Africa bears tremendous natural resources—unparalleled resources—yet she has not industrialized, while nations that, in comparison, boast a tiny fraction of resources have industrialized, often with the use of African resources to the effect. How do we explain this paradox?

In order to address the conundrum, a truly massive theory-building effort ensued in the last century—the theory of “modernization,” or of “cultural supremacy.” Prior, for centuries, theories argued that Africans were pagans or infidels and therefore inferior at industrializing, and when those theories were overthrown, they were replaced by a theory that Africans were actually racially “inferior.” Even though the racial theory has yet to fully disappear from Western discourse and academia, a new theory—equally ignorant—arose towards the last quarter of the last century.

This theory argued, in essence, that Africa was not “modernized,” or that Africans were not racially, but rather culturally backward in comparison to Europeans because of their history (not due to their colonial history or the history of the exploitation of Africa through chattel slavery): but through their lesser cultural evolution—and if it helped the theory, through their lesser technological evolution (or even military evolution). It is for this reason, and this reason alone, that Africa remains poor, weak and under-industrialized. Not because of Western exploitation of Africa.

The far-reaching consequences of this theory-building effort are straightforward: Africa must follow, under European guidance and “tutelage,” the path already trodden by Europeans as the only means of overcoming the problem of under-industrialization. Africans are therefore defined as inferior in attained level of industrial achievement, not potential for industrial achievement (sidestepping the racial theory but not totally eradicating it). African armies are then defined as inferior in attained levels of military technological achievement (the Atomic Bomb) and are unable to adequately address the problem of global terrorism, say, not necessarily due to their potential for modern militarization.

This is, and remains, the real essence of cultural racism: that either Africa’s “superstitious” culture, or Africa’s “pre-scientific” society or “pre-modern or primitive” society, or Africa’s religious fervor, or some linear combination of all these factors in the natural evolution towards industrialization are responsible for Africa’s under-industrialization. Not the militaristic exploitative powers of the West.

At every whim along the trajectory of such white supremacist ideologies lies the attempt to find a theory that justifies the continued exploitation of Africa by the West. This is the point this essay strives to address, and refute, for all intents and purposes.

In order to grasp the ideological underpinnings of the cultural theories that follow and which seek to explain away the paradox of a continent that has tremendous wealth yet remains underdeveloped, let’s accept some basic assumptions. Let’s take for granted that industrialization itself is a preferred state that all nations aspire to achieve. Furthermore, the assumption that because one country is more industrialized than another, then it is more “developed” or more “advanced” piggybacks on this idea that technological progress is mightier and more appealing to all nations than any other alternative. Let’s accept that too.

Although a quick point on the contrary will suffice. Ideas like cultural development, as in the growing of the diversity of human ingenuity in the arts, can be more appealing to some nations. This is equally, in my opinion, an admirable state for any nation. Here, Africa’s ingenuity in the arts remains, for millennia, unquestionable. However, for the sake of argument, let’s say that technological advancement, that is industrialization, is good and that the people of the continent of Africa also equally aspire to compete with the rest of the world to become more industrialized.

It is upward from this sweeping assumption that Africa is carefully judged and compared in nature and in sum to the more industrialized nations—hence the concerted practice of ever blaming the state of African culture for Africa’s under-industrialization. This practice is not new, so it is important to appreciate its evolution throughout history.

Let’s begin with some context in order to solidify the breadth and length of the paradox and the cultural debate irresistibly planted at its feet.

 

The Context of the Cultural Debate

One could assume that Ntoaboma, Ghana—where Temples for Jakuta abound and where Ancestral Reverence is still in fashion—is a more superstitious town than Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA. (Although I doubt it.) What is true is that Ntoaboma never managed a Steel Factory (a symbol of industrialization)—although Ghana produced raw materials for making steel—while Bethlehem had a major Steel Plant, much of which fueled America’s industrial revolution during the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries. Bethlehem (which is eleven miles from Nazareth), is an industrialized town, while Ntoaboma is not.

Some cultural theorists would often make the assertion from such similar inferences that the populations of Africa cannot industrialize unless they “modernized [their culture],” or more specifically, unless they became less “superstitious,” which is the code word for becoming more “scientific,” i.e. becoming less spiritual such as abandoning the Temples of Jakuta, or even more paradoxically going to Church less.

Certainly, superstitious activities cannot be any more regular in Ntoaboma than in Bethlehem, where Temples (though for Mary and Jesus Christ, and not Jakuta) abound. It cannot be true that a superstitious people cannot industrialize. There are many more examples that run contrary to the suggestion that industrialization in general is a function of culture.

Take for another instance the Haya of Tanzania, who were just as superstitious as the people of Ntoaboma, but who wielded one of the most sophisticated methods for making steel for more than two millennia. In fact, many centuries before Bethlehem Iron, Haya Steel was popular in Ntoaboma before the literal dumping of cheap, low quality European steel in the early sixteenth century, which eventually forced Haya Steel out of the markets in Ntoaboma and across the West African region.

Still another example, from Japan, hopefully helps clarify the point. When the first Portuguese Christian missionaries reached Japan by the middle of the sixteenth century, the Samurai warriors they encountered wielded stronger and more durable steel, or tamagane, swords. The Samurai would go on to defeat the Christian missionaries and chase them out of Japan. The Samurai would lead Japan to industrialization although the “art” of steel-making in Japan—much like the “art” of steel-making among the Haya—was shrouded in mystery ever since the first sword wielded in Japan was said to have been cut by Susanoo from the tail of an eight-headed serpentine monster, the rambunctious Japanese storm god of summer.

 

Defining the Cultural Debate

Granting the examples mentioned above, let’s define the age-old cultural debate erroneously imposed on such instances as a result of the paradox that is African under-industrialization. Whether it was the storm god of the Samurai, or the Ancestral Spirits of the Haya, or Mary (Jesus Christ’s Mother) of the missionary Christians of Europe, communities which may have been viewed as more “superstitious” or less “modernized” than Europe were able to invent steel-making—even better steel-making. It will take the Christians in William Kelly of Kentucky or Henry Bessemer of London as late as the nineteenth century to be able to either “discover” or more correctly learn the process of Haya steel-making from enslaved Africans.

