Did many of the ex-colonies knew they were going to be poor when they got their independence?

tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
13,803
The other problem with the standard "anti colonialism" line of argumentation is that people holding that pretend that "colonies" today are treated the same as 200 or more years ago, as if the world had not moved on..... and for those colonies that became independent they pretend that if they had stayed with their colonial power they would be treated the same today as 200 years ago....

All the while of course pretending to forget that living conditions in the colonial powers 200 years ago were themselves pretty bad compared to today.... Dickens and Zola among others remind us of the misery of the second half of the 19th century for example
 

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,627
Benin City, Nigeria
You stated





Maybe you are not familiar with the British coal industry and how it fed an industrialisation that spanned two hundred years.
The UK was mining hundreds of millions of tonnes of coal a year. Until the first world war, the UK was the largest exporter of coal in the world.
Coal wasn't discovered in Nigeria until 1909. It wasn't mined until 1916 and at it's peak it only managed to produce 790,030 metric tonnes . The UK coal industry peaked at 228 million tonnes and had been producing coal for industrial use for at least three hundred years .
In
1986 one single colliery (Kellingly, in Yorkshire) achieved 404,000 tonnes in one single shift.
You are talking about coal. . .did you even realize more was mined in Nigeria (and in Africa in general) under the British empire than coal? Your assumption that I was referring to coal mining alone is a mistaken assumption. Even in the Nigerian case I was thinking more of the mines in central Nigeria, not the coal mines in eastern Nigeria anyway.

And are you aware that, even going beyond just mining, other resources were extracted either on the cheap (such as palm oil, which had been important for industrial uses) or with forced labor?
 

Sindane

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
4,686
Europe
You are talking about coal. . .did you even realize more was mined in Nigeria (and in Africa in general) under the British empire than coal? Your assumption that I was referring to coal mining alone is a mistaken assumption. Even in the Nigerian case I was thinking more of the mines in central Nigeria, not the coal mines in eastern Nigeria anyway.

And are you aware that, even going beyond just mining, other resources were extracted either on the cheap (such as palm oil, which had been important for industrial uses) or virtually for free?

What was the fuel/resources of 'British industry', if it wasn't coal ?
 

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,627
Benin City, Nigeria
The other problem with the standard "anti colonialism" line of argumentation is that people holding that pretend that "colonies" today are treated the same as 200 or more years ago, as if the world had not moved on..... and for those colonies that became independent they pretend that if they had stayed with their colonial power they would be treated the same today as 200 years ago....
Some Congolese were working as forced laborers for European owned companies almost right up to the eve of the Belgian Congo's independence. There was no real reason to think that some "better treatment" was right around the corner or anywhere on the horizon. The French only banned forced labor in their black African colonies after WWII and this was really more a result of the war not some gradual change in their thinking about how they should treat their colonial subjects on the part of the French. The law banning this forced labor in those colonies was named after the man who led Cote d'Ivoire to its independence (he actually maintained close ties between his country and the French later on anyway), who had pushed for the banning of such labor.
 
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Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,627
Benin City, Nigeria
What was the fuel/resources of 'British industry', if it wasn't coal ?
In the context of the thread, it should be obvious that I was pointing out that Africans being forced to work for this or that company to extract resources for any European colonial power were not "rich" people that suddenly became "poor" when they got their independence. Nowhere in there is it implied that "British industry" (or any other country's industry) was solely or mostly fueled by, or created by, such forced colonial labor in the African colonies. That is not the point. It does not follow that stating that people on other continents were indeed forced to labor for the benefit of some other country's industries means that one is arguing that no one in that country itself (in this case Britain) worked to build up such industry.

As for what British industry needed as "fuel" or "resources", I suspect that, if British industry did not need tin, then there was no reason to force over 200,000 peasants in northern and central Nigeria to work in tin mines for the British. But they did that, so if there was no reason to do it, it just speaks to how callous they were. If British industry did not need palm oil, then there was no reason that a British industrialist, William Lever (Lord Leverhulme), was using Congolese forced labor to obtain it in the Belgian Congo. But he was. So either his company needed it, or they didn't need it and apparently just did what they did for no particular reason.

