1st Book Review: The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Recolonisation of Africa: The Coloniality of Data

The 4IR & The Colonisation of Africa

1st Book Review: The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Recolonisation of Africa: The Coloniality of Data

Lunga Dweba is the author of this piece.

Decoloniality entails more than just thinking and talking; it also entails action and doing.  The goal of a decolonial journey is to put one’s knowledge of decoloniality into practice through a creative discourse or an act of activism for societal change.   In this book, Benyera, E. (2021), argues from a decolonial perspective that “the fourth industrial revolution, [the apparent] process of accelerated automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices via digital technology, will serve to further marginalise Africa within the international community.” (Benyera 2021: np).

Before I mislead anyone about Benyera’s stance on the so-called 4IR, allow me to paint a picture of Africa’s tragic reality.  Africans have been unknowingly indoctrinated to idolise objects and services handed to them by past colonisers without comprehending the intended effect, and this has been to their detriment.  It is obvious that Western countries cannot, under any circumstances, use their strength and resources solely to aid Africa. It defeats the objective of keeping Africa underdeveloped for imperialist purposes.   This is something that all Africans must acknowledge.  

Colonial forces, Kwame Nkrumah believed, were to blame for Africa’s economic, political, cultural, and social underdevelopment.  His political activities and remarks demonstrated his belief that gaining political and economic independence was the first step toward long-term change.  Nkrumah’s legacy, like that of many other great leaders, is disputed to the point where I also refute many aspects of his vision of African unity: a topic for another day.

In his African philosophy, Nkrumah envisioned three components that could lead to an ideal state in post-colonial Africa.  These included achieving political independence, establishing socialism, and unifying the continent (Nkrumah 1961).  To say the least, Nkrumah saw the need for freedom and the unity of Africa and her islands into a single socialist ideal state.  In his 1961 speech ‘I Speak of Freedom’, Kwame Nkrumah acknowledged that Europeans dominated the African continent for centuries.  He contended that “The white man arrogated to himself the right to rule and to be obeyed by the non-white; his mission, he claimed, was to ‘civilise’ Africa.  Under this cloak, the Europeans robbed the continent of vast riches and inflicted unimaginable suffering on the African people” (Nkrumah 1961:1).  This is exactly how Nkrumah described the situation of Africans at the time. The difficulties on the African continent were created with one objective in mind: to benefit the colonisers.  Today Africans are being persuaded about the benefits of accelerated automation through digital technology.  What is the likelihood that the old objective has since changed?

Former colonial powers were urged by Nkrumah and others to exhibit goodwill and cooperation in redressing past mistakes and injustices. “All this makes a sad story,” he said in his speech, “but now we must be prepared to bury the past with its unpleasant memories and look to the future.  It is clear that we must find an African solution to our problems.” (Nkrumah 1961: 2). 

It is unthinkable that Africans should still be waiting for former colonial powers to demonstrate goodwill and cooperation after 60 years of Nkrumah’s plea.  The author argues therefore, that the fourth industrial revolution is postulated as the final phase which will conclude Africa’s peregrination towards (re)colonisation.  He says, “the looting of Africa that started with human capital and then natural resources, now continues unabated via data and digital resources looting” (Benyera 2021: np).  

Find the book here 

Everisto Benyera is Associate Professor of African Politics at the University of South Africa.

The GIA is a research-based security firm, whose primary purpose is to contribute to safer communities and world order. 

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1 Comment

  1. Precious - October 23, 2021 Reply

    Congratulations on the first book review. We as Africans MUST foster a new way of thought…a paradigm shift towards resolving Africa’s shortcomings. A new Africa, for Africans by Africans. As mentioned in the review, decolonisation demands ACTION… Talking and debating will take us to a certain point… ACTION will result in progressive results. Be it neocolonialism or re-colonisation, taking charge of Africa’s economy, resources & creating markets that can compete in the global village could be a step in the right direction…

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