Africans have been subjected to a lot of inhuman exploitations ranging from her human resource and labour to the natural resources. After the slave trade was abolished, there was need to expand in economy and land especially during the industrial revolution. Adventurers like Henry Stanley were sponsored by wealthy capitalists. He revealed that Africa was full of raw materials that could be exploited to fuel the emerging industrial revolution. Beyond the thirst for raw materials, the Europeans wanted control of the people and the lands which led to the partitioning of the continent.
Rules on how they will lead and control Africa were agreed upon. While ignoring the existing established kingdoms and tribes with rich cultures and history, these countries lumped together different groups of people, brought governance close to the people as they equally utilised the divide and rule system to discourage unity.
Over the centuries, Africans were subjugated in their own land while producing the workforce and raw materials for the development of the Western countries. The greed for the continued supply of raw materials and human workforce have led to Africa to continue to be under Neo-colonialism – exerting control by influencing the politics, economy and cultures of African people, after gaining pyrrhic independence across the continent.
After the independence across African countries, the leaders had thought they were ready to chart the course of African history but the stranglehold was deep and strong. Division based on allegiance to the colonial leaders had been formed and separation had become intricate. Forming a strong common force seems to have eluded African leaders as another scramble and partitioning of the economy of the continent looms albeit with increased players and interests.
As the European power declined, the Monroe Doctrine enunciated by president James Monroe in 1823 which talked about the America’s Manifest Destiny to develop an economy that depends on the continued exploitation of labour and natural resources and further an America that controlled the world and all its resources. A world that answers to the commands of the American military that will enforce its rules. The pursuit of this interest has seen America influencing the politics of several countries including Africa to the extent of influencing African people’s way of life. This is evident in the campaigns and sanctions on African countries that stood in the way of their interest or enact antigay laws.
One has to wonder, in the 21st century, African leaders should be able to stand up to these vicious, immoral and unbridled exploitations of Africa’s human and material resources. It is not far-fetched. Africa is not allowed to chart its course of history. They are kept poor for the continued supply of human resources and raw materials. It is against the interest of the imperialists for Africa to rise after all they are the ‘Dark Continent’.
But the rise of Africa is dependent on the words of Thomas Sankara, “Blacks must take responsibility for their own history and contribute to universal civilization”
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Few weeks ago, President Yoweri Museveni, in a viral video, lamented how six African leaders were ordered by NATO to return to their countries while on their way to solve the crisis in Libya. It may be surprising and disheartening why these leaders on a mission on behalf of the African Union on African soil will be cheapened and ordered like that. There were other leaders who stood at variance to the interest of the imperialists whose economies were crippled or they, taken out. Omar Torrijos, according to John Perkins in ‘The New Confessions of an Economic Hitman’, was committed to lifting his Panama people out of poverty. He didn’t succumb to the temptations offered by Moscow or Beijing, he believed in social reform, but he did not advocate communism. Unlike Castro, Torrijos was determined to win freedom from the United States without forging alliances with the United States enemies; he would die in a plane crash.
As President Mugabe moved in with his land reform which returned lands to the Zimbabwe people from the hands of settlers, his government was crippled through sanctions and he was tagged a despot amidst other issues. Internal crisis and chaos are often orchestrated within African countries as corrupt and greedy politicians are used to further the divide and rule system. Communities would be engulfed in fights, killing each other as their raw materials are carted away by local and foreign interests. The prices of these raw materials are yet not determined by the respective African countries.
These and many more instances crippled the continent and her people while influences on politics are done to get the corrupt and greedy politicians in the corridors of power allowing the exploitations without batting an eyelid. These deprive Africans the fighting chance to take responsibility for their own history but keep them poor in the midst of plenty.
Pope Francis on his visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo admonished, “fight to preserve your dignity and your territorial integrity” he said, “There is a slogan that emerges from the subconscious of many cultures and peoples: “Africa must be exploited”. This is terrible! Political exploitation gave way to an “economic colonialism” that was equally enslaving,” To the plunderers, he rebuked, “Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa: it is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered.” He then declared, “May Africa be the protagonist of its own destiny! May the world acknowledge the catastrophic things that were done over the centuries to the detriment of the local peoples…May Africa, the smile and hope of the world, count for more.”
Africans are hopeful to count for more only if the imperialists’ hands are off African politics, economy, human resource and raw materials. It starts from believing that Africans are humans and not “savages from a dark continent”. It starts from Africans being able to elect their leaders without entanglements with external influence and special interests who would not allow visionary leaders to lead Africans. It is also for the African people to declare enough and truly take charge of their history, which comes from self rediscovery and confidence in their own systems.
A true independence is for the peoples of Africa to be able to chart their history freely and not beggarly with slave mentality or cowardly migrating from Africa. That true independence will ensure Africa is ready to breathe.