Defining the Africa-Europe relationship: Part One

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THE recent Africa–European Union (EU) Summit held in Brussels has come up with the usual soothing rhetoric which refers to the partnership between Africa and the EU as that of equals; it also refers to a shift in focus and emphasis from aid to trade and investment between the two continents.
The rhetoric also refers to the need to promote peace and security so that development can take place on both continents.
A more detailed roadmap specifying what needs to be done, how and when certain actions should take place to enhance cooperation between them has also been spelt out!
In general the rhetoric surrounding the outcome of the summit is designed to re-assure everyone concerned that Africa and Europe are going to be good partners in development!
However, it is important that whenever such summits take place we frame issues from a historical as well as contemporary point of view so that we go beyond the soothing rhetoric and grasp what is at stake.
While we should not rush to quarrel with the good intentions carelessly scattered all over the communiqué document, it is prudent for Africans to refer to history and understand its message so that they can plan for the future with the benefit of hindsight.
While the Africa-EU communiqué refers to the relationship between Africa and the EU as that of equal partners, history tells us that equality between them has been the missing link ever since Europe started raiding for Africans in 1450 and turning them into slaves destined for its colonies in North and South America and the Caribbean Islands.
That same history confirms that Africans became the technology which transformed the vast wild forests and valleys of the Americas into the legendary sugar, cotton and tobacco plantations on the basis of which Europe became industrialised.
History tells us also that the same Europe stopped the slave trade and slavery only after developing the technology to replace African slaves and only after slave labour became more expensive and outdated vis-a-vis hiring and firing of wage based labour.
That same history confirms in no uncertain terms that the same Europe held the Berlin Conference of 1884/85 and carved the vast African continent into little different countries and subsequently allocated all these to each of the European powers without bothering to consult Africans themselves.
What followed was the subjugation and colonisation of Africa for over a century during which the partnership between Africans and Europeans became analogous to that of a horse and a rider, with Africans as horses and Whites as riders-so much for equality being touted by the Africa -EU summit.
As for investing in People, Peace and Prosperity that the summit is excited about, history also tells us that such good intentions have always preceded all horror stories which Europe subsequently unleashed upon an unsuspecting African public.
For instance, European raids for African slaves were preceded by Papal Edicts from Rome justifying slavery as the road to the conversion and redemption of African pagans into obedient Christians.
Even the colonisation of Africa itself was preceded by shrill calls from Europe to fight the good fight to bring light and civilisation to a supposedly dark African continent.
But history tells us again that all these intentions were soon cast aside and replaced by genocidal wars of conquest and prolonged looting sprees all over Africa by Europeans.
In fact good intentions about introducing development in Africa by Europe have never been in short supply at all; if anything they have always been the deceptive chorus and a prelude to unleashing the worst about Europe upon our beloved continent.
The real hard decisions about the role Africa is expected to play in developing Western nations are being taken in Europe and the USA, far away from those gullible African leaders who are simply required to endorse whatever is decided.
A good example is the shameful policy of promoting homosexuality in Africa; how many of those African leaders who attended the summit can claim that they were consulted before the compulsory promotion of homosexuality in Africa became official EU policy? None whatsoever.
Is it not an astonishing spectacle for world audiences to witness 36 African leaders sitting sheepishly in Brussels, receiving a lecture on the need to promote and protect homosexuality in Africa?
All those African leaders failed to respond to such a calculated insult to a whole continent and yet the communiqué from the summit talks about equality between Africa and Europe!
The only difference this time is that unlike the Berlin Conference of 1884, where Africans were completely excluded, the European charade about democracy nowadays demands that pictures and communiqués which appear to be part of consulting African leaders are spread far and wide so as to legitimise the continued looting of our continent that has been going on for over 500 years.
Coming to the anticipated promotion of peace and security in Africa and Europe by the summit, it is again important to refer to recent history in Africa.
For instance, is it not Europe and the USA which supported Jonas Savimbi in waging war against the people of Angola for over 27 years?
Is it not apartheid South Africa and the West who supported Alfonso Dhlakama in waging war against the people of Mozambique which killed and maimed hundreds of thousands?
Is it not the same Europe supported by the USA which recently waged an unprovoked war against Libya and bombed a rich African country back into the Stone Age?
Is it not the same EU with the support of the USA which has imposed economic sanctions against Zimbabwean people for over a decade and caused starvation and deaths of thousands?
Again history tells us that whenever Europe and the USA talk about peace and prosperity for other nations, what they mean is the exact opposite especially for those who are weak and vulnerable.
The plain truth underpinning the Africa-EU summit is that Western Europe has almost exhausted its natural resources and is in visible decline which all of us can see.
Western Europe is a very small part of the European continent and so tiny in size it is no bigger than the DRC; it hosts a large population which for centuries has lived beyond its means courtesy of cheap resources which Africa has always provided under duress.
In other words the Africa-EU summit is part of an ongoing imperial drama involving the white master and the black subaltern; the costumes of this drama may have changed, the actors too may have changed including the imperial discourse and the accompanying style, but Europe’s objectives remain the same: to loot African resources as it has always done for the past 500 years.
And this is what African leaders who attended the summit failed to say-perhaps out of politeness but definitely at our expense.

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