Posted: March 23rd, 2023

Why Western Stereotypes about African History are Wrong


Understanding the past is vital to every individual and society as it enhances people’s knowledge of their identity and rank locally or globally. However, history has seen its share of contemptous opinions from racist philosophers and ideologists. Particularly, the African history has been refuted and stereotyped for no reason. In fact, Ignorant ideas about Africa were first seen in the 19th century when German philosopher George Hegel declared that this continent could never be considered a historical part of the world as it lacked motion and development. Later, in 1965 Hugh Trevor-Roper backed up Hegel’s ideas by mentioning that there was no history to teach about Africa. Such uninformed ideologies reflect how western scholars have a racist view of Africa and by showing that they do not have a belief that Africans can achieve like the rest of the world. The sentiments of the two philosophers emanate from the fact that Africa lacked paper sources to show their history and progress throughout history. However, in today’s world various books and studies show that the African history is built on ideas, industrial civilization, institutions, cultures, and societies. Therefore, it is crucial to understand that Hugh and Hegel’s ideologies are built on ignorance as history goes beyond movements and written materials, as the African historical background and progression exhibits. Africa has always been viewed as classless and stereotyped by many ideologists, while the continent has social, cultural practices, political structures, and instituted economic designs that continually show the history of this region, as will be discussed.   

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Africa’s Political History

During the pre-colonial period, African political structures existed in the forms of kingdoms, states, or empires. Those in authority acquired their positions by being famous warriors or people with significant trading expertise. For instance, during the scramble for Africa, leaders of various empires used their knowledge and power to authorize their kingdoms to confront, submit, or make alliances with their colonizers (Kasongo 2015, 170). That is why African leaders from French West Africa surrendered alongside their community members, as they felt that confrontation would lead to huge adverse effects for their people and states. The Swazi Kingdom and Northern Ghana opted to make alliances with their colonizers to protect against other communities and groups of interest. However, larger empires like Yao, Ndebele, Bakongo, Hehe, and others organized their communities and aggressively confronted their colonizers.

During the colonial period, renowned party leaders stopped working from a Kingdom perspective. Instead, party supporters unified their countries and rallied black people into radical groups that aggressively fought against white imperialism. For instance, South Africa was initially divided into kingdoms, but in the wake of apartheid, key figures like Herzog formed moderate and extremist political parties, which embraced all Afrikaans to fight against oppression in the country (Kithinji 2015, 209). Through the influence of powerful people like Walter Sisulu, Nelson Mandela, and Steve Biko, African youths fought against white domination in either through violent or peaceful approaches (Kithinji 2015, 213). As such, the colonial period is most attributed for exposing talented leaders in the African history who led the struggle for independence.

Post-colonial period transformed African states, which took centralized approaches to make Republic countries. However, the brutality of the colonial era saw most nations struggle to build democratic, multiracial, and free countries, like in the case of South Africa. The underlying reason was that colonialism instilled social fear and suspense amongst Africans (Kithinji 2015, 217). However, leaders like Nelson Mandela dealt with such cases tactfully by designing reconciliatory approaches and integrating each community in South Africa within the social and political platform (Kiogora 2015, 229). Today, African leaders are recognized globally and offered prominent positions in international institutions. For instance, despite his African descent, Barrack Obama is the president of the most powerful nation.

Africa’s Economic History

In pre-colonial Africa, kingdoms had well organized financial systems for the purpose of economic dominance. During this time, Africans lived in vast empires that instituted on large economies as their trading skills allowed them to acquire lots of wealth. Governments of large territories accumulated their wealth through taxation and successful raids. However, the colonial period saw Africans undergo through tough economic times as imperialist rulers exposed them to harsh labor and dominated their states. Particularly, the decline of most empires resulted from leaders’ greed, which led them to sell their sovereignty for their personal welfare. In fact, Africans were deprived their privileges, power, and freedom to become economically stable (Anyanwa & Njoku 2015, 264). Later, colonies realized that they were being exploited, and the need to dominate again and have a power saw Africans frequently engage in wars with their colonial masters (Anyanwa & Njoku 2015, 262). Notably, due to the rebellions, imperial rulers gave in to the African demands.

