AFRICA LIBERATION!!: Celebration or commiseration - some reflections by Baaba Sillah mu Sabel! (Continued from Wed 30, 2016 edition)

Monday, July 04, 2016

(Friday Issue, 1 July 2016)

By the turn of the new century, the western propaganda machine had vilified Gaddafi at every opportunity to the extent that even his own friends in Africa either demonized him or turned against him for fear of reprisals.   Now a loner, the west sent its envoy, Tony Blair to Libya as the soft (good) cop. They managed to persuade Moamar Gaddafi that his pariah status will be rescinded by the so-called ‘international community if he complied with their demands. This was another success story for them. Much unlike the man we know, Gaddafi foundered primarily for fear of more isolation and even more so, the Damocles they held over his head was an imminent invasion. Reagan had done it before and he had learnt the bitter lessons of super power terrorism. Libya was disarmed and yet, his status as an African leader became even more sullied.

Iraq and Afghanistan were fresh and grim reminders of the brazenness of the west and their war machines and the collective war chests that they could deploy to eject him and everything he had established and stood for in Africa. After all, killing a million and a half children and displacing a couple of other millions was nothing to them …collateral damage? Little wonder why names of jihadists and other related groups of a miscellaneous hew keep changing names and faces all the time. They can be allies today, sworn enemies the day after, ‘can do business with’ or ‘we have a strategic interest there’.  But now we can put Mr. Kissinger into context when in declaring official policy, said that ‘we do not have permanent allies-‘we have permanent interests’!

But, surprise, surprise, the worms of the past have come back to haunt them. 

Lamentably, it is their poor innocent citizens who had done nothing to deserve the so-called terrorist backlash who bear the brunt of their adventures. , the young and impressionable Western Muslims recruited to fight a war of not their making, a war they cannot even fathom out and yet, this   is the war(s) that they die needless deaths for.

Now, the whole of Africa is awash with weapons the consequences of which are already been felt through armed groups, brigands  fighting each other for ascendancy and control of resources or just simply for banditry purposes. Mali, Chad, Burkina Fasso, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Central Africa, Ruanda, Burundi!  

After Libya the stage was now set for greater dramas to unfold. Consistent with their regular practices and procedures, their interests in Africa’s resources was demonstrated barefacedly, without any qualms and without any scruples. They had a grand plan for greater Africa and nothing would stop them from executing this plan.

Gaddafi’s agenda was still in the west’s front burner. His influence in Africa cannot go unheeded...they mused! The straw that broke the camel’s back was when he yet again trod on the West’s nerve by advocating that Africa should set up her own financial institutions and harmonise their economies, trading relations and so on. To make things worse, he offered to initially bank-roll the process of establishment. 

The west had had a fixed gaze at the oil at Benghazzi for a long time and this was their starting point for the invasion of Libya and where Gaddafi was weakest. They killed Gaddafi by arming his opponents and other groups who, we know now have turned against them.  . Meanwhile, the emasculated and divided toothless African governments were naïve enough to believe that their intervention at the UN would prevent the western countries from invading Libya without a United Nations mandate.

After all who makes the decisions and sets the agenda at the UN?

Is Libya now the hub for all African migrants to Europe? Are the chickens finally coming home to roost? The paradoxes of this world never cease to astound the human mind!

Let us go back to the situation of Africa before drawing the curtain on this discourse.

By the 1980s the ravages of poverty began to wreak havoc, quickening its pace during the 1990s and worsened at the turn of the century.

But today, seventy years on, and what do we see? An Africa that has been subjected to narrow nationalisms, pillaged and plundered by authoritarianisms set up for use by the West, looted by multi-national corporations, under-developed by the World Bank and the IMF and condemned to generations of dependency through Structural Adjustment Programmes, programmes for sustainable development, I B P’s G A T T, P I P   currency floatation, currency devaluations and so many other devious schemes, intrigues,  simply designed to further impoverish and tighten the noose around Africa’s neck, thus adding to the grief the run of the mill African lives by daily. The cries of Harambee, Bread and butter, Uhuru, Amandla and Ujamaa have been stilled!

The Gambian poet Lenrie Peters asks the following question to the leaders of Africa:

“Where are the banners… which once we carried… when we led the people to the shrine of freedom…?

My reply to Peters is that the messages of freedom and unity were left to gather dust, to decay and hopefully to atrophy in their own minds and the minds of every one. . Others burnt the placards and let the flames guttle-up the slogans, their messages and the spirit and force that threw their weight behind them.

