Why was Africa the last continent to develop?


Ozodi Osuji

      Descriptively, the continent of Africa was the last continent to develop; indeed, it is still not developed; it is gradually finding its way to development.

     One asks why it was so. One asks why because if we look at people in developed continents, such as Europe, Asia and the America’s and Australia, the people are not different from Africans. I assume that all human beings are the same and coequal.

      If all human beings are the same how come Africans are less developed, what forces kept them backward? I have grappled with this question from the first day I began my undergraduate studies; I have speculated on many causal reasons why this situation could exist and could not come up with a satisfactory answer.

     I used to ponder the following line of reasoning: Egypt was a very great civilization. Egypt is in North Africa. The source of Egypt’s civilization is said to be the river Nile. River Nile has its source in the middle of black Africa, either at Lake Victoria or somewhere else close by. I asked, why didn’t Egyptians use their boats and ships to sail down the Nile into Africa and locate the source of the river on which their civilization depended? If they had done so, and established colonies along the way, interior Africa would have been developed five thousand years ago, and that would have led Africa to joining the rest of the world in   civilization business.

     The Phoenicians were famed sailors and explorers; they established colonies at various countries in the Mediterranean Sea; they could have sailed along the coast of West Africa and gotten as far south as South Africa, rounded it and explored East Africa, and established colonies all over African coasts; they did not.

     Sumer and Mesopotamia, great civilizations, were a stone throw from East Africa and could have explored East Africa and established colonies there and thus exported their civilization to Africa and Africa would not have remained cut off from ancient civilizations.

    Hindus and Chinese had substantial civilizations and had sailing ships; they, too, could have reached East Africa and established colonies there and exported their civilizations to Africa.

    Persia defeated Egypt 2500 years ago; they, too, could have explored the Nile River into the middle of Africa and exported their civilization to Africans.

     The Greeks, under Alexander the Great, conquered Egypt 2300 years ago, they, too, did not explore the origin of the Nile River!

     A little over 2000 years ago, Romans conquered Egypt, how come they, too, did not explore the origin of the Nile?

    In the mid-1400s CE the Portuguese explored the coast of West Africa and got to South Africa in 1488, rounded it, and finally got to India in 1494. They, too, really did not explore interior Africa; they got to South America and established an outpost of their civilization at Brazil.

     Brazil has the same climatical issues as West Africa so those who survived in Brazil could have survived in West Africa and in all of Africa.

     The forgoing points assume that only external forces would have stimulated the development of civilization in Africa. One could also ask how come internal forces in Africa itself did not stimulate civilization there, as they did in the fertile crescent, and the Middle East?

     In many writings, I explored the nature of traditional African societies and wondered if they could have developed to what we now call scientific and technological civilization? I don’t know.

     However, I do not believe that Walter Rodney (“How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” through slavery, colonialism, and neocolonialism) is correct in saying that slavery, colonialism, and neo-colonialism is responsible for Africa’s backwardness; I do not believe that it was because Africa’s young people were sold into slavery to Arabia and America that Africa remained backward.

      Why Africa remained backward, so far, is beyond my understanding!

   Looking at the dunces that rule Europe and North America, I have no doubt that before the end of this century when Africans would have learned leadership and management and begun governing themselves right that they would easily defeat any European or American militaries.


     My questions are this, why did the ancient civilizations bypass Africa, what caused it? How do we explain it?  I have explored many physical and historical causal explanations proffered by people and was not satisfied by them. Jared Diamond’s explanations, in his book, Guns, Germs, and steel (New York: Norton, 1997) why civilizations did not develop in the tropics, I must admit, made some sense to me.

     I have no choice but to say that there probably was a spiritual angle to this phenomenon. It could be that God kept Africa last to eventually enter the civilizational race to rescue humankind.

     It is obvious that the white man is about to destroy his civilization with his nuclear weapons; Vladmir Putin, the Russian thug, is currently engaging in trying to blackmail the West with his nuclear weapons, saying that unless the Europeans allow him to swallow Ukraine, he would unleash his nuclear weapons on them. If they insist on not allowing the little terrorist to take Ukraine and his pride, ego, feels humiliated he might resort to nuclear weapons.

    The West would thereafter unleash its nuclear arsenal on Russia and wipe the people out of this world. But before they exited civilization, they would have inflicted substantial damage to America and Western Europe.

    Perhaps, that devastation would finally dispose Americans to elect intelligent folks to lead them, not the morons like Donald Trump that they have lately been electing to political offices.


      I really suspect that there is a divine angle to Africa’s backwardness; may be, God wanted the narcissistic, supreme egotists called white men to self-destroy and have Africans begin a new world civilization, one based on love and forgiveness. I don’t know, but this is a thought that passes through my mind, occasionally.  Perhaps, this is mere wishful thinking on my part?

    I know that there are Afro centrists who write loads of stuff to the effect that Egypt was an African civilization, and that Africa is more developed than the West. I allow them to have their ego boosting views. From where I stand, no African people developed advanced science and technology hence Africans were all backward.

Ozodi Osuji

September 29, 2022

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