ON AIDs & Looting

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(from my archive. First published in The African Journal in 1999)


“They switched from the old openly colonial imperialistic approach to the benevolent approach. They came up with some benevolent colonialism, philanthropic colonialism, humanitarianism, or dollarism. Immediately everything was Peace Corps, Operation Crossroads.” – Malcolm X.

I felt the need to explain why I have never been thrilled by Western charities. I have been telling whoever would listen that the so-called aid that the Western nations pretend to be giving to Africa are unnecessary.

Various reasons invited these opinions. First and foremost among these is historical: No nation, no society has ever been developed by outside aid and, I believe, none shall ever be. We can make this into Femi’s First Principle.

Secondly, foreign aid presupposes that international relations (relations between nations) are conducted on an altruistic or sentimental basis, this is wrong. As the Americans are wont to say, ‘It is a jungle out there,’ every nation for himself, and God for us all. If the Westerners are salving their consciences by pretending to be do-gooders, it behooves Africans to stop disbelieving the nonsense. The genius of the Western nations is in their ability to cloak their selfish interests in humanitarian halo. Their dogged pursuits of these interests are always portrayed as a great philanthropic enterprise for mankind.

Lets us take a short trip back into history.

When the hordes of European invaders descended on Africa with their Maxim guns and their Bibles, they committed unspeakable atrocities. They violated our land and desecrated our gods. They stole and took over two hundred million of our brothers and sisters to their plantations in their ‘New-World’ in the Americas. They said it was a trade. Why do you need to come with guns and gunboat if your intention is to TRADE?

Our brothers and sisters slaved for over four centuries building the wealth of America! They were not paid a dime for their labor. They were treated like the chattel properties of the people who are today the shakers and movers of ‘God’s own country.’ Even the promise of forty acres and a mule that was made to them remained unfulfilled. It is impossible to read the accounts of their treatment without the blood running cold. How did the Europeans explain all these enormous crimes?

They were on a civilizing mission! The good-hearted, God-fearing European was bringing Christian light to the barbarians of the ‘Dark-Continent.’ European scholarship went into overdrive, churning out tons and tons to justify this patently absurd claim. To anyone who knows history, the notion of Europeans going on a civilizing mission to Africa draws derision, not anger. Even their so-called religion is a plagiarized form of ancient African religion. Many continue to chant ‘Amen,’ without giving credit where it is due!

One instance should suffice. England was among the leading European powers that despoiled Africa. Who are the English? Originally called Angle, the English were a sub-tribe of the Saxons. When these Anglos were roaming the forest of the Island that now bears their name, there were empires in Africa. When the Anglos were still living in caves, Africans were living in cities. We could say that the English did not see the light of civilization until the Normans conquest of 1066. So primitive were the English that one invading general wondered if he could make successful slaves of them!

I do not write this to deride the English; this is simply a historical fact. The first emperor of a modern state in all of Europe was Charlemagne, who ruled most of Western Europe from 800-814. That gives us a history of less than two thousand years old. When we compare that with Nubia, we see how hollow Europeans claim really is. By contrast, the old Ghana Empire flourished until the 13th century! Ghana is by no means the oldest of African empires. We still have the Malian empire that lasted until the 16th century. Songhai Empire was bigger than anything Europeans have been able to forge in terms of empire.

Why did European scholars refuse to teach this history? Why are Africans compelled to read about European vainglories and not the glories of their own past? Why are students in Africa continue to be taught about Holy Roman Empire, when the Malian, the Ghanaian and Songhaian empires remain untaught? We are Africans, and those were genuine African achievements, why are they denying us knowledge of them?

It is for one single purpose: To lead credence to the Europeans monstrous lies about their ‘civilizing’ mission in African. If the Ghanaian knows these things, he would be asking of the English, “If my fathers and mothers were building houses, cities, and empires when your parents were still living nomadic lives, how come you are here to civilize me?” The Senegalese, the Malian will ask the same of the French.

Dapper was a Dutch traveler in Africa in the 15th century. In his writings, he gave accounts of the type of political and social organizations and institutions he found in the places he traveled. He favorably compared Benin City in Nigeria with the city of Amsterdam. The British invaded the ancient city, looted the treasures (they are still in the British Museum), what they could not cart away they set on fire. When their mythorians came, they wrote about the destroyed buildings and wondered why Africans live in such wretchedness! Their works become classics – compulsory study at their universities.