The anti-colonial struggle was a struggle that masked the class interests of the elite and after the attainment of independence; they re-grouped and switched sides, left the masses in limbo and became, for want of a better word, the comprador. The elites have Difficulty In seeing beyond colonialism, the Empire, their greed and self-Aggrandisement. Without The empire, ethnic and religious nationalism are the most attractive and viable forces for them. This is why there is so much Bigotry and seething undertones of ethnicity all around us. These fit in nicely with their opportunism and lack of imagination. They have learnt quickly from their masters, the techniques of “divide and rule” - in which any Intrigue, alliance or betrayal is justifiable.

Here are some hard facts from the World Bank itself:

Africa’s poor are getting poorer; the average daily income of those living on less than $1 a day falling from 64 cents in 1981 to 60 cents in 2001. According to the same source, under-nourishment is also growing in Africa as a whole.

What is important to note here though is that the cause of poverty and its twin brother’s hunger, ill-health, miseducation, and so on cannot be ascribed totally to natural calamities? Other cataclysms do occur but these are the man-made brands. Yes!   Poor harvests or a lack of agricultural inputs can stifle development and wreak havoc but these cannot be compared to the extortion that obtains by any stretch of the imagination. Africa’s poverty can be put squarely at the door-step of the global capitalist economy and the mismanagement of the economies by the ruthless, spineless and avaricious, conniving leaderships. 

The cruel irony about the state of African nations is that their leaders have over the years become isolated from their masses to the extent that their motivations run counter to the objectives of their peoples. They want to cling to power by any means necessary out of the fear of their own people and the fear of what may happen to them after they lose that power. The psychologists have an acronym for it! It is called FEAR-future event’s anticipated reaction! 

After several decades of independence, Development strategies were rustled up on the basis of false premises.  Strategies were evolved that were totally alien and to say the least out of sync with Africa’s concrete historical circumstances.

It was precisely against this backdrop that we fashioned our institutions on models prescribed in the main by the Bretton woods institutions referred satirically by an African humourist as the Barons and Baronesses of poverty. Soon enough we found out that we were made to catch fish with an umbrella or to free a caged bird by enclosing its cage in a larger cage.

One of the key elements of development is the institution. This is why it is important that whatever the institution, it must be in tune with the material conditions on the ground and importantly they must be harmonized with what they are configured with, (to use a modern day technology terminology).

Again, development must be predicated upon, people. People are to use a tired phrase, the ends and means of development. It is about their organizations, their institutions and their discipline.

Now! Where does the foregoing lead us to in our discussion on Pan Africanism and a future of African politics and economics?

I want to close this discussion by drawing together a few of the points mentioned in passing but I cannot resist presenting this quote below from a British Foreign Office document.  “Pan-Africanism, in itself, is not necessarily a force that we need regard with suspicion and fear. On the contrary, if we can avoid alienating it and guide it on lines generally sympathetic to the free world, it may well prove in the longer term a strong, indigenous barrier to the penetration of Africa by the Soviet Union.”

They did not only Alienate Pan Africanism but they did more by smothering the aspirations and modus operandi of Pan Africanism and the so-called soviet menace, (a common idiom of the time)! Britain, France Germany  and their allies in Europe did an excellent job at first by; dividing the Africans into Anglo-phones, Franco-phone, Luso-phone and all the other Bingo-phones and groups that killed the original unitary vision and any mock they could rake -up to add to the African disunity and fray in 1963. The fracases that evolved at Addis Ababa between the Casablanca group of the African nations and the Monrovia group exemplify the machinations of the west and the capitulations of the south. 

Consequently, they succeeded in savaging the continental unitary vision.  This was why the O A U was born as a compromise. I find it difficult to fathom out as to why the leaders at Addis Ababa accepted to maintain the borders and divisions of the continent into nation states.

 Why did they accept the balkanization done in Berlin and France where there was not one single African present? Aren’t the geographical jurisdictions of Senegal and The Gambia ridiculous enough? Look what happened recently with the border closures of the two twins, sister states whose fates are inextricably bound up together? I have not heard anybody say that we have drawn any lessons from the standoff that caused misery and loss of revenue from either side of the divide especially among the poor and powerless hawkers, petty traders and retailers. (I have not also heard anybody say, what we can do in order to prevent such stalemates in the future).

By the way, all of these ‘small-little people’ are eking out an existence from nothing or from little else. ? The best I here from either side is nothing but blame, posturing, prevarication and triumphalism when we should all be hanging our heads down in shame and lament! The borders were put there by our colonial masters. Why do we maintain them; why do we deprive our peoples the spaces they need to partake in movement, production and consumption? For what purpose do these borders serve? The colonies were created by the metropole for the metropole and not by the metropole for the colonies. Think about it!   

To be continued

Source: Picture: Baba Sillah mu Sabel