Friday 7 July 2023


"All of the countries named as Underdeveloped in the world are exploited by others. And underdevelopment to which the world is preoccupied is a product of capitalist, imperialist and colonial exploitation."- Walter Rodney (How Europe Underdeveloped Africa).

When the Europeans came to Whydah, they found a thriving kingdom with its own institutions, political system and a network of trading relations between Dahomey and other west African kingdoms like the Benin empire in what is modern day Nigeria. Benin, for instance had been trading with Dahomey since the early  17th century CE and Ashanti kingdom in the following centuries, even before both Ashante and Dahomey became a strong polity to be reckoned with. Benin empire had before then, been trading on the west African Coast since the 11th century CE. 

These trade relations were shattered by first, the Portuguese, then the British and the French; with the sole intentions that all African polities should no more be trading among each other but that they should all depend slavishly on Europe. To this end, Europe was most successful and the effects can still be felt today. So much so that some African countries today, imports toothpicks from Europe...and  toothpick is the simplest thing, anyone can make.

The Europeans were welcomed with the traditional African hospitality, because according to Historian Dr John Henrik Clarke, "no one would have imagined that the welcomed guests will enslave the man of the house and the woman who cooked the meal." No one would have, indeed, imagined that. Another thing the African kings did not know was that, the European trading(and later looting and plundering) corporation had an active army that was more than that of some countries. 

For example, the British east Indian trading corporation under Colin Mackenzie in the 1800s, that took over India (especially the kingdom of Virjayanangra in southern India) had such an army. The Dutch east Indian company had such an army too. One of the successful transaction of such a trading corporation was when the entity that became northern protectorates and southern protectorates of the British along the Niger river (which was later amagalmented by the British in 1914 CE to form Nigeria after series of wars and manipulations), was bought by the British from the Royal Niger company for an amount of about 850 hundred pounds, some sources indicated the amount to have been in thousands of pounds. No African was part of this transaction. And in this way, it was like a 'mafia don who had taken over a territory, selling what wasn't his to another mafia don.'

The British(descendants of the European barbarian tribe, the Angles-Saxons) claimed this territory as their own property, just as the French(descendants of the European barbarian tribe known as the Franks) took over Dahomey in 1894 CE.

This had come at huge price for the Africans. First, the visitors were allowed room on the coastal areas and they brought in an invisible enemy; alien disease like gonorrhea, syphilis, smallpox and other germs causing ailments that the Africans were not immune to. Next was slavery that was followed closely by colonialism that shattered African ancient polities to this very day. And why Europeans were busy with this 'enterprise,' Arabs were busy in the Sahel, north Africa and east Africa, placing a 'knife on everything that had held the societies together, even before there was an Europe or an Arab in existence. This knife was Mohammedanism or Islam; and it has confused the Africans to this very day.


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