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Re. The truth for Trudeau: We’ve been ripping off Africa for decades

Andy C.Y. Kwawukume

February 22, 2017

 

The author writing to his friend:


Hi Joel,

Thanks for the link.

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That's a matter of truth some of us were writing about and campaigning with in the 1990s. My good friend Femi Komolafe, author of Africa: Destroyed by the gods and Africa: It Shall be Well available on Amazon.com, resettled in Ghana with some compatriots from the Netherlands, armed with printing presses to educate the so-called leaders and populace so that a renewed struggle can be waged against neo-colonialism and bring about the fruition of Franz Fanon and Nkrumah's dreams for Africa. Today, he is a disappointed man but still soldiering on, considering the dozens of links I receive from him daily. I was sceptical about their project, having just returned from field work in Ghana in 1993, and totally disgusted with the mind-set of the so-called educated people, not only the clueless and moronic leadership of the time. I booked the first flight I could get, which fell on Easter Monday, and left amidst protestations from Efo Solo and others. I didn't go back to Ghana for another 10 years and I didn't miss Ghana at all. For me, the problem is in Ghana/Africa, with the people there.

Yes, the Caucasians and Arabs have always exploited us but it is with the connivance of greedy, ignorant and powerful Africans. Unless we realise this and tackle these modern slave raiders, selling us down the river just as they have done with the oil boon in Ghana, we aren't going anywhere yet. I have no respect left for them. Below is a quote from a long with-held series I am yet to publish. I think Prof. O'Brien captured the sentiment most succinctly.

"Conor Cruise O'Brien, who once served as vice chancellor of the University of Ghana, has made an illuminating observation in an essay with revealing title "Africa Self-Righteousness Is as Tiresome as European": The notion of one continent ‘raping’ another is a hollow trope. The reality was one of exploitation of weak people by strong people. The strong included many Africans, as well as Europeans. The Europeans, it is true, got most of the loot. Why not? They were the strongest of the strong. Liverpool did better out of the slave trade than Kumasi. But Kumasi, too, did pretty well. And I have never met an Ashanti who was anything but proud of the Ashanti Empire, or who was in the least ashamed of the part played by the slave trade in the growth of that powerful and predatory policy. The Fanti, who did even better out of the slave trade, are not exactly wracked by guilt either. Nor…do I know many Arabs, or members of the African peoples associated with the Arab slave-trade, who worry about that long chapter in the history of slavery"' (Society, Jan./Feb., 1997:13-14)."

Below is another extended quote from another unpublished article I wrote in rebuttal to certain positions of the Left in Norway given in rejecting joining the EU again in the referendum of 1995. It speaks for itself. My circulation of the initial raw one to my Norwegian Leftist student colleagues and to key policy and opinion makers in Norway led to a public campaign which halted some of the most egregious actions of the govt against foreign students. That stopped me from publishing the edited one which was reviewed by a senior and retired researcher at CMI. He told me he typed the first Pakistani budget as an aid worker then. I was surprised they claimed they weren't aware of the effects of their clearly negative actions and that I painted them too harshly. Well, Prof. Akilagpa Sawyerr who was then visiting to help complete a Report for the World Food Programme also read the original on Norwegian policy on foreign students/foreigners and admitted not being aware of some things I pointed out and said I was a bit too harsh on them. He requested for a summary which I never came around to sending him. Been planning to re-edit the article a bit - actually an abridged version of the original polemic - and publish it as a response to BREXIT and Trump. Your link provides new source of data for someone like me who is no longer in academia. Very apt and opportune.

Now the quote.

2. The Status Quo
What then is the status quo? In 1992, the UNDP Human Development Report "conservatively" puts potential annual losses to the South from distortions in global markets at US$500 billion dollars. This is putting mildly losses by the LDCs due to trade protectionism by the North; cognisant of claims of exaggeration of such losses by the UNDP. In this figure, US$120 billion was from effective interest rate due to economic weakness; US$ 50 billion in debt-related NET financial transfers; US$20 billion because of unequal competition in international services; US$250 billion because of restrictions on labour movement; US$35 billion because of restricted market access for manufactures; US$5 billion due to restrictions on tropical, resource-based and agricultural products, and US$20 billion because of guarded technology markets (UNDP, HDR, 1992:58, 66-7).
On the aid and debt side, available figures continue to show that the South continues to be a net exporter of capital to the North. OECD reports cited by Susan George (1992) show that total resource flows (including grants and private flows) between 1982 and 1990, from North to South amounted to US$927 billion. This is in contrast to outflow of debt service (principal and interest) from South to the North of US$1,345 billion within the same period. That means a negative balance of US$418 billion in favour of the North! In 1991 dollars, it is said to amount to six Marshall Plans financed for the rich North by the poor South! (George, 1992:xv-xvi). The LDCs are thus in reality supporting Europe and the rest of the North economically. This is in stark contrast to the popular myths of aid and capital flows from North to South to alleviate poverty and to develop the LDCs.


Thus, Africa too, where most of the LDCs are, continues to be a net capital exporter to the North. For 1993, the World Bank's World Debt Tables have it that total debt servicing for sub-Saharan Africa amounted to US$11.35 billion (Africa Recovery, Dec. 1993-March 1994:12). This in itself was a decrease from the previous year's US$13.99 billion due to mounting arrears. This stark reality hardly features in the popular news media reports of the North giving aid to Africa, which creates a damaging image of a net outflow of resources to LDCs from Western tax payers. Many racist and anti-immigrant organisations and right-wing parties in Europe have actually built their support bases on this erroneous image and myths.


