It is important that when we talk about civilisation, development and backwardness we should remember that the earliest forms of life already contained within them the embryo of all future developments.

 A few things to raise on the cultural imperialism:

1. The bourgeoisie have a tendency to exaggerate the achievements of some cultures and denigrate others. Behind this lies the vested interests of those who seek to enslave, dominate and exploit other peoples, and to disguise this oppression and exploitation under the hypocritical mantel of cultural superiority. We can point to a few examples:

     a. The Christians of northern Spain destroyed the irrigation systems and the wonderful culture of Islamic Al-Anduluz, and went on to destroy the rich and     flourishing cultures of the Aztecs and Incas. Under the same banner, the British, French and Dutch colonialists systematically enslaved the peoples of us, the     people of Africa, Asia and the Pacific. Not content with reducing us to the worst kind of slavery, we were robbed not only of our land but of our souls. The     Christian missionaries finished off the job started by the soldiers and slave-drivers, robbing us our cultural identity.

     b. In the long period of decline that preceded the fall of the Roman Empire, it seemed to many that the end of the world was approaching. This idea is still     strong under Christianity where it forms the entire content of the Book of Revelations (the Apocalypse). These people were really convinced that the world     was coming to an end. In fact, what was coming to an end was only a particular kind of socio-economic system – the slave system that had reached its limits     and was unable to develop the productive forces as it had done in the past.

     c. A similar phenomenon can be observed in the late middle Ages, when the self-same idea was in vogue: the end of the world. Masses of people joined the     flagellant sects that travelled through Europe, whipping and torturing themselves to expiate the sins of mankind in preparation for the Day of Judgement.     Here again, what was coming to an end was not the world but the feudal system that had outlived its usefulness and was eventually overthrown by the rising     bourgeoisie.

2. It is a well-known fact that science under capitalism, and let me be specific, under class divided society, becomes less and less scientific, the closer it gets to society. The so called social sciences are not really sciences at all, but ill-concealed attempts to justify capitalism/class divide society, or at least to discredit progress and progressive ideas. This is also true of the past when anthropologists did their best to justify the enslavement of so called backward races by denigrating their culture. On this vein imperialists have deliberately downplayed or even denied the culture of “backward people’s” in Africa, Asia and so forth.

This cultural imperialism is always an attempt to justify the colonial enslavement of millions of people around the globe. It is also true that all the most barbarous and inhuman actions of the past pale in insignificance with the horrors inflicted on the human race by our allegedly civilised capitalist system and its counterpart imperialism.

It is a terrible paradox that the more humanity develops its productive capacity, the more humanity spectacular the advances of science and technology, the greater the suffering, starvation, oppression and misery of the majority of the world’s population. What I am trying to say is that the fetters of human progress was with the advent of class society whereby a few ruled of the rest of society.

The reason for the present impasse in which human society finds itself is the very system of class rule. Thus, the fact that a particular socio-economic form has outlived its historical usefulness and become a reactionary obstacle to the advance of the human race does not mean that progress is a meaningless concept.

It does not mean that there has been no progress in the past (including under capitalism), or that there cannot be progress in the future – once the present system has been abolished. So, progress has been there in all hitherto civilisations of humanity and to think otherwise would be to fall into a reactionary position in looking at history, civilisation and development.

Part III

Thus, how did the backwardness creep in in Africa? The backwardness is a narrative which was started by the henchmen of the ruling classes in defence of the status and privilege of the ruling classes. Why? To defend the base of their life which is the economy and to therefore stop by their whims any form of real human progress and thus the development of the state to protect their interests as the state is an organ of class rule where the ruling protects its economic interests.

So, the lies that Africa is backward where systematised and puppet, comprador regimes where installed especially as part of the decolonisation project and giving birth to a new colonialism, neo-colonialism. This neo-colonial project has thrown Africa to be at the periphery of the worlds so called progress.

For this article I am not aiming at tracing the historical development of society but in a nutshell since the advent of class society those at the helm of society used brute force to rule and imposed their will through a state to guide their economic interests. That is why the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

Thus, Africa has been trapped in a perennial junior position in determining her destiny and everything is defined to Africa in terms of projects, taking of loans to finance those projects. The plundering of Africa and thus keeping her backward is also through sponsored wars, mutinies and coups. So, a continent which has to be raked of its resources always has to play third fiddle in a world which is run by economic hit mans.

