brad brace

3/3/2006

africa note1

Filed under: kenya — admin @ 6:44 am

Created 02/03/2006 4:25 am

Africa’s colonial boundaries were decided upon in Europe by
negotiators with little consideration for local conditions. The
boundaries cut through at least 177 ethnic “culture areas”
dividing pre-existing economic an social units and distorting the
development of entire regions. — The “thin white line” of
colonial authority in Africa was tested at several points but
never broken. The newly invented machine-gun was formidable
instrument of colonial power, but the devastating onslaughts of
drought, disease, and rinderpest (cattle plague) in the 1890s were
no less harmful. — Oppressive policies inspired rebellions
against German colonial rule in SW Africa and German East Africa
(present day Tanzania). Both were crushed, giving Africans a
sobering foretaste of the ruthless methods they would see employed
in the Boer War (1899-1902) and the FirstWorld War (1914-1918).
— acephalous group -headless

Between the First and the Second World Wars , colonial governments
accepted more responsibility for the welfare of the African
colonies than ever before. Establishing effective administrations
tacitly amounted to redefining the continent, however. The
constantly changing institutions of ono-literate societies were set
in the written word of law; origin myths were transformed into
tribal histories; socio-economic distinctions made one tribe
better than another. — the colonizers claimed that they were
merely confirming the significance of existing traditions,but
traditions in Africa and elsewhere are merely accepted modes of
behavior that currently function to the benefit of society as
a whole. they persist so long as their benefit is evident and fade
away when it is not. no tradition lasts for ever. change and
adaptability is the very essence of human existence– nowhere
more so than in Africa. The paradox is painfully evident: by
creating an image of Africa steeped in unchanging tradition, the
colonizers condemned the continent to live in a reconstructed
moment of its past, complete with natives in traditional dress,
wild animals and pristine landscapes. The paradox could not stand
unresolved for ever, but it hindered development for decades.

ethnic thinking: the perception of unity as the inevitable
outcome of common origin

Education stimulates people “to want what they do not have” In
Africa, those whose aptitude qualified them for education to
university level studied abroad, where contact with political
activists taught them to want independence for their countries.
Their numbers were small, but the gulf that education opened up
between the elite and the majority of Africans was very large
indeed. —

an urban population amounting to 20 per cent o the total is an
average for the entire continent (the precise UN figure is 18.4
per cent)

The second world war foreshadowed the end of colonialism in Africa,
though experts believed that decades of preparation would be
required before self-government was merited. In the event,
nationalist pressure and unrest (such as the Mau Mau rebellion in
Kenya), brought independence much sooner–long before the
proposed[posed standards of preparedness had been attained.

— The Belgian Congo was among the least prepared of th nations
that became independent in the 1960s. Chaos and rebellion erupted
within days of the independence ceremonies. But the Congo was
strategically important, and America’s meddling in the Congo’s
affairs typifies the manner in which African countries thus became
pawns in the Cold War. CIA agents planned to assassinate the
Congo’s first prime minister, the Soviet-leaning Patrice Lumumba,
and US support for Joseph Mobutu was designed to frustrate Soviet
ambitions in the region. — The dreams and Africa becoming a
continent of peaceful democratic states quickly evaporated. More
tan seventy coups occurred in the first thirty years of
independence. By the 1990s few states preserved even the vestiges
of democracy. One-party states, presidents-for-life and military
rule became the norm; resources were squandered as th elite
accumulated wealth and the majority of Africans suffered.
Nigeria an Rwanda exemplify the nightmare; South Africa preserves
a flickering hope of transforming dreams into reality. — People
live behind a mask, which the winds of history
occasionally blow aside,

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