The continent’s elites have to reject the notion that being ‘modern’ and ‘civilised’ means aping the west

One of the greatest ironies in the history of the collapse of any civilisation must be the initial interaction between Africans and Europeans. The Igbos in the east of Nigeria, for instance, initially saw the Europeans as madmen of strange appearance and ill-formed ideologies. On banking, the Igbos wondered how an adult in his right mind could hand over his possessions for others to keep for him. By the end of the 19th century, the “madman” had overturned their civilisation, and they had adopted his.

The irony is especially relevant in these times when, given the relative failures of most former western colonies, there have been renewed calls for recolonialisation. In September, American professor Bruce Gilley wrote an essay arguing for a recolonialisation of some states, replicating colonial governance of the past “as far as possible” and even building new colonies from scratch.

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