That is why even under bitter struggles to decolonise we were back in the colonial mode through a new colonialism, neo-colonialism. This has become the biggest threat to Africa and the third world. For the purposes of this writing I am not aiming at doing a treatise on neo-colonialism but to show how neo-colonialism has kept Africa in a backward state.

How? Because the neo-colonialism of today represents imperialism in its final and most dangerous stage. For more on this, Lenin’s ‘Imperialism: the highest stage of capitalism’ can be read. So, in effect Neo-colonialism can be described as the deliberate and continued survival of the colonial system in independent African states, by turning these states into victims of political, mental, economic, social, military and technical forms of domination carried out through indirect and subtle means that do not include direct violence.

So, keeping Africa is deliberate and systemic approach. Before we pen off on the issue of neo-colonialism, we will have to look within neo-colonialism why Africa’s economy and therefore her politics are backward as a system making the rich countries richer through the concept of uneven and combined development which is driven through the design of a centre, semi-periphery and periphery approach.

The uneven development of the world is aimed at keeping the periphery extractive export led economy, exporting fixed (raw materials) and variable products (agricultural). The periphery has to produce these products at lower costs then they can be produced at the centre because of mainly low labour costs as guided by the compradors of the countries in the periphery who play the role of being prefects for the centre.

This is the role which eSwatini is playing in the geopolitics of the region in the neo-colonial project. eSwatini has been historically a reserve army of labour. That is why there has been a lot of migration into the mines which at that time was facilitated by TEBA. As stipulated before that the history of hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

Relics of an ancient African civilisation

Even in eSwatini class formation according to Richard Levin started in the precolonial era where a tributary relationship whereby aristocrats and the chiefs were empowered to extract surplus labour time from their subjects through the “ummemo” (the summoning by a chief of his subjects to a work party), along with their control over the allocation of land.

This gave rise to the formation of a class of aristocrats comprising the monarchy, senior princes and chiefs, on the one hand, and a class of commoners, on the other hand. That is why even today in eSwatini we are still known as subjects. To date, these relations have not changed. It was elevated on the arrival of the concession seekers and the penetration of capital relations following the gold rush in the then Witwatersrand.

Followed by the land partition of 1907 and its subsequent implementation meant that vast numbers of Swazis found themselves alienated from the land and were forced to seek wage-labour on the Witwatersrand mines or on white farms both in South Africa and in Swaziland. This therefore developed capitalism in the region and the development of neighbouring states depended on South Africa for their livelihoods.

Thus, in the power struggle between the English and the Boers the English had to encircle South Africa with puppet regimes around South Africa, thus the case of Swaziland which developed into a tinkhundla aristocracy, semi-feudal state. This meant that Swaziland was going to be a perpetual servant to Britain and its monarchy and the king who transformed from a paramount chief was to remain a prefect playing a comprador role of gatekeeping for the powers that be.

Thus, eSwatini today is being paraded and promoted as a successful modern monarchy carrying a subtle economic project which can be replicated in other spheres to make the regional block to be a regional reserve of labour under the regionalisation of labour project of supplying cheap labour to South Africa in order to reduce labour costs.

The way forward

As a way forward, we have to seek out new means of defence, new forms of struggle, new pathways toward revolution, and new visions of what truly humane society demands of us. Only as we begin to entertain such thoughts, consider such inventions, will we be prepared to carefully examine again and then move beyond the marvellous limits of How Europe underdeveloped Africa.

The important questions to be asked are how we shall redevelop this world? Beginning with ourselves, beginning where we are, what must we tear down, what must we build up, what foundations must we lay?

Who shall we work with, what visions can we create, what hopes shall possess us? How shall we organize? How shall we be related to those who raise the same questions? How shall we communicate with others the urgency of our time? How shall we envision and work for the revolutionary transformation of our own country?

