Today’s ongoing exploitation of African resources within an established tradition of external interference, the ability of corporations to avoid paying taxes and keep dictators indifferent to their citizens’ plight in their pocket.
The emergence of China as a viable funding alternative to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), concludes that the ‘second colonialism’ driving Euro-American globalization may not end.
Before the end of the first period of colonialism African nations were properties of their colonial masters who did what, they could to rape the continent of whatever resource they deemed good for the development of their citizens in Europe.
Out of nowhere and without any consultation with the people of the African continent, the Europeans met and divided the continent amongst themselves in what has been termed ‘The Scramble for Africa’.
Through this scramble France, Britain, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Germany and Italy all went on a looting spree, raping Africa of her resources without putting any of the proceeds back for the development of the continent.
When US President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Gambia on 13 January 1943, he was so appalled by the conditions of Gambians that he made this lamentation:
“It’s the most horrible thing I have ever seen in my life… The natives are five thousand years back of us… The British have been there for two hundred years – for every dollar that the British have put into Gambia, they have taken out ten. It’s just plain exploitation of those people.”
He continued, telling his son Elliot, “I must tell Winston Churchill what I found out about his British Gambia today. This morning, at about eight-thirty, we drove through Bathurst to the airfield.’ (Elliott notes that it was here that his father began speaking with ‘real feeling in his voice’.) ‘The natives were just getting to work. In rags … glum-looking…They told us the natives would look happier around noontime, when the sun should have burned off the dew and the chill. I was told the prevailing wages for these men was one and nine. One shilling nine pence. Less than 50 cents.’
“An hour?’ Elliott asked.
‘A day! Fifty cents a day! Besides which, they’re given a half-cup of rice. Dirt. Disease. Very high mortality rate. I asked. Life expectancy – you’d never guess what it is. Twenty-six years. Those people are treated worse than the livestock. Their cattle live longer!”
The silent plunder of Africa’s resources that never ceases, with African Presidents being enablers of the plunder through greed-driven contracts. The number of those who die and/or get tortured as indentured laborers was huge and the exploitation became peculiar to Africa, suffered from the same colonial exploitation and underinvestment.
Remember, the Chinese exploited, processed and traded in our resources of the earth for years. They controlled international trade and made Africa’s economy, owned the products and their means of production, like now, for example, the Chinese cut down a tree in Africa, process it in Guangzhou and sell you back a made-in-China toothpick.
This covert strategy to control the massive resources of the African continent by France, China and the US have had competing interest in Africa for years, and these have intensified in the name of international cooperation as efforts for multinational control of Africa’s resources grow. A mish-mash of factors has made African resources so easy to destroy: one, poor political leadership; two, a long history of open borderless, greed, greed, and more greed from the political class.
The African Union! Sigh… No bark no bite. Powerless organization as far as protecting Africa’s interests goes. That leaves each country with the responsibility to protect its own interests. It all comes back to this: exemplary political leadership that will ensure rule of law, thriving of its own citizens as a priority, non-nonsense win-win contracts with rich countries; contracts that do not sell out Africa’s resources just to enrich a few.
With a protectionist and Africa-first approach, you will not have thousands of Africans fleeing their own plundered countries to search for better life in Europe.
One could say- but the numbers of negligible raw resources compared to a rising African middle class (“fastest growing middle class in the world”) and the entire continent’s population.
Let’s agree that knowing our history as Africans, control of our economic resources by a foreign power is a total abomination. And that rising African middle-class floats on an economy that can go south in a second, primarily because of bad politics.
But then imperialism discovered the more efficient sea routes and took the power away from Africa’s control of world trade, which led to slavery and colonization and the erasure of everything great that Africa had been and could have become. Before the Eurocentric, the Americentric and the approaching Sinocentric world, there was an Africentric world. No, you really don’t get taught this fact of history.
The weakened and fragmented giant that is Africa still has its “vibranium” magic that shines through a ravaged history and a lot of self-inflicted wounds where some African countries have advanced far more than western countries and villagers use this technology so casually they think it’s normal.
When we learnt about Mansa Musa in high school, the global context of the world was never taught. To us these were just small happenstances in Africa’s “primitive” history that we learnt- Who was Mansa Musa? Sultan of Mali Empire, that Mansa Musa’s global fame and power was equivalent to that of an American President in an Americentric world; and that this Afrocentric global power went on for seven centuries.
For almost 300 years the Europeans, who were supposedly, irresponsibly looted Africa’s resources and made slaves of its natives without developing their colonies. When the local population protested this exploitation without reciprocal investment, they were brutally crushed, as happened in the Congo, where King Leopold II of Belgium looted the resources, made slaves and killed close to 10 million Congolese.