Postcolonialism : the missing link of Accra speech
Let’s start with that statement of President Obama in Accrra on Saturday the 11th. "My father grew up herding goats in a tiny village, an impossible distance away from the American universities where he would come to get an education. He came of age at a moment of extraordinary promise for Africa. The struggles of his own father’s generation were giving birth to new nations, beginning right here in Ghana. (Applause.) Africans were educating and asserting themselves in new ways, and history was on the move."
"In many places, the hope of my father’s generation gave way to cynicism, even despair. Now, it’s easy to point fingers and to pin the blame of these problems on others. Yes, a colonial map that made little sense helped to breed conflict. The West has often approached Africa as a patron or a source of resources rather than a partner. But the West is not responsible for the destruction of the Zimbabwean economy over the last decade, or wars in which children are enlisted as combatants. In my father’s life, it was partly tribalism and patronage and nepotism in an independent Kenya that for a long stretch derailed his career, and we know that this kind of corruption is still a daily fact of life for far too many".
Let’s listen at that another point of view from J.E. Stiglitz written in 2002 in his book "Globalization and Its Discontents" that probably led to the Economic Nobel Price of 2006.
International Institutions were set to assist poor countries on their way to development. But those institutions do not represent the poor countries they are supposed to serve. The process of recruitment behind doors, the pre empted seats of the two Directors of the IMF and the World Bank by the West side : the IMF director has always been an European and his alter ego of the World Bank an American. This has become a tradition imposed to the rest of the world.
Moreover, people working inside those institutions are not even asked any experience or knowledge over developing countries when they are hired. They just have to be economist or so. When the experts of the IMF or the World Bank are dealing with a country, they meet with the Ministers or others experts of the local administrations. Meanwhile, they miss the real impact of the global situation as it goes on the ground. That’s where their lacking of knowledge on developing countries becomes a blind point prejudiciable to the efficiency of the IMF and the World Bank development programs in developing countries.
Those two statements from the Accra speech and from J.E. Stiglitz apparently opposed are quite complementary. The first one puts emphasis on African leaders and lack of rule of law whereas the second one points fingers on the misfunctioning of the international institutions.
Therefore we may agree that both sides are responsible for the global situation in Africa of misery, hunger, conflicts, corruption and so forth. "Countries like Kenya had a per capita economy larger than South Korea’s when I was born. They have badly been outpaced. Disease and conflict have ravaged parts of the African continent". Here is the key remark that enlightens the debate and the thought.
What happened in between ? How do you explain the tranformation of a fight of people for liberty and progress that freed them into despotism, underdevelopment and so forth ? Here is the missing point : post colonialism.
"The West is not responsible for the destruction of the Zimbabwean economy over the last decade".
Lets have a look at the Zimbabween case. Since the country became independant from the UK in 1980, the country was praised for being the basket of Africa. By the way, Robert Mugabe was one of the leaders fighting colonialism. Then, the same strong and keen leader became weak and fool overnight. Precisely, after he transfered farms to Zimbabweens.
An indepth sight in Africa may easily point out that previous colonialists states can use - and they did it - international institutions headed by the West and those ancient colonialist nations as weapons either tu cut loans, aid or to impose restrictions on trade ; the kind of restrictions that look alike embargos. In the case of Zimbabwe, all those weapons were used. Zimbabwe couldn’t even import medicines or industrial products to clean water and sanitaries.
That is how the country went back to a situation may be worst than it was, 50 years ago. The other consequences being the outcome of cholera due to bad sanitarian conditions and to the lack of medicine to confront the epidemic contaminations.
Meanwhile Western media as well as governments crossfired Zimbabwe and its President for misgovernment, cynism, dictatorship, forfaiture, trahison, etc.
Those familiar with North/South relationships are informed of what the double standard rule means in the international field : it consists in expressing good will and compassion for the people living in developing or poor countries whereas, at the same time, developed countries are only concerned about their owns mercantilists and geopolitical selfish interests.
In Accra, President Obama said :"I do not see the countries and the peoples of Africa as a world apart". This is the first step of change, for Africa has always been a world apart. A place where Western countries came to take and run away. Not feeling any obligations to pay or give back what they are extracting ; not feeling any obligations of respect ; needly to say of consideration.
Africa, as you rightly and openly listen the message of starting a new chapter from President Obama, don’t burnt out your fatherfounders. Doing so, you will lose your soul and maybe yourselves. Pay a strong tribute to your fatherfounders. Robert Mugabe is one of them as well as Jomo Kenyatta in Kenya, Julius Nyerere in Tanzania, Um Nyobe and Ernest Ouandjie in Cameroun, Patrick Lumumba in ex Zaïre, Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma in South Africa and many members of the ANC....
Africa, praise your fatherfounders and You will find yourselves spiritually greater and powerful.
Africa, Be proud of your history.