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Africa and unequal global power relations: Legacy of Berlin Conference intact

The West has consistently survived on good public relations, seemingly with good intentions; foreign aid, donations to refugee camps and a host of other seemingly good political and humanitarian gestures. But the agenda of the Berlin Conference, 100 years later is still intact, divide, conquer and get as much wealth as possible while Africans fight wars and the world watches.



Until Africans understand they are up against a power structure designed to continue its domination over Africa, its people and resources, they will continue allowing the domination and imperialism to continue.  America, Asia (read China), and European countries continues to establish military bases, send aid, and interfere (France by far the biggest culprit) in the governance of sovereign African states.

The Berlin Conference of 1884 might have taken place over 100 years ago, but far fetched as it might appear, reading between the lines, the resolutions that have been passed under the United Nations (UN) support an imperialistic agenda. African states might consider themselves part of the UN, but just like Animal Farm, all animals are not equal. African countries have continuously and consistently called for a comprehensive reform of the UN Security Council, but these cries have fallen on deaf ears.

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In 1994, the UN established the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) under the command of Canadian Major General Romeo Dallaire who was to help in the implementation of the Arusha Accord between the Hutus and Tutsis, allowing more Tutsis to have more positions of power in government. In January 22 of the same year, a French plane loaded with ammunition and weapons landed in Rwanda and delivered those weapons to the Hutus who made the majority of the Rwanda Armed Forces. Dallaire was not permitted to seize the weapons. Some months later the tragic genocide took place. Where was the UN?


In his book Shake hands with the Devil, the failure of humanity in Rwanda Dallaire wrote, “The mission, UNAMIR, failed. . . Engraved still in my brain is the judgement of a small group of bureaucrats who came to “assess” the situation in the first weeks of the genocide: “We will recommend to our government not to intervene as the risks are high and all that is here are humans.”

In 2009, Uganda discovered oil and in 2011 America sent its first 100 troops to Uganda to help in the fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), though they won’t engage in any combat with the LRA. For over 20 years, a war had been going on in Uganda and the world was quiet. One could argue that Uganda probably didn’t have enough to offer the West, but Libya did, and so did Sierra Leone and Congo.

Since the Berlin Conference Africa had one major benefit to the West, a land to be dominated for its mineral resources. For many Africans who think that the West can just unconditionally give its resources without any strings attached, they are yet to understand the fact that the West and more recently China seeks to maintain its hold on power. China’s dominance in the world cannot be removed from the fact that the Chinese government has sought to establish both military and economic ties with Africa. Recently, China sent its first military contingent to horn of Africa in Djibouti, establishing its first military base in Africa.

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The relationship therefore between the African continent and the rest of the world is unequal, nothing short of exploitation. Mineral resources are exploited; African citizens, particularly women and children have continued being victims of wars some of them started by many of these Western countries. It is high time African leaders wake up and understand that the West primarily cares about the economic benefits they can get from the continent and not about its people. Surely, the unequal relationship is not what great African leaders and revolutionaries such as Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Robert Sobukwe, Julius Nyerere, Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko, Herbert Chitepo amongst others envisaged.


The narrative of African rising can only be complete when our leaders realise that to move forward, Western ties with the continent have to be re-evaluated to the benefit of those who live in it.