Tag Archives: Africa

Why Africa must get most from new rush

8 Oct

 

Africa is the most sought after place in our universe. The next is perhaps outer space. But this is for a very small elite. On the other hand, Africa is being courted by everyone like she was the most and beautiful girl in this wide neighbourhood. Which, of course, she is.

China has come calling. It has actually been doing that for quite a while, quietly, sometimes unnoticed so that some people were caught off guard when they noticed its real intentions. But now it is so determined that it won’t take no for an answer.

India, too, is a very serious suitor. In the past India left its huge expatriate population resident in many African countries do its work. Lately, it has become clear that delegated courting is no longer enough. The stakes are high and the rivalry so intense that India has decided to be more direct about its intentions.

Japan does not want to be left behind by these up and coming Asian neighbours flaunting their new wealth and power. It has also joined the fray and last week hosted a conference in Yokohama on Africa’s development that was attended by many of the continent’s bigwigs. The Japanese have been doing this for the last twenty years (this year’s conference was the fifth).

All these countries courting Africa claim that they want to be part of the continent’s growth. And they go about it the same way – organise huge conferences to which they invite African leaders to come and show off their countries’ attractions. The Japanese call theirs the Tokyo International Conference for Africa’s Development (TICAD) that is held every five years. For the Chinese it is the Forum on China Africa Cooperation and it takes place every two years, which perhaps shows their urgency.

The increasing attention Africa is attracting has the west burning with jealousy. The west thought they had Africa in their tight embrace and all to themselves, well, until the new kids arrived. As so often happens where there are no rivals, the west had neglected and even mistreated her.

Now the appearance of serious rivals has rattled them out of their complacency and the fear of losing what they had always taken for granted has become real. And like someone who has been used to having things his way, the west initially responded predictably, with arrogance, abuse, threats, warnings – never an attempt to win her back. That is changing as they realise the competition is for real. That is one reason United States President Barrack Obama is going to Tanzania soon after China’s President Xi Jinping was there earlier this year.

This is not the first time that there has been such a rush for Africa’s fortunes. Nor are the reasons very different. The methods may have changed, but even then only slightly. The first time resulted in carving up the continent between various greedy and impatient suitors in order to avoid deadly blows over Africa’s bounteous beauty.

Today the story is very similar. The talk about being interested in Africa’s growth and wanting to be part of it is typical suitors’ talk – sweet, persuasive and sometimes even irresistible, but concealing the real desire of total conquest. In any case, no one will say their real intentions are to grab and own completely. The interest is Africa’s beauty, its resources, which are so dazzlingly inviting, they get those who eye them drooling.

Africa is getting wealthier, too, and that is another attraction. Who wants a poor person for a partner? The Indians know that very well. The poor bride, unable to stand the taunts of her in-laws, often douses and burns herself. Self-immolation is an Indian invention we certainly don’t want here.

In between, Africa was scarred by ideological fights by two distant rival bullies.

In all this rivalry, Africa has always come off worst. She has obviously failed to use her many charms to extract the best deal from rival suitors. Is it going to be any different this time?

One hopes that the presidents and their delegations (some of them incredibly and inexplicably large) use the opportunity at the meetings to learn about how the hosts got to where they are and come home and adapt the lessons to their countries.

Today’s African leaders, especially those sitting on newly found wealth, must surely have learnt from the folly of their ancestors who gave away Africa’s wealth in exchange for bottles of schnapps, cheap trinkets and other kids’ stuff. Many of them ceded entire countries to European adventurers and imperial agents by appending their signature – really an X mark – on agreements they could not read or understand. Sometimes this was done at the point of a gun, the promise of protection or after they were thoroughly inebriated.

Today, there are many agreements floating around seeking signatures for similar concessions. The guns have been replaced by the cheque books, but the schnapps, toys and other objects of vanity remain.

Still, Africa can play hard to get and extract the best deal from all these suitors. After all she holds what everyone wants. At this year’s TICAD Japanese Prime Minister pledged $32 billion, a fifth of which is to go to infrastructure development. In the last ten years, the Chinese have committed $75 billion, the United States $90 billion. What the Indians and Europeans are willing to offer can only match this.

