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I think Europe would be substantially poorer. Obviously, if it had not been for colonialism, those resources would not have been available to them (at the same cost, anyway), so European civilisation as we know it today would not exist.|
On the other hand, I doubt that Africa would have been much richer without European colonialism. Modern Africans had been living in Africa for over 1,000,000 years before Europeans ever set foot in Africa without ever having made significant use of its' mineral and other resources (gold, iron, etc). It is often argued that modern-day povery in Africa is a direct consequence of colonialism, however, this fails to explain the poverty and suffering endemic in never-colonised nations such as Ethiopia and other long-independent states established by Africans such as Liberia and Haiti and the relative success of South Africa and Rhodesia.
Now of course, racists will choose to interpret this as an indication of racial superiority - I would argue on behalf of the cultural explanation and a lack of education. The way I look at it, before Europeans came to Africa, Africans had a low but stable population as a result of tribal warfare and lack of communications (roads, etc). When Europeans arrived, modern farming techniques, organisation and an end to warfare led to a vast increase in population - but the problem was that the maintanance of same was dependent on European techniques. European colonialists feared that training an African educated elite would destabilise Africa and lead to decolonization - and ultimately, they were correct; when they belatedly introduced higher education to Africa in the 1950's, it did lead to independence movements and ultimately the expulsion of the colonists.
But with the expulsion of the colonists often went the colonial civil and military administration - leaving the newly independent states without effective leadership. Since the colonialists had deliberately delayed the creation of a native elite in most of Africa, fearing unrest, the native elite generally lacked the necessary skills, leading to corruption, warfare, and in many cases national bankruptcy and starvation.
Ultimately, the blame for the failure of modern Africa goes both ways. African independence leaders should have had the common sense to realize that a longer transition period was necessary for the sake of their own people, or at least that European administrators needed to be maintained post independence until enough African civil servants were trained; and colonial governments should have had insisted more forcefully to independence leaders that this was necessary.
[ Last edited by irishinuk at 2007-3-28 01:08 AM ]