10 reasons Africa is poor from my perspective

An African perspective of why Africa is poor

Mark Odecho
9 min readJun 2, 2017


Mama Africa, the land of contrast, the birthplace of humanity, the motherland. Splendid in all of its existence from its hills and valleys to its glorious vistas and scenery, from its thick rain forests to desolate and encroaching deserts, from its different cultures, peoples and tribes to its different expressions of beauty fashion and art, from its glorious kingdoms and civilizations that span as far as the four corners of the world, to the richest man in history. Why then so poor yet so rich? Why then a dark content?

Africa’s poverty has been the subject of discussion for years where western economists have been tasked with the daunting role of coming up with programs and strategies geared to boosting growth and development, creating employment and alleviating poverty in the ‘dark continent’.

However, as crazy as it may sound, is it not ironic how we are made to revere and emulate whiteness without questioning but at the same time made to hate blackness, while our economics and history is astonishingly decided by white people in major conferences without the involvement of a single black or African person? Think about that for a second….

In this article I try to present to the world the other side of the coin by proving Africa is not poor because its people are “lazy uncivilized savages” who cannot innovate and only depend on the west for survival but rather because of the west itself; and its deliberate and chronological efforts to keep Africa in extreme poverty.

My goal is to unmask bias viewpoints and mindsets strategically, systematically, consciously and subconsciously presented to the world by racist and supremacist scholars who look down upon Africans to continue their inhumane agendas through denial-ism and historical negation-ism to rob Africa of its people and natural resources.

10.) History

In the immortal words of Marcus Garvey “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” It is without a doubt much if not all of African history has either been massively denied, re-written, largely misinterpreted, whitewashed or deleted for the glory of the white man and to my dismay for the destruction of the black man.

Even with undeniable archaeological evidence in structures that still stand up to date, ancient records and books that clearly show the achievements of Africans; destructive knowledge has found its way to our learning institutions and is fed into our minds generation after another.

9.) Religion

Most African religions believe in a supreme god who is the creator of heaven and earth. To justify slavery both Christians and Muslims used their respective religious books to rape, kill, steal and separate Africans from their homeland. They had no regards whatsoever for traditional religions and used fear as a weapon to weaken the minds of Africans and to cover up their real intentions which apparently to them is God’s will.

This is further seen during colonialism where Christian missionaries out rightly sought out to use the sacred scriptures in a genocidal way to keep Africans poor and ignorant.

8.) Slavery

When slavery is mentioned the first thing that pops into our minds is the triangular trade better known as the transatlantic slave trade yet we somehow forget or are completely unaware of the Arab trade that took place in the 19th century on the eastern part of the continent; which paved way for the transatlantic trade and did the same amount of damage if not worse than the west.

Some major difference between the two forms of slavery was that; the Arabs did not fully depend on their slaves to build their economy unlike the west where slaves were the engine powering economy and growth. Another notable difference worth sharing was an Arab slave could climb up ranks and even inherit property contrary to what would happen in the west where even if freed, a black man risked being taken back into servitude or even get killed.

Nonetheless this does not glorify or justify either side for their treatment of slaves but rather condemns the entire system of slavery and the exploitation of the African man.

7.) Colonialism

No sooner had slavery ended than colonialism began in fact there was barely a 20 year gap if any at all. The western world abolished slavery in the 1800 with Brazil being the last country in 1888 but it was such a lucrative business with high return on investment and as you may have guessed this did not seat well with a lot of European countries. Therefore, the Berlin conference was held in 1884–85 to divide and colonize Africa after all the bloodshed and destruction caused by slavery

The United States was invited to the conference but later declined to be part of it but this did not stop the rest of the western world from trampling on Africa once again and aggressively exploit its people and natural resources.

Britain, France, Germany, Belgium Spain, Portugal and Italy all established colonial states and drew the current boundaries of the ‘African cake’ further dividing one against another for their own personal gains.

6.) Segregation and Apartheid

Apartheid was a racially separating systems enforced by law in Africa but more notably in South Africa for at least 50 years until they were repealed and a new law and constitution put in place by Nelson Mandela after he was released from prison in 1990 losing 27 years of his life in the quest for justice.

