation struggles were still high on the
agenda and Walter believed that the intellectuals should play central roles in the
emancipation of the black people. While in Tanzania, (between 1968 and 1974)
Rodney developed a reputation as a Pan-Africanist theoretician and became close to
African leaders struggling to end the external control of Africa. Rodney was active in
organizing the Sixth Pan-African Congress, held in Tanzania, in 1974. It is perhaps
for this second major work produced in 1972, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa,
that he is widely known and it is for that reason too that he is on this paper.

An Assessment of Thought

In his book Souls of Black Folks, Du Bois explores various thought provoking
questions. One of the prominent questions debated is on identity. The Negro, Du Bois
says, is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in the
American world, a world which does not give the Negro any true self-consciousness.
The Negro only sees himself through the revelation of the other world, meaning that
the identity of the black man is only known through the interpretation of the other –
meaning the white man.

This thought is critical and fundamental in the emancipation of the black man. It is
indeed the foundation of most discourse put forward by scholars and civil rights
activists who came after Du Bois. Being both Negro and American can be said to be
the central theme of the civil rights movement in America, that is, knowing and
asserting your identity as a human being and as a citizen. The same thought can be
extrapolated and contextualized in the African liberation movements and was greatly
emphasized in the 1945 Pan-African Congress – where Du Bois was extremely
influential. This particular Congress urged the subjects of colonialism all over the
world to unite and assert their rights (Adejumobi, 2001). Du Bois, through his
writings and activities, was instrumental in raising international awareness of racism
and colonialism and laid the foundation for the political independence of African

Du Bois is famous for his abrasive reaction and challenge of the then leading right
wing black scholar and activist Booker T Washington for what came to be known as
the Atlanta Compromise in 1895. In this speech, Washington advices black people to
give up their political and social rights and instead focus on industry to gain wealth
and security. Du Bois counters this argument in the chapter titled ‘Of Mr. Booker T.
Washington and Others’ and says that such wealth would be meaningless since it
would not last. He says that the Negro must have political, legal, and social rights, so
as to effectively guard the wealth. Du Bois (1903) says:

Washington’s programme practically accepts the alleged inferiority of the Negro races. Again,
in our own land, the reaction from the sentiment of war time has given impetus to race-
prejudice against Negroes, and Mr. Washington withdraws many of the high demands of
Negroes as men and American citizens. In other periods of intensified prejudice all the
Negro’s tendency to self-assertion has been called forth; at this period a policy of submission
is advocated. In the history of nearly all other races and peoples the doctrine preached at such
crises has been that manly self-respect is worth more than lands and houses, and that a people
who voluntarily surrender such respect, or cease striving for it, are not worth civilizing.

Du Bois expressed his anguish in the chapter titled ‘Of our Spiritual Strivings’ when
he spoke about widespread prejudice that led to the Negro’s self-disparagement,
contempt and hate, and the apparent resignation to the position of ‘cooking and
serving’. The black man does not see the need for education or suffrage rights since

he is destined to the lowly position of servitude, causing Du Bois call this a ‘race of
suicide’. Booker T Washington would seem to have accepted the natural inferiority
thought and was advancing this, something that obviously infuriated Du Bois.

Inferiority is perhaps one complex that has haunted the black man ever since. It is also
a theme that runs strongly through scholars of colonialism and history of Africa.
Césire (1955) refers to ‘millions of men who have been skilfully injected with fear,
inferiority complexes, trepidation, servility, despair, abasement.’ To beat this
complex, Du Bois set the ground rules in African thought and having come from an
elitist background, he is keen to emphasize the need for education. Du Bois is keen
and frankly enthusiastic in matters of gaining knowledge. He says that the greatest
success of the Freedmen's Bureau was in the establishing of the ‘free school among
Negroes, and the idea of free elementary education among all classes in the South’.
Du Bois however cautions against the hurried establishment of ‘black’ colleges and
institutions of education and is wary of the education system converting Negros to
sheer lovers of the Dollar, he himself having espoused a socialist ideology. He
nevertheless sees the ‘guiding of thought and the deft coordination of deed’ as the
‘path of honour and humanity’.