Steel-making nonetheless enabled the industrialization of the United Kingdom and the United States of America, or more specifically, Bethlehem and Nazareth in the nineteenth century; it also fueled the industrialization of Japan, led by the mystery-shrouded methods of the Samurai, although the same steel-making and the same levels of superstitious-shrouding of the methods of steel-making did not seem to have enabled the Haya, and for that matter Ntoaboma to achieve an equal level of industrialization as Bethlehem or Tokyo.

This is the core of the paradox of Africa’s under-industrialization boiled down to its constituent parts. What really prevents a nation from industrializing—if not for their superstitious culture, if not for their “un-modernized” methods? These are the questions some cultural theorists try to understand with regards to the African paradox. Why did certain “discoveries,” such as that of Bessemer enable Europe to industrialize, if such methods are scalable—while the “art” of steel-making by the superstitious Haya, although having been known for more than two millennia fail to scale enough to launch East Africa, or Ntoaboma, where the steel was once a prominent commodity, into an industrial revolution? How come both Bethlehem and Tokyo have industrialized, yet Ntoaboma has not?

It is obvious how the paradox leads some scholars to the cultural theory of functionalism, or more specifically how it leads Western scholars interested in the subject to the theory of “modernization,” attributing the root cause of Africa’s lagging to some accident of her cultural evolutionary history. A major tenet of the theory then follows: Africa has yet to realize a “scientific” evolutionary stage in her march towards advancement. Hence certain traits about African culture—for instance, her perceived receptivity or tolerance for other cultures, or her perceived inability to enact the same level of violence on other cultures in the same way that colonizers do, or her supposed “superstitions” or “primitiveness”—are identified and assigned the primordial root cause of the problem of under-industrialization.

Like all functional theories of culture this misses the point entirely. In fact, by assigning the blame of Africa’s under-industrialization on African culture or any part of it, or by demarcating African culture itself as belonging to some pre-modern evolutionary stage on the trajectory of industrialization, one commits a cardinal error. Such paradigms embrace a long tradition of European triumvirate racism: that is, from religious racism, to biological racism and then cultural racism.

The real point is rather clear. Japan and the United States have managed to industrialize because unlike in the case of Ntoaboma and Africa in general the over-exploitation of resources by foreign nations—colonialism, slavery and neocolonialism—ceases to be a recurrent issue that engulfs every aspect of their existence. But in order to grasp how white supremacist ideologies of culture serve to define Africa, blame her under-industrialization of African culture and cast her exploitation by Western powers to the sidelines (as non-factors), we first need to understand how Africa’s under-industrialization actually happened and how it continues to be maintained.

 

The Steel-Sword-Wielding Christian Missionaries

When we review the instances in Okuizumo (Japan) and Ntoaboma, an underlying theme ensues. The Susanoo-worshipping Japanese tamagane-sword-wielding Samurai who encountered the—steel-sword-wielding Jesus worshipping—missionaries of Europe had zero-tolerance for foreign ideology. The Samurai refused Christianity and embarked on a project to root out Christianity from Japanese society by actually beheading the missionaries or anyone who followed them.

Here was a classic case of a set of superstitious people who were not just resistant to another group of superstitious people, they also attacked them—agreeing somewhat with the perception that unlike in Africa, that ruthlessness was absent. In Africa, the Jakuta-worshipping Hayan-steel-machete-wielding chiefs and elders of Ntoaboma, by and large, left Christian missionaries and the European evangelizing project alone—albeit over the long undulating stretch of time. Why the seeming blasé attitude towards foreign ideology?

This is because Christianity per se could not have prevented the industrialization of Ntoaboma—the same religion seems not to have interrupted Bethlehem and Nazareth’s advance towards industrialization. What is missed is that European Christian missionaries seem to have brought with them a separate intention, an ulterior motive, not necessarily to share a faith, but to colonize Ntoaboma proper. This motive is missed possibly because if Christian doctrines were any traditions, superstitions or philosophies to adopt without the crafty project of colonialism that accompanied them, they seemed to have helped Europe industrialize more than they prevented it. Why then would such superstitions be detrimental to African states?

Furthermore, the African suspicion (in like manner as the Samurai suspicion) of the nature and content of European trading interests and missionary work was well known, if not widely known. For instance, the elders of Kumasi, the seat of the Asante Kingdom, were worried about the nature and content of European trading interests. One story goes that Nana Yeboah, the uncle of King Osei Bonsu (a ruler of the kingdom), cross-examined an English convoy led by Thomas Bowdich, who claimed that their mission in Asante was “consisting of nothing more than a desire to share the benefits of English civilization,” which obviously included the sharing of European Christianity. Nana Yeboah is reported to have guffawed, asking, “Now, how do you wish to persuade me that this is only for so flimsy a motive that you have left this fine and happy England.”

The people of Dahomey and Eweland also minced no distaste when they referred to European Christian missionary traders as “Ayevuwo,” literally meaning, “cunning dogs,”or simply, dangerous people who could not be trusted. Worse they referred to missionary methods as “blem-na-le,” which translates, “Trick-and-catch.” Accordingly, the idea that African cultures were initially receptive to or too tolerant of European culture either as a result of the nature of African culture itself, or through trade, coaxing, admiration, ignorance or political coercion cannot be borne out by the facts of history—not to mention the countless bloody battles that ensued from trade wars between the major African Kingdoms and Europe’s Great Powers.

Now that we can appreciate that both the Samurai and the elders of some prominent African states, at the least understood the underhanded motives of European presence in Africa—in that Christianity itself, at best implication, served as a conduit for colonialism—the question remains why most African states could not emphatically root out the colonizing intentions of the European mission to Africa entirely, in the same way that the Samurai managed to do in all of Japan? Why the often blasé attitude as the historical narratives portray?

