Arts | Politics | Economy | Education & Sciences18 Apr 2014
© Femi Akomolafe

Africa, oh, poor Africa!
8 Sep 2006 - Africaserver

Africa, oh, poor Africa! Take a look at this: When the former US Secretary of the Treasury, Paul O'Neill, made his first and lonely trip visit to Africa he didn't go with high-powered thinkers from the numerous think-tanks in Washington. No, he went with the Rock star, Bono, in tow. Africa is the usual circus.
 
Not to be outdone, another pop artiste, at the twilight of his profession, suddenly discovered Africa and before you could say 'Jack', Sir Bob Geldof has become an Advisor on Africa to Tony Blair. No one questioned what qualification recommends Bob Geldof to such a position, or is it that Africa is always a (or the) joke? Oh, before then Sir Geldof organized charities to sing for Africa. That surely must count for something. That surely must make him some expert, doesn't it? The equivalence is Senegal's President Wade appointing Yussouf N'dour (undoubtedly one of the world's most talented artistes) as Advisor on European Affairs. That would, of course, be patently ridiculous and quite unacceptable to most Europeans.

But it is Africa, where everything goes. Stranger things have happened before. For example, a Dutch housewife could spend her three weeks vacation in the Gambia and came back believing herself an expert on Africa. She will go around brimming with ideas on how to solve the continent's myriad of problems. It wouldn't be the first time either. Every European politician with a brain wave always turns to Africa. That's why it’s difficult to understand all the hooplas surrounding Tony Blair's commission on Africa. Start your Google and check out all the various commissions that had been set up on (behalf of) Africa. The most prominent one being the Brandt Commission, headed by former German Chancellor Willy Brandt, which twenty years ago proposed a plan to reduce the vast and unjust economic disparity between the developed and developing worlds. Among its recommendations are:

Stabilisation of commodity prices at a remunerative level.

Greater support for International Commodity Agreements.

Trade barriers by industrialised countries against exports of developing countries should be rolled-back.

The IMF should not excessively regulate developing economies.

The IMF should not impose deflationary measures as standard policy.

Since the West is always shouting how much it wants to help Africa, maybe we should be told why no Western nation has yet implement any of these noble recommendations. The Western NGO do-gooders who daily bombarded our senses with picture of starving Africans have, undoubtedly, read the Brandt report and are fully aware of its recommendation. Yet they go about pretending that Africa’s woes are caused solely by lazybones Africans incapable of self-help or self-redemption.

On why Africa continues to be poor, the Western do-gooders tell us that it is complex for easy analysis. Is it, now? It doesn't take a Nobel Prize caliber intelligence to know that you will remain poor if somebody else dictates what you produce, when you produce it, and how much she is willing to pay for the produce of your labour. This precisely is Africa’s biggest predicament. Anyone who drinks coffee in Holland can attest to how remarkably stable the prices has been over the years. In real terms, coffee cost less in the Netherlands today than it does twenty years ago. The same goes for almost of the commodities African are forced to produce: their prices (set in London and Chicago) are at all time low! So when they tell you that Africa's share of world trade is shrinking, they are not talking volume. They are talking about the thieving prices they are paying for what Africans produce.

Westerner NGOs can also not claim to be ignorant of the fact that the Economic fundamentalists from the Breton Wood institutions have imposed their 'One size fit all' economic on Africa for over two decades. These they called 'Structural Adjustments Policies,' without the honesty to tell us that there were no structures in African economies to begin with, much less to adjust. It was only in the last two years that the IMF and the sadly-misnamed World Bank admitted that their prescriptions were wrong. No one bothered to check what calamities these policies have wrecked on Africa. Western commentators continue to mouth the same nauseating litanies of corruption, bad government etc, etc. The over-priced, obscenely compensated Western consultants who recommended these abject policies walked away free, smiling all the way to their banks. Africa is left with the wrecks of collapsed social services, disintegrated societies, wars, farming, illiterate and angry masses. Africans are dealt a double-whammy: they suffer the consequences of these wretched policies, and they get blamed for their failures.

This is not to absolve or excuse corruption in Africa. But those who whine about corruption being the bane of Africa should be honest enough to tell us why Japan, China, Italy, the USA and the Netherlands continue to register economic growth despite the frequent scandals in their corporate world, whilst Africa continue to retrogress. Those singing litanies of 'democracy' should inform us how Malaysia, Singapore, Korea and Taiwan managed to develop economically under iron-fisted authoritarian rulers. Moreover, those who belittle Africa should tell us who pay the bribes in Africa, and whose bank is collecting the looted money. And while Africa continues to be condemned for the corruption of her leaders, no one is telling the simple truth that no Western nation has yet signed the UN anti-corruption convention, see www.unodc.org/unodc/en/corruption.html.

And those NGO's trampling around Africa purporting to be developing some underdeveloped people should come out and tell us what has been the result of all energies they have expended all these years. Where can they point out as a single success story? Their actions seem, to me, like that of a pyromaniac playing fire-brigade.

On one hand we have Western governments colluding with African elite to rob and abuse their people whilst Western NGO's are trampling around preaching democracy and human rights. It would have been more profitable for the numerous Dutch NGO's to ask the oil giant, Shell, to pay part of the obscene profits it recently declared to the Ijaw community of Nigerian as ordered by the Nigerian Parliament and a Nigerian court. No, they all know where their bread is buttered and kept silence. It is only when the Ijaws started violent actions that we would see them tripping over themselves to provide advice\help.

And Western NGO's certainly know where all the arms industries in their countries are located. And they certainly have the information about arms trafficker. I think that it would be more profitable and more for them to protest the exportation of arms to conflict areas in Africa instead of rushing in with band aid.

Let us end this piece with this quotation from the Afridad organization: 'I have with this picture, created so many jobs and have made huge profits for Western and European aid organizations. These very organizations deny that I died of hunger because my parents were forced to grow coffee for exports. The West denies the problems would mean putting an end to their aid circus. And while these rich people continue to enrich themselves from my picture, my blood cries out from the grave.' – Source: www.afridad.org
 
© Femi Akomolafe
 



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