Elmina Castle, year of return, Haitians and Africans, haitian heritage
The Elmina Castle was erected by the Portuguese in 1482 as São Jorge da Mina Castle, also known simply as Mina in present-day Elmina, Ghana. It was the first trading post built on the Gulf of Guinea, and the oldest European building in existence south of the Sahara. Photo by Peace Itimi on Unsplash.

“We would rather have poverty in freedom than riches in slavery” said Guinea’s independence leader, Ahmed Sékou Touré, to then French president Charles de Gaulle in 1958. The French, taken aback by what they considered an effrontery by a “sale nègre” (dirty Negro), as Africans were commonly called in France, grudgingly granted Guinea its independence on October 2nd of that year. In typical French’s vindictiveness, France dismantled Guinea’s telephone system before granting the country its independence, thus helping make Sékou Touré words prophetic. Half a century later, Guinea, endowed with abundant mineral wealth, remains one of the least developed and poorest countries in the world.

In a document recently declassified by the British government pertaining to a cabinet meeting in which Ghana’s impending independence was discussed, Harold McMillan, the late British prime minister (1957-63), declared:”these people (Africans) are incompetent, divisive and cruel”. McMillan was referring the to Ghanaians’ unpreparedness to assume control of their own destiny because of tribal and ethnic animosities. Apparently, the late Harold McMillan forgot his own country’s history when Englishmen, Scots, Welch and Celts slaughtered each other for centuries before forming a nation called Great Britain.
Five decades after Ghana became the first African country to acquire its independence (1957) from Britain, a re-colonization of Africa is under way in anticipation a geopolitical realignment in the next decade of two. To that end, Westerners and Asians have been positioning themselves in preparation for the battle for Africa’s abundant natural resources. With their privileged position in the U.N Security Council Westerners are mandating the occupation of many countries, while the Asians, the Chinese in particularly, are using their financial clout to preempt the monopolization of the Continent’s natural resources by western nations.

Not surprisingly, the number of African countries under U.N occupation is growing: Chad, Somalia, Ivory Coast, Liberia, and The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Zimbabwe could be the next victim. Nigeria, Africa’s paper tiger superpower, could disintegrate under the weight of ethnic, sectarian, religious and regional rivalries. More worrisome is the fate of South Africa the Continent’s economic giant, now uncertain, because the African National Congress, the glue that holds the nation, is splitting between opponents and supporters of former president Thabo Mbeki. As the unfortunate events in Mauritania and Guinea Bissau indicated, military or attempted coups will likely dominate the Continent’s political life in the next decade, opening the door to the kind of unholy alliances that benefited the Mobutus, the Bokassas, the Eyademas and other petty tyrants during the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s.

In addition, the re-colonization is being facilitated by African leaders who put personal consideration before the interests of the countries they lead. With the most notorious being Robert Mugabe (1980-?) who refuses to relinquish Zimbabwe’s presidency under any circumstances. Like the late Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah and Sékou Touré, Robert Mugabe misunderstood the geopolitical realities in place and ran afoul of the western powers. In trying to correct an historical wrong by unapologetically expropriating the white farmers, who prospered under Ian Smith’s immoral regime (1966-80), Robert Mugabe inadvertently sacrificed the welfare of his countrymen. Accordingly Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia), once the breadbasket of Southern Africa, is floundering under a western-imposed embargo. In politics, neither good intent nor doing what is right guarantees success. For Zimbabwe’s sake, Robert Mugabe should step down before the prospect of a U.N occupation become irreversible.

Although Guinea’s predicament could also be attributed to the despotic and obscurantist rules of Sékou Touré (1958-84) and Lansana Conté (1984-?), the French played an institutional part in it. Because of a pathological instinct to control or punish its former colonies, France’s continued meddling is causing Guinea’s dilemma to be replicated in all French-speaking African countries. As a result, French-speaking African countries have yet to develop the structures necessary for economic and political development. Even The Ivory Coast, once a model of stability, disintegrated under a French-instigated rebellion. A U.N occupation force (UNOCIL) has been trying to hold the ethnically divided country together since 2002.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), a country the size of Western Europe, is being brought to its knees by little Rwanda despite the presence of the United Nations’ largest peacekeeping force (MONUC). While this is happening, Asian and Western multinational companies are busy gobbling up that country’s natural resources through sweetheart deals with the weak and ineffective central government. In Madagascar, a former French colony, Daewoo, one of South Korea’s largest conglomerates, recently signed a 99-year lease with the government that calls for 3.2 millions of acres of that country’s best arable land to produce corn exclusively for the South Korean market. Ironically, the country is suffering from chronic food shortages and many schoolchildren are receiving daily rations from the World Food Program. A British company, Sun Bio-fuels, concluded similar agreements with Ethiopia, Mozambique and Tanzania for the production of bio-fuel crops destined for the European market.

That is the reality in today’s Africa where Western and Asian interests are operating in a vacuum and sometimes fomenting rebellions to further their aims. Like Haiti where the malevolence of a small but powerful elite culminated in the outright occupation of the country, most of Africa could revert to colonial rule. While the former colonial powers’ duplicitous role is certainly a factor, Africa’s hopelessness and bleak future rest disproportionably on the shoulders of its unscrupulous leaders. Unless Africans adopt a siege mentality, which would permit them to react accordingly, their fate is sealed.
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