By Folasade Adeoso
AFRICA IS NOT FOR SALE. This statement evokes reflection and engagement from anyone concerned with the future of Africa as a continent and Africans as a group of people.
For as long as our generation can remember, Africa has been a battlefield for wealth and resources among Western nations. The most famous examples are France and the “France-Afrique” system; and Great Britain and the Commonwealth of Nations or Commonwealth, a system reuniting its former colonies.
France-Afrique, for instance, is a term used to describe the economic and political relationship of France with its former colonies. It is characterized by exploitation and excessive interference by France in the affairs of its former colonies. To put it into historical perspective, a man named Jacques Foccart, “the man in the shadows,” was given the task of maintaining the dependence of the former colonies on France. For that, heads of state who were “friends of France” were selected, and through war, assassination and electoral fraud, the system was maintained.
To the “guardians” of the neocolonial order, Paris offered a share of the income from the exploitation of Africa’s raw materials and also from development aid. Another key element of France’s exploitation of Africa is the Franc CFA, a currency keeping nations using it in a state of semi-slavery. The currency is exclusively printed in France and directly linked to the euro, meaning that it has a fixed exchange rate with the euro and therefore follows the variations of that currency. To guarantee this fixed rate, the countries of the CFA zone must deposit 50 percent of their foreign exchange reserves to the French Treasury annually. Think of it as your coming to my house once a month to steal all my furniture, and my still having to give you half of my salary.
Although the British are less aggressive than the French, both countries have had the same negative impact on the progress of the continent and the same agenda: Divide and conquer.
In a world infused with capitalism and blighted by imperialism, Africa is the most desired piece on the global chessboard.
With around 10,000 firms operating on the continent, China is the “new” player and a threat to the Western establishment in Africa. Based on information from international media outlets, we tend to believe that China is trying to take control the same way European countries and their neocolonialist system did. However, China is not getting involved in African affairs, and Chinese firms are creating more value compared to European companies, especially in terms of infrastructure.
The problem in Sino-African relationships lies in the terms in which China deals with African governments and the freedom some of them are given. From all that is seen and shown, can we say that the partnership between Africa and China will really benefit the continent? If not, who is to blame?
The question we must ask ourselves is why aren’t we capable of creating sustainable industries and transforming what we have without a blind reliance on outside forces? Why aren’t we capable of building the real “Wakanda,” as some would say?
Now, it’s always easy to point fingers and attribute all the misfortune of Africa to the West or China. But there is an African saying reminding us that “if there is no enemy within, the enemy outside cannot hurt.”
Cooperation is good, but African leaders need to rethink how they define it and how they can use it for the best interest of their countries and ultimately of the continent.
AFRICA IS NOT FOR SALE is a message to Africans.
What are we doing about it—each one of us, at our individual level, regardless of location? We call ourselves modern, go abroad to study, wear suits and ties, crave their food, idealize their societies, lose ourselves in their belief systems. Yet most of us are incapable of thinking and living within an African paradigm.
As a group, Africans have to remember that if today Africa is in this situation, it’s because the people allowed it. Of course there were gunpowder, lies and terror involved, but Africa started to fall the minute Africans adopted the lifestyle and beliefs of others, and when they loved them more than their own—forgetting their original greatness and accepting the lies….
We recall the words of Indira Gandhi: “A nation's strength ultimately consists in what it can do on its own, and not in what it can borrow from others.”
For African nations, self-sufficiency is key. But self-sufficiency is not only in terms of economic power. It also involves how strong we are when we stay rooted in what makes us African and how proudly we embrace it.
Let’s go back to the understanding of our own belief systems and our own way of doing things in education, architecture, spirituality, health and wellness, policymaking and everything else that constitutes the essence of a nation. As a collective force, we must think of how we can promote a sustainable “MADE IN AFRICA” way of thinking and living. We must think of the future and positive progress.
For instance, how do we encourage or create businesses that serve local and global markets? How do we empower ourselves wherever we are? How do we reform our colonial education system based upon our cultures? How do we prepare the next generation of leaders and innovators? These are some of the questions we must answer in order to build that Africa.
AFRICA IS NOT FOR SALE is a reminder that no one is going to develop Africa except Africans.
Today, we are making history, and let’s make sure it’s positive. We have a duty to start building that African dream now. And please don’t fall into the “Africa is cool,” “Africa rising” trap. Africa has always been great; you just didn’t know about it.
What a time to be African. As Thomas Sankara, president of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987, said, “We must dare to invent the future.”
AFRICA IS NOT FOR SALE.