How Europe Underdeveloped Africa’s Book Cover


How Europe Underdeveloped Africa is a great master piece authored by Walter Rodney. The book which was published in 1972 has been able to offer a classical insight on how Africa became underdeveloped compare to Europe. According to Rodney, Africa was premeditatedly exploited or raped by the European colonial powers. The major argument in the book is that Africa developed Europe at the same rate as Europe underdeveloped Africa. This corroborates assertion/theory by Andre Gunder Frank, “The development of the developed countries correspondingly led to the underdevelopment of the underdeveloped countries.”

Rodney further argues that why in the 20th century, Africa still faces poor state of political and economical system is evident in the power politics and economic exploitation by Europeans. Although he was not quite vocal on the roles Africans should play in the development of their continent, he strongly believes that every African has a responsibility to understand the exploitative capitalist system, which they have been crafted in, and to work towards its complete overthrow.

How Europe Underdeveloped Africa is undoubtedly one of the few most acclaimed books authored in the 21st century on African development and post colonial realities, just like “The Wretched of the Earth” authored by Frantz Fanon.

Features of the Book

  • Author —————– Walter Rodney
  • Country——————United Kingdom
  • Language—————–English
  • Genre———————–Essay
  • Publisher——————-Bogle-L’Ouverture Publications
  • Publication date—————–1972
  • Media type———————-Print (hand cover, paperback); e-books.
  • Pages————————-321
  • ISBN—————————0-9501546-4-4

About The Author

Born 23 march, 1942, Walter Anthony Rodney was a famous historian, political activist and academic from Guyana. After graduating from the University College of the West Indies (UCWI) in Jamaica in 1963, with a first class degree in History, thereby winning the Faculty of Arts prize, Rodney went ahead to earn a PhD in African History in 1966 at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, England, at the age of 24.

Rodney taught at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania within the periods 1966-1967 and 1969-1974 and at his alma mater, University of the West Indies, Mona, in 1968.

Rodney’s major aim was focused on how Africa and the Caribbean could break out from imperialism in order to have an independent and development minded system, as the existing system was retrogressive and retarded. This made him traveled far and wide and became well known internationally as an activist, scholar and a formidable orator. The Nigerian novelist, Wole Soyinka, in noting Rodney’s legacy, wrote how ” Walter Rodney was no captive of intellectually playing to the gallery of local and international radicalism. He was clearly one of the most solidly ideologically situated intellectuals ever to look colonialism and exploitation in the eye and where necessary, spit in it.”

Rodney authored several other books which include:

  • Speak
  • The Russian Revolution
  • The Groundings with my Brother
  • History of Upper Guinea – metamorphosed from his PhD dissertation which focused on the slave trade on the Upper Guinea Coast.
  • The History of Guyana.

Significance of the Book

Unarguably, the book “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” has stirred up, since its publication, great awakening and created some level of consciousness about the post-colonial realities and exploitative capitalist system Africa was forcefully crafted in.

The book has provided an extensive account of African history from the early African empires through to the modern day, a clear departure from the eurocentric thoughts. It further exposes how Africa was brought into the capitalist market system which are exploitation through trade and exploitation through investment (i.e imperialism). The former has to do with unfavourable and lopsided terms of trade, while later has to do with European ownership of land and mines (and banks, factories, etc).

On the whole, the book has provided Africans the knowledge base by creating the much needed awareness and consciousness capable of breaking out from the shackle of imperialism, which is the post-colonial realities of continued perpetuation of exploitation by the global powers. However, the book failed in x-raying the roles of local/African leaders in the European underdevelopment of Africa. Perhaps, its weakness has triggered authors such as Joshua Agbo in writing “How Africans Underdeveloped Africa: A Forgotten Truth in History” and Igwe Stanley in writing “How Africa Underdeveloped Africa.”


“Walter Rodney’s magisterial opus is recognized globally as a landmark in African studies, not to mention the history of colonialism and imperialism. Beautifully written and expertly argued, it is that rare book that can be called a classic. It belongs on every bookshelf.”

– Gerald Horne, historian and author of The Counter-Revolution of 1776 and Confronting Black Jacobians.

“This book is a legendary classic that galvanized freedom fighters around the world.”

– Cornel West, Philosopher, author, critic and activist.

“Rodney’s analysis remains as relevant as it was when first published – a call to arms in the class struggle for racial equality.”

-LA review of Books

“this classic work of black political thought, political economy, and Africa history inspired scholars and political activists in the struggle against colonialism and its misrepresentations of the past. I applaud this reissue, which should bring Rodney’s prescient analysis to a new generation struggling from below, in whose hands, he would have reminded us, is no less than the future of humankind.”

-Lewis R. Gordon, author of an Introduction to African Philosophy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *