In 1964, the People’s Republic of China gave the Central African Republic an interest free loan of one billion CFA Francs (20 million French Francs) as aid. 54 years later, the Chinese are in every nook and cranny of Africa. Half a century ago, African countries were clamouring for independence from colonial powers. Has anything changed about the African economic development situation?
When you think deeply about the leadership situation in Africa, a great sadness washes over you. Except for few countries, others are fiefdoms controlled by greedy leaders for the benefit of their people and not the general populace. From Kenya, where corruption has eaten deep into the system, to Cameroon where a massacre is going on, in 2018. The political and economic challenges show the betrayal of liberation ideals, with the question what has really changed from the Africa of 50 years ago?
The incapacity for Africa to even solve its own problems shows a high dependence on the United Nations, which has in many times failed to resolve a myriad of the social and political issues. The current political crisis in Cameroon where the national army is involved in extra-judicial killings has not even come up in the African Union, either through social media, or a communiqué. The silence has been tone deaf. The question of the worth of life still hangs below other questions, who are these leaders here to serve?
The dependence on China, a country that has no respect for human rights, a country that is not receptive to black people is like eating from the mouth of a crocodile. China might not have gained entry into Africa through force, in the manner that Britain, France, Belgium, Germany and even the U.S.A did. But systematically, China is beating the drums and African countries are dancing to its tune. The rise of Chinese cultural centres, for the promotion of the Chinese language, including the inclusion of China in the school curriculum of countries like South Africa raises germane issues. Where is Africa really headed to?
In the 1960s, when French colonised countries refused to turn to France or the U.S for aid, they turned to Russia and China and were caught in the middle of a Cold War. When Ethiopian dictator Haile Mengistu was in power, Cubans flooded Ethiopia, and Russia was an ally until Mikhail Gorbachev came into power. Russia sold weapons to the Ethiopian rebels that ousted Mengistu. America arranged the safe extraction of Mengistu’s family and his allies to Zimbabwe under the watch of Robert Mugabe. Africa has been nothing but a political battle field for the West, and now for China, with India closely following behind.
The onus to redefine the future role of this continent in relation to the world most likely lies with the youths of this continent.