Many theorists suggest that the sheer size of Africa and her multi-ethnic diversity (and thousands of languages), which although made the continent a specimen of civilization to behold, invariably served as her Achilles heel of sorts for foreign manipulation. It was impossible for any group (unlike the Samurai in Japan), to conquer and dominate a continent the size of Africa and that diverse. Other theorists suggest the lack of a cohesive center, or of an African union, strongly guarded by an impeccable military force capable of confronting foreign aggression.

Obviously, some of these suggestions led the great Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana to suggest an African Union and an African Military Force straight out of the independence movements in the 1960s, to forestall an impending era of a new colonial effort by the West—neocolonialism. Nkrumah believed that without a strong center the new African nations by themselves would suffer the same fate as the old kingdoms of Asante and the Dahomey had suffered during colonial terrorism.

Like a prophecy, it is this fate—of neocolonialism—and of under-development, which are directly linked to the under-industrialization that African nations today suffer. It is this very neocolonialism that Western cultural theorists wish to evade when they charge Africa’s lack of industrialization solely on African culture, or on some aspect of African culture, or on a linear combination of African cultural practices, and nothing else.

 

Let Us Now Understand Why the Repetition of the Meme of African Culture holding back Africa, Although Widespread, is Racist.

The trouble is that colonialism didn’t go away after countries in Africa formally achieved their independence from Europe’s Great Powers. It was replaced by neocolonialism which proved to be more destructive and immeasurably more dishonest than what went before. Which all go to show that at every turn in the West’s relationship to African states, the intentions for a claimed cross-cultural and political pollination reaches beyond the cordial, it reaches, for all purposes, for complete imperial control of African nations.

At least the British Empire, which at its peak covered almost a quarter of the world’s land surface acknowledged it was an empire. Today’s more shadowy empire of the globalized monopoly of finance-capital and USAFRICOM does no such thing. Entire countries—such as Ghana (Nkrumah overthrown with CIA assistance), DR Congo (Lumumba is caught and diced with CIA help) and Libya (which Hillary Clinton finished off with a loud orgasmic laugh)—are destroyed for not toeing the line, while those which continue to defy the neocon fascists, or the neoliberal elites, such as Eritrea, are under a state of permanent siege.

Let’s understand how the issue of neocolonialism—the tool used by the West in the over-exploitation of Africa—as the root cause for Africa’s under-industrialization is evaded in favor of the functional theories of culture.

The charge that Africa’s under-industrialization is a direct function of African culture is a charge of inferiority. Which means that African culture must be inferior to that of industrialized nations or that African culture needs to be “modernized” (from its primitive, carefree propensities?) in order for African states to realize their dreams of industrialization. These assertions are rooted in fairly recent academic efforts, which seek to confound the far reaches of the exploitative neocolonial and imperial agenda of the West.

Take for example the United States of America, which was once an over-zealous Christian nation, which still holds the belief that they have been Chosen by various Gods (including the ancient Hebrew war god, Yahweh) to be Exceptional People; but they have managed to industrialize—no matter how far the insanity of their religious rights has gone. In addition, the sweeping claim that religion in general, because it may be heavy-laden with “illogical” or “superstitious beliefs,” holds people back from industrializing is both false and parochial. The Moors of North Africa who launched the second effort to re-civilize Europe were a deeply religious people, yet they were also the pioneers of modern engineering and mathematics. The historical examples abound and they show that developing an industrial base in any given country has nothing to do with the religiosity or the superstitions of the people or the state in question.

Worse, the tangential claim that there are evolutionary stages—from the superstitious, to the religious, to the pre-scientific, to the technologically advanced and then to an industrialized stage—in the natural progress towards industrialization and that Africa is only stuck somewhere along this long trajectory, is both a complete misreading of the past and the present and a disastrous untruth.

Japan, for another example, defies that logic. Japan still maintains Ancestral Worship as a significant part of its modern consciousness in the same way that most of Traditional African societies do, and Japan has industrialized. Either Japan, like the United States, or the Moors before them, industrialized because of their religiosity, or religion itself, at the most, could not have played a role in how these nations marched towards industrialization. Further, no one would assert that Ghana remains more superstitious than Rwanda, but Rwanda, a nation that experienced one of the worst genocides of recent history at the hands of French machination, has managed over the course of a decade to move closer to becoming an industrialized nation, while Ghana since Kwame Nkrumah has only managed to stagnate.

Perhaps there are other reasons why a nation achieves a certain level of industrialization. Neither the national faith, inter-personal faith, nor any part of the culture can be blamed for the perceived failure of African nations to march “independently,” like their European counterparts, towards industrialization.

Still yet another more debilitating incantation similar to the “superstitious” doctrine of Africa’s under-industrialization is this: African culture holds women back and this is why the continent remains less industrialized than, for instance, the United States of America. This allegation is also patently false. Although western-trained feminists in Africa do not couch the ideology in these exact terms, they allude to the charge on African culture that if only women were not “oppressed,” or if only women were “allowed” to be presidents of African nations, many African nations would look like the “developed” nations of Europe.

The issue of whether African culture has imprisoned or still imprisons the will of women more than American culture, per se, is another matter. Africa still has produced more female heads of state than all the West combined. More, if such accepted facts of oppression of women in nineteenth-century America did not hold the American plantations back from industrializing in Bethlehem and Nazareth, then the idea that any such reality, if it were the case even in Africa, in Ntoaboma, would hold the continent back from industrializing can be considered disingenuous, or ignorant. To this point, the claim that the lack of a feminist agenda lies at the root of the under-industrialization of Africa is neither here nor there.

Furthermore the charge of widespread corruption in African governments is another case in point. As if Africans are somehow organically more predisposed to mischief than United States government officials like Hillary Clinton who collected actual bribes from foreign governments (that actually oppress women) as Secretary of State, and as if African leaders are more prone to be corrupt government officials than the Attorney Generals of the U.S. who actually apply to become consultants for rogue U.S. banks while they still serve in public office—jobs they have been sworn to occupy and in which they have been tasked to vigorously prosecute rogue banks in financial frauds, but never do.

Hence, according to the pharisaism of the functional paradigms of cultural racists, if African leaders could be less corrupt, Africa would industrialize. But of course, this claim cannot be true. For nothing shows that the nations that have industrialized, including the monarchy that is the United Kingdom, have not had an equal measure, if not worse, corrupt kings and queens and government officials.

