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In episode five of “The Voyage of Africa” Basil Davidson educates his audience on certain aspects of the colonization of the African continent by Europeans. Davidson discusses the use of force, religion and slavery, which were used by the Europeans to steal land, resources and people from Africa.
Basil Davidson began this episode with a short discussion about slavery and the Atlantic Slave Trade and its origins. He discussed the fact that millions of women, children and men were taken from their homes and forced into slavery at the hands of their people, leaders and of course Europeans. Davidson has mentioned in previous episodes that Africans were treated well by Europeans up until the slave trade; in this episode he elaborates on this fact. The narrator discusses how Europeans treated Africans with respect up until the slave trade. He even goes on to say that there was a significant amount of resistance to the slave trade by the local people in the beginning. It surprised me to learn that the protests and objections about the slave trade did not make a significant difference. It is sad that greed was able to create an environment in which objectifying and forcing people to work and be tortured was acceptable. It is interesting to think about what the world may have been like had the slave trade never been created. The world would certainly be a very different place had this horrendous act not taken place.
Basil Davidson then goes on to discuss the missionary turned explorer, David Livingston. Livingston was an English missionary that eventually left the mission and became an explorer after he disagreed with the way that the church was conducting its missions. David Livingston was the first European to lay eyes on the Victoria Falls, which he named. When Livingston was visiting Africa, a few friends that he was staying with took him out to see the glorious falls for the first time. Livingston made sure to document this event in his memoirs, despite this, Europeans later declared Livingston the “discoverer” of the falls and even erected a statue there in his honors. It is sad that at one time white people held strongly the idea that “is a white man has not seen it, it does not exist.”
Lastly, I found it upsetting that Christians used such brutal and harsh methods to gain converts in Africa. Davidson discussed that often times missionaries would flog the local people until they denounced their spiritual gods and accepted Christianity. It seems incredibly harsh and non-Christian to physically force another person to convert. The video of the missionaries from the 1960s burning the religions tokens of the local people was particularly frustrating. These missionaries convinced the locals that their religion was wrong and they that needed to denounce their faith and destroy everything involved with it including their religious items. In the video there is very clear pain in the eyes of these individuals while they watch their religious sacraments burn before them. I know that missionaries usually, generally believe that they are doing the right thing and doing God’s work, however I believe that there are many times that mission work and religion do more harm than good.
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