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Kommentar til Lise Nørgaard om Afrika

Lise Nørgaard har fornyeligt udtalt under et interview til Radio 24syv dette:

Det er jo en dråbe i havet, hvor vi alle sammen kan få lov til at føle os rigtig gode ved at give en skærv, men det hjælper ikke. Det, de skulle have, tænker jeg tit på, det var et helt vogntog med præservativer, siger hun.

og

Og Afrika har simpelthen været et problem, lige siden kolonisamfundene ophørte

Jeg vil bruge den næste tid på at forklare, hvorfor Lise Nørgaard tager fejl, og desuden er historieløs i sin argumentation.

Hvorfor kondomer ikke vil ændre noget
1) Afrika som kontinent har mere end nok til at kunne brødføde sin befolkning, hvis landbrugssektoren blev effektiviseret.

2) Flere afrikanske lande lider under landgrabbing, hvor udenlandske lande eller virksomheder bruger jord til at dyrke afgrøder til eget brug. Fx har England haft marker i Afrika, hvor “maden” blev fragtet til England og derpå brugt til bio-brændsel. Kina, Indien og flere er igang med at importere fødevarer fra fx Etiopien til sig selv. Den jord og de fødevarer kunne være brugt til at brødføde den lokale befolkning.

I Senegal ender lokale fisk som fiskemel, der blandet andet sendes til Europa og bruges til dyrefoder

3) Fra 1870-2010 har majoriteten af dødsfald i forbindelse med sult ikke været i Afrika, men Østeuropa og Asien. Anslået 88% af alle dødsfald grundet sult var sket i disse to verdensdele. Afrika stod for 10%.

4) Sultkatastrofer skyldes som ofte ikke overbefolkning, men dårligt lederskab. Dårligt lederskab har ikke fokus på de nødvendige investeringer: der er oftere konflikt og penge bruges på våben. Et eksempel på dette er Sydsudan.

Når EU med flere støtter dårlige ledere, understøtter vi indirekte hungerkatastrofer ved at holde dårlige ledere ved magten (eksempelvis i Etiopien og Eritrea).

5)  Afrobarometer udgav i 2016 en rapport om forholdene i 35 afrikanske lande, hvor de blandt andet spurgte befolkningerne i disse lande, om de havde manglet mad inden for det seneste år. Gennemsnitligt gik næsten 70% aldrig eller meget sjældent sultne i seng.

6) Flere afrikanske lande døjer med to modsatrettede problemer. Befolkningen døjer med sult og overvægt. Det gør også, at flere afrikanske lande både skal forholde sig til nyere sygdomme som diabetes, og til sygedomme og problemer grundet sult, såsom død.

Problemerne er mangel på en effektiv landbrugssektor og af politisk karakter, ikke overbefolkning.

Konklusion
Derfor ville løsningen ikke være at sende kondomer, det er at få rettet op på det politiske system. Og det er Europa ikke den bedste til.

Årsagen til at befolkningen i Afrika vil stige med ca. 100% inden 2050 er ikke, at afrikanere får flere børn end tidligere (tallet varierer kraftigt fra land til land og mellem land og by), men at der fødes færre børn, men flere af børnene nu overlever, samtidigt med at folk generelt bliver ældre og ældre. Igen ikke noget kondomer som sådan ændrer på.

Men har Lise Nørgaard ikke ret, at der er behov for kondomer?
Problemet med LN’ udtalelser er, at hun generaliserer ved at tale om Afrika nærmest som et land.

Hun glemmer også, at fertilitetsraten er faldet og er faldende i de fleste afrikanske lande, og family planning er tilstede i de fleste lande, hvor prævention og børn diskuteres.

Ingen er uenig med Lise Nørgaard, at family planning og adgang til kondomer er godt! Problemet er, at det lyder som om, at Vesten igen vil til at bestemme over afrikanerne, og nu vil vi også bestemme over deres sexliv.

I lande, hvor fødselsraten stadigvæk er høj, skyldes det en blanding af høj børnedødelighed (sygdom, konflikt o.lign.), og at mange afrikanere stadig bor på landet, hvor der er behov for børn til at hjælpe på gården.

Igen kondomer er godt, men det er noget kvinderne selv skal efterspørge, og kondomer skal i langt højere grad være tilgængelige og være billige (helst gratis). Personligt er jeg ligeglad med om staten uddeler kondomer, eller om en privat virksomhed som Coca Cola får opgaven. Jeg er fuld af beundring for Coca Cola. Jeg har endnu ikke hørt om en person, der har befundet sig i en afrikansk landsby uden, personen kunne købe Coca Cola.

Men den bedste måde at mindske fertilitetsraten er ikke at fortælle afrikanerne hvad de skal eller ikke skal, det er at støtte den nuværende proces, sørge for at kvinderne får en uddannelse og understøtte jobskabelse.

Årsagen til at det er et problem, at befolkningstallet mere end fordobles frem mod 2050 er jo ikke, at der ikke er plads. De fleste Afrikanske lande har masser af plads, måske med undtagelse af Burundi, Rwanda og Kivu regionerne i det østlige DR. Congo,

Problemet er, at kontinentet går en stor ungdomsårgang i møde, og der er ingen jobs, hvor en lille elite fortsat sidder på resourcerne. Det er en ugunstig situation, der kan destabiliserende flere lande.

Vi ser det allerede i Nigeria med gruppen Boko Haram og i Somalia med al-Shabab.

Det ville være bedre, hvis DK hverken sendte kondomer eller lavede smarte Afrikaindsamlingsshows.

I stedet skulle vi:
* begynde at lave udvekslingsprogrammer, hvor danske studerende kunne studere i fx. Uganda, Kenya, Ghana eller Senegal, og deres studerende lettere kunne studere i Danmark

* gøre mere for at styrke erhvervslivet og samarbejde landene på tværs og mellem afrikanske lande og danske virksomheder

* gøre noget ved landbrugsstøtten. Den skrævvrider det frie marked til gunst for europæiske bønder, og er med til at svække de afrikanske bønders konkurrencemulighed til at sælge deres produkter lokalt, nationalt, regionelt og internationelt.