When Europeans (Americans were present too) sat at Berlin and carved up Africa, how did they rationalized it! The White man was carrying the Black Man’s burden. The white man was trying, in the spirit of Christian brotherhood to lift the Blackman to the level of the European. Europeans are never motivated by anything except altruistic considerations for mankind.

When colonialism became too odious, the Europeans quickly switched gear. They foisted neo-colonialism on Africa. Instead of European colonial administrators ruling over the colonies, stooges are put in place to carry out the dirty works. We have Mobutu in Zaire whose principal job was to guarantee the interests of Euro-American multi-nationals. Who can still remember how many times Belgian and French troops, supported by American logistics, have rescued him from the ire of his people? The Europeans can, therefore, beat their chests and say, ‘We did our best. The natives are now managing their affairs, and look what a mess they are making of things!’

They will never say that the natives are still being teleguided by the IMF and World Bank Consultants and Strategists. They will never say that there are in Africa at the moment more European administrators (call them ‘aid-workers,’ ‘missionaries,’ or whatever have you) in Africa today than at the height of the colonial period. They will never tell you that most of what they call aid are military hardware, given to dictators in Africa to repress their people in the interest of Western multi-nationals. Nigerian police have wiped out whole villages in order to make the places save for SHELL exploitation. Mobutus forces are routinely pacifying Zaireans for the benefit of Belgian companies.

It is never bannered that even the so-called economic aid is tied to buying produce from the host country. And the most insulting of all, they do not tell us that the so-called aid is what got us in trouble in the first place. Aids are no charity; they are not gifts, and they are certainly not grants. They are loans, pure and simple. When Westerners make a song-and-dance about aids, they fail to say that under normal circumstances, it is a straightforward proposition. The economic-aid has to be repaid back. How do you think Africa got into such huge indebtedness. We are indebted to the West for their ‘aid.’ If I give you one Gulden, and you have to pay me back ten, I am insulting you by claiming to be aiding you. The best you got was a bad deal and, if we have to be fair, I took you for a clean ride.

Then there is the question of self-pride. The notion of aid suggests a giver-taker, master-servant relationship. As people who receive the so-called social security easily attest, aid dehumanizes the receiver – perhaps that was the original intention. It turns the receiver into a beggar. Little wonder the adage says, “It is better to teach a man how to catch fish and give him the means to do so, rather than giving him fishes.”

When the Dutch say that they are tired of giving aid to their former colony of Surinam, I say they are talking baloney. Surinam was the beast their Frankenstein engendered. They created Surinam. After wiping out the Indians, they went and stole Africans to man their plantations. Those are unrequited labor, brothers, and sisters. We are talking about forced labor that went for days after days; months after months; years after years and centuries after centuries. Not only were the slave labor got for free, but the natural resources of Surinam was also exploited to feed the ‘mother-country.’ In case there are still some who did not know it, I am referring to Holland! Yeah, yeah, what are these resources they are always talking about?” The Dutch are wont to sneer. One example will suffice Bauxite.

Surinam had bauxite in abundance and it was FULLY (literally and figuratively) exploited by Dutch concerns. The Dutch colonial administration made it possible for the Dutch companies to pay about five guldens per ton for the bauxite! For those who did not know it, bauxite is a strategic mineral – essential to the aerospace industry.

What the Dutch did in Surinam, the British did in Nigeria, in Ghana; the French in Chad, Mali, Niger and their other colonies. And then there was Belgium. Nowhere in the colonial world was the contrast between the colonized and the colonizers more apparent than in the Belgian colonies in Africa. Take Congo for instance. This is a country in Central Africa blessed with every description of natural minerals. Gold, Diamonds, Manganese, you name it they got it. Belgium, by contrast, is a barren country in Europe with nothing but the sea as natural resources. Belgium colonized the Congo and extensively looted the country. Societe Generale is the biggest concern in Belgium; for those who did not know it, that company derives the bulk of its wealth from Zaire.

Next time you see the big palaces in Brussels and Antwerp and other places in Europe, do not be unnecessarily awed; it was your money that built those monuments. What did the Belgians do when it was time to decolonized? Lumumba, a great Pan- Africanist, who hated the colonizers with all his guts was set to win the elections. That DIRECTLY threatened Belgian and Western neo-colonial interests in Africa. The Western secrets services went to work. The cable that led to the murder of Lumumba was sent from the CIA headquarters. The CIA point man in the Congo then was Frank Carlucci, who later became the United States Secretary of Offence (beg your pardon, Defence.)

