Permit my exercise in tautology to state for the umpteenth time and as we all know that Africa has been mostly stagnant if not receding and also has been plagued over the years with political and socio-economic mishaps; poor governance, poverty, illiteracy, underdeveloped and undeveloped in some areas and volatility in many areas. Over the years many scholars have deduced that our problems are as a result of the inhumane effects of slavery and colonisation. Slavery ended in the 1800s while colonisation for the better part ended in the 1960/70s. This is around 30-40years of independence and still Africa stands at a distant far compared with other colonised parts of the world.
So why is Africa still majorly stagnant and un/underdeveloped?
Let me take you back to first independent African nation- Ghana and to the book of its great men if not the greatest Kwame Nkrumah titled: *Neo-Colonialism, The Last Stage of Imperialism. At the time he published this book, Nkrumah was the President of Ghana. One year later he would be deposed by a military coup that was supported by the American CIA. The name of Nkrumah’s book is a variation on Lenin’s own study of imperialism written 50 years before and named Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism.
He explained to us in great detail how the West especially the US was responding to the successes of national liberation movements like the one he led in Ghana, by shifting their tactics from colonialism to neo-colonialism: « Without a qualm it dispenses with its flags » and « claims that it is ‘giving’ independence to its former subjects, to be followed by ‘aid’ for their development. Under cover of such phrases, however, it devises innumerable ways to accomplish objectives formerly achieved by naked colonialism. »
He mentioned that the Neo-colonial powers pursue their agenda through the United Nations through two UN agencies they established after the WW2 and that they fully control without any pretext of democracy, namely the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF): « Still another neo-colonialist trap on the economic front has come to be known as ‘multilateral aid’ through international organisations: the International Monetary Fund, the Inter-national Bank for Reconstruction and Development (known as the World Bank), the International Finance Corporation and the International Development Association are examples, all, significantly, having U.S. capital as their major backing. These agencies have the habit of forcing would-be borrowers to submit to various offensive conditions, such as supplying information about their economies, submitting their policy and plans to review by the World Bank and accepting agency supervision of their use of loans. »
Neocolonialism as did colonialism provides immense profits for the colonialist in both cases. He mentioned how western monopolies control the prices of goods by lowering the prices and siphoning some $41 billion in profits from 1951 to 1961… Furthermore they profited and still do from high rates of interest: « while capital worth $30,000 million was exported to some fifty-six developing countries between 1956 and 1962, it is estimated that interest and profit alone extracted on this sum from the debtor countries amounted to more than £15,000 million. »
He also mentions the following about their inhumane ways of exploitation « There are conditions which hedge it around: the conclusion of commerce and navigation treaties; agreements for economic co-operation; the right to meddle in internal finances, including currency and foreign exchange, to lower trade barriers in favour of the donor country’s goods and capital; to protect the interests of private investments; determination of how the funds are to be used; forcing the recipient to set up counterpart funds; to supply raw materials to the donor; and use of such funds a majority of it, in fact to buy goods from the donor nation. These conditions apply to industry, commerce, agriculture, shipping and insurance, apart from others which are political and military. So-called ‘invisible trade’ furnishes the Western monopolies with yet another means of economic penetration. Over 90 per cent of world ocean shipping is controlled by the imperialist countries … As for insurance payments; in 1961 alone these amounted to an unfavourable balance in Asia, Africa and Latin America of some additional $370 million. » From his Analysis, Neo-colonial exploitation « operates not only in the economic field, but also in the political, religious, ideological and cultural spheres.”
He furthermore explains in detail how the mass media, Hollywood, the US Peace corps, religion, the US information agency and a host of others are all engaged in Neo-colonialism.
On Holly wood he vividly describes, « Even the cinema stories of fabulous Hollywood are loaded. One has only to listen to the cheers of an African audience as Hollywood’s heroes slaughter red Indians or Asiatics to understand the effectiveness of this weapon. For, in the developing continents, where the colonialist heritage has left a vast majority still illiterate, even the smallest child gets the message contained in the blood and thunder stories emanating from California. And along with murder and the Wild West goes an incessant barrage of anti-socialist propaganda, in which the trade union man, the revolutionary, or the man of dark skin is generally cast as the villain, while the policeman, the gum-shoe, the Federal agent — in a word, the CIA — type spy is ever the hero. Here, truly, is the ideological under-belly of those political murders which so often use local people as their instruments. »
On Mass media he said « While Hollywood takes care of fiction, the enormous monopoly press, together with the outflow of slick, clever, expensive magazines, attends to what it chooses to call ‘news. Within separate countries, one or two news agencies control the news handouts, so that a deadly uniformity is achieved, regardless of the number of separate newspapers or magazines; while internationally, the financial preponderance of the United States is felt more and more through its foreign correspondents and offices abroad, as well as through its influence over inter-national capitalist journalism. Under this guise, a flood of anti-liberation propaganda emanates from the capital cities of the West, directed against China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Algeria, Ghana and all countries which hack out their own independent path to freedom. Prejudice is rife. For example, wherever there is armed struggle against the forces of reaction, the nationalists are referred to as rebels, terrorists, or frequently ‘communist terrorists’! » As we would remember that not only until June 2003 was Nelson Mandela taken off the United states terrorist list!
