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Since the 19th century
the study of African history has undergone radical changes, Africa has always
had a single story, a story that is beginning to shift, but a story that is
nevertheless still present, one that argued they were a people without history.
One of the reasons of this was the inscribing of Pan-Aryanism African by Count
Arthur de Gobineau in his classical book An
essay on the inequality of Human Races as well as many others. It created a
hierarchical conception of race that had led to the need for historians to
become occupied with changing the notion that Africans were ‘primitive’ and ‘savages’.
Therefore, the identity of African Americans and Africans alike has proven to
be an issue of great proportions for centuries.  Firstly, it has taken many years to set the
record straight regarding the history of Africa and every major history book
included the concept of “contributionism” in the retelling their story.  However, due to the influence of many Pan
Africanists such as Marcus Garvey and W.E.B Dubois, alongside many African born
and African American scholars such as J.Matunhu, the story of Africa is being
retold correctly thus allowing for the cultural and political indoctrination of
the diaspora to loosen ever so slightly. This essay will talk about…


There are two main theories held
by scholars regarding the future development of Africa; the modernisation
theory and the dependence theory. The Modernisation theory is one that was more
specifically followed in the 1950s and 1960s but is ultimately is an economic
theory linked to capitalism. Arguably, it is about following in the footsteps
of the former coloniser – Europe. Rodney (1972) in his book ‘How Europe underdeveloped Africa’ clearly
argues that the responsibility of enlightening the ‘Dark Continent’ did not lie
with the west. Africa was developing in its own way, for instance they had
established empires is the East, West, South and centre of the continent.
Rodney further insists that the central empires such as the Kingdom of Dahomey
was extremely powerful and had much wealth.1
Samir et al(1987) expands on this concept as it is suggested that Africa
utilised its own technology and techniques.2 Thus,
proving that before the first encounter with Eurocentric ideas of development, Africa
had already founded its path to development.3
1444 marks the arrival of the Portuguese to Africa which brought about a
paradigm shift of the future development of Africa. The Rostowian theory is a
key example of this is it shows the western influence in its glory. The theory
proposed that there were stages that Africa had to pass through in order to
show development.  This view is supported
by Gabriel (1991) which argued that modernity is related to the modern values
of production4,
or as Matunhu (2011) states, western views of production.

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Coetzee criticises this theory as
he calls it an oversimplified view of social change.5
Matunhu further expands on this claim by adding that human nature has a
propensity to resist change.  He also
argues that the theory can be criticised for failing to consider the poor as
the centrepiece in poverty reduction initiatives. Also, he suggests that the
theory fails to recognise the creativity and initiative of Africans and instead
places value on externally sourced aid thus demonstrating a hidden agenda
behind the West’s intervention.6
This is supported by Rodney (1972) as according to him the Berlin Conference marked
the establishment of economic and political domination of Africa by the West.7
Andre Gunder Frank in 1967 proposed that modernity distorted the truth, the
truth regarding the motive of the developed countries on their former colonies.
Europe capitalised on its encounter with Africa.8


Flaws in the modernisation theory gave impetus to the birth of
the Dependency Theory post World War II. Dependency theory holds that “the condition of
underdevelopment is precisely the result of the incorporation of the Third
World economies into the capitalist world system which is dominated by the West
and North America”9
as defined by Randall and Theobald in 1998. Therefore, dependency implies a
situation where a particular country or region is dependent on another for
support, survival and growth (Ikechukwu 2013.)10 Matunhu (2011) argued
that the basic message of the dependency school is that the development of the
metropolis was a result of the active underdevelopment of the non-metropolis
For example, human capital is continually flowing out of Africa. In analysing
the metropolis- satellite relationship noted by Matunhu, Le Roux (1992) and
Samir (1977) argue that the development of Africa could lead to a dominance
that cannot be allowed as they could take the surplus for themselves therefore the
optimum rate of development needed to be monitored and the pace determined thus
came the implementation of ineffective strategies to combat this. Matunhu uses
this as an explanation for the continued poverty of African nations although it
must be noted that this entirely one-sided account could potentially stem from
anger as Matunhu is an African National, similarly, Ikechukwu is a Nigerian. Therefore,
a degree of resentment can be expected, although, the criticisms are valid,
there is almost no positives in either article in regard to western


