“China, the new ‘Santa’ or a continuation of the Enlightenment project: Performing Anamnesis with the Chinese ‘saviour’ on the block.
Meiz M. Majdoub Snr. Senior Financial consultant
Andy Kusi-Appiah Snr.
Queen Elizabeth Advanced Scholar, Societal Transformations, 2019
Part 3 Africa rising?
Some may completely disagree that Africa is rising, and point to the huge infrastructure projects springing up all over Africa to back up their claims. But the most pressing question is whether Africa has surrendered its key resources, which has cost the respective countries a fortune. The following examples will illustrate this point:
1) Somalia has given out 31 fishing licenses to foreign entities but doesn’t have any for Somalians,
2) Zambia has surrendered Zambia Broadcasting Corporation and their electricity corporation,
3) A new railway in Kenya, which is Chinese funded, has sparked debt trap fears.
The above and many more examples indicate that Africa is giving up what little sovereignty it still has after the continent had been raped and abused for centuries by Western nations led by France and England.
There is complete apprehension for PRC’s mode of operation by both Africans and scholars of the west. But the West’s apprehension (led by the United States of America) is ironically couched in a language of alarm, invoking human rights violations as the ultimate outcome of Africa’s continuous alliance with PRC. The West has lashed out at what they refer to as “predatory” Chinese involvement in Africa. Unveiling a new US strategy on Africa, national security advisor John Bolton denounced PRC for its aggressive quest for natural resources and its rising military and maritime presence — warning that the balance of power in the Horn of Africa for example, could shift to Beijing. In a rare moment of truth, Bolton said:
“The predatory practices pursued by China and Russia stunt economic growth in Africa, threaten the financial independence of African nations, inhibit opportunities for US investment, interfere with US military operations and pose a significant threat to US national security interests,”
(John Bolton, in a speech at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, December 8, 2018).
The emphasis here really is the fact that the United States and its western allies have now gotten themselves a competitor, and they don’t like what they are seeing. In 2017, Kenya, a long standing western ally, inaugurated a Chinese-built railway, the country’s biggest infrastructure project since independence. Other infrastructure projects built with direct Chinese investment abound in Africa – from South Africa, to Zambia to Tanzania (Karumba, T., FP/File)
The growing and credible dissenting voice (s) coming out of sub-Saharan Africa maintain that Africa stands to lose its sovereignty if she continues to trade with any country that does not respect its sovereignty, and this includes PRC. They cite a long history of abusive relationships between Africa and the outside world (including the West) as the main reason why any relationship with any outside force should be approached with caution. For example, it is on record that the Enlightenment project imposed on subjects of the ‘orient’ (apologies to Edward Said) a subservient role, a role which required them, to use a popular phrase by Chartabarty, (2007), ‘to wait for their turn’. The colonial person / community were not supposed to do anything but wait for their turn to be recognized by the all-knowing, omnipotent colonialist.
Of trading partners and African self-determination:
The sun is having an orgasm in our heads here.
Look! Our taxis carry the sick
And, ambulances carry the dead.
We ship out all our cocoa beans and timber
And proudly import Milo, Ovaltine
and cheap Chinese doors.
There is heat in our heads here.
The sun is having an orgasm in our brains
And we seem to like it very much.
See how we jail the poor
who steals plantain
But say “God is good”
When the rich loot banks.
Our leaders are wanking our future away.
They pull down expensive, judges’ homes
To build a cathedral to a colonial God
Encouraging us to pray whilst they play
With the destiny of Nkrumah’s Ghana.
The sun is having an orgasm here!
Millions of billboards advertising
Bleacher Preachers working miracles
Promising divine solutions to
Governance problems and political incompetence.
Praying to arrest the US dollar
And casting out the demons of economic failure.
We must be a crazy bunch.
The sun is having an orgasm in our heads
And all we got to show for it is blue balls…
Poem written by Nana Kofi Acquah, December 13, 2018.
Nana Kofi Acquah’s truncated poem, above, clearly spells out what Africa is currently and persistently doing to Africa unaided (no pun intended). It speaks to how things are and not what ought to be, hence regardless of whom Africa’s trading partner is, what Africans do or not do will determine what happens to the people – Africa’s collective destiny is in the hands of Africans, both home and abroad! The take home point is not only about who is working with Africa, but rather what Africans are doing with the partnerships forged.
We always ask the question: “What is Africa’s interest?” (one can substitute a particular country for Africa – for example, “what is Ghana’s interest?”). China has an interest, America has an interest, Great Britain has an interest – what is Africa’s interest? The ‘interest’ of Africa must be determined by Africans in situ, and Africans must resist all attempts to impose any imposition of ideas generated within foreign cultural domains. The African must resist the Enlightenment of the west, and the anti-hegemonic rhetoric of the China that is seeking to find its rightful place at the help of the human experience. We become what we are through our bodies’ reaction to the environment. We can recreate a sustainable environment with what we consider to be necessary and important. We can only bring about change if we exercise the power within the body to create change, i.e., put the body back in nature and exercise the power to act- power over space!
What Africa must do
Africa (I mean individually and collectively) must decide what Africa wants and then proceed from there. Politics must not be left to the professional politicians only, for everything they do or don’t do affect all. Elected officials need the active participation of the people in order to do the right thing (s). All forms of resistance must be encouraged and cherished, because resistance is the most important deterrent against wrong doing. The question of who to trade with cannot be left in the lands of a few elites who have themselves been schooled in the Enlightenment project and its perceived gains. The point should be driven home that policies that work are those that have been brainstormed, researched, well-articulated and religiously implemented in situ. Policies manufactured ‘abroad’ do not work, and as Nana Kofi Acquah clearly explains, the majority of Africans have ‘decided’ to know more about the ‘other’ than the ‘self’. Referring exclusively to Ghana, Nana Kofi Acquah had this to say:
“When I ask today’s Ghanaian to pronounce 1,097,953,028.57 in his or her mother tongue, they struggle. When I ask them to name three ancestors in chronological order starting with their grandmother, they struggle.
Same can tell me everything about Jesus, his disciples and his lineage. They know everything about the Prophet Mohammed. They know everything about everybody else but themselves.
Ghana’s tragedy is that a powerful, beautiful, strong, rich, intelligent people have been brainwashed to believe everything foreign is better and nothing of theirs is of any value.
When Ghanaians (and all Africa) begin to see the enormity of our blessings, we’ll no longer comfortably sitting on gold and beg for brass.”
Nana Kofi Acquah (October 2018).
Africa’s destiny lies in the hands of Africans!