It has become very fashionable lately, especially among Western print media to rail against China's forays into Africa. China, among other things has been accused of a new form of colonization.
In 2010, a senior US official, Johnnie Carson, addressing an audience in Lagos, described China as " a very aggressive and pernicious economic competitor with no morals".
Since the media are essentially mouth pieces for their respective governments, it seems a case of a jealous lover castigating and casting aspersions on a rival. What is troubling though, is prominent African leaders especially those we admire and whose opinion we value greatly, Jacob Zuma, the President of South Africa for his work and sacrifices during Apartheid and Lamido Sanusi the Governor of The Central Bank of Nigeria for his work in sanitizing the banking sector in Nigeria among others singing the chorus without substantiating what it is that China has done that smacks of re-colonization.
When one is raising an alarm, it never sits well in the absence of a cause.
We value the judgment of these leaders as we should and will support their assertions without any reservations if they are valid and are legitimate criticism against China or anyone else because we know that their hearts are in the right place. They, more than anyone have earned the moral right to plead our cause. That said, our leaders cannot be perceived as gigantic amplifying mouthpieces raising the volume of apparent false whispers that smacks of the West's assertions and subservient heteronomy.
I am not an apologist for China but no one has pointed out specifically what China has done in her relation with Africa that can be construed as colonization. If there is, it should be pointed out, investigated and nipped at the bud before it takes root but not at the prodding of the West.
Our leaders should resist the bait and not become pawns in the West's power play with China. The West has done wrong by us and do not have any inclination to change. They have forfeited any moral right to plead our cause and this latest effort is not sincere but rather an avaricious vicious self-interest clothed in hypocritical outrage.
Over five hundred years of interaction with Africa has produced nothing but misery for Africans. It is a little bit self-serving and ironic to try and play the protector since all the West has ever done is keep Africa then and now perpetually underdeveloped.
A legacy of rapacious colonization left Africa bereft of any capital to make the leap to modernization and whether we realize is or not, we are still hampered by the effects of colonialism. You cannot tell a man to pull himself up by his bootstraps after you have stolen his boots and he lacks the straps to pull himself up with.
Now that China is making an effort to provide the bootstraps, the West will, and is doing all that it can to scuttle this because it is not in their best interest to see Africa develop.
If Africa is slipping from the orbit of the West, the West has itself to blame. They had the chance and obligation to do right by Africa for our mutual benefit but they chose not to. Not only have they not made any meaningful effort to invest in Africa but have lately embarked on a most insidious foreign policy, a campaign to besmirch Africa and Africans in
the eyes of the world.
The West could have embarked on a Marshall type plan for Africa to our mutual benefit. As any Economist will tell you, the United States more so than Europe benefited greatly from the Marshall plan. The result was a ready market for American goods and services and greater prosperity for all. It turned out to be, not just altruistic but rather a shrewd
commercial project. There is no reason to think the same result will not be obtainable if a Marshall type project was implemented in Africa.
This project though is one thing the West will not do even if the greater benefit will accrue to them. It is certainly not because of the economic returns on the project if the experience of Europe is any indication to go by. When senior US policy makers decided in the 1960's that the United States will not support a Marshall plan type policy for Africa, the die was cast even though such an effort was precisely what was needed to build the infrastructure for long term economic growth.
"As a National Security Council staffer noted in June 1965 in briefing McGeorge Bundy, President Johnson's special assistant for National Security Affairs, the president's mandate for the State Department "cautions that substantial increase in US foreign policy assistance expenditure [to
Africa] are not envisaged" "Sachs." The West will rather embark on pretend help through foreign aid program that makes little or no impact on economic development. The aim of foreign aid is to keep Africa a beggar continent. The reason it makes no impact is that there has in fact being little foreign aid to Sub-Sahara Africa.
According to Jeffery Sachs in his book "The end of poverty" " Contrary to popular perception, the amount of aid per African per year is really very small, just $30 per Sub- Sahara African in 2002 from the entire world. Of that modest amount, almost $5 was for consultants from the donor
countries, more than $3 was for food aid and other emergency aid, another $4 went to servicing Africa's debt, and $5 was for debt relief operation. The rest $12 went to Africa. That is $12 per person for a year. He continued "Since the money down the drain argument is heard most frequently in the United States, it is worth looking at the same calculation for
US aid alone.