What are the inventions, the discoveries, the new concepts that will help us move toward the revolution we need in this land? We cannot respond to these questions outside of locating ourselves as an African bloc. The unity of the region is sacrosanct and we must really think hard about issues which unite us, without being dictated by the powers in the West and the North.

In his book, ‘How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” Walter Rodney narrates the extent to which Western colonial capitalism, which started in Western Europe, suffocated socio-economic productivity in Africa. In their seminal works, Samir Amin, Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy have articulated well the causes of the underdevelopment of Africa.

But it was Rodney who tried to pinprick and to explain the African Predicament. The renowned scholar and activist from Senegal Cheik Anta Diop articulated the African origins of Civilisation. In conclusion, we have to understand and base our analysis on the fact that imperialism is linked to capitalism and is rooted in expansionism and exploitation.

So, in order for Africa to provide the juicy conditions of exploitation, it had to be made to be backward and had to be led by junior partners to the capitalism. Further, we have to understand the linkage between development, developing and underdevelopment. On this note, we have to be clear that every society is to an extent a capitalist society.

This is in the sense that each society has its store of capital – human, material, mental and social as Bourdieu indicated. Some of this capital is traded and other utilised in various ways. Not every society adopts capitalism as a core doctrine of trade and commerce that is also predicated on exploitation and expansionism.

So, these terms being outlined above on development, developing and underdevelopment are linked to colonial capitalism which has now evolved into finance capital and spread all over the globe and has financialised our economies. Firstly, development is not only an economic concept and seeing it as an economic concept is narrowing the concept.

Development connects economic, socio-cultural and religious life. So, development is a universal concept since each humanity seeks to improve or develop itself and this impulse to and capacity to make progress is not exclusive to one society, like capitalism wants us to believe. Secondly, each society develops at its own pace, in its own way, and at its own time.

Further to this, development is not linear; it is spiral and moves up at the pace of the development of the productive forces and this development in a class society can be in conflict with the relations of production and this can cause a lip forward. Africa being kept backward is also a ploy to delay real revolution because of the slowly developing productive forces.

Thus, these three related terms – underdevelopment, developing and developed – must be contrasted to get a full comprehension of the question of development and civilisation. The mistakes we make in looking at these terms is that when we say a country is developed it is mirrored on the West, which represents that a final stage within the development process has been reached.

This is a grave error since development is an ongoing, open-ended and not a finished process. There is no end to development and there is always scope for improvement. A second error is that the term developing is often used for places like Africa. This is ironic as it is the West that is developing, while Africa in many ways has ceased to develop.

Thus, therefore what do we really mean by underdevelopment? The logic of development is linked to underdevelopment in a relational manner. As the system of trade and governance is unfair and favours the West, the relationship between development and underdevelopment is happening in an unfair, rigged system that produces an outcome that is beneficial to the West.

So, not only did Europe impoverish Africa in the process but Africa assisted immensely in developing Europe. A lot of wealth transfer from Africa to Europe has happened within this so called relationship. So, in summary, development is not merely economic. Development has been a big feature in Africa before colonialism.

Africa has had civilisations, highly developed art and culture, philosophy, politics and economics. We should all know that a culture is a total way of life. It embraces what people ate and what they wore, the way they walked and the way they talked, the manner in which they treated death and greeted their new born.

Music and dance had key roles in “uncontaminated” African society. In those times, African societies reached their pinnacle of achievement in the spheres enlisted above. These societies produced the great artwork of Benin and Ile Ife and since these achievements predated the colonial intervention, it is not true according to the colonisers that Africa was developed. In a nutshell, there are two main factors which have been responsible for Africa’s underdevelopment:

1. The wealth created by African labour and from African resources was grabbed by capitalist countries of Europe; and

2. The restrictions which were placed upon African capacity to make maximum use of economic potential – which is what development is all about.

Thus, the twin exploitation of Africa revolved around the two Ls, namely: land and labour. In stalling our progress as a continent they had to stall our politics because our politics is dictated by the West and imposed by the puppets who are in power politically in Africa and in Swaziland.

The tinkhundla dynasty has been a pawn for Britain and does not fall anywhere near to represent the past civilisations which embodies the veil of Africa.