Of course, the proponents of such culture-supremacist theories hold that it is either one or a linear combination of a multiple of certain parts of the “inferior” or “primitive” African culture, and not the exploitative Western regimes in Africa, that is holding the continent back from fully realizing her potential and in becoming an industrial power like the United States of America or Japan.  They often cite the “overt” spirituality of Africa—that Africa is a “superstitious society” or “a pre-scientific society” or “a pre-modern society”—or they cite some African cultural practice, like the “oppression” of African women by African men as the obstacle standing in the way of industrialization. One thing is for sure, the Eurocentric cultural theorists keep moving their targets within African culture in a bid to find the culprit cause of Africa’s under-industrialization there, and not outside of it.

There is an ideological reason for this widespread practice of landing the problem of the under-industrialization of the continent in the laps of African culture. Let’s get down to brass tacks—and examine its theoretical and duplicitous details.

 

The Eurocentric Ideological Diffusionism.

For more than four centuries, white supremacist theorists have sought to find reason to believe or to entrench the belief among their own people that something about Europe—first, something about its Christianity, second, something about its race, and third, something unique about its institutional and technological culture, or a combination of these—propelled European societies from the Pale Ages into an era of Industrialization. The mirror image of these claims throughout time and space embraces the alarming idea of white supremacist ideology which has been and continues to be used to justify the exploitation of Africa and Her people.

This ideology is rooted in the very notion that European civilization—“The West”—has had some unique historical advantage, some special quality of race or culture or environment or mind or spirituality, which gives it a permanent superiority over all other communities, at all times in history and down to the present. Hence Africa, according to the evolutionary-model-seeking-industrialization, advances towards industrialization more sluggishly, or it stagnates: that is, it remains “traditional society;” it is “superstitious” society; it is less “scientific;” it is “pre-scientific” society; it is pagan; it is “pre-modern.”

This ideology places Europe as the permanent geographical center, since Europeans have achieved “complete advancement,” and Africa must copy European methods like Democracy—like their Educational Systems, like European Constitutions, like Western Feminism, like the Nuclear Family, like the Corporation and like their Foster Homes—if she wants to become more industrialized. Africa must accept the providential diffusion of European innovation if she wants to become “developed.”

The implications can be dire and wide-spread. For instance, a direct repercussion of these rampant ideas claims that unless Africa accepts Western militarization like USAFRICOM, the continent will become unstable or will be incapable of fighting terrorist groups. Obviously either Africa’s civil instability or inability to fight terrorists cannot be good for making business environments more stable for direct foreign investment—which the Bretton Woods Institutes keep dictating to powerless African nations is the only way to growing an economy. The U.S. has established American military commands in every African country except two.

Of course, it does not take a keen eye to notice how this sort of Eurocentric ideological diffusionism has been used throughout the last four centuries to enslave, colonize, and exploit Africa and her people.

 

Religious Racism.

First, early in the nineteenth century, Europeans considered themselves to be superior to Africans because they were Christians. The Christian God, Yahweh, had naturally favored them (the new chosen Hebrews) to the exclusion of every other (the gentiles, the goyim).

European intellectuals, politicians and thought leaders used this empirical argument with a supernatural cause to establish as straightforward facts their relationships to Africans far away. Africa, where the heathens lived, where the goyim loitered, must be saved from Hell at all costs. Missionaries were funded to Africa to kill the African and save the man. This was the first wave of blaming African culture, specifically how Africans worshipped, as the cause for Africa’s under-industrialization. If only Africa could be Christianized, Africans (not Africa the Dark Continent) would become “developed” like us (Europeans)—even though the very intention of the mission to Africa was to exploit, make war and loot. This was religious racism.

 

Biological Racism.

The second wave of blaming African Culture for Africa’s under-industrialization started towards the end of the nineteenth century when naturalistic arguments displaced the absurdity of the biblical and theological arguments amongst the intellectuals in Europe. There were several reasons for this displacement. First, naturalists had gained popularity especially after Darwin’s Theory of Evolution was published, so it became expedient to rest religious racism in a new and different theory.

Second, having Christianized many parts of Africa, the argument that Europe could still continue to exploit and siphon away African resources from fellow Christians in “poor” Africa did not appeal to the Christian followers of Europe who valued above anything “primitive accumulation” (unpardonable materialism and gross consumption). The contradictions in ideology mounted and an alternative doctrine; one that would still enhance the exploitation project in Africa, or at least maintain it, was sought.

Since religious racism (some culminating in the Hamitic Hypothesis) had already established the causality by which Yahweh gave better heredity to converted Hebrews and Christians, this argument was adapted to assert the genetic superiority of Europeans, the so-called white race, grounding this argument now in the immensely influential biological theories of the period, notably Darwinism and (later) Mendelianism. The genetic superiority of the so-called white race was now believed in axiomatically by nearly all social theorists. Africans were inferior to their European counterparts because they were Black (cursed). This way, there was no hope even for an African industrialization project.  The full scale of chattel slavery and colonialism would reach their unparalleled heights. The African could never escape the curse of Ham. This was biological racism.

 

Cultural Racism.

Thirdly, and more important to comprehending the vast expanse of racist ideologies throughout time and space and their reverberant trajectory towards their more recent approval in the neocolonialism agenda, is the topic of cultural racism. Suffice it to say that biological racism remained somewhat respectable even in academia until the 1970s, during the classical era of African national liberation and civil rights struggles in the United States of America.

But racist practice, at the base of the justified exploitation of Africa and Africans, now needed a new theory. At this time, mainstream scholarship was being assigned in some of the top universities in “The West”—quite literally: with funds and jobs provided. The task was to formulate a theoretical structure which would rationalize the continued dominance and exploitation of Africa and communities of color in the Third World and at home in “The West.” Such a theory would have to accept two anti-biological-racist propositions which were axiomatic in Africa, at least among the sporting Olympians and the politically awake Kwame Nkrumah movement: that Europeans are not innately superior, and that economic development can bring Ghana, and for that matter all of Africa and Africans in the diaspora, to the same level as Europeans.

