Africa is often bullied. In fact, we have been since the West managed to navigate on ships and build advanced weaponry. There is, of course, something to be said about those Africans throughout history who fought the colonialists even though they knew that they would face certain death. There is also something to be said about the Africans who won some famous victories against guns even though they merely had spears. 

We are bullied by powerful nations but that is mostly because we allow it to happen now. I say now because for most of history we didn’t have the voice, the power or the economic clout to counterbalance the powers of the West. The West did what it wanted and when it wanted, with impunity. A lot of African leaders were also implicit in selling out its people and the continent. There should never be a need to counter the West, nor should there have been one in the first place, had the world been a truly just place to live in. The West took what it could from Africa for centuries.

Second Scramble For Africa

Africa is often bullied. In fact, we have been since the West managed to navigate on ships and build advanced weaponry. There is, of course, something to be said about

Guy Scott, a former agriculture minister and vice president of Zambia (who has also said some very unflattering things about South Africa) put forward: “If you go to the market, you find Chinese selling cabbages and beansprouts. What is the point in letting them in to do that? There’s a lot of Chinese here doing construction. Zambians can do that. The Chinese building firms are undercutting the local firms. Our textile factories can’t compete with cheap Chinese imports subsidised by a foreign government. People are saying: ‘We’ve had bad people before. The whites were bad, the Indians were worse, but the Chinese are worst of all.’” There is now the Chinese scramble for Africa. There is a lot to be said about the benefits that China is bringing to the continent, but there is also a lot of skepticism about the real intentions of the emerging Chinese superpower.

China can’t be blamed for doing what it’s doing. Its loyalties are first unto itself. They have to look after over a billion people, and there are resources needed to ensure that the country keeps going in order to avoid unrest in the world’s most populous nation. And, unlike the West, the Chinese come to Africa not with guns, but with promises of economic development. Some wonder if that promise too isn’t a different kind of gun, but Africans are too blind too see. There needs to be appearances of a symbiotic relationship between Africans and Chinese. For this to happen Africa has to unify and leverage its strength, because whatever minerals are under the ground will always be here and the other nations of the world will always need them. We are not the ones who should be dictated to, but rather the ones dictating the terms for our mineral resources.

Change Needed In Mindset

Not only did Western nations take Africa’s resources from the continent, they also tried their best to destroy and break our confidence.  In some respects they succeeded in breaking down the self-belief and confidence of the African. It is a tragedy that there is an ‘us’ and a ‘them’ in first place. Most reasonable and rational people know that we are not different but are one, despite the illusions of what physical differences we have. I say it is an illusion because we all want the same things. We want to do well. We want to love. We want to protect our children. We want future generations to stand on our shoulders so that they can surpass what we have achieved.

We, as Africans, are often not given that chance because we start ten steps behind the rest of the world. Mostly because the false view that was created by colonialists was that Africans were inferior and sub-human. This idea was so well executed by the colonialists that many Africans started to believe and stopped fighting the colonisers. These ideas of the inferiority of the African spread and were believed by many peoples of the world. Worse. Africans too started believing these false narratives about the continent. This was the greatest victory of the colonists, making Africans believe that they could not rule themselves and were dependent on the rules of Westerners for the continent to survive. So bad was this idea that years after Westerners had stop ruling African countries they would say it was better during the era of the colonists.

Africa has never determined its own course. Throughout history we have been at the mercy of what others have decided. What is worse than that is making us believe that the imported ideas are our own when they have, in fact, been exported to us. There is nothing wrong with exported ideas when they not only have good intentions but have a positive result, which benefits Africans and the rest of the world. I believe that an idea isn’t great if it only benefits a specific group of people but not the rest of the world.

Africans are a generous people. Like most of the peoples of the world. If I were to wish for anything it would be for a unified world population, which doesn’t see others as inferior or superior. People with positive intent and action.

A Continent Unified

This is why I support the unity with which the African Union (AU) has stood up to the Hague’s International Criminal Court (ICC). The AU has had one voice and called for the adjournment of cases against Kenya’s president and his deputy at the ICC. The continent has been unequivocal when it comes to this matter.

Kenyans elected their president and deputy this year on a platform of national reconciliation. The pair argue that the case is violating Kenyan sovereignty. The truth is Kenyans voted them into power knowing that there was this cloud hanging over them. The ICC now sees it fit to prosecute them. It makes no sense.

In a press conference on 15 October, president Paul Kagame of Rwanda said the following, echoing a lot of African’s feelings: “This world is divided into categories; there are people who have the power to use international justice or international law to judge others yet it does not apply to them.”

“Everyone who needs justice should get it, it doesn’t matter where. You can’t have an international system that is supposed to dispense justice and it ends up doing it selectively or politically,” he went on.

“Instead of promoting justice and peace, it has undermined efforts at reconciliation and served only to humiliate Africans and their leaders, as well as served the political interests of the powerful,” Kagame said, and a lot Africa nodded in agreement with him. The more united Africans are against biases, the greater will the continent rise. When this happens, we will be taking control of the continent and we will no longer be pointing fingers at others for taking advantage of Africa. The sooner African leaders start demanding the respect that the continent deserves, the better. We will become the masters of our own destinies and we will write our own future. For too long we have allowed someone else write our past and make us see a bleak future. Africa’s future is bright and we, the young people of this continent, will leave it a much better place and it will be at peace. If we fail to do that, we will have no one to blame but ourselves for not being masters of our destinies.