In fact, it is more realistic to argue that the peoples of the LDCs continue to bear the brunt of supporting the affluent lifestyles of Euro-Americans (Europeans and Americans) of today, just as the former's ancestors directly did before the gaining of independence in the post-WW11 era.
Apart from these legal flows to the North, Western businesspeople and multinational corporations are involved in a big scam, in collusion with South and former Eastern bloc leaders and businesspeople, which illegally transfers an estimated US$ 50 - 80 billion annually from the low- and middle-income countries to Western bank accounts (WP Wire Service, June 4, 1995). This estimate of flight capital is far bigger than total aid transfer from the North. This has serious damaging effects on the economies and lives of LDCs' peoples. Expressing frustration with the hesitation to deal with this problem, the author writes:


"Flight capital is co-operation among the world's powerful for exploitation of the world's weak. The fact is that for every illegal dollar, pound, franc or mark that moves out of poorer countries, there is a Western trader, manufacturer or financier that directly or indirectly facilitates its receipts. How, then is it possible to curtail this problem, when vested interests in richer and poorer countries prefer the status quo?" (WP Wire Service, June 4, 1995).


Economic theories put forward by the IMF and the World Bank have proved so far ineffective in solving these problems - major underlying reasons for the widening and deepening gap between North and South. Efforts made through hardly functioning arrangements such as the Lomé Conventions and the ACP Pacts to compensate for loss of legitimate earnings by the LDCs have also fallen on hard times. "Aid fatigue" is the 1990s addition to the North/South relations vocabulary.


This is a bird's eye view of the real world - the status quo. Losses due to restrictions against labour from LDCs alone amounts to five times the sum of aid, (now about US$50 billions p.a.), these countries receive from the North. Even if this loss is exaggerated by half, US$ 125 billion is still a big sum to lose annually. What role does Norway as an integral North nation play in this drama? And what can Norway alone do to reverse this trend, even if she wants too? Does this situation not benefit handsomely many Norwegians involved in the Western capitalist market too?


Perhaps, the "rhetorical ethic" which forms a main rationalising and legitimising part of exploitative systems and associated confidence mechanisms (Elliott, 1975: 11), in which “verbal iconography” does not reflect actual manifestations of actions (Ani, 1996), has either been thoroughly internalised by most Norwegians or refined to such a fine point in Norway that it shrouds the perception of reality of most Norwegians. Almost all Norwegians seem to share and honestly believe in the humanitarian image Norwegian power brokers and public opinion makers create of Norway internally and internationally; even in the face of abundant evidence that contradict that image. But that only makes Norwegians, if we follow Ani's (1996) argumentation, more "dangerous", as it appears they typify a perfect example of the European "rhetorical ethic" embedded within its [European] culture.


"It is an inherent characteristic of the culture that it prepares members of the culture to be able to act like friends toward those they regard as enemies; to be able to convince others that they have come to help when they, in fact, have come to destroy the others and their culture. That some may 'believe' that they are actually doing good only makes them more dangerous, for they have swallowed their own rhetoric-perhaps a convenient self-delusion. Hypocritical behavior is sanctioned and rewarded in European culture. The rhetorical ethic helps to sanction it" (Ani, 1996:315).
The concept of asili1 advanced by Ani (1996:11-17) offers then a useful analytical tool in understanding the contradictions entailed between the actions and utterances of some seemingly South-friendly actors in the North; just as much as it explains the actions of European slavers, colonisers and missionaries alike who used the Bible, for instance, to justify their actions.


Some of these ‘friendly’ actors in some North countries, one must not forget, make a living by shipping destructive arms and ammunitions to belligerents in the LDCs! The sponsorship of destructive proxy wars and their lingering effects, as part of the legacy of the geo-political and strategic struggles of the Cold War era are not given focus here as part of the status quo in parts of the LDCs. But the deadly trade of the military-industrial complex of the North deserves mention for the economic havoc and inhumane suffering it has been creating in parts of the LDCs, which creates further dependence on Western aid, particularly in Africa.


Of course, allowance has to be made to the many Norwegians who see through this rhetorical ethic, condemn negative actions against the LDCs, and are genuinely committed to LDCs' causes. Some supported the No movement while others opted for the Yes to EU group.
Moreover, the support of various Norwegian governments for liberation movements in the LDCs has earned for the people of Norway a very high prestige and goodwill in the LDCs.

End of quote.

Andy C.Y. Kwawukume
cyandyk@ymail.com
Notes

 

1. Asili, a Kiswahili word with several meanings related to "beginning," "origin," "source," and "nature", p.11-13. As a conceptual tool for cultural analysis, it is defined as: "The logos of a culture, within which its various aspects cohere. It is the developmental germ/seed of a culture. It is the matrix of a cultural entity which must be identified in order to make sense of the collective creations of its members." Author's glossary, p.xxv.

REFERENCES
Africa Confidential, Vol. 35 No. 21, 21 October, 1994.
Africa Recovery, December 1993, - March 1994. See also Peter Madden and John Madeley, 1993,
"Winners and Losers: The Impact of the GATT Uruguay Round on Developing Countries," Christian Aid.
Ani, Marimba, 1996, Yurugu: An African-centered Critique of European Cultural Thought
and Behavior, New Jersey: African World Press.
Elliott, Charles, 1975, Patterns of Poverty in the Third World: A Study of Social Economic
Stratification, New York: Praeger Publishers.
George, Susan, 1992, The Debt Boomerang: How Third World Debt Harms Us All, London: Pluto
Press.
The Washington Post Wire Service, 4 June, 1995, "Riding the Rivers of Dirty Money".
UNDP Human Development Report 1992.

 
 
 

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