The problem on the other hand for western scholars was to show that African nations, or African peoples, though equal to Europeans in innate capacity, cannot develop economically to the European level unless these societies voluntarily accept the continued exploitation and domination by European countries and corporations like the IMF and the World Bank. That is, Africans must accept the project of “modernization” or more appropriately, neocolonialism.

 

Military Racism.

A direct result of that idea of “modernization” is the current militarization (or forceful colonization) of the African continent by American troops. Of course, in the name of preventing terrorism. Africa is now experiencing a fourth wave of the neocolonialist agenda. Within the milieu of an “inadequate” African culture, which is not “modern” enough to industrialize without the help of the West, there’s the issue of terrorism—manufactured and funded by the very West. Since the scourge of culture is not enough to keep the increasing populations of Africa in check from seeking industrialization at any cost, a new theory of stability, besides democracy must be sought. This time, African militaries are not fully equipped, or that they lack the training or the expertise to deal with maintaining democracy, or ensuring peaceful elections, or fighting Islamic Terrorism, hence these African nations should give way to the more “modern” colonial forces to fully occupy them.

In an way, this argument reverts to the old religious racist argument. Islam is evil, Muslims are the goyim and they cannot be allowed through a Holy War to cast Africa back into infidelity—a charge that is often paradoxically attributed to the Jihadists. The solution then to the obvious reality of terrorism, civil wars and coup d’états in Africa is that African countries “modernize” their militaries by signing unto the American imperialist agenda, accepting the building of American military bases (USAFRICOM) in African countries to train new armies for these nations, to protect these nations from terrorism, and to build a stable atmosphere for direct foreign investment. Although within this imagination of helping Africa, or modernizing African armies for the twenty-first century, the West decries any African nation that seeks an independent and powerful military. Imperialists abhor more any African nation that ever entertains the idea of building the Atomic Bomb to protect its land and its people.

Certainly, the idea of terrorism itself and the establishment of USAFRICOM are the perfect conduits for establishing full imperial control over African people and the land and to maintain the continued extraction of wealth from Africa and her peoples. This is military racism.

 

Understanding the Racist Theory that is Modernization.

The outcome of this truly massive theory-building effort hence is the theory of “Modernization,” or of “Cultural Supremacy.” To recap, this theory argues that Africans are not racially, but rather culturally backward in comparison to Europeans because of their history: their lesser cultural evolution. It is for this reason that Africa remains poor, weak and under-industrialized.  The theory insists that it is not because of European exploitation of Africa.

The implication makes sense in renewed efforts by the West to re-colonize Africa: Africa must follow, under European guidance and “tutelage,” the path already trodden by Europeans as the only means of overcoming the problem of under-industrialization. African armies are then defined as inferior in attained levels of military technological achievement and incapable of handling global terrorism. African nations must accommodate USAFRICOM.

This is, and remains, the real essence of cultural racism: that Africa’s under-industrialization is a direct result of the function of African culture alone. Not the militaristic exploitative powers of the West.

 

What is at the Root of Africa’s Under-Industrialization?

Under such functional theories of the inadequacies of African culture for industrial achievement, it is widely overlooked that Africa’s under-development is actually due to military colonialism itself, or that it is a result of the impact of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade on Africa or Africans, or that it is due to the impact of nerve-racking suffering that neocolonialism unleashes on the African masses; or that Africa’s lack of industrial achievement is directly linked to the machinations of the IMF and World Bank agendas in Africa; or that it is the result of the presence of USAFRICOM, an occupying force, in almost all African nations; or that it is due to the exploitative power of the lizard dollar to which African countries must tie their currency policies; or that it is the outcome of the intentional ratcheting up of civil wars and terrorism in Africa by the U.S. Government and the CIA itself. No, according to these sycophants, Africa’s under-industrialization is an African cultural problem alone!

Hence, according to the neocolonialist agenda of the twenty-first century, it is entirely the result of “The West’s” superior culture to African culture that is why Africa lags behind in industrialization. This in essence is Cultural Racism. The insistence on blaming Africa’s under-industrialization or under-development on any part of African culture is the direct result of this exploitative doctrine that is Cultural Racism, a theory that needs constantly to prove the superiority of Europeans, and needs to do so without recourse to the older arguments from religion and from biology.

How does it do it? By recourse to history—by fabricating a characteristic theory of cultural (and technological) history in Europe that is far more advanced than that of Africa. Of course, we know such histories are lies invented to confuse and confound.

 

The Answer to Africa’s Under-Industrialization.

The racist triumvirate of religion, biology and culture (with military culture intertwined), although invoked at different times, has been cast as the root cause of Africa’s under-development, or under-industrialization, pitted against the glaring fact that Africa’s inability to industrialize is not an internal problem. It is an existential issue whose direct cause remains external and which is rooted in the over-exploitation of Africans and African resources by Atomic Bomb wielding nations, who did not industrialize because they were chosen by Yahweh (or whatever god that is), or because they were better beings, or because of some accident of history and culture, but who have perfected the cunning art of exploitation—a method of wealth extraction that they have wrote on African nations unaware of their trickery.

This new wave of colonization, carried out to benefit the richest people in the richest countries in the world, is done in the name of the spreading a better, “superior” culture, in the name of “democracy” and “advancing human rights” and has the enthusiastic support of many self-styled “progressives” even on the continent of Africa. The hypocrisy of today’s imperialists who lambasted Rwanda’s Kagame for being a ‘dictator’ but who hail the unelected hereditary rulers of the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia as they sell them deadly weaponry is truly breathtaking.

Therefore, understanding that Africa’s under-industrialization is directly linked to Western exploitation and not African culture is important to enable us grasp the ultimate factors that caused this level of susceptibility to the debilitating and enervating thievery, cunning and trickery of Europe. The answer to Africa’s advancement, if industrialization that is, lies in restoring the ancient African tradition—of our writing systems—so we can better garner the intellectual understanding of the trickery of exploitation, and gather the support, and the military conviction we need to expunge and purge once and for all the insidious effects of western influence in Africa!