“Neo-colonialism is also the worst form of imperialism. For those who practise it, it means power without responsibility and for those who suffer from it; it means exploitation without redress… Neo-colonialism, like colonialism, is an attempt to export the social conflicts of the capitalist countries. The temporary success of this policy can be seen in the ever widening gap between the richer and the poorer nations of the world. But the internal contradictions and conflicts of neo-colonialism make it certain that it cannot endure as a permanent world policy.’’ said Nkrumah.
The same has been well detailed in Dori Borrelli’s speech 214; **Neocolonialism in Jamaica: History, practices, and resistance (4/25/02).
“The imposition of structural adjustment programs in the Third World since the 1970s has been characterized as a war against the poor, a process of [neo] recolonization” (Turner, 1994: 37). This statement is particularly applicable to the country of Jamaica. The island has been susceptible to a variety of neocolonial acts including the presence of multinational corporations, structural adjustment programs, and loan organizations that have sucked Jamaica’s economy dry.’’
“Stephanie Black’s documentary “Life and Debt” reveals much about the current situation in Jamaica and the long-lasting effects of the IMF loan. Poverty and crime are unacceptably high. Farmers are unable to compete with the international market. Imported food and goods are cheaper than locally produced goods and food. Even for those who are employed life can be terrible. As a result of the establishment of the Free Trade Zone, women are exploited and subjected to sweatshop conditions. The free zone is located in Jamaica but owned by multinational corporations such as Hanes and other American clothing companies that operate worldwide. These goods never step foot onto true Jamaican soil. Wages are low and offer no guarantees. When production becomes too expensive or can be done more cheaply somewhere else, by someone else, the companies get up and leave, often without even paying the Jamaican workers. In sum, this is an incredible film and in many instances excruciatingly truthful. With the documentary Black makes a very necessary statement about the impact that debt and foreign loan have on Jamaican society. (Black: 2001)”
These are historical and real cases of the effects of the neo-colonialist policies of the West on the developing/underdeveloped world.
Now to come back to the Nigerian tale, we are no different from these neo-colonies, we as well are a neo-colony. Our economy has been crumbled by the World Bank, IMF loans; the West has supported our various corrupt leaders from corrupt military dictators to corrupt politicians, supplied weapons and trainings for the massacre of the innocent in the Niger-delta, promoted repression and poverty and even at some times supported coups and assassinations like they did in Ecuador and Panama to mention a very few.
These have been peripheral of the West’s Imperialist and neo-colonial agenda and actions. A couple of months back Barack Obama was elected as the President of the US, majority of Africans rejoiced and celebrated like he was been inaugurated at the President for Africa. For a while I could understand their joy of being black and having a black man president of the US, but that is where it should all end! People took it further expecting a miracle from him to save Africa, to speak to his African/black brothers to change and rule with dignity and decency. They were wrong and have fooled themselves building castles in the air.
Obama, like any other US president represents the same neo-colonial US, which is out to dominate the world either by guns or debt! He drives the same agenda of exploitation, repression and self interest which has built and sustained the US economy and state. For those that thought he was a Jesus reincarnate, for those who thought he was sent to save us, for those who thought he and the west owed us or still owe us something, I say: Wake up from your slumbers! They owe us nothing!
I read an article by Sabella Abidde O. (A Nigerian Living in U.S.A) titled »What Does the World Owe Africa? » In which he vividly mentions “. I am not sold on foreign intervention in Africa’s domestic affairs, but this is one of those times when the West must work in concert with the people of Africa to effect changes. For instance, London, Paris, and the White House know the right people and the right groups to work with in order to effect these changes. Until now, they have principally collaborated, cooperated, and coordinated their efforts with parasites and leeches.”
Then he, naively further states that “What’s to be done by the West? A series of steps needs to be taken: (1) Deny African elites and ruling class funds and any kind of investments in western nations, (2) Deny African leaders, along with their proxies and family members, medical treatment in hospitals in the West; (3) Deny the children of these leaders from accessing learning in Western learning institutions; (4) except for meetings at such places as the United Nations, decline all visa applications by African leaders, access Western courts so African leaders can be sued when war crimes and crimes against humanity are committed.”
Firstly, numbers 2 and 3 are simply against human rights. You can’t deny anyone an access to medical care or education on any grounds even if they are convicted criminals!
What the writer of the above quoted text has failed to understand is that these neo-colonial powers are the main one gaining from our economic, political and social slavery. On what basis should they give up this strong position they hold? Why would they do it? Remember colonialism as much as the world powers then knew it was inhumane and evil still they held onto it for as long as they could until various revolutions started occurring all around the colonies, and the new world power US was ready to take over from tem as neo-colonialists. That was only when they started giving up their strong holds. The West fought and died to keep us under colonialism, why would they walk away freely from this new neo-colonialist position they have now?
