Africa has been a scrambled continent. It’s a big, diverse continent, with different languages, ethnic groups, and cultures but with similar political and economic conditions. It is a continent blessed with human and natural resources as well as a prime producer of natural resources that solve some of the world’s problems. These natural resources have been a blessing but also a curse.
They are a blessing through which Africa’s numerous economic problems should be solved but they have become a curse for which the peoples of Africa are trampled, subjugated, exploited, dehumanised, oppressed and rendered poor.
Africa’s history of being oppressed cannot be told without pointing at the slave trade. Although it ended centuries ago, the effects are still germane. As the slave trading of Africans became abolished, the Westerners devised colonialism to continue the subjugation of Africa.
For just over seventy years, the Westerners colonised Africa which had the most effective change in the life of the peoples of Africa. Colonisation affected and altered the indigenous systems and institutions, religion and belief systems: instituted tribal politics, authoritarianism and ultimately a continued slavery in the form of exploitation as the peoples of Africa continued to be the source of labour and natural resources for the development of the Western countries. Although some felt that inasmuch as the exploitation raged on, the Westerners brought development, education, hospitals and other infrastructure. But it was not all that.
“By its very nature, colonialism was prejudiced against the establishment of industries in Africa, outside of agriculture and the extractive spheres of mining and timber felling. Whenever internal forces seemed to push in the direction of African industrialization, they were deliberately blocked by the colonial governments acting on behalf of the metropolitan industrialists.” Walter Rodney wrote in How Europe Underdeveloped Africa.
But there came a time Africans rose to demand for freedom – freedom to manage their own affairs. As BBC reported, “After the Second World War people in Africa wanted change. Only Egypt, Liberia and Ethiopia were independent at that point. But it was Indian self-rule which triggered the momentum leading to independence. Everywhere the mood was hopeful as people were inspired by the vision of a new society free of European control.”
The hope for a new society free of European control was yet mangled as they once again devised neo-colonialism as another way to keep Africa down. Although neo-colonialism is utilised even in Asia, the system in Africa is choking. Most African leaders were corrupt and unsure of how to manage the new society created a fall-back to the colonisers. As Kwame Nkurumah described neo-colonialism, he wrote, “The essence of neo-colonialism is that the State which is subject to it is, in theory, independent and has all the outward trappings of international sovereignty. In reality its economic system and thus its political policy is directed from outside.” Africa has continued to be directed from the outside.
Neo-colonialism is immorally embedded in Francafrique. It is described as France’s policy to prop up dictators in its former colonies in exchange for access to resources and military bases. It is also about ‘schemes to maintain control of African countries and operating through indirect forms of control and, in particular, by means of the economic, financial, and trade policies of transnational corporations and global and multilateral institutions.’ as explained in Britannica.
“One African, the other French – Françafrique is the ultimate symbol of a confiscated, perverted sovereignty. Worse still, it is currently begetting little monsters, as one speaks, every now and then, such as Chinafrique and even Canadafrique. Nevertheless, this singular coinage perfectly illustrates France’s dogged refusal to decolonise…” Boubacar Boris Diop stated.
“94 French senators penned a letter to Mr. Macron in which they bemoaned the collapse of French influence in Africa, The group of French senators blasted the Élysée Palace for allowing what they consider “French Africa” to become “militarily Russian Africa, economically Chinese Africa and diplomatically American Africa.” The New York Sun reported.
These senators who may have been benefiting from the immoral policies of exploitation, regrettably want France to continue with its exploitative policies. These internal corrupt individuals aid the foreign powers to the continued domination and oppressive political and economic pursuits.
In recent years, there have been trappings of a second scramble for Africa. The Western-European countries and Asian countries are looking towards Africa, struggling to be the dominant power in control of African nations. It begins from Africa’s relations with these individual countries; like, Russia-Africa, China-Africa, US-Africa among others.
How can each of these countries lump Africa as a whole in one trade or economic policy in a new globalised economy and making Africa yet again the central point?
Sara Pantuliano & Max Mendez-Parra wrote in Brookings with the title, ‘UK-Africa relations: The need for an urgent reset’, “The green transformation of the U.K. economy towards net zero will require the creation of partnerships with many African countries to ensure access to critical inputs, such as rare earth minerals…Importantly, the creation of new and strengthening of old partnerships between the U.K. and individual African economies must be at the centre of the U.K.’s global economic and political strategy.”
As the situation changes, these countries also change their dynamics and ways to maintain their “partnerships”. These partnerships targeting Africa’s market, labour, and natural resources, have ensured that Africa’s independence remained hollow. But, Africans do not at this time want such “foreign partnerships.”
The new struggle for Africa’s total independence should start from the minds, streets, politics, and economy among others. A new partnership between African countries with their counterparts, must seek and ensure balance on trade and relations on equal footing. Can Africa achieve that with the crop of the seemingly compromised leaders? Africa’s independence must begin with their internal politics. The peoples should secure the power of the ballot to elect the leaders of their choice with people oriented policies. Such struggle and movements will ensure the elimination of foreign-dependent policies, corruption and local connivance in exploitation of the natural resources.
The Arusha Declaration powerfully expressed one of the deepest truths of the colonial experience in Africa. It stated, “We have been oppressed a great deal, we have been exploited a great deal and we have been disregarded a great deal. It is our weakness that has led to our being oppressed, exploited and disregarded. Now we want a revolution – a revolution which brings an end to our weakness, so that we are never again exploited, oppressed, or humiliated.”
Africa’s total independence is imminent. The power of the risen people is insurmountable. Let the revolution begin.