There have been lots of debates on the extent of European colonialism on African soil. If you think the colonialism of Africa only involved the occupation of the continent , then you know nothing of the terrible carnage that was perpetrated by these people. Similarly, if you think colonialism ended with the independence of African countries, then you’re mistaken. Majority of the world’s population don’t know what really happened in colonial Africa. Or perhaps, they know, but chose to keep quiet.
Are you aware that the former African French colonies still continue to pay some form of tax to France?
Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, is the former African Union Ambassador to the U.S. Quite recently, she was controversially relieved of her post as Ambassador. She had a chat with popular media personality, Roland Martin on his show recently.
We are all aware of Chihombori-Quao’s hard stance on French policies in Africa. There’s been a lot of speculation about the circumstances that led to her sack. Some say it’s due to her strong views on France’s hold on its former African colonies.
What will all know, is that all fingers currently point to France as the force behind her sack!
Her views on France and other European powers
Upon granting self-rule to her former African colonies, France forced them to sign an arbitrary document titled ‘pact for continuation of colonialism’. Under this system, the countries are politically independent, but their economies are fully controlled by France. Chihombori-Quao, described this system as inhumane, an abomination and a ploy to keep African countries forever poor. According to her, 14 of these nations agreed to this illegal system. Only Guinea and Mali opposed this arrangement.
In 1958, the Guinean president Sekou Toure, chose to disregard this neocolonialist move. In retaliation, Paris ensured that it crippled both Guinea and Mali. The French destroyed schools, farming equipment, city infrastructure, sewages were permanently blocked with concrete and every other single thing considered ‘benefits of colonization’, was destroyed.
On the Impact of the system
Chihombori-Quao expressed her disgust at the negative effect of the French pact on its former colonies. In her words, the 14 countries were expected to deposit 85% of their bank reserves into the French Central Bank.
All these monies were under the control of the French finance minister. They were only allowed access to a meager 20% of the deposit as loan at commercial interest rates. As if that wasn’t enough, they were also required to provide financial statements before they could withdraw any funds at all. This is modern colonialism at its peak and anyone reading this will agree me.
What kind of nation is trigger happy oppressing others? How can these economies grow if they give out all of their money? We clamored for independence from colonialism, but what did we get? A terrible form of oppression and a whole new strategy to ensure we remain underdeveloped.
According to the ex-ambassador, this manipulative system has remained in practice till date with over 500 billion USD being pumped annually into French pockets. Although they have reduced the amount of reserve deposits (to 50 – 60 %), it’s still high enough to keep any developing economy crippled.
The question is how can the whole world see this carnage going on and do nothing to stop it? The UN, a body saddled with the responsibility of upholding the human rights of world citizens is also quiet about this. What have they done to curb this dire situation? Nothing!
The Scramble for Africa
The former ambassador described the Berlin conference of 1884 as the colonizers way of making sure that they forever defeat and dominate Africa. She explained that the colonizers split up the African nations into tiny and weak economies that can barely survive on their own.
They made it difficult for African countries to trade with each other and also messed with the economic development of our Continent. She further explained that the partitioning of Africa back then, remains in place today. Consequently, this has hindered our ability to grow our economies.
The imaginary borders drawn by the colonialists have limited our ability to freely travel from one African country to another. This is in sharp contrast to what is obtainable in Europe, where you can easily apply for a Schengen visa and travel freely across the continent without any troubles.
France was not alone in this bad and unacceptable treatment of Africa. Belgium, Britain, Germany and Italy are all equally culpable. Chihombori-Quao revealed how King Leopold II of Belgium exterminated over 75% of the Congo population, what the British did to the Kikuyu of Kenya and what the Germans did in Namibia. The carnage has continued till date and the colonizers never left Africa.
Today, it’s beginning to dawn on us as Africans, that we urgently need to do something about this. African leaders have come up with the ‘visa on arrival’ policy to ease travel within the continent; however, not all countries are implementing this policy.
On Pre-colonial Africa
Chihombori-Quao stated that all she could see on the pre-colonial map of Africa, was massive and powerful kingdoms with well established religious and educational systems. Kingdoms that preceded even the Greek and Roman civilizations. She described how Greek philosophers and mathematicians went to Egypt for advanced learning, citing the existence of the great Egyptian pyramids and the ancient ruins of Great Zimbabwe which were in existence at least 2500 years before Greek civilization. She also lamented bitterly about our beautiful African history that some selfish European colonialists cruelly took away from us.
The Remedy to this problem
Chihombori-Quao revealed that a number of African leaders have been eliminated for attempting to pull out of the pact with France. Most of their regimes were ousted through coup d’états sponsored by the French, others were assassinated in cold blood.
According to her, the only way out of this mess is the solution we create by ourselves. Africa has not overcome this problem largely due to our own disunity. Africa must speak with one voice so we can take our rightful place on the world stage.
Chihombori-Quao also encouraged Africans in the diaspora to embrace their African heritage. Stating that African Americans should understand that what’s going on in Africa is also their problem. She also reminded them that Africa is their home and there’s need for them to fill the void of not knowing where one comes from, citing the example of her African American friend who broke into tears because she didn’t know where she came from.