Problemet var ikke kolonitidens ophør, problemet var kolonialismen
Koloniseringen handlede aldrig om at redde afrikanerne (og fra hvad?), det var en systematisk udplyndring af kontinentet. Kolonierne skulle give overskud, for at skatteyderne ikke endte med regningen

Det var tilfældet for Belgien over til Frankrig og England og Portugal.

Afrika har været et problem lige siden kolonialiseringen begyndte. Der er en mærkbar forskel end til at mene, at ophøret af kolonialiseringen var problemet.

Men det er måske svært at sluge, at flere arkæologiske fund viser, at nogle byer i Afrika var moderne storbyer, Benin City havde gadebelysning, men alt blev ødelagt af briterne. Ashantiriget oplevede ligeså systematisk udplydring, hvorfor dens pragt ikke er vel bevaret eller kendt af europæerne i dag.

For at fastholde afrikanerne som primitive, måtte europæere opfinde bizarer myter, såsom at årsagen til at Buganda Kongedømmet var så udviklet skyldtes, at deres udvikling slet ikke skyldtes de lokale, men den hamitiske race hamitiske race udsprunget fra Ham. De var flygtet til Bugunda og andre steder. Myten fungerede som ad hoc forklaring, når de “primitive” teede sig civiliseseret.

Konklusion
Lise Nørgaard er aldrig kommet videre end før den hamitiske myte endegyldigt blev klassificeret som en myte, og siden smidt på den historiske mødding sammen med eugenik og social-darwisme. Hendes viden om Afrika er ubeskriveligt ringe og til tider direkte racistisk og paternalistisk. Europa skulle have fortsat kolonialismen for at passe på de lokale-retorik. I virkeligheden er problemet nærmere, at personer som Lise Nørgaard ikke har indset, at det er holdninger som disse, der er problemet. Både under kolonialismen og i dag anno 2017.

Zambia – A Dictatorship?

Since the election of Edgar Lungu in 2016 (been in power since 2015), Zambia is through steady steps moving toward a more authoritarian regime.

The recent election was unusually violent and rigging was reported to be widespread.

Critical journalists are harassed like M’membe. Lungu has personally threatened M’membe allegedly said this: “Alefwayafye ukwakufwila” (he is looking for death).

On April 11, 2017, the leader of the opposition, Hakainde Hichilema, was arrested for treason for obstructing the presidential motorcade. The police shortly thereafter raided and tear-gassed Hichilema’s home. Said allegation is punishable by 15 years in prison and the death penalty.

Zambia’s main problem continues to be copper, that is the country’s main resource. The Swiss mining company Glencore is accused of theft of Zambia’s copper, where powerful politicians are bribed to look the other way. Thereby, Glencore and the political elite form a mutual dependency. Glencore needs weak institutions and corrupt politicians in place to continue to steal the resource belonging to the people. The politicians rely on Glencore to enrich themselves. The losers are the civilians.

Furthermore, Barotseland is beginning to make noise.

The Lozi people living in former Barotseland live in the western part of Zambia, and they feel they are not included among the people getting access to the benefits of the wealth from copper.

Today, a rising amount of people want an independent Barotseland, and uprise has broken out in Livingstone located in Loziland.

Since former president Sata died in 2014, Lungu (an Easterner) has played the ethnic card, calling the main opposition party, Unity Party, a “Tonga-party”. Tonga mainly lives in the Western part of Zambia as well like the Lozi.

The warning to declare a state of emergency is part of this threatening authoritarian path of Lungu and his party “Patriotic Front”. Through this, he can silence his opponents, not just the Lozi but the Tonga, through fear and violence.

By using the discontent of the Lozi people, Lungu can hit the Tonga hard, paving the way for a dictatorship.

Piracy Is Back

People shall not be surprised that pirates are on the rise.
What unites pirates from West and East Africa are, that they are very young.

In the vast majority of African countries, the youth constitutes more than 50% of the population.

At the same time, the lack of industrialisation and an elite that enrich themselves at the cost of the people make the youth look for money in alternative ways.

Nigeria:
Since the elite has screwed the youth, and the perception is (real or imagined) that the elite only looks after themselves (chop alone), a large portion of the youth do not feel they owe the state anything. In a matter of fact, how the rich steal money for themselves makes the pirates more looking like they take what they believe belongs to them.

The money is a cake, and they are just reclaiming their fair share.

In Nigeria, the difference between you becoming a pirate or a coast guard hunting pirates depends on which side can offer the best pay.

The problem is that you can question the loyalty of the local coast guard. With good reasons. Often entire oil tankers have gone missing. An oil tanker does not go missing unless some from the local coast guard cooperate with the pirates.

However, as the article says because oil prices are declining, pirates have begun resume kidnapping of particular foreigners. Kidnapping is rare in Nigeria. Apparently, it is back. When kidnapping you hold the person for ransom. An alternative, yet financial fertile enterprise.

Somalia:
Prior to the upsurge of the presence of pirates in the Gulf of Aden foreign countries used the Gulf to dump toxic waste and to overfish the waters.

The theft was much more lucrative than what the pirates ever got from ransom. But it seems little has been done to fix this problem from Western powers. The focus was to secure the waters for the international trade, not to protect the livelihood of the fishermen.

Western countries’ present managed to squelch pirates, but they never offered the people, especially the youth, any alternatives. Of course, when a window opens, pirates will reemerge. War prevents them from farming, their waters are polluted, and they have seen how much money piracy generates.

Ending
The youth have the same dreams as the rest of us. They want a future. They want to become someone. Becoming a pirate paves the way to becoming a big man. With limited opposition due to a lack of jobs and legit value added production, and an elite that continues to enrich themselves in dubious ways cooperation with various Western countries, where corrupt members of the elite transfer their money, as long will the youth find work anyhow. That means becoming a pirate is on the table.