This links
to the identity crisis which is seen within many African Americans and Africans
living in America. This is because the two major theories regarding economic
development include the West or European intervention to some degree. This can
lead to a form of self-hatred which Malcom X said in his Rochester address was
caused by the white man, ergo, form a cultural indoctrination appears. Michel Foucault
in the History of Sexuality
recognised the significant role representations of the body had in the historic
shaping of lived experiences, he argued that western modernity was obsessed
with human normality. This led to the African Atlantic constructions of
identity being under the Western dominance. He also argued that racism is most
poignant at the level of the body.12 Stuart Hall criticised this
by arguing that dominant power relations only become ‘normative’ upon ‘subjective
self-constitution.’ 13 To a degree, Stuart Halls
argument is valid in the sense that he understands that perception of the self
is entirely subjective however the one-sided view suggests that one has a
choice in deciding whether to let outside influences (the West) affect oneself.
Msia Kibona Clark in identity among first
and second generation African immigrants in the United State s disagrees
with Hall’s argument that it is entirely subjective as her study was on the perception
of African Americans versus Africans living in America.14
There is a clear divide in America regarding the American born descendants of
Africans and the Africans living in America, there is a tendency within
communities to form an ‘Us’ and ‘Them’. She argues that this is to do with the
identity of African Americans often being shaped by others and due to the
experiences of African Americans self-definition and self-identification has
become an integral part of African American self-determination.15 Coates in is Obama Black enough?16
it is argued that the time when Obama rose to prominence, is the time when
the distinction between African American and Black American emerged. The term ‘Black
American’ is used to distinguish the old Diaspora from the new. Clark also
argues that for second generation African immigrants, there is a pressure from
the wider African American community to become ‘African Americanised.’17 This argument is
supported by her primary source material which is a series of interviews with
second generation African immigrants conducted between 2005 and 2007. It also maintains
the view that the African American community has been massively westernised as
they are anxious to uphold the distinction between the two sub-communities as
they prefer not to adhere to the stereotype of Africans and even go as far to
westernise them.


This could
be due to the Pan-African Movement that emerged in the early 20th
Century when the first Pan –African conference was held in London in 1900

1 Rodney,
Walter. 1972. How Europe Underdeveloped Africa London: Bogle-L’Ouverture

2 Samir
A, Chitala D, Mandaza I (1987). SADCC Prospectus for Disengagement and
Development in Southern Africa: Studies in African Political Economy-United
Nations University, London: ZED Books Ltd.

3J. Matunhu 2011. “A Critique Of Modernisation And Dependency
Theories In Africa: Critical Assessment”. African Journal Of
History And Culture 3 (5): 67.


4 Gabriel,
T. 1991. The Human Factor In Rural Development. London: Belhaven

5 Coetzee
KJ, Graaf J, Heindricks F, Wood G (2007). Development: Theory, Policy and
Practice. Cape Town: Oxford University Press.

6 Matunhu
2011, Critique Of Modernisation And Dependency pp

7 Rodney.1972.
How Europe underdeveloped Africa pp

8 Frank
AG (1967). Crisis in the Third World. New York. Holmes and Meier.

9 Randall,
Vicky, and Robin Theobald. 2001. Political Change And Underdevelopment.
Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave. Pp120

Ikechukwu. 2013. Dependency theory and Africa’s
underdevelopment pp 116

11 Matunhu
2011, Critique Of Modernisation And
Dependency pp

12 Michel
Foucault, The History of Sexuality: An Introduction, Volume 1. Translated by
Robert Hurley (New York: Vintage, 1990; 1978) pp 33, 90

13 Stuart
Hall, “Introduction: Who Needs Identity?” in Questions of Cultural Identity, Stuart Hall and Paul du Gay,
Editors   (Newbury Park, California: Sage
Publications, 1996) pp13-16.

14 Msia
Kibona Clark (2008) Identity among first
and second generation African immigrants in the United States, African Identities,
6:2, 169-181


16 Coates,
Ta-Nehisi Paul. 2007. “Is Obama Black Enough”. Time.,8599,1584736,00.html.

Clark (2008) Identity among first and second generation immigrants, pp173

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