One African entrepreneur’s comments on the impacts of colonization on the whole of Africa’s economic state are drumming up some opposition online.
Speaker and serial entrepreneur Magatte Wade posted a clip of those comments on her Twitter account which quickly amassed many comments and shares. That clip is just a snippet from her interview on the Jordan B. Peterson Podcast in July 2022.
“When I hear people telling me today, ‘Oh, Africa is poor because of colonization,’ please, let’s move on from that,” Wade says in the clip.
Wade stated this after alluding to the fact that Singapore’s economy is beating out its former colonizer Great Britain.
While Singapore is an Asian country and not an African one, Wade uses the country and its historical similarities to African nations as an example of how the effects of the colonial age haven’t hindered Africa’s overall wealth and prosperity.
“What resources does Singapore has to be exploited? They even import water,” one person wrote on Twitter in response to Wade’s statements. “Singapore fought off the colonizers, and they don’t go to Chatham House to campaign during their elections. Africa is not poor because of colonization!”
Chatham House is a policy institute headquartered in London that’s hosted numerous campaign events and other appearances over the last 20 years from politicians and presidential candidates in several African nations.
Many online also thought her comments came off as uninformed and somewhat insensitive, especially in light of the dozens of leaders and heroes who martyred themselves to free Africa from the shackles of colonialism, like Thomas Sankara and Patrice Lumumba.
“Some’ll say colonialism has rebranded,” someone argued in response to the clip. “The influence France has over its former colonies? The fact that these colonial constructs called countries continue to exist… the fact that Blinken thinks he can teach the Great Lakes region a lesson on how to handle Congo? Russia and its psycho concubine Wagner in CAR? There are many people who’ll argue that you need to think deeper about the meaning of colonialism and how it presents today.”
Some people also pointed to the effects of neocolonialism and how current European influences and associations that are heavily impressed upon the continent today are deeply connected to the exploits of the colonial age hundreds of years ago.
“I’ve never seen a more shallow take. The effects of colonization were/are deeper than the looting & plundering. It destroyed our economic, political & cultural fabric,” another user wrote of Wade’s comments. “And when we tried to ‘move on’ as she’s suggesting, there was a new & deadlier monster in Neocolonialism.”
“Colonialism was vital,” another person commented. “You site Britain as an example. In 1835, Britain gave the equivalent of £300bn to those who once enslaved and owned Africans. It’s one of the biggest bailouts of all time. I agree that the reasons for stagnation in Africa are complex, but colonialism is one.”
Wade believes that if colonization had never happened, Africa would likely be the richest continent on the planet. While drawing on inspiration from renowned economist George Ayittey, she cited corruption rather than colonialism as a key cause of impoverishment in some parts of Africa. Ayittey has notably argued that the state of Africa’s independent wealth and freedom hinges on removing oppressive and corrupt bureaucrats and politicians rather than focusing on the fallout of colonialism.
“My country might be corrupt almost as bad as Chicago, you know what I mean by that,” Wade flatly said about her home country of Senegal without detailing her reference to the city of Chicago.
“Bad laws and senseless laws breed corruption because it is cheaper and faster for people to pay the bribe and move on than to adhere to the law,” she continued. “That’s what we have inherited in most African nations as I noticed the discrepancy and the difference between doing business back home and doing business in the United States.”
Some people agreed with this sentiment.
“African countries are not going anywhere if corruption isn’t cut by 99% of what it is today,” one user commented on Twitter.
“I agree,” another person concurred. “We can’t make any progress with the level of fashionable, applauded systemic corruption, in govt and common mwananchi.” Mwananchi refers to the public or citizens.