The solution is to seriously offer the youth real alternatives and to combat the canker of corruption. In the case of Somalia, start having a state, and for the AU to get into action to uphold the territory of Somalia as long as the Somali state is unable to do so.

Afrika – landet med én historie

Den gamle historie – Den sultne afrikaner
Krigen i Biafra (udbryderrepublik i det SØ Nigeria) i slutningen af 1960erne var første gang at levende TV-billeder af udmagrede børn omgivet af fluer for alvor gjorde sit indtog i de danske TV-stuer. Problemet med dette billede var, at det blev den eneste historie. Det var Afrika. Kvinder og børn der sultede. Afrika blev behandlet som et land med en historie, en meget ulykkelig historie. Et land uden håb eller glæde, hvor kun vi
udefra kunne hjælpe ved at bringe håbet og glæden.

Flere afrikanske intellektuelle har i tidens løb kritiseret dette ensidige billede af Afrika. Blandt de mere kendte er camerounianeren Achille Mbembe i “On the Postcolony” fra 2001, hvor han skriver, at Afrika vises som:

…in short, a bottomless abyss where everything is noise, yawning gap, and primordial chaos.

Den kenyanske forfatter og journalist Binyavanga Wainaina fremsagde samme kritik i sin bog “How to Write About Africa ”. Denne bog blev hevet frem da han blev interviewet af al-Jazeraa tidligere i år. Her blev dette citat fra bogen diskuteret:

Nairobi is a good place to be an international correspondent. There are regular flights to the nearest genocide, and there are green lawns, tennis courts, good fawning service. 

Men for den almen afrika-interesserede, så er denne ensidige kritik af Afrika ikke ny. Det er ikke nyt, at et kontinent større en Kina, USA, Indien, Vesteuropa og Østeuropa
tilsammen, er blevet markedsført som et land, hvor befolkning skal reddes af os.

The true size of Africa.

Den nye historie – Den afrikanske løve
På det seneste er en ny historie om Afrika blevet mere dominerende, nemlig historien om de afrikanske løve-økonomier, der buldrer afsted. Løven som truer tigrene fra Asien.

Historien om de afrikanske løve-økonomier har også vundet indpas i Danmark, hvor blandt andre den danske udviklingsminister Christian Friis Bach (R) har brugt dette ordvalg ved flere lejligheder, og samme historie kan findes i materiale fra Dansk Industri.

Denne nye gode Afrika-fortælling har fået visse afrikanske intellektuelle op af stolen, da denne nye historie lider af samme defekt som den negative. Den er ensidig. Afrobarometer gav deres kritik mere vind i sejlene, da den viste, at den gennemsnitlige afrikaner ikke får del i væksten. Andelen af fattige har ikke rykket sig nævneværdigt fra 2002 – 2012 til trods for løve-økonomierne. Historien om løveøkonomierne udelukker disse  knap så gode historier at komme frem. Det er problemet ved at forsøge at fremstille Afrika som et land med een historie. Afrika har aldrig været et land, og det har aldrig haft een historie. Den nigeriansk-fødte forfatter Chimamanda Adichie kommer med endnu et problem med denne ensidige dækning under overskriften “The Danger of a Single Story” fra 2009. Problemet med kun at kende en historie er, at det bliver den eneste historie.

Denne nye historie er blot en ny måde at brande Afrika på, hvor man fokuserer ensidigt på kun at fortælle en historie. De andre historier glemmes. Afrika vedbliver med at være endimensional.

Løsningen
Tænk, hvis kun en historie om dit liv, blev den eneste historie om dit liv. Som mennesket har mange historier at fortælle, historier der indeholder lidelser, men også glæde, ligeså har afrikanerne mange historier at fortælle. Nogle historier er triste, andre er glædelige, men alle historier skal frem. Det er de mange historier, der viser helheden, som viser

nuancerne. Hvis vi fortsætter med at ville brande Afrika som et land med kun en historie, så lærer vi rigtig meget om os selv, men intet om de, der faktisk bor i Afrika, de ca. 1 milliard afrikanere.

Marshall Plan – From Europe to Africa with Love?

marshall_plan_signing.jpg

On Jan. 18, 2017, Germany put forth a so-called Marshall Plan with Africa, and I would like to provide my thoughts on the matter.

I will cover this through these subsections:

  1. Messiah Complex
  2. Partnership Hypocrisy
  3. Politics of the Mirror
  4. Subtraction Approach
  5. Will It Work?
  6. The Real Agenda?

Messiah Complex
Europe still suffers from a Messiah complex. Let’s save Africa. That is why we have poverty porn, why we see white people surrounded by black children. Why we see aid fundraising or television. Why we have a booming African volunteer industry where young people travel to African countries to save them. Why there is a need portraying Africa as in need of help, so a white person can see him/herself as a saviour, the knight on the white horse.

A former economist for the World Bank, Klitgaard, wrote in 1990, quoting Steinbeck, said:

[G]iving builds up the ego of the giver, makes him superior and higher and larger than the receiver (p. 13)

Europe has been donors for decades. This has not helped on the Messiah complex developed during the era of colonialism. The transformation from colonial power to donor has just alternated this complex. Europeans still largely view Africa and Africans as hapless, primitive creatures living in a land deprived of everything that is good.

This Marshall Plan is also an expression of our will and of our optimism that we can truly find a path to peace and development in our cooperation between Europe and Africa (Marshall Plan p. 4)

The focus is on “our”, and it can be seen as Europe and Africa, but no, which the next section will cover.

But generally speaking, throughout the blue print, it appears to me, that Europe takes control, and they are the ones who know what Africa needs. Europe is still the saviour and Africa the ones who need to be saved. This path will lead absolutely nowhere, and this thinking has led to some of the darkest paths in history.

Partnership Hypocrisy
Throughout the paper, we read about our and cooperation, like this:

African ownership must be strengthened and the days of “aid” and of “donors and recipients” put behind us. The EU and its member states want to engage in a partnership between equals” (p4)

This sounds like a total rip-off from the Paris and Accra Declaration. This is not a partnership between equals. That the same message has to be repeated more than a decade later tells us, that intentions mean nothing. Documents are still just words put together on paper. They mean nothing on their own. To say that donor and recipient countries are equals do not make them equals.

