The dividing up of the society in Africa was not static. It was nonrigid. It was flexible. Social stratum is a person’s class in a society. People belong to different social strata or social stratum, and this could depend on the family that a person was born into or the type of occupation one is involved in e.t.c. but it could change for the better or worse.
In Africa, before colonization, the kings’ position was undisputedly at the top of the social stratum. The kings were at the top of the political hierarchy and slaves were placed at the bottom. Though, slaves were able to climb up the ladder to greatness.
Ancient Africa provided a level playing field for everyone to achieve greatness. A poor family could move up the ladder of society and a wealthy family could do better and sustain their wealth or push downward to poverty. Hard work and determination to succeed is one of the characteristics of Africa. This is evidence in the folklore of Africa and narratives of enslaved Africans in the Americas.
The history of Africa did not begin with the trans Atlantic slave trade. The effect of the slave trade is enormous but Africans, and especially the political leaders who see everything as politics and battle for wealth should desist from such thoughts and actions and think about the future of the children and continent. The social stratum between the poor and rich is widening per breath. And no wonder, youths are dieing across the Sahara desert to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.
Change is indispensable. Before the French revolution of 1789, the vacuum between the poor and wealthy in Europe was very wide. The stratum of society became static. The hierarchy of society became difficult to change. The rich became the masters and the poor became servants and serfs. The society was divided into two separate classes. It got to a diminishing level that the situation became unbearable as the poor were becoming poorer and the rich were becoming richer. The reason for this occurrence was the development in production and exchange of goods. This provided wealth, political and social power for a few people and the majority had no share in the development and wealth.
The peasant in France couldn’t endure anymore and had to put their destinies into their hands. The result was the bloody revolution that took place in that country. It brought change, general development, hope, equality and justice. The dividing up of society became nonrigid and flexible again.
Justice is the only hope for living and injustice is a contradiction of that hope. It will be dangerous if the wealth of Africa is in the hand of a few individuals and families and the majority of the people are poor. When the people are impoverished, they become desperate. Desperate situation could lead to desperate actions. History is a guardian Angel. Do Africans learn from the mistakes of the past?
James Akeem Osho Anago
James Akeem Osho Anago
1. G.T. Stride and Caroline Ifeka, 1969, Peoples and Empires of West Africa,
2. Basil Davidson, F.K. Buah, J.F.A. Ajayi, 1967, The growth of African Civilization, A history of West Africa 1000-1800, pages 173-174.
3. A.S. Hornby, 2001, Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary, Stratum page 1183.