Heart of Arts

The Beginning of an End

Abdulkabir Muhammed

Not only religion but also empirical pieces of evidence have shown that the world is dichotomous: the world of the rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak, the haves and the haves not, the knowledgeable and the ignoramus. Thus, the Darwin theory has explained why some countries of the world are classified as global north, and others as global south. In essence, we have developed, developing, and underdeveloped countries. Without unnecessary justification, none of the African countries falls within the first category. The largest African economy, Nigeria, is still regarded as a developing country, if not underdeveloped, as some critics would argue. Therefore, the reason Africa has always been at the bottom of world affairs cannot be farfetched. The humiliation meted out on the continent by the outside world is worth demystifying. Recently, the World Bank, through its lead economist for Nigeria, Alex Sienaert, came up with another piece of advice or proposal, as it were, that the federal government of Nigeria should raise the cost of petrol to N750 per liter. The statement reads partly: “We think the price of petrol should be around N750 per liter, more than the N650 per liter currently paid by Nigerians.” While not always altruistic, such advice is detrimental to Nigeria and its citizens, who are the driving force of the economy. This was one of the ways the global north affected Africa for its self-interest.

A continent richly endowed with mineral resources and raw materials has been a dumping ground for Western goods, ridiculously produced largely with African raw materials. The social Darwinism theory—survival of the fittest—explains why Africa has always remained under the shackles of imperialism and colonialism. It explains why some countries of the global north waited at the coasts and African borders (between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries) and collected and carved out African endowments for Europe. The theory also explains the reason for the forceful exploitation of African resources between the late nineteenth century and well into the second half of the twentieth century, after the exploitation of many centuries earlier. After all, they have learned from the Bible that “whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance,” but “whoever does not have, even what they have, will be taken from them.” Too much has been taken from Africa!

This notwithstanding, Africans themselves have become more acculturated than those they once repelled; they are more Catholic than the pope. That is not our argument. Of what essence is independence, in which its granters intend more harm to the recipients? Colonialism has not left Africa! The baffling issue, however, is that the new form of colonialism—or neocolonialism—is worse than colonialism itself when thoroughly examined. Although colonial atrocities in Africa were promulgated during the first phase of colonialism, the West now hypocritically dominates African economies while claiming to be messianic. I understand that African rulers have been so dumb not to realize the need to liberate the continent from European fetters. They have been trained not to realize the bad of exploiting their subjects. Instead of helping the poor former colonies, the West and former colonial masters preferred to further subjugate them for self-interest. This was evident in its meddling in African affairs—political, economic, and religious affairs. Politically, this was done, most times, through power intrigues that bedeviled Africa’s politics, like elsewhere. Power intrigues, created largely by colonial experience, have tended to be the easiest means for the colonizers to execute their plans for Africa. Because they needed dumb but loyal rulers to further expropriate Africa’s raw materials for their bourgeoning industries and deindustrialize the continent to remain a market for its industrial products, they supported one faction against another. This was the basis for more than 90 percent of the colonies that were colonized during the colonial era. So, when they successfully did so, such a ruler became a puppet. He seeks their go-ahead and dies for their cause. Helplessly, the Western powers have continued to use this mechanism—even in contemporary times—that has resulted in poor representation of rulers, bad governance, underdevelopment, insecurity, poor economies, and protracted intrigues during and after African elections. This factor, no doubt, was instrumental in the protracted Sudanese Civil War, where two old men continued to ravage their country, killing innocent citizens and causing many to be internally displaced. While the war was inarguably influenced by a thirst for wealth and power, the Sudanese Civil War had a Western influence. Furthermore, the 1967–70 Nigerian Civil War and the 1994 Rwanda Genocide, among others, had a Western conspiracy. Not to talk of incessant coups across the continent? We cannot exhaust it in an article such as this.

Surely, if your watchdog is a cat, your meats in your house are not safe. In other words, a country is in danger if its administrators are not accountable to its people but to outsiders and themselves. The economy thrives when leaders are not manipulated and corrupted. This is not the case in Africa. Our leaders have been misleadingly trained to impoverish their citizens, divert public funds into their accounts to remain forever at the helm of affairs, fight one another for a democracy that has failed on the continent, ruin their economies to keep their countries indebted to them and rely on the global north for aid. Therefore, the United States’ policy of counteracting Russia’s expansionism in the heydays of the Cold War was excellently manifest and realized. For clarity purposes, the second main reason (besides rejuvenating its economy) that the United States initiated the Brethen Woods institutions—IMF, IBRD—was to prevent Russia, after World War 2, from incorporating the weak and developing states—mostly African—into its hegemony. Therefore, the poor African states had to borrow money from these institutions, largely dominated by the West, and remain subservient to their will. He who pays the piper, of course, dictates the tune!

I am convinced that the underdevelopment that Africa is battling with today is consequential of a bipartite factor: internal—bad leadership, propelled by an external factor—western influences. Aside from the discrimination meted out in Africa in terms of policies and international functions, the global north has weaponized supranational organizations to deal with the global south. They create problems and then present themselves as advisers to solving those problems because they are sure that their dumb puppets (African leaders) will pat them on the back. Unfortunately, they got rid of African leaders who wanted to liberate their citizens through conspiracies. Do you wonder about the untimely death of the great Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana? Or of Julius Nyerere of Tanzania? Or the Congolese Patrice Lumumba? What about Prime Minister Muammar Gaddafi? Former Nigerian heroes, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafemi Awolowo? These people were either conspired against or killed from within Africa or outside, with Gaddafi’s killing being obvious. Yes, the beginning of an end? The millions of Africans hopelessly, but consistently, traveling to industrialized countries for greener pastures signifies the arrival of recompense. They are aware of the consequences of a “humanitarian crisis” on developed economies. Without the mechanisms used to prevent the inflow of immigrants, the global north would have reaped much of its “labours” by 2050. It should not forget the significance of the aliens in the Russian Civil War of 1917. Admittedly, and quite farsightedly, the West has started to orient Africa on some of the issues at hand, including climate change. However, only a liveable economy could give room for those changes to occur. On this note, I strongly believe that until the West decided to genuinely help Africa develop, rendering devastating advice and aid would be the beginning of an end; it would be heading for the rocks!

Abdulkabir Muhammed is of the Department of History and International Relations at the Lagos State University. He can be reached via abdukabirm87@gmail.com or 08142957061

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