In 2002, the United States gave $3 per Sub-Saharan African. Taking out the part for US consultants, food aid and other emergency aid, administrative cost and debt relief, the aid per African came to a grand total of 6 cents per person is anyone's guess. Don't they realize that sometimes nothing
is better than something? At least you get to keep your dignity intact.
Foreign aid is a mirage and a feel good gesture for the donors. Moreover all it does is enable the donors to secure access to power structures in the recipient countries arid allow them to exert undue influence that is in no way commensurate with the impact it makes on economic development.
If the West really wants to help Africa, they can restructure their subsidy programs to their farmers that impoverish African farmers and open their markets to African producers. They can embark on nation building or at the very least build basic infrastructure for African countries as compensation for the long years of rapacious colonization that they practiced with relish in Africa.
With all the wealth they took out of Africa, what will it cost them to help build power generation plants for example across Africa knowing full well that Africa cannot develop when all the electricity generated in Sub-Sahara Africa amounts to only 150 billion KWh/year excluding South Africa and is less than one third of the electricity produced in France alone at 510 billion KWh/year.
Through the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) launched in 2000 in accordance with the program of "Zou Chugu" (to go global), China has stepped in to help after so many years of neglect by the West with infrastructure loan projects through her Exim Bank. She has made loans worth $67.2 billion excluding Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) between 2001
and 2011 surpassing the World Bank at $54.7 billion, an agency charged with funding development projects. The Western media, a dedicated mouth piece for their respective governments has chosen this time to sow dissension between African countries and China.
What they will not do is warn us about the activities of their major commodity trading houses like Cargill, Archer Daniel Midland, Louis Dreyfus, Bunge and Glencore who are no longer just content to monopolize the processed food market but are seeking to control food production and supply from farm to kitchen and are engaged in cornering and purchasing
prime farmlands in Africa to feed the world and not Africans. They are not producing crops for the African market but to satisfy global demands. Tell me what is more insidious to Africa than that and yet you do not hear any criticisms from the media or our leaders.
The West is powerful we all know and for them it offers and portends a shield from the rest of the world especially Africa and they expect us to shiver in subservience when we approach. They want to espouse their own version of the truth and their mastery of malevolent language toward Africa and Nigeria in particular is to them a badge of superiority.
They can perfunctorily toss out and paint Nigeria with a broad brush as drug dealers and fraudsters, subjecting a whole populace under an insurmountable suspicion and feel no one dare challenge their assertions.
They know full well that the actions of a few individuals are not in any way a reflection or an indication of the acts of the greater number of the citizens and yet they persist because they possess or control the legitimate means of coercion and dissemination of information.
Incidentally, the few Nigerians engaged in these acts are not doing anything more than other nationals are doing. If anything, their action pales in comparison to the exploits of other nationals. Nigeria is not a source country for drugs like Colombia, neither are Nigerians moving drugs like Mexicans in tractor trailers and tunnels. Yet we are the ones that have been unjustly tarred with this ignoble label.
The most troubling aspect is that we have started to internalize this as gospel and are suffering from the contradiction and dissonance between fact and fiction concocted by the West. Think about it, you will be hard pressed to find anyone that you know with any cognitive affirmation of having been defrauded by a Nigerian. Yet it is accepted as a given because the West with all the media outlet at their disposal have become the drum major of this besmirching canard to our detriment. An effort should be made to oppose this glib acceptance of routine assertions and investigate in an effort to refute and confront the spurious allegation that tarnishes rather than brightens our reputation around the world.
No one points out the fact that we are all defrauded everyday in the United States by Brokers on Wall Street who pump and dump stocks, used car salesmen, insurance companies and others. Their shield being to tell you that you should have read the fine print or caveat emptor (buyer beware) which incidentally does not apply when it comes to Nigerians. No one
has dubbed the United States fraud land even though 3,000 cases of fraud were reported in the State of California alone in 2011 nor has all Mexicans been labelled drug dealers.
