Alagi Yorro Jallow

Africa’s seventy years of Europe-US diplomacy on the line. Epic tragedy. Seismic shifts underway. Africa (most countries now Chinese colonies) not ready to shift upwards and occupy the power vacuum fault lines in Asia.

Not long ago, at a meeting in the US, I remember speaking to a rather skeptical audience about the shift East of global politics that was already evident to a number of African Students Committee. I gave the illustration of the new curricula I was working on as part of a team thinking through the foundations for a new teaching course (module) for our African studies program.

For us, it was already clear that the 21st century would belong to the Indian Ocean as opposed to the Atlantic / Pacific alliances that had dominated the 20th. I’m not sure I’d call this a tragedy; but then of course, for selfish reasons perhaps given my geographical location as a citizen of the Atlantic Ocean country, I am more invested in the Atlantic Ocean connections than in the Indian Ocean. I’m still reflecting on what this shift means for Africa’s place in the world. We are an ancient continent. Perhaps in the greater scheme of things seventy years is just a moment in time.

For African countries, it seems to me we now have to measure which colonialist are better for us. The West exploited Africa dry and left a broken people to figure a way out by themselves (cruel, considering the Marshall plan the US accorded Europe after their World War 2 devastation).

We still haven’t attained the Pan African power to negotiate our way upwards. Our new colonial master, China, is also exploiting Africa dry but while constructing massive infrastructure which we get to enjoy and boast in and look all spiffy. On the surface, it seems looking East is a better deal for Africa. But is it, when we aren’t controlling our own economy? I think a number of African Presidents (including Adama Barrow) are silently buying into the laziness of becoming Chinese satellite states.

This worked for some small nations which to date seem peacefully colonized, secure and developed (e.g., unincorporated territories of the US). Do we want to become territories of China? I think consciously choosing (neo)colonization to maintain an upward trajectory of development and security has to be a temporary last resort (what Botswana did). For African leaders who’ve chosen to look East so completely without a care to the details of the devastating contracts they sign with China, I think it’s a lazy choice with opportunities for corruption and personal wealth. Asia will rule, yes, but we/Africa still have the opportunity to define our place under their domination of world politics. Where are our Kwame Nkrumah’s?

How do we bring back to the current generation the sense of patriotism? How do we create conscious African pride without calling it an economic stigmatization? I can only pray with the shifting tides we are acquiring some sense of independence in being able to sit at the table of negotiation. Our hands are still tied to our backs, but we can only hope the awakening will carry along with it more focus on patriotism rather than individualism.