Prior to this great achievement by Madiba in the spirit of Ubuntu, blacks lived in reserves in poor conditions with little to no sanitation at all where poverty crippled the development of Africans in the slums leading to very poor quality of education.

Blacks were required by law to carry passes day and night and without it risked prison or a beating to death. Efforts were made to further divide Africans in the slums among themselves to give Europeans more power much like Jim Crow south in America.

However, together with the A.N.C party Mandela and his colleagues fought not only against white domination in South Africa but against black domination despite being the victim of this inhumane system.

5.) Neocolonialism

Africa gained independence from European countries after the pan African congress of 1945. Although the continent was already wallowing in poverty from centuries of genocidal acts and exploitation by European powers, neocolonialism the last stage of imperialism, masked under the pretext of aid and development for Africa continued oppressing Africans and keeping them in diseases, hunger and illiteracy.

Independence was only a decoy or change of tactics to try prove to the world and Africa that European imperialists had left Africa for good but on the contrary they held ownership rights to much of the land, minerals and to some extent its people.

The European governments cherry picked leaders who put their interest first but if the leader would defect from European ideologies, tribal wars would be instigated among different ethnicities to oust the president leading to endless civil strife, coup de ta and plethora of wars.

4.) Land grabbing

More than 60% of land grabbing and acquisitions in Africa are by foreign corporations at rates only recently seen during colonialism period. Land is used for growing food sold to European markets for profit but none of it used for alleviating poverty and hunger in Africa. Land grabbing creates internally displaced people who move to other tribal lands in search of water and food leading to war.

Mining is another way land in Africa is being misused by corporations who have no regard for the mine workers risking their lives to put food on their tables. They work in very poor conditions sometimes in toxic waters filled with mercury without any protective gear leading to early deaths and abandoning of land that was once considered productive for farming.

3.) World Bank and international Monetary Fund

The two strongest and most influential global financial institutions were setup after world war two to rebuild broken economies of Europe and to avoid another depression caused by unregulated world markets. With majority of shares and the strongest economy in the world America dominated and controlled both institutions under one dollar one vote.

Loans were offered to poor under developed countries in Africa and around the world bound with unfair policies that impoverished governments and their people. Structural adjustment programs were introduced destroying domestic manufacturing therefore opening doors for big privatized western corporations to access and drain natural resources and to further economically subjugate growth and development.

2.) Tax avoidance and money laundering

Reports have estimated that in the past 5 decades alone over 800 billion has been lost through illegal transfers and money laundering schemes designed to conceal revenue from foreign companies with the goal of maximizing profits. These foreign nations take full advantage of the host nation’s weak government to practice corruption and encourage illicit outflows to offshore accounts where some of the money is used for funding terrorism and drug trafficking.

Despite the development of intelligent units and new legislation that critically monitor banking activities of European and American firms money laundering is still a major issue that keeps evolving with time keeping the African people poor.

1.) Media

The traditional school of thought widely accepted thanks to the media is that the west pours billions of dollars in Africa to develop its economy but no matter how much money is spent Africa never seems to grow. Recent research has disapproved this and shown that foreign aid is actually lower than what Africans in the diaspora send back home and only constitutes less than 2% of the GDP.

However, the media, a culprit in portraying Africa as a dark continent always in desperate need, keeps validating the notion of the west as a superior people to the Africans and encouraging white savior complex which does more damage than good.

Negative stereotypes have also been turned into truths and misinformation has become the norm in reporting news where we hear about how troops have been sent to stop wars and declare peace in Africa but we never hear about their sexual misconducts and rape cases.

This powerful but rather subliminal message is at the epicenter of poverty in Africa and to some extent is an ignorant and racist nod to the western powers, an indirect if not direct justification of their hideous and gross misconduct in Africa.

Disclaimer: This article does not in any way insinuate that all problems facing Africa are foreign based.

“Through history it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who could have known better, the silence of the voices of justice when it mattered most that has made it possible for evil to triumph.”

Haile Selassie

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Mark Odecho

A writer with a passion for stories on people of African Descent.