But when we read further, all organisations, with the exception of the useless African Union and NEPAD, are non-Africans.

Call for better cooperation between international organisations for food and  agriculture (especially FAO, IFAD, WFP, World Bank, CGIAR) (p. 26)”

If Europe really wanted to cooperate, would Europe not invite local actors to the table than rely on old agents, who appear to serve the interest of the Western World?

Would the EU not address the big elephant in the room? Farm subsidies! They do not.
Or how about the huge debt several African countries accumulated during the Cold War?  If Europe wanted a fresh start, debt cancellations would be a great starting point. But not a single word.

The good thing about been saviour is, that the sword does not point toward yourselves.

When talking about power, I usually have a very simple formula, follow the money. On page 16, Europe holds the money. The ones with the money have the power. As long as Europe is the rich giver, it is an illusion to talk about equal partnerships.

And the EU is working on a new Africa strategy. The 28 member states want to redefine the basis for cooperation between the EU and Africa by replacing the Cotonou Agreement with a new partnership agreement. It is time now to new solutions to new challenges. This paper is a living document. It identies where there is potential, where there are problems and what could be the solutions. (p. 4)

Europe is clearly the one leading, and Africa is the one following; Africa is the one who shall uphold the priorities and demands of Europe.

African solutions to African problems, partnerships and whatever buzzwords are meaningless, as long as Europe has the money, and Europe is the one defining the potentials, problems, and solutions. When Germany calls this as a Marshall Plan WITH Africa, in reality, it is a Marshall Plan FOR Africa. Still, Europe believing they know what is best for Africa.

Politics of the Mirror
Klitgaard on being the receiver:

To be a receiver, you cannot appear, even to yourself, better or stronger or wiser than the giver, although you must be wiser to do it well. (p. 13) 

African leaders have been superb in saying what the European countries wanted to hear, and they used the money how they wanted. Africans know the local settings, and they know what the donors want to hear. That provide them with several advantages. Combined with the felt superiority of the giver, a Marshall Plan can end working as a mean for African leaders to get access to resources benefiting themselves and their friends only.

Europe ends up as feeding the patronage system that strengthens the elite but does not benefit the people. It will make Africa further aid dependent, and stall or deteriorate the current progress made in Africa.

Worse, African leaders have to buy into a worldview determined by others, that means African countries job is the please the giver rather than the people they were supposed to serve.

It also halts the process in improving local taxation. I pay taxes because I get services from the state in return. Simultaneously, the State is interested in keeping me satisfied, since they rely on the income from taxpayers like myself. If the state did not deliver, I and other Danes would stop paying taxes, and the state would be in trouble, and they would need to look for an income elsewhere, such as from private companies and/or aid. This plan will destroy the progress in the field of taxation, and keep bad leaders in power by making the state dependent on satisfying private (European) companies.

Subtraction Approach
What does that mean? It means to look at Africa and then wonder, why is Africa not like Europe? Europe looks at African and sees what is missing, and how can “we” fix it.

The easy answer is always that Africa is not Europe, and why shall Africa be like Europe? But even worse, we forget what is present in Africa. Africa remains the negative mirror.

The Marshall Plan does talk about the minerals and potential. But the paper overlooks the progress in several African countries, and how several African countries have begun developing a self and functioning states. By emphasising on the need to make a fresh and new start, Africa returns to the status of lacking, why Europe has to provide a new beginning.

Will It Work?
Personally, I do not know, but one sentence made me concerned.

The Marshall Plan rests on three pillars, contains more than 100 ideas for reform and is centred round the key issues for development: (p. 12)

So many ideas for reform won’t work. When you want to solve a complicated issue, you do so by making it more simple, not by making it more complicated. So many ideas for a reform demonstrates a total lack of focus.

The Real Agenda?
To accept the Marshall Plan metaphor, then it was giving by the US after World War II in order to make sure Europe stayed allies of the USA and did not become allies of the Soviet Union. Aid was not giving to everyone. The Marshall Plan was giving based on a set of conditions, such as an open marked so American products more freely could enter the European market.

I am a cynical person. I do not believe the EU will hand out a check without conditions. The recent Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) among African countries and Europe have been dubbed the “Keep-China-Away”-agreement. The first EPA was the Cotonou-Agreement, and this one shall replace it. It sounds like money meant to keep Africa open for business to Europe by keeping China away.

If I am right, that this Marshall Plan is meant to serve the interests of Europe first and foremost

Furthermore, a second objective is like to hinder refugees and illegal immigrants to enter Europe. We have already seen the EU giving funds to Sudan, Libya, and Eritrea in order to prevent people reaching the shores of Europe. The consequences have been disastrous, where EU ends funding local militias committing atrocities. In Sudan, the money might end in the pockets of the Janjaweed militia. The same militia responsible for the genocide in Darfur.

Then the focus is not to help or cultivate or develop Africa, but to keep Africans away from Europe, and to open Africa for European companies. Because of the size of the European companies and subsidies, they will destroy the African small and medium-sized enterprises, the companies that will create jobs and bring prosperity to Africa.

My Personally Thoughts
I am a cynical person, who does not believe in fluffy words, and in a text based on airy intentions. Nothing will happen if someone breaks the rules, and it appears the only ones who have to change are the African countries.

A reason why the African Union 2063 agenda is nothing but a mirage. Not only is the African Union (AU) as useful as a fork when eating soup, but they have not put anything in place to punish member states violating the articles mentioned, and they actively support members breaking the promises laid out in the 2063 agenda. E.g. the AU is actively supporting the President of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza, despite the fact, he declared war on his own people in order to stay in power for a third term.

So is the really a plan to develop a strong a vibrant Africa? Or to keep Africa in line by preventing China access, and to buy off local leaders to prevent Africans from entering Europe?
I am cynical, so I don’t believe in altruism when it comes to world politics and donating billion of dollars. My opinion is, if African countries want to become the economic power they can become, no one will help them except themselves.

