Dear Jambo Africa Online reader!
Receive greetings from all staff at Jambo Africa Online.
Let me hasten to congratulate Ms Lebogang Nkadimeng, (Non Executive) Deputy Chair- person of the Brandhill Africa group for being selected as one of the United Nations’ 2020- 2021 Young SDG Innovators. Well done my leader.
Let me also congratulate Dr Patrice Motsepe, a seasoned businessman, for his election as the President of the Confederation of African Football. Indeed, if we weren’t celebrating International Women’s Day this month, he could have deservingly made our cover story.
I also congratulate you, Jambo Africa Online reader, for your brave fight against COVID-19 – that you are able to read this today shows you are a victor (pat yourself on the back).
One of the most burning questions about the current state of global economic, political and cultural routine is the influence of dominant countries over others. We cannot escape the fact that the existence of what some refer to as a ‘global village’ has left underdeveloped and developing countries subject to dependencies and influence of bigger economies who happen to be declared former colonial- ists.
The giant economies continue to usurp control of these countries by manipulating the import-export formula with the small and de- veloping countries in a state of perpetual de- pendency. Africa is the major victim, as has been over the past few centuries.
A country such as Djibouti, for example, does not export much but its economy imports large amounts of foods, pharmaceuticals and capital goods. The developed countries are using the might of their economies to entrench post-colonial manipulation, domination and exploitation. Weaker cultures are being assimilated – worse still, annihilated – and westocracy continues to assert its hegemony. Thus I recall Antonio Gramsci when he poeti- cised: “In this interregnum, the old refuses to die [while] the new struggles to be born…”
This internationalisation of this exploitation has also left Africa starved of the best that she can offer and this is done with no shame at all. Nick Dearden of the United Kingdom- based Organisation of Global Justice acknowledges in his analysis, “Africa is not poor. We are just stealing its wealth”. He suggests that sub-Saharan Africa loses amounts to the tune of $203bn with $68bn in dodged taxes through multinational companies, illegal log- ging, fishing and wildlife trade.
So-called tax haven countries (Andorra, the Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Channel Is- lands, the Cook Islands, The Island of Jersey, Hong Kong, The Isle of Man, Mauritius, Licht- enstein, Monaco, Netherlands, Switzerland, etc) are also responsible for the huge illicit outflows of capital traffic by rich persons and Multi-National Corporations from African economies. These countries are global part- ners in corruptly destroying the Gross Do- mestic Products (GDPs) of various African countries. They have left African govern- ments unable to fulfil their responsibilities over the provision of education, health and infrastructure to poor communities.
Neo-colonialism is real. AfCTFA has a very serious and sober role to play in undoing this. Hence I welcome the AU effort led by H.E. Thabo Mbeki in exposing this malfeasance and supporting our countries to contain it.
Scramble for African soccer talent
There are some covert methods of thieving. Colonialists will steal everything and anything in their pursuit to enrich themselves whilst impoverishing the rightful owners. When you cry foul, they find fault in you.
The entertainment industry is one area were this acculturation is preponderant.
Sport and soccer in particular is what John Bale, famous for his book Sports Geography, refers to as “a new scramble for Africa”. African soccer is faced with a constant outflow of talented players into the various well financed leagues of Europe. This is exploita- tion of labour in that these rich countries through their scouts steal some of the best talents that Africa can offer for very low salaries – slave salaries by the victimiser countries’ standards. The soccer teams in Eu- rope take advantage of African countries’ fledgling economies to provide opportunities that seem irresistible to an African player.
At the risk of exposing my age, let me also acknowledge the first African team to win the FIFA Soccer World Cup. Wearing blue and white kits, they did this on two occasions – in 1998 and 2018.
An African making waves across the global world of comedy, Trevor Noah, found himself in hot water when the French Ambassador to the United States of America Gerard Araud launched a tirade against him for making such observations about the French soccer national team. But Noah was spot on. In 1998 they used Ghanaian Marcel Desailly, Steve Mandanda of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Algerian Zinedine Yazid Zidane amongst the many Africans in their team. In 2018, they used the likes of Cameroonians Samuel Umtiti and Kyllian Mbappe.
Africans ignite the whole of Europe and the world but are not able to do that wearing their African colours. Who can ignore the impact that the likes of Ansu Fati (born in Guinea Bissau to play for Spain), Patrick Viera and Patrice Evra (born in Senegal, played for France), Claude Makelele (born in DRC but played for France), Mario Coluna (Born in Mozambique but played for Portu- gal), Eusebio (born in Mozambique and played for Portugal), Jose Bosingwa (born in DRC but represented Portugal), Rolando and Luis Nani (born in Cape Verde but repre sented Portugal), Wilfred Zaha (born in Ivory Coast but represented England), Christian Benteke (born in DRC but reprented Bel- gium), Gerald Asamoah (born in Ghana and represented Germany) and a long list of others?
They may be in diaspora, but their roots in Africa persist. Prior to his death in the mid-60s, the great US African civil rights leader Malcolm X said, “You cannot hate the root of a tree and not hate the tree itself. You cannot hate an African and not hate Africa”. Africans are Africans, whether within the continent or in the diaspora.
