The African continent comprises infinite beauty, an abundance of flora and fauna, and produces the most exquisite harvest of coffee, cacao, fruits, vegetables, and minerals. You name it, we’ve got it. We also have diverse wildlife and vast marine resources, and waterfalls and rivers that run into the most beautiful beaches. The land is golden – literally, a true paradise. Which, of course, is inhabited by the most beautiful souls and a strong cultural heritage. On a deeper level, we are blessed with real treasures that kings and queens of this world desire. Just to mention, Queen Victoria’s crown comes from Africa.
Besides gold and diamonds, we have more than 20 precious minerals that have been discovered as of today. We have platinum, ilmenites to make titanium, rutile to coat jets, iron ore deposits (third largest in the world), tantalite (also known as coltan) used in mobile phones and computers, bauxite for aluminium production, zinc, chrome ore, copper, coal, phosphates, potassium, salt, lead, granite, asbestos, nickel, and zircon, just to name a few. Furthermore, we have exquisite timber like mahogany and teak.
The West needs Africa’s resources most desperately to power airplanes, cellphones, computers, and engines. Nonetheless, they use African resources such as golden diamonds as a status symbol to portray their powers and to give value to their currencies. Having completed several Finance and Economics courses, one question still remains unanswered for me. Why is it that 5,000 units of our currency, is worth one unit of Western countries’ currencies, while we are the ones with the actual gold reserves?
It is quite evident that the aid is, in fact, not coming from the West to Africa, but from Africa to the Western World. The Western World depends on Africa in every possible way since alternative resources are scarce out here.
So how does the West ensure that the free aid keeps coming? By systematically destabilizing the wealthiest African nations and their systems. And all that backed by huge Public Relations campaigns, leaving the entire world under the impression that Africa is poor and dying and merely surviving under the mercy of the West. Well done, Oxfam, Unicef, Red Cross, Live Aid, and all the other organizations that continuously run multimillion-dollar advertising campaigns, depicting charity pouring, to sustain that image of Africa globally! Ad campaigns paid for by innocent people who are under the impression that their donations will make a huge difference.
As Mallence Bart-Williams, a Sierra Leonean multi-facetted social entrepreneur, said, “while one hand gives under the flashing light of cameras, the other takes in the shadows. We all know the dollar is worthless, while the euro is merely charged with German intellect and technology, and maybe some Italian pasta. How can one expect donations from nations that have so little? How super sweet of the West to come with their coloured paper in exchange for our golden diamonds. Instead, they should come empty-handed, filled with integrity and honour.
A defensive perception is that a healthy and striving Africa would not disperse of its resources as freely and cheaply – which is logical. Of course, it would instead sell its resources at world market prices, which in turn, would destabilize and weaken Western economies established upon the post-colonial free meal system. The French treasury, for example, is receiving about 500 billion dollars, year in, year out, in the form of foreign exchange reserves in African countries based on colonial debt they force them to pay. Former French president Jacques Chirac stated in an interview that we have to be honest and acknowledge that a big part of the money in Western banks comes precisely from the exploitation of the African continent. In 2008, during the financial crisis, he stated that without Africa, France would slide down into the ranks of third world power. Moreover, Chirac’s predecessor, François Mitterand, already prophesied in 1957 that, without Africa, France will have no history in the 21st century. This is what happens in the human world – the world we have created.
Have you ever wondered how things work in nature? One would assume that in evolution, the fittest survive. However, in nature, any predator that is overhunting and overexploiting the resources they depend on as nourishment would sooner or later be taken out by natural selection because it offsets the balance.”
By the same token, in 2014, the IMF reported that 6 out of 10 of the world’s fastest-growing economies are in Africa, measured by their GDP growth. However, being the youngest continent in the world, and having been an object of immense colonization and slavery for centuries, Africa has been at the background of economic development, comparatively and on aggregate. This has made the continent and its people seem inferior to the rest of the world. It is on countless occasions that I have heard people refer to the continent as a country, while it consists of 54 independent ones. It is on countless occasions that I have heard people in the Western world make insensitive comments such as, “I am going to Africa to teach them about entrepreneurship and educate them because they know nothing.” It is on countless occasions that I have heard people saying, “Africans are primitive, they were created to be controlled and led.” It is on countless occasions that I have…
Equally important, it was of no surprise when United States president, Donald Trump, explicitly said, “Africa has tremendous business potential. I have so many friends going to your countries trying to get rich,” at a UN luncheon with African leaders in September last year.
The continent is no longer physically colonized, but undeniably, economically colonized, or what is in other words known as ‘neo-colonialism’. How is it possible that we are forced to pay debts for “colonial benefits” while we never asked to be colonized? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? That Western countries should be the ones paying African countries, because instead of contributing to the economic growth of their own countries, those who were captured as slaves ended up contributing to the growth of Western countries, and generally, most countries were left with close to nothing because of the substantial destruction of infrastructure during colonial wars.
After events such as World War I and II, efforts were made by countries such as the United States to rebuild Europe and other severely affected countries. One example of such efforts is the Marshall Plan. However, my question is, why were efforts not made to rebuild Africa after colonial rule, with a similarly effective tool such as the Marshall Plan, instead of exploiting the continent and leaving it poor? The Marshall Plan was fundamentally different from the aid that the continent has received over the past five decades. As explained by Glenn Hubbard of the Foreign Policy Group, “the Marshall Plan made loans to European businesses, which repaid them to their local governments, which in turn used that revenue for commercial infrastructure — ports, roads, railways — to serve those same businesses. Aid to Africa has instead funded government and NGO development projects, without any involvement of the local business sector.” The Marshall Plan worked. Aid to Africa has not. An African Marshall Plan is long, long overdue.
Yes, the continent does have its own plagues, such as corrupt leaders who have a very individualistic approach to available resources. However, this was not always the case. If ever you speak to an African elder (born before 1940), they will tell you about and emphasize the spirit of ‘Ubuntu’ and the collective saying: “Amandla, Uwethu.” These phrases highlight togetherness – that we as Africans are brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of the same soil who always stand together. But nowadays, after colonial rule, this culture of unity has been broken. We have leaders fighting for longer presidential terms and embezzling public funds while they have people dying at their feet. This is not only happening in Africa and I am hereby not assertively blaming anyone, but could it be that after Africans experienced the extensive individualistic nature of the Western Man, and after being tortured by this nature through slavery and colonization, that it rubbed off on them too? Or that because the Western man was superior, they somehow strongly perceived his behaviour as appropriate and rightful, thereby turning it into an acceptable social standard in regard to how to act towards one another? What if we had not been colonized or captured as slaves then? Would our priceless culture of unshakeable solidarity and oneness still stand? Would we be willing to genuinely lift one another up? The answer lies unknown.
Lastly, it is no lie and no hoax, and I’m not trying to completely disprove a partial truth that the media portrays. There is immense, disheartening poverty and underdevelopment on the continent. But this is not our eternal fate. There is also boundless potential.
“As Africans, we are not thirsty for water, we are hungry for [sustainable] opportunities.” – Kimberley Marumahoko