If you're asking about British industrialization in general, I have never said that coal was not an important resource. Obviously it was. But there was another important resource, which I already mentioned to you in another thread on the forum: slaves. And this resource had been important for a long time and was even viewed as crucial when this industrialization was first occurring. That is a different issue than what I originally commented on in this thread however, and as I stated in that other thread, one would need to read Inikori's book to better understand the role of slavery there in full.
 
Aug 2018
564
london
many, many people from the country I am from have cursed the day it was created and foisted upon them by the colonialists.
There’s nothing stopping you from changing the country except for other Nigerians. The country exists as it does today because the north violently stopped the south from becoming independent.
 
Apr 2018
979
Upland, Sweden
I am not any expert on the period at all, but weren't terribly many of the post-colonial leaders essentially socialists of different kinds? There was a great confluence between socialist and anti-colonialist streams of thought, and very many of the first leaders of post-colonial countries seem to have been educated in Europe and become influenced by such ideas (meaning everything from Fabian socialism to Communism).

Given the combination of supreme self-confidence and lack of real world knowledge with which many socialists seem to approach economic issues, it wouldn't be surprising if quite a few post-colonial leaders actually thought the only problem was British/ French economic extortion - fix that, then "modernize" and everything will go just fine... supposedly.

While the economic nature of colonialism was certainly often a problem, with much of the infrastructure in the colonies were artificially geared towards efficient resource exploitation and export towards Europe rather than creating internal economic growth and so on... just nationalising everything and iniating a policy of import substitution combined with skepticism towards foreign investment is not going to make your country prosperous. Europe could do reasonably well with state interference in the market during the immediate decades after the war, having working infrastructure, much more wealth and the human capital to afford something like that. Given the lack of global competition during the 1950s-1960s, some kinds of welfare-state policies can even have been advantageous to Europe, at least in the short term. This wasn't the case for the colonies, especially not Africa.

I don't know of any country in the world that became rich without first having a period of relatively unrestrained capitalism with some social backsides. It was the case for my country, as well as the rest of Europe, during the 1800s and early 1900s. It was the case for the asian ecomomies later. From my understanding, limited as it is, many post-colonial leaders seemed to have believed they could simply skip this step through "efficient" state planning.
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,971
Sydney
" did many of the ex-colonies knew they were going to be poor when they got their independence? "

I would think many colonies didn't know they were poor before they got their independence ,most people just lived their lives
 

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,627
Benin City, Nigeria
There’s nothing stopping you from changing the country except for other Nigerians. The country exists as it does today because the north violently stopped the south from becoming independent.
This isn't too far from the mark, but here I would say that it is slightly more complicated, since the first coup was carried out by some soldiers from the south. That first coup was supposedly carried out in response to certain crises in the country that were perceived as being caused by the influence or actions of certain northern leaders and a few of their southern co-conspirators (or stooges, in the view of the coup plotters), the perceived deterioration and manipulation of the army by certain Northern politicians, and finally the belief that there was an impending attempt to completely dominate Nigeria by some northern leaders, who were believed to be using some northern soldiers to achieve their ends. That first coup was, in the view of its planners, a "preemptive coup" aimed at forestalling the supposedly imminent complete domination of the rest of Nigeria by certain Northern leaders who were using the army as a political tool. But in fact there is no evidence that what they believed was going to happen would have definitely happened (although there is no way to know that with full certainty of course), and the January 1966 coup is generally seen as not defensible or justifiable (though many have tried, usually quite poorly, to defend it) by many Nigerians today.

So I would say that you've got the general outline of what went on basically correct - the north certainly played the main role (although they certainly were not the only ones involved) in stopping the southeastern part of Nigeria from seceding, once Biafra was declared. But the thing is, it was the northerners that first wanted to secede in 1966, in response to the butchery of the January 1966 coup. The later "revenge" counter-coup of July 1966 that was carried out by northern soldiers, which was much worse than the January one, and which led to the southeastern part of Nigeria contemplating secession in response to the terrible massacres of their people that accompanied it, suddenly left the north with the possibility of just seceding from the country since the previous acting head of state (who had been from the south) had been eliminated and the control of the military was mostly in northern hands.