Again the argument that education is important has been repeated numerous times in
the colonial and post colonial Africa. It would be worth to note that most post-
independence leaders of African countries went overseas, particularly to Europe in
search of education and that is how they met inspirational civil rights activists who
strongly influenced their ideologies. Kwame Nkrumah is known to have organized
what he called ‘chattered flights’, that is government subsidized flights to Europe
where he encouraged youths to travel and see the developed world so that they can
understand his vision for Ghana. Du Bois viewed education as a must for the success
liberation of the black man. And as Garvey (1937) said, until the black man’s
achievements level with the white man’s, there will always be a class subservient to
the other.

Perhaps Du Bois’s stand and thoughts on the liberation of the black man can be
summed up in the three things that Booker T Washington was asking the Negro to
give up: political power, civil rights, and education. In addition to this, Du Bois also

talks about religion, especially in relation to the abolition of slave trade. He says that
religion transformed itself and identified itself with the dream of abolition, and when
this emancipation finally came, it was not a peaceful process, but one filled with
bloody conflict and a big social upheaval. He particularly acknowledges the powerful
position of the church as a central social organ of society responsible for uniting the
followers. However, religion had been misused especially by the slave masters who
cheerfully aided religious propaganda within certain bounds. They used religion to
continue the system of repression and degradation of the Negro: ‘Courtesy became
humility, and moral strength degenerated into submission’ says Du Bois in the chapter
titled ‘Of the Faith of the Fathers’.

Du Bois establishes the basis for scholarship on the liberation of the black man and
lives long enough to usher in independence in Africa. At the time of his death, he had
influence many scholars. Notably, Du Bois occupied the fore-most position in black
leadership after the death of his bitter opponent Booker T Washington in 1915. Just
two years prior to this turning point (1913), a seamstress in Martinique had given
birth to a son and named him Aimé Césaire, who later became one of the most
influential French-speaking Caribbean authors.

As noted in the ‘background’ section of this paper, Césaire started his political career
in 1945 and as such his most active time was during the height of Africa’s
decolonisation, or the regaining of independence. Indeed he was active in agitating for
the freeing of French colonies in Africa. From the onset, Césaire is categorical about
perceptions and calls for clarity of understanding and thinking in dealing with
colonialism. Césaire (1955) says:

To agree on what colonisation is not: neither evangelization, nor a philanthropic enterprise,

nor a desire to push back the frontiers of ignorance, disease, and tyranny, nor a project
undertaken for the greater glory of God, nor an attempt to extend the rule of law. …the
decisive actors here are the adventurer and the pirate, the wholesale grocer and the ship
owner, the gold digger and the merchant, appetite and force, and behind them, the baleful
projected shadow of a form of civilization which, at a certain point in its history, finds itself
obliged, for internal reasons, to extend to a world scale the competition of its antagonistic

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Césaire rejects the argument that colonization was advantageous for the colonies and
challenges colonial education and religion as tools of advancing the colonial rule. Just
like Du Bois though, Césaire is critical of the inferiority complex stamped on the
black man. To quote Césaire again, he talks about ‘millions of men in whom fear has
been cunningly instilled, who have been taught to have an inferiority complex, to
tremble, kneel, despair, and behave like flunkeys.’ Césaire’s rejection of education,
the panacea of oppression according to Du Bois, would almost sound like a
contradictory scenario, but one only needs to look at Du Bois chapter ‘Of the Training
of Black Men’ and see the questions raised regarding the content taught in the
colleges. Du Bois asks: ‘What kind of institutions are they? What do they teach? and
what sort of men do they graduate?’ Du Bois maintains that black colleges: ‘must
maintain the standards of popular education, …seek the social regeneration of the
Negro, and … help in the solution of problems of race contact and cooperation. And
finally, beyond all this, it must develop men.’ This would be the point of departure
between education in America during the civil rights movement and education in
European held colonies during the authorship of Césaire. This education was not
geared towards developing men, but controlling them. One apparent misgiving of the
colonial education is the trampling of African cultures ‘underfoot’, undermining
institutions, and destruction of magnificent artistic creations.

