Many issues that plague Africa today are the result of decades of imperialism, exploitation and misrepresentation of the continent. To begin, too often the entire African continent is discussed and analyzed as one nation or entity. Where in fact, the continent is made up of over 50 very diverse countries that contain countless communities. Following colonization where various European powers stole control of vast areas of land solely for the purpose of extraction, African states have been characterized by media as backwards, lazy, and unable to achieve prosperity due to their nature. However, the stifled growth much of Africa has experienced is actually a result of severe exploitation experienced by many native Africans since the mid 19th century.
As discussed in our lectures, colonialism disrupted the natural progression of society that was taking place across Africa at the time. Indigenous groups were in the process of state building, however, once Europeans arrived economies in African states were forced to become commodity export focused while also being introduced ethnic and religious divisions not previously considered an issue. When African countries were finally able to gain independence from their colonial masters, the remnants of colonialism still were felt. For example, as also discussed in another lecture, since many economies within Africa had become dependent on trading almost exclusively with European colonial powers, many states were not able to begin growing their economy and gain true independence.
Finally, as seen in the Economist article about Africa’s development in the 21st century, it is obvious that most media still views all African nations as desolate and unprosperous places where in fact many states have rapidly growing populations, GDPs and are making massive strides in improving quality of life for themselves and their communities.