 

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I attempt a solution to the paradox of Africa’s under-industrialization in a new theory about oral and writing cultures—in Narmer Scriptographic Theory (NST). I invite the humble reader to look forward to that introduction.

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My name is Narmer Amenuti (Dances With Lions). I am first a Cultural Theorist and second an Educationalist. Both of which require that I remain an Investigative Historian. All of which lead me to my preferred profession: a Culture Critic, from the Sankoré School (of Critical Theory). I am East African by birth; South African by training; West African by choice – all of which make me, African by nature. I am also a student of Ancient African Rhythms and a passionate dilettante of Science.

~ Success Corrupts; Usefulness Exalts! ~ Narmer!

22 COMMENTS

  1. I quote, this is a “copious treatment,” without dirtying the waters. The plain straight treatment of cultural racism is rather refreshing, separating the noise from the music. I add my recount of John Kerry’s (past U.S. Secretary of State) statement a while back. He said and I quote, gay rights are a “strategic necessity” because tolerance leads to stability and prosperity.

    That assertion was directed at the African Union, in the midst of a strategy employed by the then Obama Administration to hunt and prosecute Africa nations that were “not on the right side of history.” In 2014 the US threatened Uganda with sanctions on account of its Anti-Homosexual Act. Hillary Clinton as head of the State Department made it a point to have embassies report on LGBT abuse in African countries and authorized financial support for said groups involved in reporting said abuses. For Clinton, this was a matter of principle: “Gay rights are human rights.”

    Of course, as you say, this attitude towards Africa is consistent not only with Omaba’s own thinking, but the progressive mindset in general. The United States is not alone. Great Britain, however tentatively, has also gotten in on the act. Arguing that homophobia was actually imposed on Africa by European colonial governments, Great Britain feels guilty and wants to fix the thing it broke.

    The fine line in all of this looks rather obvious for the one who wishes to care about facts and not surmises. The act, like the Christian mission in Africa during colonialism, is geared and revved for one thing and one thing alone: imperialism. In much the same way that Christianity provided the spiritual impetus for the over-exploitation of Africa, cultural racism provides the fuel for the engine that continues to find crafty ways to siphon African resources from out of Africa and thus keep a whole continent underdeveloped.

    • If it were only to keep Africa underdeveloped, the urgency might not be this sharp, but because it is now rooted in a principle of destroying all that is left of Africa, the urgency with which we identify and attack the ideology must be heightened.

  2. Excellent essay. Direct, and unforgiving. I truly look forward to your introduction on the solution to the African paradox. I am your humble reader.

  3. Research on the topic of cultural imperialism led me to this essay. “Fine,” I say! You got down to brass tacks- coffin nails and all – and you’ve nailed it. So, I surrender, I won’t even bother except to applaud.

  4. Fascinating piece of work bro. Narmer. This has been a headache for me to clarify, but you have provided the Paracetamol for my own (in)sanity. I guess more work has to continue to delineate how white supremacist doctrines continue to influence even the works of so-called “progressives” or “liberals” in Africa. Such sycophants shout from the loudest embrace of their vocal chords: “Be like me and I shall accept your difference!”

    But eiy Solomon Azumah-Gomez!!! You have ventured, my friend, into the coniferous forests, where gay rights activists, like @Herman Von Hesse, who find precedence of homosexuality in Ga culture, and Ga religion even, will evade you like the fox and in the night hunt you down for diner. Beware of dogs. Wild dogs who go about finding all kinds of ignorant and anachronistic evidence of European decadence in African culture, invoking still the primacy and superiority of western imposition, which needs “fixing” only by the West, not Africans. Again, Solo, beware of dogs, Mad dogs!

  5. Cowards. Come and debate me and stop your nonsensical rants and name-calling. Solomon Azumah-Gomez tell me how I’m a contradiction. You’re so intellectually bankrupt, your rebuttal to me is to disingenuously call me a promoter of “white supremacy “. I have no idea what the hell u mean by that tired baseless rant.

    • Hermann W. von Hesse, when I invite you to a debate you can’t even realize it, so you rant at first, but you will settle.

      Folks like you who want Africa to adopt Western decadence, like homosexuality, and are bent on misinterpretations of Ga religious songs, should be rather ashamed of your pharisaism. Africa must always do what the West is doing? Even shopping?

      You easily brush aside the polemic calling it cranky, ignorant, and bigoted. But perhaps, I am getting at something more deep-rooted and practical than merely citing your Lords in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, chapter and verse. In Ghana, at least in Ga Teshie Maamli culture, children and cohesive families are the most important form of social and economic capital that one can acquire. In Africa in particular, family connections, loyalties, and capital expands far beyond the imposition of the Western idea of a nuclear family. There exist webs of interdependence as those who claw their way out of poverty are then responsible for those left behind. An essential component of building capital and lifting families, tribes, and whole countries out of poverty is the creation of more children. Without them, you’re a dead-end parasite; after all, if you don’t have children repaying their debt to you and taking care of you when you get older, you will need to leech off of someone else (hence the reason that in the West, the Social Security accounts they so-called geniuses created have dwindled, although they will not admit it). The necessity of procreation and cultural-economic interdependence within broad and generationally deep African families makes homosexuality a cultural absurdity, even a cultural blasphemy! Yes, I said it! I have never seen an island where a man and a man have multiplied.

      So for you to ignore the cultural interpretations, the religious interpretations of those Ga songs and words, and the contextual interpretations strikes me as and ludicrous thought from a student of history who’s not yet fully mature! But this is about more than money (the funding you get from wagging your tail in a foreign institution). This is about Family matters in Africa. If my twenty-year old son marries another man, my family has come to an end.” Americans generally don’t think this way, but Africans do. You can kick rocks, for all we care!

      The ontological and anthropological individualism of the West doesn’t square with the predominant socio-economic-moral framework of Africa. Further, you don’t unravel those deeply ingrained pathways of meaning, individual identity, and cultural affirmation overnight or without a fight.

