By Olufemi Taiwo

Why hasn't Africa been capable of reply to the demanding situations of modernity and globalization? Going opposed to the normal knowledge that colonialism introduced modernity to Africa, Ol?f?mi T??w? claims that Africa was once already turning into smooth and that colonialism used to be an unfinished undertaking. Africans aspired to liberal democracy and the rule of thumb of legislation, yet colonial officers aborted these efforts whilst they verified oblique rule within the provider of the ecu powers. T??w? appears heavily at smooth associations, comparable to church missionary societies, to acknowledge African enterprise and the impulse towards growth. He insists that Africa can come again on the right track and advocates a renewed engagement with modernity. Immigration, capitalism, democracy, and globalization, if performed correct this time, will be instruments that form a confident destiny for Africa.

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I am aware that many would dispute the suggestion that colonialists, especially those that operated in Africa, could have been part of any positive movement for social transformation. I abjure this dismissive attitude because it is not supported by the historical evidence. There were, as I show in the book, administrators who took this profession seriously and argued, even if unsuccessfully, that they and their fellows ought to deliver on this part of their promise and that that was the only justification for bending the will of Africans under colonial rule.

The key lies in showing the intimate even if conflicted connection between colonialism and the much larger complex from which it emanated: modernity. We need to break the connection that is often affirmed between modernity and colonialism. We must reverse the causal line or at least the lexical ordering that seeks to place colonialism before modernity and uses the former to explain the emergence of the latter in the continent. My aim is to offer a more nuanced account of the relationship between modernity and colonialism: one which shows that (1) if one works with an ahistorical conception of colonialism, it will be very difficult, maybe even impossible, to explain the differential impact of colonialism in different places at different times; and (2) if we adopt a historical approach to colonialism, we will find that its modern inflections set in bold relief the peculiarities of the variety that took root in Africa and can therefore give us a more adequate etiology for Africa’s evolution in its aftermath.

Such an analysis will enable me to circumscribe the specificity of the colonialism that took root in Africa and ascertain to what extent it supports my thesis that it was a bulwark against the efflorescence of modernity in Africa after it was introduced to some areas of the continent in the first half of the nineteenth century. Others have charted the paths that I propose to take in this book. 4 What I do here that is different is to take very seriously the historicity of colonialism and explore its philosophical underpinnings.

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