Césaire holds similar views toward religion and in particular towards Christianity. He
says that introduction of Christianity led to the smashing of African religions and
sharply differs with what he calls ‘dishonest equations’ suggesting that Christianity is
equal to civilization, while paganism is equal to savagery. Césaire discusses various
views put across by figures from different disciplines all in support of colonialism and
in fervent support of the actions of colonial masters in the colonies. One such notable
figure is Gourou, in his book Les Pays tropicaux, where he argues that: ‘there has
never been a great tropical civilization, that great civilizations have existed only in
temperate climates’. This means that for African colonies to taste ‘great’ civilisation,
the temperate countries would have to import it. Mannoni perhaps makes some of the
most preposterous claims while analysing the case of Madagascar. He says that ‘the
Madagascan does not even try to imagine such a situation of abandonment… He
desires neither personal autonomy nor free responsibility.’ Essentially, he claims that
the Negroes cannot imagine what freedom is and they don't want it, and neither do

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they demand it. If you gave it to them, they would not know what to do with it.
Mannoni claims that the idea of freedom was put in the Negroes’ heads by the white
agitators. This is despite that revolts against the French in Madagascar.

The ditching of culture, religion and introduction of foreign education is as a result of

Africans making contact with Europe. While Césaire does not recommend that
civilizations close themselves from making contact with external worlds, he decries
the Europe that Africa got into contact with. He says that: ‘a nation which colonizes,
… a civilization which justifies colonization and therefore force, is already a sick
civilization, a civilization that is morally diseased’. The contact that the colonizers
and the colonies made could only result in ‘forced labour, intimidation, pressure,
…taxation, theft, rape, compulsory crops, contempt, mistrust, arrogance, self-
complacency, swinishness, brainless elites, degraded masses.’ Césaire says that there
was no human contact, but only relations of domination and submission’, a
relationship that also changes the colonizer. Césaire concludes that colonization
equalled ‘thing-ification.’

…colonization, I repeat, dehumanizes even the most civilized man; that colonial
activity, colonial enterprise, colonial conquest, which is based on contempt for the
native and justified by that contempt, inevitably tends to change him who undertakes
it; that the colonizer, who in order to ease his conscience gets into the habit of seeing
the other man as an animal, accustoms himself to treating him like an animal, and
tends objectively to transform himself into an animal. It is this result, this boomerang
effect of colonization that I wanted to point out.

As noted above, the colonial masters used scholarship and writings to justify their
actions and therefore absolve themselves from the evils associated with their rule over
the colonies. Césaire here aims to set the records straight, to counter the imperial
thoughts and he does that through this 1955 writing. Just like Du Bois countered
inferiority when he spoke of the Negro remaining in its ‘place’, meaning confined in a
lowly position, Césaire attacks the civilization project of the imperial government and
goes beyond to suggest reverse effects. Césaire argues that ‘the idea of the barbaric
Negro is a European invention.’ He pins this creation to the direct responsibility of the
bourgeoisie, and says they must ‘take responsibility for all the barbarism of history,
the tortures of the Middle Ages and the inquisition, warmongering and the appeal to

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the raison d'Etat, racism and slavery’. He says that violence, corruption, barbarism,
and hatred are all to be blamed on the bourgeoisie class.

Césaire also counters the arguments of Callois who claims that since the West
invented science, only the West alone knows how to think, and beyond her borders,
one encounters primitive thinking that is incapable of logic, a view seen and
challenged by Du Bois in North America. But more importantly, he warns Africa
against the America of Truman who he quotes as saying that the time of the old
colonialism has passed. He warns that North America should not be seen as the
liberator because the bulldozers, the massive investments of capital, the roads, and
ports, will be accompanied by American racism, a machine for crushing and
degrading people.

