Welcome to our third edition of Jambo Africa Online to our new readers, representatives of institutions from across the world and members of society who have confessed their undying love for Jambo Africa Online, we say welcome onboard. To our regular readers, we are thankful for your continued audience and support. Africans, within our continental borders and in the diaspora, we appreciate your support.
Significant strength for each plant lies in its roots. It is this strength that builds a strong stem which, together with leaves, are able to face the wrath of strong winds and storms. Using that analogy, would you say Africa’s roots are strong? I believe they are.
Because they are hidden underground, the ignorant may think that these roots are useless or perhaps unimportant. At a higher level of ignorance, some may even feel that these roots do not even exist. In either case, the opposite is true.
Are we, as Africa, using the strength that we get from these roots correctly? Are we using these roots at all as our anchor to face the everchanging seasonal adverse weather conditions?
Colonialism takes place when those with access and control over a mode of living manipulate that control to exercise hege- mony over those who don’t have such a capacity resulting in the latter dancing to the tune of the former. Colonialism, ladies and gentlemen, remains alive and kicking. The culprits are doing it carte blanche with no fear for any repercussions for their misdeeds. Various pre- and post-indepen-dence African leaders have always warned that Africa’s greatest challenge lies in her resolve to escape the endless traps set by the neocolonialists. The colonialists tend to allow the victim country to adopt a new flag, a new name and even give away their control of the administration. They, however, continue to control the economic and political direction of the said country. They do this without sitting in the Legislative Chambers of that country, but dictate the pace and shape of the country’s development.
Former colonies continue to face various forms of control and economic oppression through various forms of remote control of the levers of state power by the former colonisers. The decapitation leaves the victim country unable to claim its rightful place in the control of its own resources. Digital colonisation has now taken centre stage. African consumer data, without the user’s consent let alone knowledge, is getting stolen, sold or shared by business conglomerates masquerading as Apps. With the evergowing African cellphone industry, apps like WhatsApp and Facebook leading this despite the fact that they have become companions for many consumers in this digital era. Other Apps are even sharing the unsuspecting user’s data in relation to their body weights, blood pressure, menstrual cycles, pregnancy statuses and economic profiles. To make matters worse, these consumers have also become victims to cyber criminals and other forms of felonies as their pri- vate details are commoditised and sold.
Digital colonisation also promotes what, in my view, constitutes daylight robbery. In some African cities, you get forced to hire a taxi using an App based in New York or Canada. And guess what, the taxi could just be 10 metres away from where you are standing.
Seriously? How much worse can it get?
The hard earned money from an unsuspecting African consumer partly pays the local taxi driver but also boosts the for- eign economies using the fare.
As Africans, we find ourselves captive whilst they are telling our stories. Read- ers, I can assure you that this is likely to continue happening, as long as the victim countries do not narrate their own stories. The African story has always been authored, told and interpreted repeatedly by persons from right across the globe with African people forming part of the story teller’s audience. Africa and Africans are used and abused by people from elsewhere who obviously use their own lenses to build such representations. They also build perceptions about Africa and they care less about accuracy as long as that brings money to their coffers. Mention the name Simba to any eight year old (anywhere in the world) and you’ll be given a truck full of stories that relate to one of the most successful and rewarding animations ever, Lion King. Set in Africa, the story has excluded Africans in its construction but included the continents’ in- habitants as a customer base from who, millions (perhaps billions) of dollars are gathered. Walt Disney, using Africa’s symbols and names to give their fable originality and authenticity is, today, approaching the 2 billion (USD) mark in reward for telling this story.
What’s worse is that they tell the fable whilst unapologetically and plagiarisingly using the works of Africans as an endorsement and a symbol of believability. It wouldn’t puzzle us if that kid or an overwhelming majority of Lion King fans have never heard of the name, Solomon Linda. If you know the name you are part of a tiny fraction of the global population that has been allowed access to the secret. The same audience will (most likely), however, sing the song Mbube word for word still unaware that they’ve been deprived of real knowledge about this song. Let me rephrase – not really singing word for word because most of them are guided to proudly misfire the lyrics. They sing, “A-wemo-we! A-wemo-we! A-wemo-we! A-wemo-we!” instead of the real lyrics that say, “Imbube! Imbube! Imbube! Im- bube!”.
