Why was Africa so underdeveloped before colonization?

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,544
Benin City, Nigeria
Ighayere, are you suggesting, in answer to the question in the OP, that Africa was NOT underdeveloped before colonisation.
I am saying that I don't see what real relevance your questions about autochtonous or purely indigenous development have to what was really being discussed. As you mention yourself, the Normans brought some things to England; this doesn't mean English religious architecture after the period when the Normans came over can really only be considered "French-Scandinavian" architecture and that it therefore can't be counted when discussing how "developed" English religious architecture was or is. Would you discount all post-Norman invasion English religious architecture when discussing how developed English religious architecture was?
 
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Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,544
Benin City, Nigeria
That was a commercial project. J N Tata went to England in 1872. On his return he set up a cotton mill at Nagpur. By 1900 India was the 4th largest cotton producer on the planet. He hired British engineers. A hard fact of life you might think, but there it is none the less.
Okay. I guess you are just highlighting another instance of people learning from British engineers?
 
Dec 2011
2,085
I am saying that I don't see what real relevance your questions about autochtonous or purely indigenous development have to what was really being discussed. As you mention yourself, the Normans brought some things to England; this doesn't mean British religious architecture after the period when the Normans came over can really only be considered "French-Scandinavian" architecture and that it therefore can't be counted when discussing how "developed" British religious architecture was or is. Would you discount all post-Norman invasion British religious architecture when discussing how developed British religious architecture was?
I don't think you are answering the question "Why was Africa so underdeveloped before colonisation". You seem to be trying to prove that it WAS developed. Am I wrong?

I am very comfortable with the idea that societies have accepted and employed ideas and technology from other places. In fact it is one of the most interesting things about history, tracing where ideas originated and how they got spread around. For example one idea, I believe, is that the whole of representative pictorial art had origins in Egyptian tombs, which the pharoahs wanted painted inside so that they could foreever, in the afterlife, look at the lovely scenes that the enjoyed so much in life. After that we see in Crete beautiful wall paintings. Maybe a better example is of, as I mentioned earlier, the cities of Britain. Most of old ones were founded by the Romans. Basically, we must give credit to the Romans for founding those cities. The British lived in the cities, they had city councils, which apparently provided walls surrounding them in the 2nd century, but basically the whole situation was brought about by the Romans. But there isn't real evidence that the cities particularly thrived. The medieval cathedrals are a different matter, their style was developed over the centuries, even after England became an independent entity, not held by Normandy, so credit goes to the English who did this.

But none of this is answering the question of why Africa was so underdeveloped. My answer was partially that all societies on Earth were underdeveloped before 1800.
 

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,544
Benin City, Nigeria
You seem to be trying to prove that it WAS developed. Am I wrong?
I have simply answered some of the questions that have been posed in this thread about what the actual level of development of some African states or societies was.

Other answers, some of which I agree with, to the question of why Africa was behind Europe developmentally, have already been put forward by other posters and I see no real reason to simply repeat what others have said.
 
Dec 2011
2,085
I have simply answered some of the questions that have been posed in this thread about what the actual level of development of some African states or societies was.

Other answers, some of which I agree with, to the question of why Africa was behind Europe developmentally, have already been put forward by other posters and I see no real reason to simply repeat what others have said.
Please can you give me a direct answer to my question, do you, or do you not, believe that pre-colonial Africa was underdeveloped?
 

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,544
Benin City, Nigeria
Please can you give me a direct answer to my question, do you, or do you not, believe that pre-colonial Africa was underdeveloped?
Relative to Europe, sure, it was less developed in the early modern and modern periods. The term "underdeveloped" isn't that well defined though. Maybe elaborate on what you mean by that exactly and we'll see whether I agree. I have my own ideas about what that term would mean (what my own idea of being underdeveloped would be), but I don't know exactly what you mean by it.
 
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Dec 2011
2,085
I merely note, with curiosity, that in a discussion which mentions "underdevelopment"in the title, you only now ask me what I think the term means. I could ask why you didn't ask the person who made the OP.

To my mind real development within a society will cause improvements in human life, so that more people have their needs met and (the key measure) they will on average live substantially longer than they did in past times (when life expectancy was around 30). I would say that a society us underdeveloped if the average life expectancy is under age 40.

Certain things have to be in place for development to really begin, I think. Some kind of stable government with laws, writing, technology which produces a surplus that can be used for investment, also infrastructure such as ports. Even then, it could be that few people control all of those things and reap the economic reward of them, and so development, in the sense of helping the average person to live more healthily, may not occur.
 
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Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,544
Benin City, Nigeria
I merely note, with curiosity, that in a discussion which mentions "underdevelopment"in the question, you only now ask me what I think the term means. I could ask why you didn't ask the person who made the OP.
I think you can tell quite easily from my posts in this thread that I have mostly attempted to answer certain questions that another poster has had about what the level of development of parts of precolonial Africa was. So why pretend that I was engaging specifically with the question of the OP in the thread, when I clearly wasn't, and instead was just watching other people give their answers to the question in the OP? Why would I need to ask the thread starter about his definition of underdevelopment when my posts in the thread were just addressing specific statements and questions by other posters?

Thank you for explaining what your idea of underdevelopment is though. I can agree that life expectancy is a pretty important factor.
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
4,905
Portugal
As an addendum, I will add that many in India, including Gandhi himself, believed themselves superior to sub Saharan African people (essentially, black people). Gandhi famously referred to blacks as kaffirs, which was basically the Indian word for n*gger.
“Kaffir” may be the Indian word in a depreciative way for a black person, and I don’t know any Indian languages, but “kaffir” is a English word, it comes from “cafre” a Portuguese word.

When the Portuguese sailed around Africa, the southern corner was known as “Cafraria”, i.e. land of the “cafres”, as far as I know the word is probably a corruption/adaptation of the Arab word “infidel” used in the Swahili Coast (the ones that know Arab may give me some help here to state to what extent the word is corrupted).

The word didn’t had the racial depreciative connotation that gained in the late 19th and in the 20th centuries in the South of Africa.
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
4,905
Portugal
To my mind real development within a society will cause improvements in human life, so that more people have their needs met and (the key measure) they will on average live substantially longer than they did in past times (when life expectancy was around 30). I would say that a society us underdeveloped if the average life expectancy is under age 40.

Certain things have to be in place for development to really begin, I think. Some kind of stable government with laws, writing, technology which produces a surplus that can be used for investment, also infrastructure such as ports. Even then, it could be that few people control all of those things and reap the economic reward of them, and so development, in the sense of helping the average person to live more healthily, may not occur.
That seems a quite personal definition of “underdevelopment” that most probably would thrown all the world civilizations, pre-19th or 20th centuries to the that definition.

It is a personal definition or you took it from some author? If so, can you mention him?