Africa of the inequalities: the history according to Denis Cogneau
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Cogneau Denis, director of research at IRD (Research Institute for Development), is a teacher at the EHESS. He focuses his research on themes of inequality, social justice, education and health. He offers us a schematic picture of the African situation in terms of inequalities, and their historical origins. Africa is a continent of contrasts which perpetuates inequalities between peoples and countries, and is affected by numerous ethnic conflicts that often arise from socio-economic disparities.
An Italian statistician has attempted to quantify these inequalities through the Gini coefficient, which considers that "0" represents perfect equality and "1" represents total inequality (i.e. one person has all the income available). Africa is characterized by its coefficient of the more unequal the world: 0.61. Other scientists have established the Theil index, which is also an absolute equality to 0, but the index indicates an unequal point in society that comprises 82.4% of people and 17.6% of resources. The disparities widen with higher numbers.
A distinction is to be observed as the countries of Latin America are more likely to have a level of inequality as African countries (50%). Africa combines international and intra-national inequalities due partly to its colonial history, which has reinforced existing inequalities (between coastal regions and the rest of the territory). It was thus already unequal before the colonizers arrived, and they only accentuated the situation.
The metropolis, to ensure its seat on the colonized territory and population, relied on local elites. The territory is vast, and he could not control any territory and needed local support. African elites are as responsible for the colonial exploitation of African resources. They returned the game of claiming the Western burden of the white man with a mission of civilization to have engineered the looting of Africa.
Denis Cogneau remains relatively neutral in his work, he shared numbers, without actually indignant that the real consequences of colonization has brought about. While this avoids influence the reader in having only simple tables of figures or historical findings when the evidence proved so convincing, it is legitimate to take a minimum position.
"The Indirect Rule" was the British colonial regime in which power was entrusted to local leaders in exchange for their support. Loyalty or purchase of these leaders was not allowed to place too much military force to control the large territory.
Decentralization of authority between mainland and the African elite was necessary to control the vast territories colonized. We have here a first source of inequality since the settlers have chosen to transfer their authority to local leaders by holding them as superior.
Tags: Africa; Denis Cogneau; inequalities in Africa; history of Africa