This gives you an indication of Africa’s worth and why there is a veritable rush and competition to lay hands on her. This time, Africans must know the value of wealth of their continent and not give it away again for next to nothing.

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Rwandan opposition in treasonable acts

21 Aug

It is an indisputable fact that Africa remains the most backward continent. This situation is largely our fault. Africa has the world’s largest deposits of natural resources, most of which are absolutely essential for the comforts of modern life. But those countries that have them in plenty give them away for next to nothing. As a result their people live in untold poverty in some indefinable age – certainly not modern. In a country not far from here, where reportedly precious minerals can be picked from every village path and cranny in the ground, citizens still hunt birds, monkeys, other hairy crawling insects and slithering reptiles for sustenance.

The continent is divided along multiple small, inconsequential things. We are also largely to blame for this. We get divided over such stupid things as which European languages we use or preference for tomato ketchup or mayonnaise. Sometimes these silly things determine how serious matters concerning our continent are determined.

Not surprisingly, Africa is weak as individual countries and collectively. We do not have a single voice and our disparate voices are so discordant they do not command attention, or so frail they can’t be heard.

One needs only to look at what happened in Libya and Ivory Coast last year to appreciate this point. The African Union was essentially absent in Libya, and when it woke up to the reality in country, it was ignored like it did not exist. NATO went on to bomb Libya and drive Gaddafi into a drainage pipe where he was eventually ferreted out and killed in the gruesome manner not even he deserved.

In Ivory Coast, as the AU talked and dithered, French troops walked into President Laurent Gbagbo’s bedroom and marched him out in the most undignified fashion. Most people can remember the pathetic bewildered look on Gbagbo’s face as he was led out of his bedroom.

Today, in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo the loudest noises are being made by foreigners – the media, UN, NGOs and foreign governments. The voice of the Congolese, particularly that of those directly affected by the conflict have been drowned by external noise. The rest of the Congolese, including the government and the military, are actually happy to surrender responsibility for their nation’s wellbeing to strangers.

That’s how pathetic things can be – when nationals gleefully participate in the emasculation of their countries. It is actually criminal.

It is not in the DRC that this is happening. Even here in Rwanda there are people willing to subject their country to shame and pain.

In the past several weeks different groups of Rwandans have been jumping for joy because donors have cut aid to Rwanda.  They have been celebrating the supposed difficulty their country is bound to face.

Now, it is only traitors or the insane who wish pestilence visited on their country or revel in the destruction of their home. But the so-called opposition political groups are doing just that. In the process, they have shown themselves to have no programme except greed and a readiness to surrender the right to decide the national interest to foreigners.

Yet in the countries where they live and from where they commit such treason, sometimes with the active backing of elements from those countries, such things never happen. Whenever the countries are attacked or threatened, all differences are set aside; they close ranks and defend the common interest.

Our neighbours in DRC are also happy that Rwanda is getting the stick, especially from the UN and some Western countries. They can’t stop applauding the countries that have supposedly cut aid to Rwanda. Yet an economically strong Rwanda is in the best interests of Congo – except, of course, if they are driven by spite and want to drag everyone to their level of incompetence and dysfunction.

Congolese experts in sounding the alarm (that seems their only expertise) have convinced SADC to join the bandwagon of those brandishing the stick against Rwanda.

Even some African academics and scholars and all manner of activists have taken up bashing of African countries supposedly in the name of higher ideals in a vain attempt to gain acceptability in the West. In effect what they achieve is support to burn their own house.

It does not require super intelligence to notice that such attitudes cannot serve Congo’s or Africa’s interests. Instead they play into the hands of foreigners who have a different agenda.

Of course, such divisions and lack of common purpose are not new in African history. The continent was colonised because of that. African response to colonialism was divided between resisters who sought to defend their independence and national interests, collaborators driven by greed and guarantees of personal positions, and those who had no clue about what to do.

This is happening again. We have people prepared to collaborate with forces bent on arresting our progress. That should not be allowed to happen.