But I would love to hear from Africans and from African economists. Do you think a European Marshall Plan to or with Africa is a good idea? Please explain why.

PS: I am will aware that the last time Germany showed an interest for Africa was the Berlin Conference of 1885. Let’s give Germany the benefit of the doubt.

Trump, Africa, and Recolonisation

trump-in-africa.pngSource: The Millennial Eye

According to Africa Updates, Trump was rumoured to have said:

Look at African countries like Nigeria or Kenya for instance, those people are stealing from their own government and go to invest the money in foreign countries. In my opinion, most of these African countries ought to be recolonised again for another 100 years because they know nothing about leadership and self-governance.

If we for one second forgets, that Trump never said this, I do find the comments on Africa Updates’ Facebook page interesting.

Africans from across the continent agreed with this fake Trump quote.

One from Nigeria said: 

He is right some African countries needs to be recolonised most especially Nigeria whose leaders are thieves and cowards. Nigeria is a fake country that forcefully trap 3 to 4 nations in it. Ghana is far better than Nigeria when it comes to Economy sincerity on management duties. Shame on Nigeria leaders.

One from Uganda said

Yes, recolonisation bcoz the whites even now allow us stupid africans to enter their countries and get employment when all the jobs in our countries are for one family, Amin was a dictator but still he is best leader africa has ever seen!!!

One from Ethiopia said:

absolutely right, African leaders loss self governance knowledge

Most people, however, even they agreed with the fake Trump quotation, also became wary about recolonisation, like this person from Kenya saying:

That’s the bitter truth. African leaders are very corrupt, power hungry, dictators, self centred and don’t care if people loose their life for them to ascend to power. But for the issue of recolonisation, I tend to differ with you.

I would like to talk about why the fake Trump quote is absolutely off the mark.

Scholars have written books and articles about this for decades, so I apologise for the lengthy reply.

Colonialism 

Colonialism introduced a new system of ruling. It was inherently an illegitimate type of government, why the colonial powers used widespread violence to keep people in their place. A reason for the violence was also the strange artificial borders drawn by ignorant and oblivious white men with a ruler and a map. In the book “Inside Africa”  by the American journalist, John Gunther, he interviewed a Yoruba Oba, and the Oba said that:

God did not make Nigeria. The British did. (p. 742)

When bringing a multitude of kingdoms, chiefs, systems, ethnic groups and more into a block, where people share nothing in common, violence is an effective tool to control the people.

Additionally, the prime aim of colonialism was not to civilise or cultivate the people. It was to systematically loot their country. Regardless whether the colonial power used centralised or decentralised despotism, the aim was the same: the colonies should bring in a surplus to the powers!

During colonialism, Africans were turned into subjects deprived of a history, culture, and identity, and the state racialized through White rule, that took the shape of official or de facto apartheid. Africa was important from an export perspective only, mostly of raw materials. It could be coffee, ivory, gold, rubber, cocoa, diamonds and more, meant to serve as an income for the European power. Infrastructure was constructed to enable this theft. What the locals produced for themselves did not count.

The state was not meant to protect the people or serve the interest of the people, but alone to serve the interest of the colonial power.

This kind of regime paved the way for atrocities such as genocides, massacres, concentration camps, and forced deportation. Most notorious was the atrocities committed by the Belgium King Leopold II in the Congo Free State. But he has also been used to overshadow the other European powers’ heinousness crimes. No European colonial power can claim any moral superiority.

The Fight for Liberation Failed

The fight for total liberation was twofold. The first one was to deracialise the state in an effort to end apartheid. The second one was to democratise the state in order to remove the previous colonial system based on despotism that manifested itself through violence and theft.

The first struggle was successful, locals took charge, and the state was deracialized, when a new local elite took charge. But they new elite failed in getting rid of the rule of despotism left by the colonial power.

The Failure in Addressing the Colonial Legacy

I will divide this up into three subsections. A) Describing the failure in democratising the state through the failure in becoming independent from raw materials, b) failure in turning the people into citizens, and c) the focus on the problem of clientelism.

The Failure in Becoming Independent from Raw Materials

The colonial power’s job was to export raw materials to the nearest port.

An example is Senegal. During the Colonial era, France had a surplus of poor quality rice in Vietnam. Senegal produced groundnuts to the French market. To avoid empty ships, France decided to sail rice from Vietnam to Senegal (both French colonies), where the cargo of rice would be replaced by groundnuts.

Today, Senegal is still depending on imports of rice -not only from Vietnam though – and the country is still a leading exporter of groundnuts. The groundnut business employees up to 50% of the total population.

People cannot make a living selling groundnuts, especially not, when the state has to import nearly 1 million tonnes of rice annually.

The political elite in Senegal continued where the colonial power left. A failure to industrialise the country. Instead, the production is fit to serve the same purpose as during the colonial era. To export raw materials.

The same is the case in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, DR. Congo, CAR, Angola, Cameroon, and several other countries to a larger or minor degree. The countries lack industrialisation, where the focus is on the export of raw materials. A dependency of raw materials creates a chronic dependency on aid.

A reason for this is the gatekeeper state, is that the state does not rely on the people, but on tariff when goods cross the border. That enforces an emphasis on trading with raw material since that has to cross the borders, where the elite in power earns its money. When industrialisation begins, the raw materials stop crossing the borders, and the elite loses their main source of income, and they lose control over resources.

This creates new problems, where the state does not rely on taxation from the people. Taxation is a mean for the state to care about its people since they are the ones from where the state gets its money. And if the people do not pay money to the state,  the people do not create a feeling of belonging or to get used to the state having their interest at heart.

When you pay taxes, you expect something in return, why taxation is an important factor in the making of a good state.

By focusing on taxation of exported goods, the interdependence between the state and the people are never developed. Furthermore, raw materials represent a low value, and if you want to create jobs, you need to process the goods in order to maximise your income, that again can be used to develop new technology, that can ignite further industrialisation.