      I may be a crank. Your cultural and political hypocrisies, your unexamined presuppositions, and the barbaric level of discourse that rages between the respective ends of America’s political spectrum, which you wish to impose on us here in Ghana, makes me so. But I am an amused crank who will poke, jab, and denounce with wit and grit both left and right in the midst of our national donnybrook. My efforts to howl against the gale of Western imperialism will be futile, but I will scratch the itch because I cannot help it. Wild dogs need to bark. I am from Teshie, and I am very wild. Aloo Thunder Sowah?

  6. Hermann, people can be tricked into being part of movements of racist motives in the name of intellectual-world-openness. And one can often not help but to feel you are trapped in this… For example, your response to Kwaku Darku Ankra on Ga Religion and culture. Many African scholars have argued this particular issue is a form social eugenic agenda designed to pervert the African population, which by all indications is growing at rate the rest of the world is not happy about. And your likes are doing the grassroots work for those eugenists thinking your are world open and cosmopolitan intellectuals.

  7. Narmer Amenuti I understand where you are coming from and the point you wish to put across. But I think you may be conflating issues and in the process losing track of your goal.

    “Superstition” and “Industrialization” are both realities in this world. You go on to list ,and in fact conclude, a plethora of reasons why western hegemony is an albatross around our neck as Africans. The question then becomes: IS SUPERSTITION AN EFFECTIVE TOOL AGAINST THE INDUSTRIAL MIGHT OF THE WESTERN WORLD?

    400 years of contact with Europeans shows clearly that praying, libation, speaking in tongues and wearing of amulets have ALL been ineffective whether it is done under the banner of Vodun, Christ or Allah. In the presence of real competition for resources and existential threats to nations is superstition an effective tool?

    I don’t blame the West at all for our continued state of affairs. I put the blame squarely on us as a people. We have come with a hoe to a gladiator fight and wonder why we keep getting slaughtered.

    Does it mean we have to give up on our traditional beliefs? NO. BUT we can’t enter the fight thinking that our God’s would fight for us. You can come to the 100m final with your cross around your neck but YOU BETTER COME PREPARED TO RUN YOUR ASS OFF IF YOU EXPECT TO WIN.

    That’s all we are saying.

    • It is entirely fair to say that we must develop from within, a culture of violence to confront the imperial agenda of the West in Ghana, say. This is fair. But that is a different issue than saying that because we are superstitious, we cannot industrialize unless we adapt our cultures to become like European culture. You see where I am coming from?

      For example, Haya steel-making was shrouded in mystery. If one said, in order for Ntoaboma to industrialize, they needed to adapt the western method of making steel or worse allow British Steel into their markets (sidestepping the threat in general of an imperial power) so that we can make enough money to develop, that would be a different argument than saying that the Jakuta worshipping Haya should look to making superior swords with their steel in order to fight off the Jesus worshipping British. You see? Because, in one approach, the former, you have to change a whole educational system, you may have to speak a different language, and you have to change how steel is made and you have to change how people think about steel and worse, accept British influence (when you should be eradicating imperialism), while in the later, you add the applications of violence in defence of your own resources (not replace). One way to not be beaten to industrialization is to prevent the other from making you a tool of its industrialization.

      This is what the Samurai did in Japan essentially. They added to culture, not replace it. When you add, cultures find a way to undergo convolution. That is another theory I am yet to write about. Quickly, the convolution theory states that under threatening conditions the cultural transformation of a society is the pointwise product of its culture and the incumbent applications, or new applications of its culture.

      What we lack in Africa in essence, is the leadership (like the Japanese had in the Samurai) who are capable of guiding our cultures to their correct application of philosophy and scientific endeavor, not change it. This remains my distinction.

    • The African is religious through and through not even 400 years contact with Europe has changed that fact. Religion will always be with the African but what we need to add is self-enlightened development. We are lacking in that regard.

      The only reason why we remain the playground of the West is because our leaders don’t know their left from their right as far as geopolitics is concerned. We must grow our economies, not necessarily industrialize per se, but provide jobs and income for our people by owning our economy. That takes strategic thinking. We have talked enough about our culture of religion but where is our culture of self-defense, economic growth, science and good governance?

    • Exactly bro. Atiga Jonas Atingdui. The Asafo, the Asafoaste, the Asafoanye, etc. etc. is no longer a thing. But why? Why? The Queenmother, who could destool the chief by just taking off his sandals is no longer relevant. I mean, why can’t we even organize midterm elections when a Head of State is fooling around? We have thrown away the bathwater of our culture of defence, self-assertiveness and of accountability, with the baby. You are absolutely correct.

  8. Superstition helped Afrikans to preserve our nature…our way of industrialzation was in harmony with nature…..until they came from de cold to destroy our way of life….just take look at their way of industrialsation….fukushima a classic example

  9. A long, but brilliant, fascinating, jolting, educative, eye-opening, and perspective-altering read. This is a must-read for all Africans. You’re in for a rousing experience.

    Critical. Direct. Uncompromising. Surgical.

    By Narmer Amenuti: I have to ask, Sir: from whatever Ntoaboma fountain you’ve been made to drink, I’d like a sip. Seriously.

  10. Hahaha, well done for burying it like Teshie Asafo Warrior, the abusive guy must rediscover his Authentic African self and stop force-feeding and indoctrinating unsuspecting folks with perverted foreign culture.

  11. My friend Audu Salisu, the moment von Hesse started hanging out with Twelentine (the rather brief, but failed marriage between Tweneboah and Valentine), I knew he was about to catch a terrible disease in agalibalism. The result of his newfound infirmity is simply this: the mind is contorted to accept the theory of European cultural diffusionism as fact. Even when von Hesse feels that he’s chanced upon a certain level of intellectual revelation on account of his individual effort, he falls short, finds himself muddied with the tenets of European cultural diffusionism, which he cannot seem to be able to wash away. Narmer has done a fabulous job to flash copious amounts of water over von Hesse in order to make the picture clear and spotless for understanding, but I am tickled by the invitation of Solomon to throw just a little more water, albeit from a distance. Hell, wild dogs bark!