The pertinent question is why this double standard? Where is the fairness? Is there a concerted effort to make us a pariah nation? Could it be that since Nigeria has a population of 160 million people and there are 900 million blacks in the world, if you destroy Nigeria, you have effectively neutralized roughly one sixth of the black race in one stroke if that is your ultimate aim. It makes you wonder.
We can no longer indulge in willful blindness and silence to their assertions while they straddle across Africa with condescending impunity.
Time was when Nigeria had the temerity and sagacity to discern the motive behind concerted postulations and in response, conducted a bearded foreign policy and will brook no branding of the country with so odious a prong that has left such indelible a mark on the country. I am reminded of the era of Joe Garba and Emeka Anyaoku when a sitting United States Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, was told in no unequivocal terms that we could not guarantee his safety on a planned trip to Nigeria because of the United States position on apartheid and her involvement in the war in Angola. He subsequently cancelled the trip because he realized there was a bigger under current than what was said.
Lately, no one sees fit to lodge any protest when Nigeria and Nigerians are being bedraggled. Remember the deafening silence that greeted the treatment meted out to our Attorney General Akparagbo and Wole Soyinka at the airport years back when they visited the United States. Why will someone in their right mind subject Wole Soyinka to that kind of treatment without any deference, especially since he was a visiting professor at Emory University in Atlanta, if not to embarrass our hero and cut us down to size. He is our hero and we are proud of him and to mistreat him is to mistreat all of us.
No one seems willing or able to point out to the West their own villainous historical antecedents and challenge this constant vile castigation.
I cannot think of any African country that has ever sanctioned state drug running or just plain thievery and banditry.
Yet history is replete with the West's villainy. History tells us that the West with Britain as the arrow head waged war against China "the Opium War" 1839-43 to force China to open her market for the West to sell the opium that they were cultivating and producing in Burma and India. It is as if
Colombia waged a war with the United States today for the right to sell cocaine. And they want to sit in judgment against Africa?
We know also that Henry Morgan in 1663 was commissioned by Queen Elizabeth I through the Governor of Jamaica to find and steal Spanish gold in Gran Grenada. In effect, the crown licensed the pirates as "privateers" legalizing their operation in return for a share of the proceed. That was how Sir Walter Drake made money for the Crown in the Caribbean and Panama in the 1570's, the same goes for Hawkins, and the same for Sir Walter Raleigh. When Elizabeth I decided to license this robbery, the haul for the State amounted to over 200,000 Pound Sterling per year. No one has branded Britons as bandits even though they are still facilitating the robbery of Africa's wealth. Large scale fraud and corruption will be stymied without the active participation of the West. Most of the funds stolen from Africa end up in Western financial Institutions. Don't the governments know that these funds have questionable origins?
The villainy of the West knows no bounds and anyone who tells you that the West has the best interest of Africa at heart is certifiable and needs to have his or her head examined.
One of the more insidious wars against Africa is the effort to write off Africa's contribution to the world. After years of trying to hide the fact that Western civilization rest squarely on Black Egyptian civilization, we now have conclusive evidence from the Rhind Mathematics Papyrus, the Moscow papyrus etc. that most of the discovery attributed to ancient Greeks, the founders of Western civilization, were actually what the Greeks learnt from the Egyptians, a veritable Black African civilization.
The Egyptians tell us in the papyrus of Hunefer, that they came from the heart of Africa. "We came from the beginning of the Nile where the God Hapi dwells, at the foothill of the mountain of the moon". We know that the Nile
is one of two major rivers in the world that flows from south to north and the mountain of the moon is Ruwenzori between Uganda and Congo. Also the Edfu text found in the temple of Horous at Edfu also points to the south as the origin of the first Egyptians and yet the Western media persist in depicting the ancient Egyptians as Caucasian not withstanding the records of ancient historians like Herodotus and Diodrous of Sicily who described the ancient Egyptians they met on their visit with Black skin and wooly hair.
The prognathism, the dolichocephalic index of the older mummies, the inverted lips and platyrrhina of the statues left behind for posterity clearly show that the ancient Egyptians were of the black race but the Western media still depict them as Caucasian or Semites just so that the black race will be denied any contribution to the human race. We might give them the benefit of the doubt about falsifying or reinterpreting ancient history but how do you defend the obvious is information that they are still peddling that is still going on right before our very eyes.