Walter Rodney shares this deep distrust of ‘development’ aid from the west. On the
subject of emancipation, Rodney writes at a time when seemingly, the dream of Du
Bois of a free black man, one with the rights to vote, one with access to a good
education, and one actively participating in political processes, was already a reality.
The chains of the barbaric colonial control as described by Césaire had fallen off, and
Africa was free, but Rodney chooses in the year 1972 to counter the myth that
colonialism was good for Africa, particularly because he could see the exploitative
tendencies continuing in the post colonial years. Rodney takes the baton from Césaire
and analyses the effect of Europe’s contact with Africa. Césaire charged the imperial
elites with attempting to befuddle him with statistics of mileages of roads, canals, and
railroad tracks built and improvements in provision of medical services and standard
of living. But Césaire and Rodney see through this smokescreen and recognize the
exploitative nature of this relationship where economies were disrupted, food crops
destroyed or replaced, and agricultural developed solely for the benefit of the
metropolitan countries.

Rodney dismisses the argument that African countries gained from colonialism as a
double-sided coin and says this was never the case. Colonialism ‘was a one-armed
bandit.’ He says that that the sum total of the infrastructure and services established
by the colonial governments was ‘amazingly small’ and according to him, colonialism
was all about ‘looting of raw materials’. The colonial regimes built roads to facilitate

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trade and movement of products from the interior of the colonies to the sea ports.
They developed ports to facilitate the docking of cargo ships destined for Europe.
None of this was done with the intent of developing Africa. Rodney (1972) says:

… Europeans were in the colonial game because it was damn profitable, and that was
that. However, there were other elements who thought it necessary to peddle a line
about the welfare of the ‘uncivilised natives’. This was a continuation of earlier
justifications of slavery on the grounds that it carried the heathen Africans to
Christian lands. As colonialism came under heavy criticism during the last decades,
more deliberate efforts were made to whitewash it. Development funds were part of
the public relations propaganda of colonialism, striving to mask and deny its

One example of this viciousness is seen in the treatment of miners in colonies where
for a long time working in hazardous conditions, they were not accorded medical
insurance. Rodney says that ‘even the scanty social services were only given to
facilitate colonial exploitation; they were not given to any Africans whose labour was
not directly producing surplus’. Rodney here is addressing the denial of rights, a
scenario that is occasioned by the dehumanization of the Africans by the colonialists.
In another parallel, Jomo Kenyatta notes in his book Facing Mount Kenya that
everything African was seen as savage, evil and depraved and the Europeans engaged
in a ‘civilizing’ mission which resulted to the disorganisation of the African way of
life. Like Rodney, Kenyatta says that the reason behind this mission was to
disorganise Africans so that the Europeans can exploit, oppress, and loot.

Perhaps the most critical thoughts that Rodney puts across are seen in the dependency
argument where he says that the underdeveloped regions of the world are the way
they are because of an exploitative relationship with developed economies. Rodney
sees development and underdevelopment as two dialectical forces such that they
occur in equal measure and in opposing direction. Europe is developed today to the
extent that Africa is underdeveloped and the extraction of raw materials, free or cheap
labour, and the dumping of manufactured goods in Africa have all been avenues of
under-developing (exploiting) the continent. This happened in three distinct phases
starting with the Atlantic slave trade, colonization, and post-colonial phase also
known as neo-colonialism.

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According to Rodney, the only way for Africa to develop is to break clean of the
exploitative relationship, but the developed world is tightly holding on to their
‘colonies’ for they depend on these regions for their continued development. Though
Rodney is writing in the post-colonial phase, his study focuses on the years till 1950,
but he powerfully demonstrates the control that Europe has over Africa in the
independence years. Just like Kwame Nkrumah, in his 1965 book Neo-Colonialism,
the last stage of Imperialism, Rodney says that Africa is under the yoke of Europe
primarily though economic ties and specifically demonstrated in unfavourable
international trade.