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The power struggle that started in the colonial era endured to the post-colonial period, where many states continued to engage in civil hostilities as the effort to acquire and control the scarce resources led to a war-torn Africa (Anyanwa & Njoku 2015, 267). Nonetheless, the post-colonial period saw the beginning of Africa’s Renaissance to become a globalized state that embraced the free market policies and social relations, which led to the continent’s economic advancement. Later in the 1970s to the late 1990s, the economic stability of African states started to decline where poverty levels increased, while growth stagnated in the entire sub-Saharan Africa labeling the continent as the poorest in the world. Africa continues to languish in poverty as various obstacles inhibit its growth. Therefore, Africa’s economic history shows that the continent is financially unstable based on bad governance, poor domestic policies, an adverse demography, international debts, and overreliance on primary products (Njong 2015, 299-303). In all of the African history, the post-colonial era poses the greatest economic instability in the continent. In essence, the African nations have bad macroeconomic, high illiteracy levels, severe burdens, and low life expectancy within its states.

Africa’s Social-Cultural Practices

Africa’s unique social-cultural practices are exhibited through the black people in America today. From studies, the residents in the diaspora were from African and went to America during the slave trade. In the pre-colonial period, Africans lived in small communities that were built by close-knit families and communities with each holding unique cultures (Kiogora 2015, 223). However, colonization commenced the journey towards a deteriorated African culture as black people were sold and distributed all over the world. It was during the colonial period that the civil rights movements and Pan-Africanism were born with a purpose of recognizing African cultures around the globe. In essence, these leaders acknowledged that there was a need to liberate Africa from imperial rulers since the continent was their home of origin.

The Pan African movement is significantly recognized for changing the worldview that African cultures were inferior and backward. In fact, the crusaders revealed that practices in Africa were adequate and only required reinstating and nurturing. For instance, Henry Garnet advocated for African civilization, which played a key role in allowing black people to have inherent privileges of self-rule, immense political power, and rich cultural intellectuality seen in most of those in the diaspora (Kiogora 2015, 224). For that reason, the post-colonial era saw most Africans in the diaspora embrace the African cultures, their history, take pride in their continent of origin, and actively participate in redeeming this vast continent. Notably, during the post-colonial era, civil rights movements rose in large numbers, changed the world’s perspective of Africa, and redefined the self-image of this continent. By and large, the dictatorial regimes, which showed Africa as a divided and undemocratic, were dismantled as the Cold War ended. The real African culture of a liberal world was reinstated, while people from the diaspora started taking pride in their homeland (Kiogora 2015, 228). Today, the close-knit culture in all African descendants has nurtured a spirit of benevolence where people from the diaspora are investing in their home countries and consistently participating in the daily activities of their continent.


The above discussion has clearly shown that Africa has abundant political, economic, and social-cultural practices. Initially, Africa was built on kingdoms and empires, but these structures were dismantled to make centralized governments after colonisation. Africa also had strong financial systems that allowed territories to accumulate wealth and maintain their dominance on other empires. However, the colonial period saw African states affiliate with capitalism as the struggle to acquire wealth gradually led to the high poverty levels in this continent and increased civil wars. The African history indicates that this continent had unique social-cultural practices, which were altered by colonization and the slave trade. However, the post-colonial period has seen Africa’s self-image redefined to exhibit the region as one with respectable cultures that require nurturing and reinstatement. Clearly, Africa has a history that needs it to be recognized worldwide. Therefore, both Hegel’s and Trevor’s ideologies are based on ignorant philosophy as the African history supersedes documented papers since the continent is imbibed on ideas, industrial civilization, institutions, cultures, and functional societies.



Anyanwu, E, O, & Njoku, C, R. (2015). The causes of wars and conflicts in Africa.

(re)Tracing Africa: A Multi-Disciplinary Study of African History, Societies, and Cultures. Ed. Salome Nnoromele and Ogechi.Anyanwu, Kendall Hunt.

Kasongo, M. (2015). European expansion and the scramble for Africa. (re)Tracing Africa: A Multi-Disciplinary Study of African History, Societies, and Cultures. Ed. Salome Nnoromele and Ogechi.Anyanwu, Kendall Hunt.

Kiogora, G, T. (2015). Towards an African Renaissance: Pan-Africanism and African in the

diaspora. (re)Tracing Africa: A Multi-Disciplinary Study of African History, Societies, and Cultures. Ed. Salome Nnoromele and Ogechi.Anyanwu, Kendall Hunt.

Kithinji, M, M. (2015). Apartheid in South Africa. (re)Tracing Africa: A Multi-Disciplinary Study of African History, Societies, and Cultures. Ed. Salome Nnoromele and Ogechi.Anyanwu, Kendall Hunt.

Njong, M, A. (2015). Economic growth and development in Africa: Challenges and prospects.

(re)Tracing Africa: A Multi-Disciplinary Study of African History, Societies, and Cultures. Ed. Salome Nnoromele and Ogechi.Anyanwu, Kendall Hunt.


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