I keep stumbling over seemingly new, but actually same old research findings that detail how the West continues to ‘steal’ from Africa. The recent one was released Tuesday last week by a group of UK and African non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
They are saying Sub-Saharan Africa receives $134 billion a year in loans, foreign direct investment and development aid, but $192 billion leaves the region leaving a $58 billion shortfall.
To be honest, I got a sense of déjàvu after reading the study. Why? Because such stories have always been there. From Walter Rodney’s ‘How Europe underdeveloped Africa’ in the 60s to Afrobarometer’s report two months ago, stories of how the West steals from are failing to tone down. But I should admit that every time such stories crop up, I don’t take them seriously. Not because I find them flawed. No. They are really credible and, honestly, they really capture the tenacious cat and mouse relationship between Africa and the West.
In fact, we cannot start thinking about development in Africa if this kind of stealing our resources is not contained.
Still, I have strong issues with this familiar song about blaming the West for impoverishing Africans. You see, if we blamed the West for stealing from us in the 60s and we are still doing that today, that tells us there is something terribly wrong with the exploited than the exploiter.
How come the same Western powers that stole from us during slave trade and colonialism are still stealing from us today?
But let’s face facts here: during Slave Trade, the whites didn’t just fly from their homes and start shipping our brothers and sisters to their shores. If you read your history well, you will note they had agreements with local chiefs.
Even during colonialism. Who was signing agreements which turned Malawi into the British colony in 1892? There were local chiefs.
To mean, behind every wrong we blame the West for, there are local gatekeepers who, driven by greed, fail to protect their people. That trend hasn’t changed. Isn’t it not the reason we are still damning the West today?
Let’s take the instance of Paladin, the company that was mining uranium in Kayelekera, Karonga. We all think the company duped Malawi. But wait a minute, didn’t Paladin sign a development agreement with Malawi before it rolled out the mining? Just like those that were slaving our brothers and sisters, Paladin agreed with our gatekeepers.
So does it make sense to continue damning the West? As I said, these are just rambling thoughts.
I think Africa’s development needs serious re-think. When we blame the West for stealing from us, the message we are sending is that Africa does not have gatekeepers, in this case, governments. Instead of popping our eyes on the West, let’s look to our governments. Why is the West always tramping on us? It is because they are too powerful or, perhaps, we are too weak? Still, these are just rambling thoughts.