The growing process of underdevelopment and indebtedness of Africa, a continent heavily endowed with a bewildering diversity of material and human resources, vigorously stirs the minds and imagination of most analyst of the African situation. Perhaps in the history of human civilization, no other continent have had its human and material resources so ruthlessly and indiscriminately plundered by so many foreign countries, in return for so little, because of division, disunity and lack of leadership of integrity.
Before the continent started having contact with Europeans, Africans had their own civilization and subsistent economies. In this economic system, there was respect for the environment, human values and rights, and mechanisms for maintaining social order and cohesion. Africans produced what they ate and ate what they produced. The traumatic experiences of slave trade, racism and colonialism however, resulted in the physical, religious and mental captivity of Africa and Africans. These experiences and the impact they had on the psyche of the African had been tremendous and have made collective thinking and common action by Africans rather difficult to achieve.
Let us illustrate what happened to Africa with the following allegory. Once upon a time, some fortune seekers embarked on a fortune-seeking mission to a great forest in a foreign land. After roaming for a very long time without getting anything of value, they came upon a virgin lady. They became excited and decided to rape the virgin lady in turns. After several round of ruthless raping, the virgin lady bled into a state of unconsciousness. As a result of fear, the fortune seekers decided to kill the virgin lady. Her body was cut into several parts by her captors and each fortune seeker had portions of the virgin lady’s” body parts” according to the influence within the group.
The fortune seekers agreed that the ”body parts” of the virgin lady should be preserved, so that in the event of the crime being detected, they could surrender the body parts to parents and family of the virgin lady for a decent burial. Different methods were used to preserve the “body parts” of the virgin lady. Some of the fortune seekers used smoking to preserve the body part of the virgin lady. Others employed salting and drying, refrigeration, burial, frying and roasting among other methods to preserve the body parts of the virgin lady. Several years after, the crime was detected and the parts of the virgin lady were retrieved and stitched together to represent the virgin lady. When the body of the virgin lady was laid in state, none of her family members could recognize her. She had undergone too much change to be recognized by anyone who knew her before her murder. The crude threads of the stitches made her body look very strange.
The fortune seekers are the Europeans powers who took part in colonizing Africa. The virgin lady is the African continent. The cutting of the virgin lady into pieces is the partitioning of Africa into colonial dependences among the European powers at the Berlin Conferences in 1884. The pieces of the body parts of the murdered virgin are the individual African countries as they are today. The individual body parts are the individual African countries as they are now, whilst the stitches are the colonial boundaries in Africa. The methods of preservation of the body parts of the virgin are the various colonial policies that were employed by the European powers to administer the affairs of African countries during colonialism, for example the British Crown Colony System, the French Policies of Assimilation and the Apartheid System in South Africa.
Finally, the detection of the crime and retrieval of the parts were struggle for and attainment of political independence by African countries whilst the crude threads of stitches on the body of the virgin are the colonial boundaries on the African continents. Africa still remains within these colonial boundaries. This explains the difficulty Africa is facing today in thinking collectively and embarking upon the surest journey for political integration and economic independence of the continent.