But countries are stuck in the same position, as they were during colonialism. Prime exporter of raw materials. Combined with the current population boom, there are no jobs for the youth.

By having a minor elite controlling the resources ensuring wealth stays in the hand of the few.

Failure in Turning the People into Citizens

In the perfect world, the police are meant to protect the civilians, and the state will uphold the law by strengthening the institutions in order to protect the citizens and secure equal treatment.

However, during colonialism, the job of the state was the opposite, to protect itself from the people. Today, we still witness this. When the local elite took power after fighting for independence, the new elite failed in uprooting the despotism based on tyranny and violence left by the colonial power.

In a good democracy, when the rights of a citizen are violated, the perpetrators are punished. If a police officer beats me, I can take that officer to court, and he will be punished.

That is not the case in most African countries (or the USA). The police, politicians, and military still operate with impunity. Rape, torture, prison conditions treating people like animals, corruption and more, and nothing happens to the perpetrators. If you threaten them, that you take them to court, they might even laugh.

This is not an African problem. The USA faces similar problems. The ones in power are still oppressing the ones once enslaved. You have to be a white person to believe, that offering a police a Pepsi will make everything good. The blacks are still treated as subjects or at best as second class citizens. The once colonial state never really changed the system, where the relics of despotism are still in place. Former colonies face multiple problems non-colonies do not.

The system is more than a person. If the system is rotten, changing the person will not change the system. The Nigerian historian Falola tells how this is the case in Nigeria. Recently, I can also use South Africa as an example. Since Apartheid ended in 1994, the African National Congress (ANC) took over, the ANC has failed in changing the system. The poor black majority are still poor, the whites still control the economy, and the new black political minority are becoming increasingly corrupt, where President Zuma displays signs of a dictator.

The colonial system used to oppress people while the elite looted the country is still in place. Why? Because it benefits the elite. An old proverb says, that power corrupts, and ultimate power corrupts ultimately. When a new now black elite suddenly got access to power and privileges formerly held by the whites, it is hard to turn your back. You might even believe, that you are incorruptible. You are not.

Wealth in People – Clientelism 

According to Sean Stilwell, throughout Africa, wealth was not in things but in people. Production in things was important, but only insofar that it led you being able to attract more people in order to expand your clientelistic network. Hence, production became a mean rather than an end, where the end was gaining control over as many people as possible.

Once it was believed, that clientelism was a mean of equalisation. Everybody got something. It is not. Successful patrons attract more people and wealth at the expense of others. As money is allocated, there is less and less left for the ones in the bottom. All this not only creates inequality, it escalates inequality.

Clientelism is still well alive in several African countries. The problem is again twofold. As a patron, you have to spend your wealth to show people, that you are a strong patron. That nourishes ostentatious living. The display of wealth is meant to attract more clients, since wealth is in people, and investment in things are meant to attract more people. That further nourishes the interest in earning money fast.

That paves the way for blatant corruption, and less money is left for investment, public spending, and to pay public servants on time. It is unbelievable how troublesome it is for several African states to pay public workers their salaries. That is a reason several African countries are haunted by strikes when public servants want to have their pay after waiting months.

When the African countries got independent, clientelism became part of the state apparatus (fancy term for this is neo-patrimonialism). That makes the president the supreme patron. That is an extremely powerful position since he (mostly he) allocates money to whom he wants, or more importantly, can starve the groups he dislikes. If there is not a system in place to get rid of this person through peaceful methods, the only way to remove him is through a coup d’état.

A new person takes office. The new person might have the best intentions at heart, but if he fails to reform the system, he inherited, that gives him enormous power. The despotic and exploitive system of government he now controls will consume you and nothing changes.

The second issue is, that people look for a strong patron, the ones flouting their wealth.

The African writer Achebe (RIP) argued, that Africans wanted to be oppressed in style. If you have power, then you must display your wealth for others to know, that you are a powerful patron.

This means, that if you have the right ideas, and you are a good person, but you arrive on a bike wearing normal clothes, no one will listen to you, and you will never be president. The consequence is, that people end up favouring and encourage corruptive behaviour by listening to people exhibiting an ostentatious behaviour. That being a pastor or politician.

That further means, that if you suddenly get a good job, your networks expect you to share your wealth. So if you decide to uphold the law, you can be accused of corruption by refusing to be corrupt. People are victims of the corruption clientelism beings, but they are also producers by requesting a friend to be corrupt. If their friend refuses to offer them a job (aka nepotism), money, a car or something else, you are in trouble.

Western Givers and African Receivers

During the Cold War, the West and the USSR acted like patrons. The discussing among scholars and laypeople are, whether the foreign powers exploited Africans, or if African leaders exploited the foreign countries, mostly former colonial powers. Personally, I stand in the middle leaning toward African leaders exploiting the ignorance of white people.

Western powers and the USSR became the patron from where the African leaders got their money during the Cold War.

Klitgaard correctly points out, quoting Steinbeck, that

[G]iving builds up the ego of the giver, makes him superior and higher and larger than the receiver (p. 13)

On the other hand, it is easier to give than to receive. To be a receiver,

you cannot appear, even to yourself, better or stronger or wiser than the giver, although you must be wiser to do it well. (p. 13)

Several African leaders did very well in telling the receiver aka donors what the donors wanted to hear, that gave access to aid.

On the other hand, African leaders had to speak into a discourse controlled by donors. If an African leader caused too much trouble, he could be removed. The willingness of donors to support corrupt African leaders is a reason for the accumulating debt, several African countries still have today.

Even both the donors and the then African leaders were both equally blameable, it is only the African population, that are punished for past wrongdoings.

The givers also told the receivers what reforms should be carried out. So even if a good African leader came to power, the demands from the givers would be contra-productive, which again would handicap an African leader trying to clean up the mess.

