Africa and Europe: Historical, Political, Economic and Psychological Relationships
Rodneys central ideas and how do they impact your knowledge acquistion, understanding and consciousness of the African Diaspora and world view? Comment on the intersections of history, politics, economics and psychology in his analysis and your disucssion; and his perspective from Guyana.
Janice’S RESPOND TO THE MAIN POST
The book: How Europe Underdeveloped Africa has been the most interesting book I have read in many years. It was enlightening to know that Rodney was able to express the horrid of what was done to Africa by Europe. Rodneys central ideas were about how Africa was deliberately exploited and underdeveloped by Europe’s colonization. Europe a larger continent became stronger by taking, invading and oppressing Africa. Rodneys groundbreaking perspective was one of the first to bring a new meaning to underdevelopment. His writings contributed to a new outlook that replaced and reshaped the colonizers who engulfed power and control over Africa.
The book covered six chapters. In the first chapter he defined development and underdevelopment. The chapter points out how underdevelopment is very much tied to the fact that human social development has been uneven and from a strictly economic viewpoint some human groups have advanced further by producing more and becoming wealthier. (Rodney, 1972, p.13). He goes on to point out that if Africa was not compared to Europe and North America, then Africa would not be considered underdeveloped. He adds that the underdevelopment is beyond relative economic inequality, but that it also covers economic exploitation done by the colonization. (Rodney, 1972). In this first chapter, he also talks about Karl Marx ideology of collective ownership. Rodney speaks on slavery, feudalism and capitalism. He pointed out the underdevelopment of Africa is evidence of industrialization, and agriculture output (Rodney, 1972). Chapter two and three historically looked back at Africa before Europeans arrived and the European impact of their infiltration into the African system. Rodney speaks strongly to the contribution that Africa has made to Europe in capitalist development. The relations saw the transformation of wealth to Europe and the consequence of this trade elevated Europes status worldwide.
Chapter four is entitled Europe and the Roots of African Underdevelopment To 1885. In Africa from 1500 to 1885, African regions were divided by the colonizer. The chapter examines the slave trade and the weight it played in Africa been underdeveloped. As the book moves to the next chapter, it evaluates the assessment of the African contribution to the capitalist development of Europe arguing that Africa was not equal to the colonizers in monetary sense. Some opposers to Rodney’s writings believe that the relationship with the Europeans and the Africans was two sided. Rodney makes it clear that the negative experiences that Africa was forced into cannot draw balance in any form. The total power and control the Europeans forced upon the Africans damaged the Africans socially, economically and politically (Rodney, 1972).
This book was a first read for me and it affected my understanding of my African cultural history. I now realize that my cultural history is more in depth than my ancestors being taken away from their land, humiliated and being treated inhumanly on ships and plantations in America. The diaspora left Africa with more than physical scars. It left my ancestors with nothing and stripped away of their dignity. For those who survived the passage and forced into slavery, were in a bad situation as well as those who were left behind.
As I read the date of his death, I began to reflect on What were my experiences at the time? During the 1960s and 1970s my understanding of racism was summed up to I was Black, and I am not worthy of the same life as Whites. I was a young girl when Rodney was at his highest peak of his writings. I remember the rise of Black power in Atlanta. I remember the teachings of great Black leaders and the support of Black organizations in Atlanta such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Black Muslims, Shrine of the Black Madelia, Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Hosea Williams and many others. I was delighted to know people such as C. T. Vivian and Dr. King were part of my community and supported the Institute of the Black World along with the MLK Center for Nonviolent Social Change. I am so proud to know that during his lifetime; Rodney may have walked some of the same grounds in Atlanta that I had. I feel that he was a courageous writer, leader and great family man. He recognized how Africa was underdeveloped because of Europeans negative contact with the continent. I feel racism is unfair and I honestly believe that it will be eradicated one day. My grandmother taught me to believe that if you can dream it then anything is possible.
It hurts me to know how his native land of Guyana, government and other criticizer could have been afraid of his theories and writings to the point of murdering him. Not only did he sufferer, his wife, family, friends and associates lived in danger. I am hoping in time, his contribution will be honored with apologies by the entire nation of Guyana. Rodney reminds me of Harriet Tubman, she escaped slavery and helped freed many other slaves. I think for her and Rodney, the danger they faced was not a deterrence. The ability to die for a caused they believed in was worth their duty to be a catalyst for human decency and human respect.
Rodney, W. (1972). How Europe underdeveloped Africa. Washington, DC: Howard University Press.
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