chapter  1
The Culture–Development Nexus
Pages 14

Africa continues to lag behind all regions of the world on every established indicator of development. This point is hardly contentious. What constitutes the subject of fierce and often, rancorous debate is the question of why the continent remains perpetually underdeveloped despite national and international efforts to reverse the nightmarish situation. This question is not only germane, but also, its centrality in the discourse on development is undeniable. Yet this book is not about the causes of Africa’s underdevelopment per se. Rather, it is about how African customary and traditional practices, and the efforts to obliterate these practices by agents of Western civilization affect, or can potentially affect, socio-economic development in Africa. The book has two secondary objectives. The first is to contribute to efforts seeking to dispel the myth of pre-colonial Africa as a ‘dark continent.’ It accomplishes this objective by highlighting the accomplishments of Africans in domains such as family and social welfare, gender relations, health care, public administration, architecture and housing, prior to the European conquest. The second is to interrogate arguments that advocate supplanting African culture and tradition with Euro-centric values as a panacea for Africa’s development quandary.