This is part 2/2 of “Can Afrika stand up to Biden-Harris neo-colonial bullying?” series by Claudine Boothe. This is part 1.
“Sovereignty seeks to do the best for its people. It is also a product and instrument of Western European colonialism and Euro-American imperialism”Claudine Boothe
The terms Anglophone, Francophone, and Lusophone indicate that Afrikan sovereignty is still held by these metropoles, but Anglophone Afrikans should count their blessings where neo-colonial sovereignty is concerned. Compared to Francophone Afrika, where there’s a complete absence of economic sovereignty, France continues to cling to 14 West Afrikan states with the CFA franc (15 including the Comorian franc of Comoros) in a vice-like death grip for its survival. Political sovereignty in these West Afrikan countries means nothing. The Pan African Vision online publication of July 1, 2022, published an article written by Mawuna Remarque Koutonin explaining how France still forces these West Afrikan states to pay colonial tax for the “benefits of slavery and colonization.” According to Koutonin, “Sylvanus Olympio,” the first president of the Republic of Togo (a tiny country in West Afrika), found a middle ground solution with the French. He didn’t want his country to continue to be a French dominion. Therefore, he refused to sign the colonization continuation pact, which De Gaule proposed. Still, he agreed to pay an annual debt to France for the so-called benefits Togo got from French colonization: on the condition that France did not destroy the country before leaving. However, the amount estimated by France was so big that the reimbursement of the so-called “colonial debt” was close to 40% of Togo’s budget in 1963.
Koutonin further explained that,”The financial situation of the newly independent Togo was very unstable, so in order to get out of the situation, President Olympio decided to get out of the French colonial money FCFA (the franc for French Afrikan colonies) and issue the country’s own currency. On January 13, 1963, three days after he started printing his country’s new currency, a squad of illiterate soldiers backed by France killed the first elected president of the newly independent Africa. Olympio was killed by an illiterate ex-French Foreign Legionnaire army sergeant called Etienne Gnassingbe, who supposedly received a bounty of $612 from the local French embassy for the hit man job.”
Koutonin reported, “at this very moment I’m writing this article [in 2014] 14 Afrikan countries are obliged by France, through a colonial pact, to put 85% of their foreign reserve into France central bank under French minister of Finance control. Until now, 2014, Togo and about 14 other Afrikan countries are still being forced to pay colonial debt to France. Afrikan leaders who refuse to pay this debt are killed or become the victim[s] of [a] coup. Those who obey are supported and rewarded by France with lavish lifestyle; while their people endure extreme poverty and desperation.” To date, (in 2022), the situation remains the same. Post-colonial sovereignty in Francophone West Afrika remains a dream yet to be realized. In March 2008, former French President Jacques Chirac confessed: “Without Afrika, France will slide down into the rank of a third [world] power.” Chirac’s predecessor François Mitterrand had already prophesied in 1957 that: “Without Africa, France will have no history in the 21st century.” The same article revealed that even the European Union had denounced the “evil system,” but France is not ready to move from that colonial system which puts about $500bn from Afrika into its treasury year annually.
Koutonin pointed out that: “We often accuse African leaders of corruption and serving Western nations’ interests instead, but there is a clear explanation for that behavior. They behave so because they are afraid, they’ll be killed or become the victim of a coup. They want a powerful nation to back them in case of aggression or trouble. But, contrary to friendly nation protection, the Western protection is often offered in exchange for these leaders renouncing to serve their own peoples or nations’ interests.”
There should be little wonder that economic sovereignty is scarcer in Afrika than finance capital. In fact, in most cases, economic sovereignty does equal finance capital. The absence of one equals the absence of t’other. Continental and global Afrikan leaders may not have understood sovereignty at the time they negotiated independence from Western European colonialists. Perhaps, they regarded “political” sovereignty as “adequate” for liberating their countries. Existential neo-colonial sovereignty came into being at the time of so-called independence.
Guardian newspaper published an article in its July 15, 2014, edition, written by Mark Anderson, titled: “Aid to Africa: How donation from the west mask ‘$60 billion looting’ of the continent” The article asserted that, “Western countries are using aid to Africa as a smokescreen to hide the “sustained looting” of the continent as it [Afrika] loses nearly $60bn a year through tax evasion, climate change mitigation, and the flight of profits earned by foreign multinational companies.” Allen’s article explained that though “sub-Saharan” Afrika receives $134bn each year in loans, foreign investment, and development aid, research released by a group of UK and Afrika-based NGOs suggests that $192bn leaves the region, leaving a $58bn shortfall.
