Many people though eventually come to realize that their ideas about Africa are really not their ideas. They are the propaganda of others that need us to believe what we believe about Africa in order for them to more easily justify their actions on the continent and with Her people.
This came to mind recently as I read an article about multinational corporations that are illegally transferring billions and possibly trillions of dollars from Africa every year. Trillions of dollars are being stolen from Africa and sent back to “developed countries” every year! This was the finding of the High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, established by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in February 2012. The panel was chaired by former South African president, Thebo Mbeki.
Some African Governance groups are using polite phrases to describe what’s going on here – phrases like “resource leakage.” This eases the conscience a bit more than just outright saying what it is – corruption and theft by corporations with the support of their governments.
The African continent is rich in resources while too many African people are impoverished – and the findings of this report prove that it is by design! Africans are not poor because they are stupid, backward, or have no business sense. They are poor because corporations with the support of their governments and militaries intentionally destabilize regions, prop up politicians that were likely “educated” in the states, and draft agreements that would allow for the extraction of resources – many times in the name of charitable and humanitarian causes. Back here in the states, we’re constantly fed the “poor Africa” frame and not much else. We conclude then that the presence of the U.S. in Africa is helping humanity – our tax dollars doing good abroad! We are fooled and we are fools for believing this simplistic narrative.
We are fools if we believe that President Obama opened the door for multinational corporation, Monsanto’s entry into Ghana to help support hunger needs in that African country – given all that we know about Monsanto.
We are fools if we believe that Cinnabon – the first U.S. franchise in Libya, North Africa is a sign of positive development for that nation whose leader was murdered last year with the support (if not by direction) of President Obama and the U.S. Military.
We are fools if we believe that U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton is headed to Africa’s newest nation – OIL-RICH South Sudan to support their self-determination. She’s likely laying more foundation for the entry of U.S. corporations in that inspiring, yet fragile nation.
And of course we’re fools if we believe that former U.S. President, George Bush was in Africa purely for humanitarian reasons. He was on assignment. Just because he is not the current president doesn’t mean that he’s still not serving U.S. government and corporate interests.
To help wrap our minds around this dynamic a reading of Walter Rodney’s How Europe Underdeveloped Africa or Osagyfo Kwame Nkrumah’s work – Neocolonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism might be helpful.
What’s amazing about the articles that have surfaced about multinational corporations stealing from Africa is that not one of them that I’ve seen actually names a corporation or supporting government. Not one!
How do you release a report that says non-African corporations are stealing billions of dollars from Africa and you don’t name one corporation?!
That’s like screaming: “I’ve been robbed” and then when someone asks, “Who do it?” – you whisper, “I’ll never tell…”
But then again when the Chairman of Coca Cola (Nigeria) is on the panel that studied the theft, it begins to make more sense. How are corporate reps and corporate-backed entities going to truly police other corporations? You’ve got to be kidding me.
The releasing of this report may very well have been another strategic action that supports the popular narrative that suggests that good work is being done in Africa, by Africans with non-African support.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the show must go on.