However, as Chabal and Daloz mention, some African leaders apply the “politics of the mirror” to get access to resources. The African leaders say what donors want to hear, and then they do whatever they want hereafter. The African leaders know, that donors’ knowledge of Africa is limited at best and that donors tend to overestimate their felt superiority. The African leaders use that to their own advantage.

A reason NGOs can be part of the problem. They represent access to wealth. People interested in money will then try to get access to the money by telling the international NGOs what they want to hear, and then put the money in their own pockets. That harm local NGOs, that do hard work. But they rarely have the means to fill application forms or to travel to get the needed contracts. When massive wealth enters a community, where just a few selected ones benefit, it creates inequality, that again ignites conflicts and xenophobia.

If the state is depended on aid, the people get used to that help is not coming from the state, and the state gets used to outside agents doing the work, they were supposed to do. Therefore, they can keep more of the wealth to themselves. This prevents the needed nation-building since the countries were not created by God but by the colonial powers in the 19th and 20th century, where a sense of togetherness has to be created from scratch.

What is the Status of 2017?
African countries are very different. Though, we witness a change in having wealth in people. Because of the control of raw materials, in too many countries, the state does not need to listen to the people at all. That has created a tiny rich elite, that rule the country with an iron fist, and view the country and the national coffers as a personal belonging. By a small elite controlling all the resources, the people at large are ignored and kept in poverty. This is the case in countries such as Angola, Burundi, Mozambique, Liberia, CAR, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon. For the people, this means that both the state and their patron have deserted them.

On the other hand, allow me to be hopeful. A new generation is on their way. They have never experienced colonialism, and the old rhetoric from the elite not longer works. The youth demands action. This can start a process where an internal pressure for true reforms is possible.
We also witness that African leaders find it harder and harder to hold onto power. We have seen that in the Gambia and Burkina Faso. We witness African leaders accepting defeat and respecting the constitution. An African leader clinging onto power has become the exception of the day.

We also see a growing group of Africans willing to fight for their rights. Education is improving, and education gives access to networks, new strategies, and power. The African intelligentsia does not shut up either, but the people speak their mind. They want to be heard, they want to criticise the elite (givers and receivers), and they are becoming more vocal. The latest example is that of the Ugandan scholar Stella Nyenzi, who recently was arrested for criticising Museveni calling him a pair of buttocks, which then trended on Twitter under the hashtag #PairOfButtocks, when it became public she was arrested. In court, Nyanzi defended herself saying, according to Celebrity Patrol, that:

Museveni is a very dishonourable man who reneged on his promise of free sanitary pads to girls. Only an honorable man would fulfill his promise which Museveni isn’t! For how long are Ugandans going to be silent?

Her trial will continue on April 25, 2017 #FreeStellaNyanzi

But we still see the African Union living in the past, protecting the old autocracy, the guardian of the despotic relic of the colonial past, while the people suffer.

While it appears the former colonial powers and the US care less and less about Africa, which is good. Historically, their involvements have done nothing good.

But it seems the European Union (EU) is renewing its interest in Africa because of the increasing numbers of people trying to enter Europe from Africa.

The new money stream to countries, such as Sudan, Libya, and Eritrea, can prevent regime changes because the money from EU can be used by the local brute government to centralise power and to strengthen the army. In doing so, they can continue to rule with an iron fist, making it harder to reform the system. It will be a cause for new atrocities because Western powers do not know what they are doing.

A Conclusion

If Africa was recolonised, everything gained the last 70 years would be lost, and Africans would again be deprived of everything.

The local leaders are reachable, and the new generation of young educated people can pave the way to win the last fight for liberation; to get rid of the despotic system left by the colonial powers.

Signs are present, that leaders have begun to listen to their people. Such as in Ghana, where the opposition party won by promising industrialising. Time will tell if the party is able to deliver.

When I lived in Ghana, some Ghanaians believed that corruption was caused by some few bad apples. I argued, that the entire system inherited from the colonial past was bad. It was not a matter of a few bad apples, it was the apple tree that had to be dealt with.

Regardless, if the problems are caused by some bad apples or if the entire the apple tree is rotten, the only ones who can fix it is the local population. Locals know best and foreigners, including myself, do more harm than good when interfering in African countries’ domestic affairs.

If African leaders do not begin to create jobs, and get independent from raw materials, to effectively fight corruption, and to free themselves from aid, nothing will change.

At the same time, locals need to stop reproducing corruption and stop to vote for whom they believe would be the best patron. Instead, candidates you sincerely believe will do what is best for the country need to be voted into office.

If nothing changes soon, several African countries are heading toward a revolution.

The youth have hopes, dreams, and they want a job to create a future. If the various African governments fail in creating jobs and fulfilling the hopes and dreams of the youth, the youth will take their disappointment to the streets. It will not be pretty, and some African leaders will be removed by force.

Dear Professor, Africa Is Not Overpopulated

Prelude: in an article published in the Danish paper, Jyllandsposten, the Prof. in Zoology Harald Kryvi, blames the problems in East African on overpopulation. The headline for the Danish article was “The Hunger Catastrophe in East Africa Caused by Overpopulation, Full Stop”. 

I disagree, and this is my response (to read in Danish, click here)

Gall–Peters_projection_SW.jpgThe true size of Africa, Gall-Peters Projection

As an Africa educated, I was irritated that apparently, so many people are still so incredibly ignorant about Africa. Also among educated people like this professor. Still, the same people are so eager to tell Africans what their problems are and what they shall do.

The headline also triggered me. If you have to emphasise your words, that means your argumentation might be weak. The written equivalent to when you raise your voice instead of improving your argumentation.

But let’s start with the facts, the fertility rate has fallen in almost every single East African country. In Kenya, the fertility rate has been cut in more than half since 1960. In 1960, the average woman got 8 children, today, she gets less than 4. In the major cities, some women get less than 1.5 children per woman. The same trends are observable in countries such as Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Mozambique, and several other African countries.

There are exceptions such as Burundi, Somalia and DR Congo, where the fertility rate has decreased only slightly if any.

Prof. Kryvi, and what I can read also the vast majority of Danes on Facebook, ignores the core problem.