The agents of doom succeeded. They turned brothers against brothers, sisters against sisters. In no time at all, Congolese were killing each with Biblical abandon. The country was sundered, and a handpicked stooge, Mobutu was installed in office. That man is still misruling one of the richest parts of Africa today! It is necessary to know these things, otherwise, we will continue to be had by those whose profession is to destabilize, to despoil, to pillage and plunder our continent. We can see how hollow it sounds when a Belgian king or prime minister say that he’s giving aid to Zaire. Zaire’s wealth in Belgium is simply incalculable. That is the reason why we do not feel grateful when a Dutch minister or Queen says that they are giving aid to Surinam. The Dutch debt to Surinam is unpayable.

The fact of the matter is that the Europeans are lying when they say that they are giving aid to Africa. It is an obnoxious lie to anyone who knows anything about international affairs. Aside from our resources that these historical thieves continue to steal, Africa is yearly remitting to Euro-America more than ten billion US dollars. If anyone is giving aid to anything, it is Africa. This monstrous lie has been so often repeated that even Africans tend to take it as gospel truth. Holland is making more money from Nigeria alone than all the aid this country continue to pretend it is giving out in aid. The Europeans claim is like the robbers who make a living by robbing people and, giving back a part of their loot to their victims, claim to be engaged in a humanitarian affair.

We can also use another analogy: Imagine for a minute a group of fire-fighters who go around setting fire to houses and, putting it out, claiming that their act is benevolent humanitarianism. This is exactly what the Europeans are doing in Africa and all over the world. Take a part of Africa where there is conflict, any part. What do they do? They take sides and rushed ‘military-assistance’ to their stooges. Lives are wantonly destroyed, so are infrastructures. A decade or so later when the combatants are too weak to feed themselves, we see the white people making appeals for donations – ‘We are the World’, ‘Een Voor Afrika.’

It happened in Ethiopia, Somalia, Angola, Liberia, and Mozambique. Brothers and sisters, open your eyes to reality. I do not write these because I hate Europeans (I haven’t got time for that), I write because I want you to know where you stand in the scheme of things. Open your eyes to reality. Whenever you see Europeans ‘doing- their thing’ again, do not feel unnecessarily grateful. Tell it to them that they can stuff themselves with their charity. If they haven’t set brothers against brothers in the first place, there will be little need for their donations.

Our message remains simple: Africans everywhere must wake up and study hard. We are poor because of only one reason – foreigners are mismanaging our resources. How did they get there is no longer the question, but how to dislodge them. We can get hold of our affairs when educate ourselves sufficiently to be able to take care of things.

We should stop mimicking Europe – that road leads to nowhere but hell. In the coming century, China will become the most economically powerful country in the world. The Chinese did not wait for European aid or American aid or Russian aid. They went out in large numbers to go and learn the technology and the techniques of other people. They return to their homeland and start to take care of their own affairs, without paying attention to the sermonizing Europeans. Today, when China sneezes, a lot of countries catch a cold. We should remember that until 1949, China was referred to as the ‘Sleeping Giant.’

Europe is in a mess. Politically it has lost its bearing – all their politicians have become thieving liars. Economically, Europe is rudderless; no one seems to have a cure to what they now call Euro-Sclerosis. Socially, Europe is disintegrating. Parents are now routinely abusing children, while children are increasingly abusing drugs.

Is that from where we should seek our salvation?


About the Author  

Femi Akomolafe is a passionate Pan-Africanist. A columnist for the Accra-based Daily Dispatch newspaper and ModernGhana, and Correspondent for the New African magazine, Femi lives in both Europe and Africa and writes regularly on Africa-related issues for various newspapers and magazines.

Femi was the producer of the FOCUS ON AFRICANS TV Interview programme for the MultiTV Station.

He is also the Man and Machine Coordinator at Alaye Dot Biz Limited, a Kasoa-based Multimedia organization that specializes in Audio and Video Production. He loves to shoot and edit video documentaries.

His highly-acclaimed books (“Africa: Destroyed by the gods,” “Africa: It shall be well,” “18 African Fables & Moonlight Stories” and “Ghana: Basic Facts + More”) are available for sales at the following bookshops/offices:

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