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Published On: Thu, Sep 11th, 2014

Obama’s big joke

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By Antoine Roger Lokongo

Brahim Senouci recently wrote a piece in his blog which well depicted an Africa at the crossroads. According to Senouci, ‘of course, slavery and forced conversions to Islam and Christianity have disappeared in Africa. Yesterday’s indigenous overwhelmingly live in free countries. Westerners have finally accepted to bow to the will of independence of the people they have long enslaved [Adam Hochschild is the author of ‘King Leopold’s Ghost – the history of the Belgian Congo’ and has just published a new book titled: ‘Bury the Chains’]. It is clear, however, that this new world order has not led to the widespread economic welfare, remains more or less confined to the Western sphere. Above all, the liberation of African people remains largely theoretical. Most of them still find themselves in an uneven position vis-à-vis their former colonial powers who continue to dictate their political and economic paths and even influence the selection of their leaders!’

As Charles Onunaiju recalled in an article published in the Peoples Daily recently, ‘for over 50 years since most of African states became independent from classical colonial rule, the continent’s natural resources were ruthlessly exploited and expropriated by her western partners, including the US, which monopolistically fixed both the costs and terms of resource extractions and the prices they paid for such. For as long as this very unfair market relationship existed between Africa and the West, the continent was blighted with the incremental paradox of the development of under-development with consequences of political instability and social tensions. The contemporary political challenges and crises of growth without development in Africa owe mainly to the past relationships of Africa with the West. The structural dependency of Africa on the West was the key factor in the disarticulation of the continent’s internal economic integration. The legacy of that structural dependency was more acute in the lack of any meaningful infrastructural connect within the continent.’

No other event encapsulates that truth more than the recently held USA-Africa summit. During the summit, the United States pledged to increase its economic flows, in terms of investments to Africa up to USD 33 billion. And Africans applauded! However, this was Obama’s big joke because if you divide the $33 billion by 54 African countries, each country would receive nearly $6 million. Fidel Castro was right to say that ‘Americans put Obama, whose father is an African, in the White House to cover up American imperialism with a big smile.’ In a country attacked by the United States through the Tutsi regimes of Rwanda and Uganda such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), you can’t rebuild much with $6 million! But if the DRC government raised its stakes in each mining contract it signed with North American companies up to 51 percent to turn them into win-win contracts (which is highly unlikely!), the Congolese state could generate $33 billion per year.

At the same time, to give an idea of what we are talking about, oil, gas and mineral exports from Africa, including to the United States were worth US$382 billion in 2011 alone – more than eight times the value of official development aid received by African countries that year. Africa’s trade with the US was only $100 billion in 2012 (ONE Policy Brief Report, 6 June 2013). Take oil imports alone. US imports from Africa consist of 89 percent oil alone, less than China whose oil represents 66 percent of imports from Africa. (See, Raluca Besliu, Yale Global, 1 August 2013). At the same time, illicit financial outflows from Africa to the West, including to the United States, are estimated at up to $200 billion annually (Oxfam International report, 6 May 2013). We really have to ask ourselves: Who is enriching whom? ‘Who refuses to buy the Congolese cobalt,’ wondered Mzee Laurent Kabila, DRC’s assassinated president. These are fundamental questions! We are witnessing a kind of recolonisation of Africa with the consent of Africans themselves! That is why the great lion of Africa Robert Mugabe, who refuses Americans and Israelis as advisers in his cabinet and who maintains a very good relationship with China, was not invited to this kind of ‘Second Berlin Conference’; but the likes of Kagame and Museveni (Museveni has already stood for a third term and America said nothing! What happened in Rwanda in 1994 has become an excuse for everything. One day the whole truth will come out, if it has not already done so!), worst criminals in the 21st century Africa, were invited. Now we know! It is now in the United States where African leaders go to buy a second legitimacy after being ‘elected’ by their people. Besides, they want this circus to take place every year.

The truth is that the economic power of the United States is waning. Americans are consequently seeking to consolidate their control and monopoly over Africa’s raw materials to safeguard their first position in the world at all levels and at all costs (even a third world war), including stoking wars by proxy in Libya, DRC, and so on. As Onunaiju once more put it, maybe the alarm bell that the new development bank established by the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – at their last crucial summit in Brazil portends to the end or at least cause a considerable weakening of the monopoly of global financial governance of the Breton Woods institutions could have jolted Washington into a direct economic involvement in Africa, whose rising profile would impact on any new emerging global financial and economic architecture.

External factors to Africa’s instability play a heavier role than internal factors and oil and raw materials always constitute the stakes in every African war. And so, the militarization of America’s Africa policy is a reality and aims to counter Chinese influence in Africa. Or, China’s contribution in Africa is developmental. Just look. As Ebola epidemic hits West Africa (Professor Jason Kissner asked himself whether the Ebola outbreak is U.S. sponsored bio-terror in the past and now to divert attention from Israel’s genocide in Palestine, as he wrote in the Global Research on 16 August 2014), unlike other countries, China has already dispatched medical personnel assistance teams to Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia as part of public health emergency relief, even risking their own lives. ‘We are friends, comrades and brothers,’ said Chinese President Xi Jinping in Cuba; and ‘a friend in need is a friend indeed!’ as Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf put it in her message of gratitude to the people of China. And because the DRC was the first country to be the victim of Ebola (the name of a river in the region where it was first diagnosed), Kinshasa followed the example of China and sent its epidemologists to West Africa to share their experience with other African brothers.

Antoine Roger Lokongo via


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