Arts | Politics | Economy | Education & Sciences3 Sep 2014
© Femi Akomolafe

G8 Blues (a satire)
17 July 2007

African journalist Femi Akomolafe has another view on how the recent 30 billion G8 dollars for fighting AIDS and tuberculosis in Africa probably will be spent than a senior officer at an African Foreign Ministry
 
Frank Owusu, the Chief Protocol Officer at the mouthfully-named Ministry of Foreign Affairs, NEPAD and Regional Integration (let’s call it MINFARI) here, was in an ebullient mood when I met him last week. He certainly has plenty causes to be jubilant. As the right hand man to the Honorable Minister himself, Mr. Owusu moves and journeys with the mighty and the powerful in their numerous junkets around the world. They tell us that they are drumming up our nation for foreign investors. Critics, on the other hand, opine that there is more to the numerous trips than meets the eye.

Mr. Owusu's office is posh by any standards; as it rightly should be since it's among his duties to meet and entertain the most powerful of visitors to our dear land. His secretary, an extraordinarily good-looking Wa woman smiles a welcome smile at me with those luscious lips that look like they were designed to give a man endless pleasures. I smile back at her. She has an ability to make every visitor feel special. As usual, she wears enough trinkets to make to a medium sized jewelry shop look bare. And her perfume must have cost a fortune. She ushers me into her boss’ office and beams a knockout smile in his direction; he bares all his ivory in appreciation!

"Ha, welcome, my brother, welcome. Nice to see you again!" Mr. Owusu welcomes me effusively. He drags his corpulent body (he certainly hasn't been feeding solely on lettuce!) from behind his chair and envelopes me in a bear hug. I am a bit embarrassed by this unnecessary public display of affection by a top civil servant who, normally, is taciturn at the best of times.

"Thank you. Thank you very much, sir! Much appreciated. Thanks for taking the time to see me at such short notice." A few hours earlier I'd called to make an appointment and had been pleasantly surprised when the secretary informed me that Mr. Owusu will see me right away.
"Don’t mention it." Mr. Owusu's rich baritone booms across the vast room. From his desk, he produces a bottle of an expensive looking brandy. He drags himself to a side table and comes back with two fairly-clean brandy snifters. He splashes generous portions into the glasses and hands one to me. I take it and sniff; the adorable scent of the VSOP drink wafts ecstatically into my nostrils. I nod my head in admiration and Mr. Owusu beams with satisfaction. He raises his glass and toasts like a priest giving benediction: "To cooperation and success of globalization."

Mr. Owusu sips his expensive cognac and beams a contended smile in my direction. "Femi, this is simply the best drink in the world. Wonderful smell, fantastic taste, what more could a man hope or pray for?"

I take a sip of the amber drink and nod my head in agreement. "Lovely drink, sir." I almost choke when Mr. Owusu mysteriously ejaculates: "Thirty billion dollars."

I regard the high official with renewed interest, awe and wonderment. He's consumed less than half his potion, so he can't be drunk. Or has he been imbibing before I came in?

"Thirty billion dollars!" Mr. Owusu repeats. His face is wreathed in a mystifying self-satisfied smile. He keeps nodding his head in affirmation to some mystical signals. I am intrigued: Could he have won the lotto? Those mysterious smiles are definitely those of a sweepstakes winner. But then; thirty billion dollars? I do not know of any lottery that pays that much. But then one never knows, does one?

Mr. Owusu drains his drink and pours another generous belt. He raises his glass in another toast: "To generosity and compassion. Who says that idealism is dead! My God, continue to bless our generous benefactors, amen!"

I hurry down my drink and shamelessly hold the glass to Mr. Owusu who dispenses another generous portion. He raises his glass in another toast: "President Bush, may you live forever. Prime Minister Blair, may God continue to protect your bedroom. President Sarkozy, may God grant you eternal life. Prime Minister Koyizo, may al your enemies vanish from the face of the earth…"

"Sir, sir, what’s the meaning of all these?" I beseech Mr. Owusu.

He smiles benevolently in my direction: "Femi, they have generously granted us thirty billion dollars!"

