The Dongola Times

(Anachronistic) Dispatches from the Kingdom of Makuria.
18th of November, 2014

Truth with the Uganda Native

When the Uganda native was not listening, see how blunt the England native could get:

With regard to the Export Tax on Uganda cotton for next year I suggest that in order to encourage the Uganda native to plant his cotton now—he plants in this month, June and July—His Majesty's Government should reduce or abolish the Export Tax on cotton for 1923. If this Tax is reduced, or abolished, you will encourage the native to plant his crop, and you may get a crop next year of 50,000 or 70,000 bales. The Revenue of Uganda would benefit, the native would get more money, he would buy more goods, and your railway would also benefit by the carriage of the increased crop and the carriage of increased imports of manufactured goods. The more money a native has the more English goods he buys.

What is happening to-day, and what happened last year, owing to the poverty of the native? The native who used to dress himself and his wives in coloured cotton goods made in England, was unable to purchase those goods and was forced to buy far cheaper stuff made in America and India. The first people to feel the effect of the poverty of the native were the people of Lancashire, and the last people to feel its effect were the people in America and India who produced a cheaper class of goods. The poorer native could not even buy the American or the Indian goods, and he reverted to the primitive state. Instead of wearing cotton he wore skins. I do not think you would lose if you adopted my suggestion. You would encourage trade in Uganda, encourage business in East Africa, certainly make trade better in Lancashire and in India; and, as trade improvement in one country benefits another, if you improve the trade of America you would also reap the benefit.

Here, there is no pretence about the point of maintaining the colonisation. That the African native may produce raw materials, be compelled to deal them in British currency, ship them at a loss, and buy them back to the profit of the colonists.

It is the same today. But what is particularly interesting is how, in the times when it was not shameful to refer to the "Colonial Office", rather than (say) "Department of State", the point of colonisation and imperialism was never hidden, at least not from the Britain native (that is, his lords). This was an immensely more-just system, because at least it did not lie. Nobody there pretended that the railway was to deliver democracy or good governance to the African, or whatever other lie is used to justify modern imperialism. Back then, it was about extracting value in terms of money, labour, and raw materials, and nobody lied. Today, even when it is clearly about oil, we compound the sin of thievery with the insult of false goodwill. How shall we escape?