Can Africa make a clean break, and if it were to do that, what would be the economic
outlook? Some studies have tried to answer this question and most arguments centre
on the fact that there is very little intra-Africa trade. This perhaps is an indication of
the powerful conditioning that African elites and leaders have undergone where trade
with Europe and north America was seen as the panacea for development. Another
factor contributing to this trend and mentality is the strong presence of colonial
infrastructure and institutions that were conceived to aid trade with the colonial
masters. African states are also known to exhibit a neo-partimonial characteristic
where corrupt leaders rule use state resources for their private gains. This condition
makes it easy for corrupt multinational corporations to take advantage of the situation
and exploit natural resources cheaply, so long as the national elites are accorded their
share of the loot. Today, the relationship with the west is intricate and as technologies
continue to emerge, and globalization intensifies, these relationships will probably
deepen rather than ease.


In conclusion, this paper has tried to look at the thoughts shaping the emancipation
process of Africa. The paper refers to this as a ‘process’ because it is indeed still
ongoing, meaning that Africa is still not yet free. The paper has looked at the thoughts
of Du Bois, the father of the Pan-African movement. Du Bois, together with other
Pan-Africanists called for the freedom of Africa from the colonial rule in the 1945
Congress. This meeting perhaps ignited a great deal of fire in many African leaders in
attendance and the solidarity that that the civil rights movement leaders in the US

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showed was a morale booster. African leaders were assured that they could always
rely on the intellectual support of the rights movement. Du Bois kept his thoughts
known though his writings as well as through the Crisis magazine.

After Du Bois, this paper highlighted the work of the French scholar Aimé Césaire
and his emphasis on understanding the colonial relationship. It is due to the influence
of Césaire that scholars like Franz Fanon acquired their firebrand approach to the
emancipation process. Fanon was ready to fight colonialism regardless of the cost and
with whatever weapon available, calling for ‘greater violence’. Césaire analyses
European scholars literature and lays is bare pointing out that the writings were only
meant to legitimize the brutal regime of the colonial masters.

Lastly, this paper has shed light on Walter Rodney’s thoughts on the dependency
syndrome that keeps Africa hooked on to the tentacles of its former colonial masters.
Through international trade, Rodney says that Africa is still being exploited and in the
process of the continent’s underdevelopment, it is helping develop and sustain the
development of Europe and North America. This relationship must be broken for
Africa to claim freedom.

In a nutshell, the emancipation process of Africa has not changed one bit. From the
time of Du Bois to the contemporary Rodney, the continent and indeed the black man
has been exploited, first as a slave, then as a native working for the colonial master,
and now as a ‘free’ independent mind indirectly and sometimes directly working to
meet the needs of the western oriented agenda. As Bob Marley says, ‘Emancipate
yourselves from mental slavery; None but ourselves can free our minds.’

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Aimé Césaire, ‘Discourse on Colonialism’, Monthly Review Press, New York and
London, 1972. Originally published as Discours sur le colonialisme by Editions
Presence Africaine, 1955;
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Rodney, Walter, 1972, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Bogle-L'Ouverture

Publications, London and Tanzanian Publishing House, Dar-Es-Salaam

Petri Liukkonen, 'Aimé Césaire (1913-2008)', Books and Writers;

2008,; accessed on 23/2/10

W. E. B., Du Bois, 1903, The Souls of Black Folk, A.C. McClurg & Co., Chicago;
University Press John Wilson and Son, Cambridge, U.S.A., 1903;,
1999. accessed on 15/3/10

Gerald C. Hynes, ‘A Biographical Sketch of W.E.B. DuBois’, 19 June 2003;

Saheed A. Adejumobi, 'The Pan-African Congresses, 1900-1945,' An Online

Reference Guide to African American History, Seattle University;;
accessed on 28/3/10

W.E.B., Du Bois, 'To the Nations of the World,' (1900), An Online Reference Guide
to African American History, University of Washington, Seattle;; accessed on 28/3/10

W.E.B., DuBois, ‘Men of Niagra’, August 16, 1906; accessed 2/4/10

Marcus Garvey, '25 September 1937 Speech Windsor, Ontario, Canada', Black Man,
2, no. 8 (December 1937): 10-12;; accessed on

Bob Marley, 'Redemption Song', Uprising, Recorded 1980, ELyrics.Net,;
accessed on 23/3/10

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