Consider the obvious slight meted out to the whole race at the turn of the century when Western Jurist adjured that there were no books published in the last century by Africans or any African that merited inclusion in the top 100 list. One may well ask, who validated their scholarship? What about Chinua Achebe's book, "Things Fall Apart" that has sold over 6 million copies worldwide and has been translated into over 58 languages and used in schools worldwide. How about Wole Soyinka's books the eminent Noble Laureate in Literature or Cheikh Anta Diop of Senegal with his Magnum Opus that exposed the falsification of history by the West or Professor Chinweizu "The West and The Rest of Us", just to mention a few.
Their apparent prejudice will be risible, if not for the fact that it will eventually become part of world history and heritage and will be cited in years to come as proof of the lack of contribution by Africans to the collective knowledge of mankind. And these are people who want to plead our cause and tell us that they have our best interest at heart. "Talk
about speaking from both side of the mouth". Recently, we watched with dismay as the Church of England bypassed a black Archbishop, the number two in the Church's hierarchy, the Uganda born Archbishop Dr. John Sentamu and chose his subordinate, actually the fourth within the hierarchy, Archbishop Justin Welby, to become the head of the Church after the resignation of Dr. Rowan Williams the Archbishop of Canterbury.
They did this with a straight face and without any compunction on their part even though Welby has been an Archbishop for less than a year and had joined the Anglican Church twenty years ago. How do you even rationalize that? When it comes to dealing with Africa or Africans, the West will always circle the wagon and protect their own. They will even suborn Justice if that is what it takes.
Just this past April 2013, the United States Supreme Court ruled that victims of human right abuses in foreign countries should not be able to bring suits against companies in America Courts. Unanimously deciding not to hear a Nigerian born woman's claim of violation by Royal Dutch Shell (the Niger-Delta and Ogoni Nine Case) even though this case was brought under the Alien Tort Statute, a law from 1789 that gives American Courts jurisdiction to rule on human right abuses perpetrated against foreign citizens outside the United States. One may well ask if we are hearing the echoes of pred Scott v. Sanford (1857). Are we back in the era of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, when Africans were judged to be less than human?
The argument that these are corporate entities descends to a farrago of equivocations, spurious and pernicious in its reasoning. It is a vapid attempt at smothering Justice in a vat of vacuous legalese. It is as if the Court is saying that corporate decision making are not made by humans.
Of course the United States is perfectly in her right to interpret her laws any way she sees fit for her own benefit. Our leaders should just make note of this and be cognizant of that fact. That is all and not allow the West or anyone else to lecture them and sit in judgment when the shoe is on the other foot.
Brand it "Afrophilla" on my part but I make no apologies, I love Africa and Africans, warts and all. I know we have major problems and most of it self-inflicted but if history is any guide, it will not be solved by the West but by us. We should therefore be wary of their professed designs for our
well being and not take the bait and allow them to sow dissension between us and the people who are trying to help us to our mutual benefit.
Just like China Academy of Space Technology helped to develop and launch a communication satellite in 2007 for Nigeria (NigcomSatl), they are developing one for DR.Congo (CongoSatl), that will be operational within two years at a cheaper rate than the West were willing or able to do it.
Don't talk me to death. "Show me the Money" ( Cuba Jr. in Jerry McGuire).
Finally, my advice is this, even when there is a problem or disagreement between African countries and China, it should be resolved as much as possible in private. The Chinese hate to lose face in public, it offends their cultural sensibilities and we should be mindful of that and take that into consideration when dealing with them. It will go a long way in putting us in good stead. We have a chance to finally break out and embark on modernization and we need the infusion of technology and capital from China to achieve this aim. Since the West is not willing or able to embark on any meaningful project that will help transform Africa, they do not have the moral right to plead our cause until they do and our leaders should not give them the cover to hid and shoot darts at China to our detriment.
We have a saying where I come from, "If the same thing happens to you more than once before you learn your lesson, then the dowry paid on your mother was a waste". I like to think that were are our father's sons.
By Chima Iheke, PhD. Arkansas, USA