    The obvious diagnosis of von Hesse’s problem is that by accepting the theory that is European cultural diffusionism (even of the claim that homophobia was imposed on African culture by colonialists), one accepts “the autonomous rise of Europe,” and sometimes (rather more grandly) the idea of “the European Miracle.” What is this? What does this mean? It is simply the idea that Europe was more advanced and more “progressive” (moving away from homophobia to embracing the LGBT) than all other regions prior to 1492. Prior, that is, to the beginning of the period of colonialism, the period in which Europe and Africa, Asia and the Americas came into intense interaction.

    If one believes this to be the case, and most modern European scholars, because they partly despise and partly hate Africans, do seem to believe it to be the case—which is the reason why von Hesse’s confusion in agalibalism extends beyond the façade of an immature student—then it must follow that the economic and social modernization of Europe is fundamentally a result of Europe’s internal qualities, not of interaction with the societies of Africa, Asia, and America after 1492. Therefore: the main building blocks of modernity must be European. Therefore: colonialism cannot have been really important for Europe’s modernization. Put another way, Europe did not exploit Africa; Europe got nothing out of Africa. Therefore: colonialism must mean, for the Africans, not spoliation/exploitation and cultural destruction but, rather, the receipt-by-diffusion of European civilization: modernization.

    This is, in essence, the crux of what Narmer is saying. By accepting the primacy of European ingenuity through asserting that African culture in some form or shape remains the sole arbiter of the state of under-industrialization of an African nation one indulges in an uncanny hypocrisy: a clear case of cultural racism, to be exact! How does Western academia continue to perpetrate this craft? By recourse to history, the rewriting and re-teaching of history—by fabricating a characteristic theory of cultural (and technological) history in Europe that is far more advanced than that of Africa before 1492. Of course, we know such histories are lies invented to confuse and confound.

    This is partly why Western scholars cannot accept fundamentally that Kemet, or Punt, or the Moorish Civilizations were Black. For to accept that Kemet was African and Black would be to denounce the theory of “modernization” itself entirely. Of course, the professors at Madison, Wisconsin, aren’t paid to denounce the lies upon which modern European barbarism was built. Herman von Hesse and his agalibalistic friends are victims of a theory-building effort the likes of which they are actually incapable of comprehending in depth and in length. If I were von Hesse, I would stop the rants and ask questions for Narmer’s astute explanations, like a studious pupil would do on his teacher’s corridor. But no, ignorance is bliss.

  12. Dade Afre Akufu thanks so much for this eduction. I think I first looked at this simplistically by submerging myself the direction my friend Von Hesse wanted to take our mutual astute friend Solomon Azumah-Gomez who had only genuinely challenged him.

    There is something key to cultural racism that we all need to realise. You have colossally addressed it in content and I will try in context.

    What we often don’t realise is how important the awareness on context is in the effort to shape and get people to largely agree and disagree and keep arguing about a particular content within certain perimeters – thus, creating perimeters and ensuring people don’t see or look beyond them.

    This is simply done by the manipulation of norms, yes norms. Norms can diffuse from all cultural spaces but if you manipulate norms by creating a core space and use threat of force to make people accept only norms disseminated and diffused from that particular core space, then legality and legitimacy becomes your property to own and manipulate. And once you have that, you have created the context in which people should should think and act. What is sad is that intellectuals like von Hesse don’t ask themselves why is it that certain cultures and view points have to struggle for credence while others have them right from the word go.

    They have been tricked into believing the lack of credence of other norms is a simple matter of one of two things; some of them believe its a simply matter of “Murphy’s Law”, something that was naturally bound to go wrong and it is gone wrong and has to accept and play second fiddle to the “right norm” or it is matter of contamination and that they must fight to bring it up to standard, an uphill task of the latter is what I often von Hesse is engaged in.

    The only few who can see and act outside the context are those who are able to relate structure, culture, power, human agency and history to legitimacy, legality and the resulting normative structures and laws that are diffused through racist cultures emanating from the core spaces into all humans social spaces for us to work with.

    • Most definitely! Norms, norms, norms. And who decides what the “norm” is but the imperial power from which the “right” culture must diffuse to correct the “wrong” culture. Always. So content and context always matter.

  13. Perhaps in future studies there’s also need to reassess certain terms and definitions that are taken as given; with the most prominent being the term “missionary”.

    We have tended to adopt the meaning given by Europeans that missionaries were persons whose sole or major aim was to spread Christianity among the African (heathen). But even as Amenuti points out the Asante King couldn’t be persuaded that the Europeans could leave their “cozy” England just to accomplish such a flimsy motive as religious conversion…unless of course they were completely delusional!

    However, a deeper assessment of the activities of the likes of David Livingston suggests that the pre scramble for Africa missionaries were first and foremost geographers and mappers under the cover of “explorers”…and they operated their surveying activities from “mission stations” hence the coinage of the term “missionaries”…and it’s no surprise that a good number of the mid 19th century missionaries were also working for the “Royal Geographical Societies”…

    But the motive of the mission stations was to map out the land and the people that lived on it and their way of life and status and sources of their wealth…in readiness for the landgrab!

    Nevertheless, for these missionaries to survive in foreign lands they needed to engage in economic activity with the natives of the land and since they didn’t want to get bogged down in daily agricultural economic activity for survival they opted to trade their religion hand in hand with their medicine paraphernalia whose alleged healing powers was used to imply the “superiority” of their gods and the need for natives to provide the day-to-day needs of the missionaries who supposedly had a closer relationship with their “higher gods”…

    So by and large the religious motives of the missionaries of the mid 19th century were largely economic i.e. for the interest of their self preservation…but their main aim was in my view the mapping of Africa…and subsequently it’s no wonder that the “Partitioning of Africa” went so smoothly…

    Perhaps after this partitioning their role as cartographers diminishes but the economic motive of “spreading their gospel” remained and it was remarkably pretty sound business too. In exchange for their religious mythologies they in return acquired huge chunks of land and spheres of influence and up to this day they’ve not only retained the claim on land but also have a stranglehold on the beliefs and education of the natives of the land….and they don’t plan to let go anytime soon…if anything they’re tightening their influence by popularizing their “civilization” especially to the women and youth…

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