SOAS meeting: How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

On Thursday 10 October a lively event of 80+ people took place on the campus at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London to discuss the Walter Rodney book, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa.

The meeting was split into two parts, starting with contributions from a panel of speakers from Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (FRFI), the All African Revolutionary People’s Party (AAPRP), as well as an independent activist, followed by open discussion. 

The aim of the meeting was to look at the role we should play as anti-imperialists living in an imperialist country like Britain, when it comes to tackling the issue of underdevelopment in Africa.

The first contribution was from an independent activist and involved her talking about how she began reading Walter Rodney's bookHow Europe Underdeveloped Africa, after she met with a few members of FRFI and decided it would be a good idea to organise a public meeting.

An introduction was given on Walter Rodney, himself a Pan-African socialist, who began his studies in Guyana (Central America) and then pursued his education in Jamaica and then England. As well as being a student, Rodney remained an activist taking part in student activism, famously participating in a conference on Guyana in 1965. 

Rodney took his message of black power and black liberation to the masses in Jamaica. He maintained close relations with other African revolutionaries who fought against external aggressions.

This was then followed by a summary of the book, in which Rodney describes in detail the historical events that occurred in pre and colonial Africa. Rodney mentions very early that Africans must break from the international capitalist system in order to re-define themselves. The agents of change, he says, should be Africans themselves, but also anyone who wants to join the fight against imperialism.

The first speaker from FRFI spoke about the link between capitalism and imperialism. The speaker explained how capitalism cannot be sustained without the exploitation of oppressed people abroad and the role that corporations, organisations like the World Bank, IMF, and charities play in the underdevelopment of Africa.

The next speaker from FRFI spoke about the exploitation of Africa's natural resources and the reason why Africa is the poorest continent in world yet the richest in terms of minerals and wealth. This included a clip from the documentary'Lets Make Money' which was used to expose how violent the imperialists can be in order to benefit themselves.

The last speaker from AAPRP spoke about the role that military interventions play in Africa, also speaking about the neocolonialism – the continuation of imperialism’s exploitation of Africa. The role that Pan-Africanism has played and is playing in the struggle against the underdevelopment of Africa was also highlighted.

The discussion section which followed was lively with contributions ranging from those who have been in the struggle for years to those relatively new. A lot of the contributions focused on the lack of education that exists in Britain and that there is a need for more action based organisation to challenge imperialism.

In the spirit of the meeting the group are getting together again to discuss how to move forward thisSaturday 19 October. If you would like more details please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.