Let’s pretend for a minute, that no Western Colonialists ever set foot in Africa until now. No Slave Traders, no Big Game Hunters, no Farmers, road builders, explorers, surveyors, soldiers, miners, government officials or ordinary settlers. Africa is populated by numerous tribes, and ruled by chiefs and kings. No borders or artificial boundaries exist. No Western laws, Democracy or Governments. It’s mineral wealth still lies untapped below the ground. It has no value, because nobody knows it’s there. Herds of animals roam freely across the continent. No countries or cities exist. No Cairo, Nairobi, Cape Town or Harare.
In fact there has been no contact whatsoever with the outside world. The population are black-skinned, ebony black at the Equator, to brown in the extreme North and South.
The rest of the World has progressed with minor differences. The minerals that Africa would have produced, are being mined in South America, Australia and the USA. Airlines fly to every corner of the Earth except Africa. Demographically, the USA and the UK look slightly different, as there are no people of African extraction. European Settlers who would have gone to Africa, went to Australia, New Zealand and the USA. The battles of the two World Wars that were fought in Africa, were just fought elsewhere, or not fought at all.
We still have radio, television, cars, trucks, trains, airplanes, space shuttles, the atomic bomb, computers and the Internet. From space, lights illuminate every continent at night except Africa. Religious fundamentalists still blow each other up, and wars are still fought for power, influence and mineral wealth. Microsoft <spit> still sucks and Open Source Software still rocks.
Meanwhile, back in Africa? What would the African tribes have done? Where would they be now in 2007 without the active influence of the despised “European”, the land-grabber, murderer, rapist, racist and pillager. Probably in a very simlar situation that they were in in 1707.
As much as the Colonialists are now despised in this part of the World, how can any credible African leader deny the uplifting influence of the Settlers? Are we saying that Africa would have invented the internal combustion engine, the printing press, the telegraph, the computer without European assistance?
But this is the favoured line. “Settlers” (the word normally spat out in disgust) brought nothing but disease, misery, Apartheid and un-needed interference. The 6th and 7th generation white descendants of these Settlers, should just go back to their “homeland” or “England”, and cannot call themselves real Africans. The roads, cars, skyscrapers, dams, airplanes, banks and businesses just appeared here and the Settlers had nothing to do with them.
Well, let me tell you something. I am a very proud, 5th generation African, and I am going nowhere. Imagine me arriving at the Home Office in Dublin and saying, “Hi guys, I’m home. I know my family hasn’t been around here since 1880, but hey, you still have me on record somewhere don’t you?”
How absurd. I think it really is about time that we all acknowledged each others roles in building this great country. Without the capital, know-how, and civilisation (yes, I said it) that the European Settlers brought to this country, and without the cheap, back-breaking labour that the black locals provided, we wouldn’t have the great country that we see around us. How about some mutual respect, and a trend away from the “us” and “them”?