Africa Betrayed – Again

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This emerging Chinese dominance shows the world that we Africans are incapable of running our affairs and consistently need assistance, instead of pushing our own initiatives—shameful and appalling. Why didn’t oil rich countries such as Nigeria, Gabon or Sudan offer the money to build the AU headquarters? What of South Africa, or even Libya?

ON AFRICA'S RECOLONIZATION


Last Friday, May 25th the African Union in Addis Ababa celebrating the 44th Africa Day.  Current African Union president, John Kufuor, who is also Ghana's president, was at hand with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, AU chair Alpha Omar Konare, and other dignitaries.

To me, my unease grew when I saw the size of the Chinese delegation, headed by the Assistant Minister of Trade Wang Chao. What were they doing? They were buying the African Union. Ironically, the institution is somewhat meaningless—China wasn’t even represented by a full minister.

In 2005, the AU was given a former prison compound opposite its current headquarters by the acting mayor of Addis Ababa, Arkebe Oqubay. The AU said it didn't have the funds to build anything on it.

Back to 2007: China has granted $150 million to help build the AU’s new headquarters. Africa Day, meant to commemorate 44 years of independence, was also a celebration of China’s largesse. How can independence be celebrated while the new colonial power is being applauded? Who in his or her right mind believes China is gifting that amount of money for nothing in return?

China is eating up this continent—to the point where some local population, as in Zambia for instance, are taking the matter in their own hands to protest against the Chinese presence. This is because when Chinese companies secure contracts in Africa, they fly in employees from China. It’s for this reason that carriers such as Ethiopian Airlines has developed regular flights to routes like Beijing, Guangzhou and Honk Kong. So much for creating jobs in Africa.

This emerging Chinese dominance shows the world that we Africans are incapable of running our affairs and consistently need assistance, instead of pushing our own initiatives—shameful and appalling.

When I voiced my concern Friday to an AU diplomat, his position was that China’s role was necessary for the continental African body to expand. Why didn’t oil rich countries such as Nigeria, Gabon or Sudan offer the money to build the AU headquarters? What of South Africa, or even Libya? Are African leaders too myopic that they can’t see beyond the borders of their own countries?

Fifty-three African states needed China to come up with the funds. I cannot blame the Chinese; they came with an offer that African leaders could not refuse. China knows African leaders’ contempt for Africa. Consider that former African presidents such as Senegal’s Abdou Diouf and his predecessor Leopold Senghor both retired to France.

Why should our leaders mind as Chinese businesses proliferate throughout the continent? Hardly any of them were freely chosen by the people: Yoweri Museveni in Uganda; Meles Zenawi in Ethiopia; Omar Al Bashir in Sudan; Issayas Afeworki in Eritrea; Abdallah Yusuf in Somalia; Mohamed VI in Morocco; Yar U'dua in Nigeria; Hosni Mubarak in Egypt; Lansana Conte in Guinea; the list is long.

The founding fathers of the Organization of the African Unity, the predecessor to the AU, must be rolling in their graves. They threw out European colonialism and dominance, only for a new power to – not Africa – to emerge. Why should we bother with Kiswahili when Cantonese or Mandarin may become the new lingua franca in Africa?



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