This book is an economic analysis of how Europe engaged in an unequal relationship with Africa and subsequently exploited the continent country and specifically how this form of colonialism differed from other parts of the world.
Rodney posits that Europe and Africa had a dialectical relationship where Europe’s development was dependent upon the underdevelopment of Africa. He argues there is an intimate and causal relationship between Europe’s growth and Africa’s decline or at best, stagnation in terms of development. Thus, Europe’s capitalist growth can only be correctly and fully understood with the concomitant exploitation of Africa and colonialism.
Not only does this book open the colonial exploitation of Africa, but it brings pre-Colonial and pre-European-Slave-Trade Africa to life. Rodney puts together a biting criticism of Europe’s interaction with Africa starting in the 15th century with trading, both the slave trade and the trade in goods.
This essentially killed inter-Africa trade, forcing African civilizations to only trade with European and other western economies. This also changed the economies of African civilizations to suit what the traders wanted, whether human beings, cotton, or minerals. When European powers grew as a result of the profits from trade, they then carved Africa into its current state and entered the continent to force more and more production of things that would increase profit for the western markets. Banks, industries, and nations prospered by the use of underpaid, sometimes forced African labor. Meanwhile, civilizations fell apart and education came to a stand-still. This book left me further convinced in the concept of reparations, not just for slavery, but for the destruction of an entire continent and all the people that came from there in the last 500 years.
Reviewed by Martin Bishop