Brexit from an African perspective: Part One

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By Dr Rino Zhuwarara

THE decision taken by the British to leave the European Union (EU) has far-reaching implications – first, for the British themselves, second, for the EU that they are leaving behind and third, for the world in general.
And the reason is simple: Britain hosts one of the biggest economies in the world, big enough to affect how other economies are likely to perform in a global context characterised by interdependence.
The British decision is a bold and decisive one, but is raising more questions about the future of the European unification project.
Already there are serious doubts in regard to the social and political cohesion of Europe after the British referendum.
Even the British themselves are not so sure they have made the right decision, more so with the Scots insisting they voted to remain in Europe and suggesting they are prepared to go for complete independence from England in order to remain in the EU.
The same applies to Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland which is now keen to resuscitate its campaign to unite Northern Ireland with the Irish Republic.
The results of the referendum have not only plunged Britain into an existential crisis which is unlikely to be resolved soon, but also triggered some unprecedented political chaos in London – some spectacular and breath-taking political drama and this is something which the British, in their more or less snobbish and dismissive manner, have always associated with the so called banana republics of the Third World.
Needless to say, the unexpected but momentous British decision to leave the EU is generating more questions than the answers it was expected to provide.
Those in the US are wondering what the British are up to.
Also wondering whether the Brits are going to be asking for a ‘special, special’ relationship with the US beyond and above the ‘special relationship’ which already exists between them.
As for Africa, searching questions are also being asked.
Many are wondering what the British have up their sleeves.
Could it be they are about to launch another colonisation mission in Africa, a kind of second coming of some sort, another civilising mission ostensibly designed to wipe out once and for all time the proverbial darkness which the Brits are all too prone to see on our beloved continent.
In order to address all these questions, we need to understand why the British came to Africa in the first instance – that they came for those they captured to provide cheap labour as slaves in their vast colonies of North America; that later they came again for the same, but this time in their African colonies.
In brief, we need to know and always be on alert that, although the British may smile a lot and change their style of talking to us and at us, their objectives in Africa will always remain the same from the time of slavery right up to the present.
And that these objectives will always revolve around the looting of African resources, never mind the language they use when speaking to us.
Some of us are asking whether the British will, in good time, declare that their quarrel with Zimbabwe is now water under the bridge, that they will soon outgrow their race-driven ill-will towards Zimbabwe, drop their economic sanctions against our country and live happily ever after with us. Why not, when this time they need more friends in the world, after walking out on a single market of over 500 million people!
But some of us are also insisting that we are likely to see and feel the full brunt of the same old pride and prejudice for which the British are well known, that all these will continue to be deployed against us until their kith and kin who lost farming land in Zimbabwe have been compensated in full. And that the only logical thing for Zimbabwe is to prepare for a long siege, so long as to become an inter-generational legacy.
Beyond all the speculation stated above, there is the underlying reason the British have voted to leave the EU.
All of us need to know what the real reason comes down to because to do so is to prepare for how we should relate to an isolated Britain in search of a new global role outside the EU.
Could it be the sovereignty issue, those Brexit allegations that most of their laws were being made in Brussels and not London.
But most scholars claim that in fact 98 percent of British laws are all made in London and not Brussels as alleged by the Brexit proponents.
To all sober-minded people, it is obvious that when all is said and done, the overwhelming reason the majority of the British voted to leave the EU comes down to fear of uncontrolled immigration.
Reading the arguments of the Brexit movement, there is this unmistakable feeling that regulations on freedom of movement in the EU are opening doors for millions of immigrants from Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle-East to come to Britain and swamp the lifestyle and value systems of its inhabitants.
It is a raw feeling, this fear of being overrun and overwhelmed by outsiders, complete strangers who sooner or later will demand equal rights just like British locals do here.
This alone has triggered some primitive fears which those Brits who wanted to remain in the EU failed to assuage.
And the recent television images of hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria, Libya and Africa have not helped matters at all.
All these desperate refugees are risking their lives by crossing the Mediterranean Sea in unseaworthy boats determined to reach Europe.
For the Brits, such images have generated fears that the barbarians are lining up at the gates, ready to invade and settle in Europe with or without EU permission.
This seemingly new phenomenon has scared most of the British out of their wits.
Interestingly, this fear is only part of a complex sense of insularity which characterises the mind-set of most of those who inhabit the British Isles, a mind-set which unwittingly betrays a deeply ingrained xenophobic sentiment.
Ironically, this sentiment is itself part of a historical paradox in British history in the sense that the Brits have always been migrating from their tiny islands to other areas of the world, always welcoming themselves in other people’s lands or invading them and taking them over for their permanent settlement.
In British history, migration, colonisation of other peoples’ lands and cultures has been a norm of some sort for a long time.
In fact this is how the British came to occupy places like North America, the Caribbean Islands, Australia, New Zealand and Africa.
And this, they have done with a sense of entitlement.
The fact that they now resent others coming to their country to seek refuge from wars and poverty which, ironically, the same Brits helped to author is part of the historical paradox which many of them are still to come to terms with.

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