"Who? Thirty billion dollars! To whom and for what?" I cry like an excited baby.

"Femi," Mr. Owusu cries with passion, "haven’t you heard the good tidings?"

I look at Mr. Owusu in askance: "What good tidings, sir?"

He sips his drink and bestowes a benevolent smile on me. "Femi, the leaders of the G8 have generously agreed to give Africa thirty billion dollars in aid. What marvelous news, Femi. The Gods of our ancestors are certainly not sleeping"

"Is the money meant for us?" I ask Mt. Owusu . He regards me as one would regard a demented relation. "What do you mean?" He barks ominously.

"I thought the G8 leaders promised thirty billion dollars to fight AIDS and tuberculosis in Africa !"

"See, isn't Africa the keyword there?" He snaps.

"Sorry, sir, but I don’t see how that translates into generous donation to Africa !"

Mr. Owusu regards me coolly. "When a group of foreign leaders meet and agree to donate money to help us fight dangerous diseases such as AIDS and tuberculosis, don't you think that we should at least be thankful?"

"Pardon my cynicism, sir, but I'd only be thrilled when these leaders actually transfer such money or resources directly to us. But when they allocate these imaginary monies and resources to their pharmaceutical companies and research institutions, they are only helping themselves. They are aiding themselves and strengthening their technological advantages over us. And I do not see that as occasion for us to dance with joy or drink ourselves silly with merriment." I sip my drink.

Mr. Owusu regards me as a judge would regard a man he’s about to sentence to hanging. He eyes the glass in my hand with a look that suggested that he's regretting sharing his expensive brandy with me.

"Femi! I just came back from these meetings. Five African heads of states along with their delegations fully participated in the discussions, would you not at least credit us with some intelligence to fight Africa's corner?" Mr. Owusu asks with something of a hurt in his voice.

"The problem, as I see it, sir, is that we have been taken for granted for far too long. The G7 (now G8) have been meeting for years, and every time they make the same promises to help Africa . Promises which are fulfilled only in the breach. When they met in Scotland two years ago, they promised to give Africa twenty-five billion dollars. Nothing came out of that promises even though we rolled out the big drums in celebrations. And here we are celebrating another vacuous promise which in all likelihood will never be fulfilled."

"Ha! That's grossly unfair to our development partners." Mr. Owusu barks with passion. "Didn't they fulfill their promise to cancel our debt?” Mr. Owusu wants to know.

I shake my head ruefully: "Don't you think that that's part of the problem, sir?"

"What do you mean?" Mr. Owusu wants to know.

"Is there no end to our buffoonery?" I cry. "These people invaded our land; they enslaved us; they colonized us. They used and abused our labour without recompense. They carted our resources away without payment. And yet we ended up been indebted to them! How do we Africans ended up been such poor bargainers? And we have to stripped ourselves of all dignities and rolled ourselves in dirt, proclaim ourselves HIPC before they forgive what they say that we owe them. How on earth do we end up owing those who are supposed to be buying our mineral resources?

"Aagh!" Mr. Owusu aaghs.

"That's not all, sir. Here we are drinking a toast because they have promised to give thirty billion dollars to fight AIDS and tuberculosis. Have we really asked how much of the money will actually come to Africa ? Zero cent, if you ask me. The reason is very simply: There is not a single indigenous pharmaceutical company in Africa to take advantage of the grant - if it's ever made, that is! So the promised money will end in the West. And when they do their book-cooking, they will claim to have given us thirty billion dollars. Methinks that it's high time African leaders stop insulting the intelligence of their people by their useless participation at these meetings.

"If president Kuffuor can liaise with his Ivorien counterpart to create a Cocoa cartel, the benefits to our dear country will be far greater than all the empty promises of the G8 leaders! If West African leaders can create a Common Market, even a Custom Union in the ECOWAS sub-region, the benefits of intra-African trade will yield far higher dividends than all these G8 and HIPC jazz."

"African leaders should stop insulting their people by parading at these meeting like mindless simpletons. G8 leaders tell only bare-faced lies and our leaders should stop helping them to lead us by the nose."
 
© Femi Akomolafe
 



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