Africans have always been artists. African artwork, stolen centuries ago, that is used to show class and finesse in Europe has become a matter for discussion. Again, it is laughable when colonialists struggle to understand why they need to return the works of art from which they have made trillions of dollars for centuries from the talents of many Africans. Because they stole it centuries ago, they feel they don’t need to return it. This body of work may remain in dispersion, but it remains a vivid depiction of Africa’s power as the cradle of civilization.
The difference between that artwork and the one made by the Khoi and the San in southern Africa is that they failed to steal the latter because it was engraved on walls of natural caves – if it was up to them they would have stolen those very same caves. Yes we can never forget Napoleon Bonaparte bombed the Egyptian Sphinx with the intention of appro- priating – thanks to the ingenuity of those sculptors that he realised it was an impossi- ble mission, though he disfigured it. This is sophisticated theft of African skill as well as heritge.
A long, uneasy road
A prosperous Africa that is based on inclusive growth and sustainable development is the key to the fulfilment of this continent’s poten- tial. This is a growth that should be distrib- uted equitably across society and creates opportunities for all – including pursuing growth and redistribution simultaneously.
Africa is negotiating her way into the third month since the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) came into opera- tion. A free trade agreement is not a walk in the park. It is a long, uneasy road for all the participating countries.
H.E. Wamkele Mene, the Secretary General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, has shown that the agreement is realistic about the challenges that lie ahead. He says, “I don’t want any- body to be under the illusion that this is go- ing to be easy. It’s going to be difficult, but we’ve got to do it.” In anticipation of such challenges the conceptualisers of AfCTFA put the planning into phases. More negotiations amongst and between countries mean that the project will evolve and become better over time as it reacts to predictable and un- predictable conditions.
The biggest market in the world
Despite all this, Africa remains a massive consumer market – bigger than any comparable structure in the world and abundant with superior natural resources. It is these resources that make this continent to con- tinue being a scramble for modern colonisers from across the globe. As reflected in our previous editions, Africa has no choice but to coalesce its efforts in order to protect itself from exploitation whilst at the same time maximally benefitting from its capacities.
This neo-colonialism stands to suffer dearly, if Africans make use of the natural talent, skill and abundance of resources within our borders.
Africa will, at the success of AfCTFA, shift from its current commodity export economic model to a manufacturing and value addition supported by a stronger intra-African trade approach that yields a self-sufficient conglomeration of its economies. The AfCFTA is an opportunity for countries, companies and citizens to help each other grow whilst ex- ploiting the offerings of this continent.
An integrated Africa is a strong, united and influential global player. Kwame Nkrumah always insisted on the marriage between politics and the economy. He insisted that avoiding intra-African political rivalry and economic friction were prerequisites to the creation of a single African economy that will release Africans from the fangs of colonialists. Let’s grow together.
AfCTFA is based on creating an African sustainable brand that is equivalent to her worthy status. This is a responsibility that goes beyond what governments do but also transmits to how the African citizenry and host business in various countries embrace the effort of the African Union and AfCFTA. When you think about Germany your mind already imagines Mercedes Benz; Italy – pasta; United Kingdom – Polo; South Korea – Samsung; United States of America – Nike; Africa – war? AfCFTA is a tool that is set to rebrand Africa in an uncomplicated way.
African citizens form the most important stakeholdr segment that should benefit incre- mentally from the works of the AfCFTA. The advent of AfCTFA is a period that defines this opportunity. African citizenry must, as a con- sequence, be able to generate income as de- velopment should always be people-driven.
We live during a period that can easily be viewed as a challenge to all humanity. COVID-19 has imposed a standstill in all world operations.
It has disturbed the African economy in ways that have challenged the diversity of what we offer. For countries that rely a lot on tourism, which is quite a huge sector in Africa, this in- dustry is struggling to generate revenue and that has severely dwarfed the various economies. Trade of other goods and sub- stances have also been hit savagely by the current state of affairs. The lockdowns and border closures continue to disrupt the supply chains and has impacted all countries negatively. This does not augur well for Africa’s economic performance as this continent has a very large output on agriculture as these disruptions could have much longer economic impact.
The potential impacts of the collapse of the financial systems cannot be undermined.
Matshidiso Moeti from the World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that African women have faced the most difficulties as a result of COVID-19 in comparison to men. She states that African women suffer as a consequence of the pandemic more income losses, more social marginalisation, and more health risks. But more generally embers of families have lost lives, more children have become orphaned, people have lost jobs and, most importantly, whole humanity is under attack.
COVID-19, however, has also vindicated the African scholars’ assertion that African borders are artificial. The pandemic has shown disrespect for racial, tribal, economical, and many other isms that represent “differences” between human beings.
Undeniably, a common approach is not a matter of choice but one of necessity. It is not for me to dictate how we all should deal with the COVID-19 pandemic because it is unprecedented. Therefore, it would be wise to allow all Africans and the whole of humanity to devise attempts at finding a solution to this catastrophic episode bedevilling the existence of the human beings.
We have to accept that this tragedy has left us unable to maximally use our individual nationalistic abilities to partake in the management of our economies.
Stay safe, wear your mask and we shall defeat COVID-19!!
We are all in this together! We shall unshackle Africa! Asante Sana!
Follow me on Twitter: @MsindwanaAndile