A high fertility rate is not a cause, it is a symptom.

Besides, what would Kryvi propose in case he was right? That the international community goes in and forcibly sterilises Africans? Such idea brings back memories of racial hygiene from a bygone and shameful era.

If a high fertility rate is not the cause, what is the cause or rather causes then? In countries with a weak welfare state, and more extremely in failed states, your children are your life insurance. When you get old, it is your children who will take care of you. Without children, you are severely disadvantaged, when you reach old age and need help.

People, who work within the agricultural sector, also employ their children in order to support the family such as helping with farm work in order to make a living.

In fragile states, the infant mortality rate is high. In Burundi, over 700 people have died and nearly 2 million people are infected with malaria, in 2017 alone, and the numbers are getting worse as we speak. Since 2015, the country has been in civil war caused by the power hungry and corrupt leader, President Pierre Nkurunziza. Children are particularly vulnerable and combined with other diseases it makes it necessary to give birth to more children. If you get only one or two children, the risk is that none of the children will survive, and you’ve lost your whole life insurance. That makes it better to get too many children than too few.

Thereby, the problem is not that a mother gets 4, 6 or 8 children, but the problems are the underlying factors in the mother’s need for having numerous children.

Furthermore, the dear professor forgets several vital issues when stating that the predicament of East Africa is due to overpopulation leading to food shortage, full stop.

Such as, that Ethiopia exports tonnes of food, which ends up in supermarkets in Asia and Europe partly due to land grabbing.

He overlooks that foreign countries have actively made things worse for African countries. In Somalia, foreign states destroyed the fishing communities by exploiting the lack of a governmental oversight. Several foreign countries entered the sea of Somalia stealing the fish that also led to overfishing. Other countries dumped their toxic waste off the coast of Somalia. This went on for more than a decade. One day, the local fishermen had had enough and attacked the ships responsible for destroying the sea and hence their livelihood. In a very short period of time, the foundations of organised piracy came to be.

It is also forgotten that Western countries actively support bad leaders in Africa. Human Rights Watch has in harsh terms repeatedly criticised Western donors that aid donated to Ethiopia, might be allocated to the Ethiopian military, which again is accused of serious human rights violations against the local population.

In 2015, the EU allocated € 200 million to Africa’s answer to North Korea, Eritrea. The Financial Times directly links a lack of democracy to a higher risk of famine. When the EU, among others, supports bad leaders, we contribute to laying the foundation for autocratic regimes paving the way for famine by preventing democracy in taking root.

Kryvi also ignores that several African countries are struggling with the negative impacts of the accumulated debt and the neo-liberalist demands made by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund during the Cold War.

Not to mention the problems on agricultural subsidies giving to the European farmers. Roughly speaking, in Europe, we financially support farmers, in Africa, farmers are taxed.

That distorts the free markets, negatively affecting African farmers destroying the local agriculture business.

That brings me to my main point: Africa, as a continent, is not overpopulated.

Africa is greater than China, India, the United States, and Europe combined. If these parts were one country, the population would approximately consist of 3 billion people.

Africa is only inhabited by approximately 1.2 billion people.

Additionally, Africa consists of 54 states, where the size of the states varies significantly. DR Congo is the size of the entire Western Europe, while a country like Rwanda is smaller than the peninsula of Jutland, Denmark.

Rwanda is inhabited by 12 million people, but despite a growing population, fewer people are starving, and this has been the case since the year 2000.

On the other hand, South Sudan experiences the opposite. Its population is just 13 million people, but it is 24 times larger than Rwanda. Overpopulation cannot be used as an explanation for the food crises. If so, Rwanda should be the one experiencing a food crisis and not South Sudan. But that is not the case.

The famine in South Sudan is a product of the ongoing civil war, where the government prefers to spend money on weapons than food for the starving population. The hunger catastrophe is not a product of overpopulation. South Sudan is underpopulated if anything.

While we are on the subject of Rwanda and population density. Rwanda is the country in Africa with the absolute highest population density of 459 people per km2 (in Denmark the figure is 134 people per km2). Meaning, Rwanda has a similar population density to that of the Netherlands. No one is arguing the Netherlands is overpopulated.

The problem is that too few African countries have embarked on a process of industrialisation.

The consequence is that circa 75% of the African population still relies on what they can grow in the small plot of land that they own, typically 1-2 ha. With a growing population, it means that there is a lack of fertile land available.

But this problem could be solved if African governments began a sincere quest for industrialisation. If they did, they would additionally be able to fight the increasing youth unemployment that is currently a time bomb ready to go off.

Most African countries could produce enough food to feed their growing population if more resources were invested in the agricultural sector and if more was done to begin to industrialise the various countries. This requires combating and preferably eradicate the epidemic level of corruption.

Why there is a lack of industrialisation has its own complex causes that in no way can or should be boiled down to how many children are born or not.

It would also help if European countries interfered less in African countries’ internal affairs.

The Western countries’ “we know best”-attitude has historically proved fatal. Maybe it is time to listen to what the African countries themselves think that needs to be done and to provide active support. It could be done by exchanging knowledge, creating partnerships, and pave the way for investments.

Investment in education, job creation, industrialisation, and agriculture would automatically have an impact on the fertility rate.

Again, a high fertility rate is a symptom, not a cause. To lower the fertility rates would not target the real problems affecting Africans.

Problems in East Africa and in several other African countries are thus not the fertility rate, but problems within the political system and policies, in which Western countries, at times, play a quite negative role. This makes the situation that much more difficult.

To end on a positive side note, let me cite the Financial Times:

Contrary to common perception, Asia and eastern Europe — not Africa — have been the locus of world hunger. Between 1870 and 2010, 87 per cent of deaths from famine occurred in those regions, with only 9.2 per cent in Africa.

In addition, a report from 2016, published by the independent African think tank Afrobarometer, almost 70% of Africans from selected 35 African countries never or rarely go to bed hungry.

Africa is so much more than starving people. The majority of Africans have food.