This Afrika-based NGO research also found that while Western countries send about $30bn in development aid to Afrika every year, more than six times that amount leaves the continent, “mainly for the same countries providing that aid.” The view that such aid is helping Afrikan countries “has facilitated a perverse reality in which the UK and other wealthy governments celebrate their generosity whilst simultaneously assisting their companies to drain Africa’s resources.” The research also revealed that “foreign multinational companies siphon $46bn out of sub-Saharan Afrika each year, while $35bn is moved from Afrika into tax havens around the world annually”. It also found that Afrikan governments spend $21bn a year on debt repayments. The research calls for the aid system to be overhauled and made more open.
Journalist Kathleen Mulhern updated this information in 2021 with an article published in the June 11 issue of New African Magazine. Mulhern asserts that: “according to UNCTAD’s Economic Development in Africa Report 2020; every year, an estimated $88.6bn, equivalent to 3.7% of Africa’s GDP, leaves the continent in illicit capital flight. For this reason, Africa is a net exporter of capital. Illicit outflows exceed inflows of official development assistance, valued at $48bn [aid], and yearly foreign direct investment, $54bn, received by African countries…” Mulhern’s article is aptly titled: Africa’s stolen assets, time to turn the screws on the enablers. This is yet another indication that Afrika’s economic sovereignty is severely damaged or even non-existent. Therefore, it is reasonable to say that Afrika languishes in structural poverty because it fails to defend its assets from global (globalization) theft, and from the flight of Afrikan finance capital. The capital should be used to build the continent’s infrastructure, provide education, health, and water technologies. Instead, it is invested in Europe, Israel, and North America. What little economic sovereignty is left on the continent could be completely overwhelmed by an aggressive sanctions enforcement law.
“African leaders would work in the interest of their people if they were not constantly stalked and bullied by colonial countries”Mawuna Remarque Koutonin
Professor PLO Lumumba’s declaration that “the continent will be recolonized in twenty-five years,” could be optimistic. If the continent does not use the Biden-Harris’ “colonial law” as an instrument to turn its economic fortunes around by taking three main steps–Black Afrika could be completely recolonized far sooner.
First, ensure the UN National Assembly review this Biden-Harris Act, given that it serves a UN Declaration and is obliged to be fair. Secondly, ensure Afrika’s development needs are met by each contract, program, or project implemented under the law; and that these needs are defined by relevant countries, regional governance (e.g., SADC, ECOWAS) or the African Union. Finally, guaranteed third-party training for Afrikan personnel in each country, to monitor and report on multinational, commercial, and social contractual enforcement processes, and procedures to ensure integrity.
Unfortunately, yet intentionally, a principal feature of Afrika’s neo-colonial sovereignty is that Afrikans have not been trained to assess, verify, and monitor the removal of their oil, gas, and other mineral resources; and cannot ascertain that they are reaping the best or most accurate returns for these resources. This means that companies like Shell in Nigeria may well be mining more oil and gas than they signed up for and could be earning more than they’ve declared, resulting in underpayment of income to Afrikan governments. This situation must be probed soonest.
At the time of writing, Shell had announced record profits from oil and gas inflation caused by UN Ukraine Declaration sanctions; yet there’s been no report on trickle-down benefits to countries, especially in light of the impact these sanctions have on the cost of living and government borrowing.
There are big security questions arising from the enforcement of the Biden-Harris colonial Act given that Mali and the Central Afrikan Republic abstained in the UN sanctions vote. How will their military struggles be impacted by the Biden-Harris colonial law in light of the fact that these countries are receiving military personnel and equipment support from Russia? For example, the Francophone West Afrikan liberation struggle against France, for the abovementioned reasons, may be undermined or obstructed by the imposition of this Biden-Harris colonial law? Will the four proposed Russian nuclear-capable military bases earmarked for Afrikan countries be cancelled? Therefore, the proposed “H.R.7311-117th Congress: Countering Malign Russian activities in Africa” law will undoubtedly “malign” Afrikan sovereignty unless individual countries or the Afrikan Union use it to reclaim or assert full or post-colonial sovereignty for Afrikans, by demanding independent scrutiny, accountability and by generally stepping up and taking control of the wealth of Afrikan nations. The USA may not have directly participated in the physical division of Afrika at the 1884/85 Berlin Conference, which took place less than 150 years ago. But today–in the 21st century–it practically has more than half of Black Afrika in its fangs. The coloniality of H.R.7311-117 resonates.