Why did Africa let Europe cart away millions of Africa’s souls from the continent to the four corners of the wind? How could Europe lord it over a continent ten times its size? Why does needy Africa continue to let its wealth meet the needs of those outside its borders and then follow behind with hands outstretched for a loan of the very wealth it let go? How did we arrive at this, that the best leader is the one that knows how to beg for a share of what he has already given away at the price of a broken tool? Where is the future of Africa? – Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
Commercial greed, territorial ambition, and political rivalry all fuelled the European race to take over Africa. This culminated in Africa’s partition at the Berlin Conference 1884-5. The whole process became known as “The Scramble for Africa”.
It is painful and pathetic that even several years after most of Africa received its independence, Europe is still present and influential in the continent. While military occupation and sovereign control over African territories have all but been eliminated, political influence, economic preponderance, and cultural conditioning are in existence with full adornment.
At the time colonial bigwigs were controlling our land, they were too sensitive and fast (in thinking) enough to discover our natural and mineral resources, cultural artefacts and heritage, they carted away our inheritance and substituted it with shoes, glasses, mirrors and ilks.
Ghana is losing 30 per cent of its government revenue to debt repayments, paying loans which were often made speculatively, based on high commodity prices, and carrying whopping rates of interest. One particularly odious aluminium smelter in Mozambique, built with loans and aid money, is currently costing the country £21 for every £1 that the Mozambique government received.
Africa is rich, but Europeans and Americans steal its wealth. They steal from our Peter and give our Paul stipends in form of grants, donations, loans and host of others. They thrashed our heritage, culture and belief yet they handed us their way of life with branded name — civilization.
We were brainwashed that it’s sinful to write with our mother tongue. They succeeded in making us feel less about our origin and less understand how integral language is to a culture and its identity.
Less known are the devastating effects on Africa’s environment that the stripping of raw materials and natural resources such as rubber, timber, diamonds, and gold were found in Africa — Africa has a large quantity of natural resources, including diamond, sugar, salt, gold, iron, cobalt, uranium, copper, bauxite, silver, petroleum and cocoa beans, but also woods and tropical fruits etc.
Their aid is tiny, and the very least it can do, if spent well, is to return some of Africa’s looted wealth. They should see it both as a form of reparations and redistribution, just as the tax system allows to redistribute wealth from the richest to the poorest within individual societies. The same should be expected from the global “society.
They must change the way they talk and think about Africa — inherently intellectually inferior and incapable of deep thought. It’s not about making us feel guilty, but correctly diagnosing a problem in order to provide a solution. They are not, currently, “helping” Africa. Africa is rich. They should stop making it poorer.
David Diop writes,
Africa my Africa
Africa of proud warriors in ancestral Savannahs
Africa of whom my grandmother sings
On the banks of the distant river
I have never known you
But your blood flows in my veins
Your beautiful black blood that irrigates the fields
The blood of your sweat
The sweat of your work
The work of your slavery
Africa, tell me Africa
Is this your back that is unbent
This back that never breaks under the weight of humiliation
This back trembling with red scars
And saying no to the whip under the midday sun?
But a grave voice answers me
Impetuous child that tree, young and strong
That tree over there
Splendidly alone amidst white and faded flowers
That is your Africa springing up anew
springing up patiently, obstinately
Whose fruit bit by bit acquires
The bitter taste of liberty.
© Basheer Luqman Olarewaju