The Northern secession plans were supposedly stopped due to outside advice from people who, unlike the northern soldiers and some of the northern emirs, believed that they better understood the precarious economic situation the north was in when compared to the south or just in general.

In Nigeria there is a persistent idea that it was actions of some western advisors, and in particular the efforts of Sir Francis Cumming-Bruce (Lord Thurlow), that was the main factor in convincing the northern leadership against seceding.

Lord Thurlow obituary

However that is an oversimplification. It probably was not just due to the advice of one man or a few foreign advisors, and anyway, the northern leaders are the ones that had the final say in the matter, not foreign advisors. And in regard to Cumming-Bruce it is obvious that he was just trying to look out for northern Nigerian interests, since he was the high commissioner to the whole country, not just the south. In the view of many people at the time in and outside of Nigeria, if the north had seceded, with so few educated people (people with western education, not Islamic education), and so many other apparent disadvantages (such as being landlocked, having no extensive regional trade to make up for being landlocked, having no oil, etc.), it would have been a huge failure and possibly just become a humanitarian crisis. So they didn't secede then. But of course they also did not let the southeast secede, as that would risk the whole of Nigeria then falling apart afterward, leaving the north landlocked and in essentially the exact position which they had come to believe (and had been warned) would put them in a very tough spot economically.

And in the case of the later 1990 attempted coup - where some soldiers from the south essentially tried to kick some northern states out of Nigeria or temporarily "suspend" them from Nigeria's federation because of the trouble that people from those states were believed to be causing and the belief of some people in the south that they were impeding Nigeria's progress - northern soldiers stopped that smaller attempt at "independence" (or greater freedom from northern control of Nigeria's politics and government) as well.

So yes it is accurate in a general sense to say that the past and present northern control or domination of the military is the main factor in stopping secession and the independence of any part of the south, if one is looking at things from the angle of violent secession or any military actions that southern Nigerians could take. But if one is looking at it in terms of a peaceful breakup that does not risk turning into a war, the main challenge is: how would one convince the majority of northern Nigerian leadership (governors, emirs, etc.) that they could just make it on their own or that they should try to develop on their own like some other countries with fewer resources have done? If one can do that, then a mutual agreement about the break up of the country could be reached peacefully. But at this point I think most people believe that it would be too difficult or near impossible to convince them of how it could be to their eventual advantage to be independent and many people have instead just settled on trying to get greater regional autonomy for the different major regions of the country.
 
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tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
13,803
Well that person is probably trying to make the argument that they could escape dependency and consequent economic inequality if they had their independence, though that person perhaps isn't articulating that clearly. He seems to be arguing for a sort of nationalisation of resources and or at least the investment of more of the mining companies' profits (through an additional tax? or partial state ownership of companies?) towards developing the indigenous people's areas. How that would turn out I don't know - probably would depend on how much of the mining expertise the indigenous people have.

Also, their being "subsidized" has resulted in this, at least for that town: "Thio’s rate of unemployment sits at 30%, and 97% of residents have not graduated from high school."

So not really some great achievement.
Sorry I've seen too many of these childish arguments..... the underlying "hope" is that one would simply do nothing and untold riches would fall from the sky on one's head if only......one gained independence..... You're familiar with the situation in sub saharan Africa and you know this is not how it works.....

The rate of unemployment in Thio is not worse than in many european mining towns... if it can be called a town with population less than 3 000... As for not graduating from high school its really rich... that's like blaming the doctor because one has lung cancer ...
Overall there are some 66 000 students of all ages in Caledonia of which some 3 000 received their high school diploma (in the French system that is after 12 years of school normally from age 6 to 18) and 5 500 various other diplomas ... Another 1 100 received higher education diplomas including 52 masters. There are no specific statistics for Thio but there is no reason to have a 97% failure rate (if these numbers are accurate to begin with) other than family environment and lack of support in the family unit... Uneployment rate in caledonia is about 12%, not very different from France itself...