Africa is no longer the Dark Continen

Publié le par hort

What Africans have still not understood is that the West is superficially rich because it lives off Africa’s wealth. It therefore has no interest in reform in Africa or in seeing Africans improve their conditions for fear of losing Africa’s ressources.This means that it is Africa that will have to make the difficult decisions in future to destroy this  leech that has been sucking its blood for the last 500 years . But first Africans must completely understand comtrol all the different parametres. Hort

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Africa is no longer the Dark Continent

Itayi Garande

April 7, 2010

AFRICA is no longer the Dark Continent anymore; it is flashing with vivid light. It has a lot of learned people, seasoned businessmen, and is springing in a step from what the colonists saw in the 18th Century. It is on the march and marching fast. At the same time, much of Africa is attempting to throw off the political and economic shackles of the West.

Africa has embraced the education and mode of life of the West, but will never embrace its domination or exploitation. The calls for indigenisation today in South Africa and Zimbabwe are simply an attempt to be free from colonialism with its deprivations, abuses and anachronisms. Jan Christiaan Smuts once wrote: "For better or for worse the old Africa is gone and the white races must face the new situation which they have themselves created in this continent."

The West loves Africa, not merely because it is important strategically and is packed with vital raw materials, but because it is their 'Last Frontier'. They cannot touch Asia anymore; Africa remains for the taking and it is their richest prize. What is more is that it seems almost defenceless and pants for development. The reasoning has shifted from "We will develop Africa" to "If we do not develop it, China will."

Yet Africa presents a problem for the West; a problem created by the West. Almost a century and half ago, European powers carved up Africa; and swindled large tracts of land out of native kings by giving them worthless loops of of beads; and made 'treaties' by planting a flag. For example King Leopold II of Belgium created and personally owned the Congo 'Free' State.  By 1900 Africa was completely owned by Great Britain, France, Belgium, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Germany. Africa was their melon and was duly portioned out, and it really didn't matter what the African thought about this. This scramble, and the subsequent partitioning, made Africa difficult to deal with. Something like 40,000,000 Africans left their tribes, and took up residence in towns and villages that were in countries they never knew existed, and had no economic, social or political makeup as their own. The social mixups caused by this uprooting are formidable and they presented (and still present a challenge) for the West.

Yet the African is blamed for tribal infighting and fighting for land, by the same people who partititioned it. They are called primitive, corrupt and all sorts. Political frontiers in Africa have little natural reality. For the most part, they mark off where the rule of one white man stopped and another started, but not much else. What is the difference between the Somalis, the Ethiopians and the Eritreans, in geographic terms? Or the Zulus and Ndebeles? The differences were made a long time ago by latitude and longitude-'written in the heavens'-by Europeans because the interior of Africa was almost totally unexplored. Even today nobody can tell from the terrain where for instance, the southern Sudan ends and northern Uganda begins. A tribe like Masai lives on both sides of the Kenya-Tanzania border, and pays little attention to what country it is in.

But one truth now exists: colonialism is over, and where it is not over, it is dying and dying fast.

Outright repression is no longer in vogue. Hence the major trend in most of Africa; especially Zimbabwe and South Africa, is a peculiar combination of stubborn defiance by former colonists of the growing power of the black ruling class, together with attempts to save the economic status quo where the black person remains subjugated and prolong economic dependence by a steady-if slow-process of amelioration and concession.

Sensible Europeans and white businessmen know that the price of peaceable survival on the African continent is reform. There are arguments that Africans cannot rule and are incapable of running big business or simply do not have the funds to do so; or worse still, that governance is synonymous with cronyism. That view no longer has much relevance, strange as this may seem. Africans must start somewhere, sometime, and must learn government and business by practicising it. The previous colonial governments did very little to promote the majority; and the majority have now taken matters into their own hands.

The irony is that nationalists are blamed for fighting segregation; sometimes by their own people. yet, it is segregation that is at the root of the African problem; it makes the African boil with discontent.
Wendel Willkie, the US Republican Party nominee for the 1940 presidential election, once remarked: "The colonial problem cannot be solved without equitable distribution of wealth everywhere." The pattern of today's Africa is troubling. Almost all African countries have now attained national independence and are sovereign states, but the struggle for economic independence continues. In South Africa DeBeers still owns diamonds, yet millions of Africans in that country live in poverty. A rich family still controls a whole country; and the headquarters of that company is not even in South Africa anymore.

Most of the continent's resources are shipped out of Africa in their raw form whereas beneficiation and value-addition would benefit the African countries. Most of the corporations that bleed Africa of its natural resources come under the guise of Foreign Direct Investment; and Africans have been made to believe that they need FDI to develop; yet FDI has been on the continent for centuries.

Africa is the most impregnable of continents, hence the least developed. Communications are still difficult. Roads and railways built, only go to the places where the corporations' businesses are, or go to. The continent has only about 9 per cent of the world's total railway mileage, yet it is as big as the United States, western Europe, India and China put together; and its area is one-fifth of the entire land surface of the globe.

Many people still struggle to make it through the day and survive on less than a dollar a day. Poverty and disease are rife. Yet multinational corporations have made billions from the continent.

FDI has been on the continent for over a century. What then is the relevance of that FDI? Why are we made to believe that foreign investment is a panacea for African development, when it hasn't done much good for so long? A new paradigm has to obtain. The grower of coffee on the African continent today receives less than one percent of the price of soluble coffee on the market – about .06 cents. That’s $.0006. In order to make even one cent, the coffee grower would need to grow and sell enough coffee for almost 1,700 cups of coffee bought at the local coffee shop in Britain. For most coffee growers, that means operating at a loss year after year. None of the money made by the corporations (Starbucks, etc) is reinvested in the African countries. Companies that extract diamonds, platinum, gold, etc are listed on foreign stock exhanges and remit billions annually to the West. They reinvest very little in sectors that do not benefit the people. They bank offshore. What good are they to the local stock market and to the local banking system?

There are some African leaders today who have fought hard to free their people. They despise the British, the French, the Belgians enough to be willing to take aid from anyone else; China for example, when they need it, if they can get it. They have nowhere else to turn. If the West does not help Africa to fulfil its legitimate aspirations (economic independence, etc), they have friends in the East, who helped the decolonise. It can take centuries, but it will happen. Rome was not built in a day.

Unless the West can embrace the legitimate concerns of the people of Africa, and not use backdoor tactics aimed at extracting and plundering, the bad joke will be on them. They will soon not withstand the heat Africa, like they did in Asia. The calls for indigenization in Zimbabwe, South Africa and the rest of the region are sincere and as serious as they can get. No court of law will stop the fight for self-determination on the continent. The African has simply come a long way; and is not about to be derailed at the terminus.

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