From Slave Ship to Space Ship: Africa Between Marginalization and Globalization


  • Ali Mazrui


Africa and the African people made a far bigger contribution to the technological revolution of the West than the West did to industrial change in Africa. Walter Rodney was concerned about how Europe retarded Africa's development. But is there not another big story--the story of how Africa accelerated Europe's development? Did not Rodney also contribute to this second debate? Especially in Chapters III and V of his book, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Each step in Africa's contribution to the development of the West was itself a stage in the history of globalization. I referred to these stages in my M.K.O. Abiola Lecture for the African Studies Association of the United States in 1994. The era of the labor imperative was when the labor of Africa's sons and daughters was what the West needed for its industrial take-off. The slave ship helped to export millions to the Americas to help in the agrarian revolution in the
Americas and the industrial revolution in Europe simultaneously. The enforced dispersal of Black people to serve Western capitalism was itself part of the emerging globalization.