The wealth of Africa
In her book “Bible Legacy of the Black Race,” Joyce Andrews quotes King Tushratta of Mitanni, a Syrian king, in his letter to Pharaoh Amenophis III, in which he says:
My brother, please send me gold in very large quantities that cannot be counted. My brother, please send me this, and my brother, please send me more gold than my father received from you because in my brother’s land, gold is not as abundant as dust on the ground.
The wealth of Africa has been a major attraction for many peoples since ancient times. The Greek historian Herodotus referenced the riches of Ethiopia, stating, “The farthest inhabited land to the southwest is Ethiopia, and it is rich in gold.” From ancient times to the present day, the African continent remains arguably the richest on the planet. However, the irony is that the richest continent has the poorest inhabitants.
The richest continent has inhabitants seeking gifts and aid from around the world. The measure of wealth in the entire Egyptian empire is revealed by the type of gold and precious objects found in the chambers surrounding the tombs of various pharaohs, such as King Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922. His burial chamber was filled with chariots, finely crafted furniture, intricately painted chests, boxes filled with fine linen and silk, countless garments, and fifty thousand beads. Even the guards tasked with guiding his burial chambers wore sandals decorated with pure gold.
Due to the negative perception of 19th and 20th-century views on Egypt, some concluded that artistically crafted chests surpassed anything Egypt could produce. Fine bronze works, bead plates, and gold were found everywhere. There were other treasure chambers studded with gold. Chests and boxes contained all manner of artistic products, and as they were opened, they contained even more chests within chests. The final tomb itself was magnificent, with four sanctuaries.
The work on the tomb was done with skillful artistry and intense labor. What was discovered was incomprehensible to those who believed that Egypt’s agrarian culture was not sophisticated enough for the craftsmanship they found. Tutankhamun’s burial, with his face covered in gold and his mummified body containing one hundred forty-three objects, had to be one of the most expensive and extraordinary burials. It was Africa at its finest, Africa before its fall and decline.
Africa’s decline preserved only the precious minerals it contained until the looting by European countries. Although the theft of African wealth began in the 15th century AD with visits to sites like Benin in Nigeria by the Portuguese, at the Berlin Conference of 1884-85, European countries claimed African nations because they considered the natives an ignorant group led by chiefs. Once the chiefs were bought, they had unrestricted access.
Except for Abyssinia (Ethiopia) and Liberia, the entire continent of Africa was divided among five major European nations: the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. France assumed political responsibility for a third of Africa. Belgium, with a population of only seven and a half million at the time, became responsible for African territories that in some cases were ninety-five times larger than itself.
Portugal had a population of five and a half million at the time and became responsible for Angola, Mozambique, nations that were twenty-one times larger. Note that racism and slavery were justified by the inferiority of African natives in the eyes of their colonial masters, and through the art of slavery, Europeans justified their actions by providing help to the slaves for a better life.
Africans were made to appear as if their continent had nothing to offer, as if they were merely surviving. This marked the beginning of Africa being used as a storehouse of raw materials for the benefit of Europe. Meanwhile, Africans, the natives, reaped no benefits, except they were given work on their own land while exporting their own raw materials.
Take South Africa, for example, where whites have ruled for three hundred years. Diamond mining in the mines began with European occupation. The vast majority of workers in the mines were black Africans themselves, who were barely paid and treated as if they were to dull their minds.
In his book “Mine Boy,” Peter Abrahams tells how drinking establishments were built around the mines so that as soon as they received their wages, these natives would use that money to drown their sorrows in alcohol. Natives also provided domestic services in various households.
NATURAL RESOURCE WEALTH
Africa is not just rich in gold and diamonds; it is a continent where no nation lacks natural resources. One-third of the world’s bauxite reserve is found in Africa. This specific ore is used in aluminum production.
Other mineral-rich African nations include:
- The Democratic Republic of Congo has over a million metric tons of cobalt metal.
- Morocco has a similar metallic cobalt.
- Beryllium is found in Madagascar, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zimbabwe.
- Chrome is found throughout South Africa and in some parts of West Africa.
- Manganese is found in most of West Africa and in the Kalahari Desert.
- Algeria also has manganese.
- Gabon has oil deposits and vanadium, a rare element used to strengthen steel and make it shock-resistant.
- Nigeria has not only oilfields but also thirty-two trillion tons of natural gas, which has been burning for thirty years and is still thirty-two trillion. Nigeria also has tantalum, a metallic element similar to titanium.
- Lithium is found in large deposits in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, and it is used in some cases to manufacture cell phones.
- Platinum deposits are found in South Africa.
- The Democratic Republic of Congo is the world’s primary source of radium.
- Uranium is found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but the largest uranium deposit is in Niger, just north of Nigeria.
- Most of Africa’s copper is found in Central Africa, including Zambia, Malawi, and the Central African Republic. Zambia has thirty-six million tons of it.
- The Democratic Republic of Congo has twenty-six million tons of copper.
- Botswana, a small country, has five hundred thirty thousand tons of metal copper reserves.
- Mauritania has the largest copper reserve in West Africa, seven hundred forty thousand tons.
- Uganda has two hundred thousand tons of copper.
- Africa as a whole has one billion tons of lead reserves, with North Africa being the largest producer.
- Africa has zinc deposits of 16.5 million tons. Morocco and Algeria have significant zinc deposits.
- Large phosphate deposits are found in North Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and some regions of Nigeria.
- Morocco and Western Sahara have significant phosphate deposits totaling twenty thousand billion tons. The Western Sahara, Algeria, and Tunisia regions together have twelve thousand billion tons of phosphate.
- Egypt has sixty million tons of phosphate.
- Togo has sixty million tons of phosphate. Senegal has one hundred forty million tons of phosphate.
- The world’s only source of aluminum phosphate is in Senegal, estimated at one hundred million tons.
- Other phosphate deposits are found in Tanzania (ten million tons), Uganda (one hundred eighty million tons), and Malawi (eighteen million tons).
- Granite is found in Morocco and Nigeria, with Nigerian granite being of particular interest as it is the only sandy-looking granite in the world. Vast granite reserves are also found in Burkina Faso.
- Quartzite is produced in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Dolomite is produced in South Africa.
- Dolerite is produced in South Africa.
- Marble is found in Nigeria, Mali, Togo, and South Africa.
- Limestone is a key element in cement production worldwide and is found in abundance in West Africa, stretching from West Africa to Central Africa, and extending to the Atlantic coasts. Major deposits are in Togo, Ghana, and East African countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and South Africa.
- North Africa has a significant reserve of Jepson on the Mediterranean coast, which is also used in construction.
- Somalia has a reserve of thirty million tons of Jepson.
- Nigeria has an unquantified bitumen deposit, so much so that it is encroaching on farmland, yet Nigeria imports bitumen.
- There are also significant metallic deposits throughout Africa. In Algeria, iron ore would be one and a half billion metric tons.
- There is also iron ore in Western Mauritania.
- Mauritania has twenty-seven million tons of copper ore.
- In Algeria, various metallic deposits are found that are necessary for different work. This list includes tin, nickel, chrome, zinc, lead, cobalt, silver, gold, platinum, molybdenum, a metallic element used to reinforce steel, and wolfram, used as a source of tungsten in electricity, thorium, a radioactive metallic element, and uranium.
Was Africa poor? Was Africa the poorest and darkest continent? No, it was and still is the richest continent, inhabited by the poorest populations. This confirms the statement of Ali Mazrui, professor of sociology at Kenyatta University:
Africa produces what it does not use and uses what it does not produce.
This text is an extract from the book “What’s Wrong with Being BLACK ?” written by Matthew ASHIMOLOWO.