The truth behind this is that in 1939 Linda, whilst working at a records company owned by Eric Gallo (an Italian immigrant) in Johannesburg, South Africa, composed the song Mbube (an IsiZulu word meaning lion) and 5 decades later the Lion King film owners appropriated this work of art to make it a signature song for the film. This African labourer was robbed of his earning potential during his living years. To add salt to a wound that had bled for decades, Walt Disney conducted further mischief by stealing from a man who passed on in 1962. Elizabeth Gugu, Linda’s daughter, was not only emotional but depressed and consequently broke down in tears when she realised what Walt Disney were doing to her father’s legacy. “When I saw the Lion King on television I was mad. It reminded me that they were using the song without our permission and stealing our money”, said Gugu. They also went on to seek to legalise their insult to Africa by seeking to trademark an African expression, “Hakuna mathatha“. This statement is in kiSwahili, a West African language, for “There is no problem”.
Dear Jambo Africa Online reader, it is not exaggeration to say – Africa faces similar treatment on many other fronts (whether it is art, science, sport, business, telephony or Information Communications Technology).
Africa is a hidden source of excellence whose quality is, with no shame, ex- pressed to benefit intruders. With impunity, resources from this continent built and continue to build successful economies elsewhere across the world.
Museums across Europe are holding on to African artwork that was stolen or bullishly snatched away from the home continent. Looters of African artifacts are selling them freely in auctions and other forms of sale without taking into cogni- sance that they are selling the story of a people. All that is reserved for Africa is contempt and a disapproving sneeze from even the neocolonial masters. Africans are treated like somnambulists who will not see when something is taken away from them.
This has always been the story of Africa and Africans (at home and in the dias- pora). It’s time to say – NO MORE.
Through the AfCTFA, let Africa reawaken its market for the benefit of all Africans today and in future.
We have grown so accustomed to products and services from outside Africa to a point that other parties’ view of Africa is slowly becoming our perception of who we are or ought to be.
Africans continue to be unrepresented in shaping their economies. To represent oneself or your people in an economy gives you an opportunity to participate in building your society broadly. To develop defences against this daylight robbery, Africans decided to assemble their efforts through the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). The AfCFTA is not an attempt to remove Africa from the world or reject the rest of the world but an honest posture aimed at heightening the strengthening and facilitation of equal participation in the global economy. As you go through this edition our economics guru, Francois Fouche, unpacks what AfCFTA is all about in summative terms. Fouche shows that Africa prioritises AfCTFA in order to allow for an easier movement of goods and services among African countries, favouring trade between African countries, strengthening African brands and bringing control of the African market to the continent.
Aliko Dangote, a Nigerian business supremo, leads the way in showing the capacity that Africa has as a supplier to an economy as opposed to always being a consumer. Read about Dangote’s contin- ued success in asserting Africa’s ability to lead her markets.
Innovative supply chain systems are a crucial element in the value chain process that can contribute to ensure the success of African businesspersons in acquiring products and services that are responsive to their economies’ needs. Babalelang Kona, with her company, Theko, continues to input in this regard.
In 1996 former South African President (then a Deputy President to President Nelson Mandela later to be the Chairperson of the African Union), Thabo Mbeki, declared his commitment to Africa through his iconomic speech aptly titled “African Renaissance”. He insisted that we must be “sufficiently enraged by Africa’s condition in the world to want to join the mass crusade for Africa’s renewal”. He emphasised Africa’s rebirth as a certainty than a possibility. The creation of an African market is the embryo towards this rebirth. In our Verbatim series, re-live this day as we bring you the speech.
Join us in celebrating the life of Africa’s Soul Makossa dynamo, Manu Dibango. Mandla Zibi takes through this legend’s career journey as he evolved from just a young man who loved music to a global icon that influenced the success of stars such as Michael Jackson.
Jambo Africa Online continues to serve as a guide to the AfCFTA by publishing stories and information that make it real as well as practical to both business and consumers.
The world is not complete without a strong and vibrant African market.