Of course they know the groups to work with for growth and development, but would they ever do that? Would that profit them? Wouldn’t that reduce their grip one various economies and nations? Do you think they want that? We need to understand fully the forces that are working against us and then we can proffer proper solutions.
Also, I read Sola Salako’s “Open Letter to President Obama on General IBB and Nigerian Elections in 2011” In which she pleads with Obama not to endorse/support an ex general (Ibrahim Babangida) in the next presidential elections in 2011.
After reading this article, I felt cheap, sold and made inferior to be a Nigerian. How in the world would someone degrade herself and her country as to plead to a foreign power not to support a candidate? Who cares if the US supports a candidate? I don’t!
Isn’t it up to the Nigerian populace to decide on whom to vote for? Or does the US support for a candidate determine the elections in Nigeria? When did Nigeria become the 52nd state of the US? (As Israel is already the 51st). This is a real shame for we Nigerians and Africans, we all claim to be educated, free and independent but still our mentality and reasoning beggars belief. It loudly spells out “Mental Slavery” and as Haile Selassie I and Bob Marley said we need to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery, because none but ourselves can free our minds.
Also she mentioned “IBB(Ibrahim Babangida) represents everything you (Obama) do not: Despair, Tired Hands, Status quo, Establishment, Dictatorship, Corruption, Lack of Vision, Lack of Integrity and Accountability, Unfairness, Same old, same old as you Americans would say.”
Then I ask if the Obama administration is supporting a candidate with the qualities she has described then how on earth doesn’t he represent what Obama represents or how doesn’t Obama represent what this candidate represents? Don’t they say “show me your friends and I’ll know who you are” If Babangida represents all these qualities she mentioned and he is being backed by the Obama regime, then it simply shows that Obama and his regime also represent this qualities. Well let me point out this clearly to you: Yes they do! The US represents all these same qualities you have mentioned!
She further states »A nod in Gov Donald Duke, Babatunde Fashola or even Dr Pat Utomi, El Rufai or Nuhu Ribadu would get the electoral system buzzing with excitement in no time. That would rekindle the fire of nationalism in the young like you did their American counterparts in 2009. »
She is expecting a nod from the US in the right direction to create a buzz of excitement and rekindle the fire of nationalism in the youth. How on earth! This is such a shame! I for one as a youth don’t need a nod from anybody to rekindle my nationalism or buzzing, this is just a case of modern day slavery where the slaves consult the master for his blessings before he does anything or waits at the masters table to eat the crumbs that fall off. This kind of statements would make the likes of Kwame Nkrumah, Che Guevara, Thomas Sankara, Patrice Lumumba, Murtala Muhammed, Haile Selassie I, Gani Fawehinmi, Fela Kuti, Agostinho Neto, Sékou Touré, Julius Nyerere, Gamal Abdel Nasser and Amílcar Cabralto to mention a few cringe with disgust in their graves. How long shall it take Africans, Nigerians to learn? When would we evolve and rightfully become the heirs of the world’s revolutions?
It’s these kinds of statements that made Che Guevara conclude that « Africa has a long way to go before it reaches real revolutionary maturity, »
The message of change should be directed to the Nigerian populace; Nigerians themselves must understand what change is, learn it and decide if they are ready for it. The people must be empowered and educated. That’s the first step. As Che Guevara said « The first duty of a revolutionary is to be educated. » We need to fully educate ourselves and others to build a worthwhile revolution. Nigerians don’t need the US or any other country to back any candidate for us to know whether we would vote for the candidate or not. We Nigerians have to take up this challenge as our integrity, dignity, intelligence and sanity have been tested and called to action by such statements. Over the years we have shown our laxity and lackadaisical attitude towards our leadership and future. It’s time we take the bull by the horn. “No Nation can liberate another” – Haile Selassie I. We have to liberate ourselves!
I personally don’t see why Nigerians should be bothered if the US or any other country supports men like Babangida because I know I will never vote for them! Even if the heavens support men of that calibre I would still not vote for them “In fact, if Christ himself stood in my way, I, like Nietzsche, would not hesitate to squish him like a worm.” -Che Guevara and Me.
Nigerians should be ready to wage a war with their votes at the booths, voices and marches if their votes are stolen and even with their lives, as Jose Marti said “It’s better to die standing, than to live on your knees.” We need to fight for our own true independence, taking back our country from these corrupt politicians and elite and all other agents of imperialism and neo-colonialism. Until the day when it is said of us that “For this great humanity has said « enough » and has started to move forward. And their march, the march of giants, cannot stop, will not stop until they have conquered their true independence, for which many have already died, and not uselessly, they will die for their never-to-be-renounced, their only true independence. »
This new will of a whole continent, Africa and nation Nigeria shows itself in the cry proclaimed daily by our masses as the irrefutable expression of their decision to fight, to grasp and deter the armed hand of the invader. It is a cry that has the understanding and support of all the working class and youth of the world.”
That cry is: « Our country or death. » – Che Guevara; paraphrased by me.
In the long run, Neo-colonialism like colonialism before it would be defeated!
The world owes us nothing, we owe ourselves everything!
Hasta La Victoria Siempre!