The Poor Black Rich: Africa

Gold mining Africa

The pre-historic continent and mother of modern humans, Homo sapiens, is aching from poverty, although it’s one of the richest lands in terms of resources and raw materials.

Just to imagine how rich this land is, in gold only, South Africa, a single state in Africa, was the world number one gold producer for decades, producing alone 15% of the world’s supply from gold in 2002, and 12% in 2005. Still, there are other countries known for producing gold like Ghana, Zimbabwe, Congo, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Cote d’lvoire, Mali and recently Sudan and Eritrea. Africa’s reserve is ranked either first or second in 7 minerals deposits, including Platinum-group metals (PGM) and diamond.

What happened to our rich mother? Cradle of modern humans and civilizations? The discoverers of agriculture 18,000 years ago and iron casting 6,000 years ago?

These peaceful nations were hunted as slaves just for their dark skins. They weren’t considered humans by Europeans. Imagine a land that is being plundered since the age of the Pharaohs, how would it look like after a 1,000 year of raiding? Even the cruel Pharaohs weren’t so racist, the left paintings as an evidence for absorbing other’s nations such as the Nubians in their ranks 4,000 years ago.

The European started what is called “Scramble for Africa” in 1870. They invaded every inch in the land under a façade of colonization and protecting trade routes. What they actually did was trading with this overseas market during their long depressions, plundering the raw materials, and even better, hunting slaves.

Discovering gold in this poor land under military occupation from the superior Europeans made it even more important, especially after 1886, Witwatersrand Gold Rush in Johannesburg.

Gold was mined in Africa mostly by artisanal miners, and still. European mining co-operations developed mining technologies to increase the productivity, and trained the youngsters in finding gold. Later, large mining companies from all over the world came to compete in this market. They prospered and leeched the land from their riches especially with the low-cost labor, underage children. In exchange, they provided governments with the capital they needed to start importing outdated technologies and keep the people barely alive.

Some countries gained benefits from mining companies’ expeditions. But many of these expeditions had a negative impact on the environment, social and medical care of the populations.

Africa may be rich in minerals, but her children are suffering from poverty and tribal wars. Unless these countries issues are settled, it still will be our poor mother.