A Response to: Images from and about Africa by Sabella Abidde
Wednesday, 24 May 2006
A Response to: Images from and about Africa by Sabella Abidde
Africans must engage in self-definition and self-assertion, there are no alternatives! As we define and assert ourselves, we must also always respond to mischaracterizations.
Mr. Abiddeh, I am moved by your article of the above title and or subject matter and I feel compelled to write some comments in response to and as an addition to yours.
I have pondered over and over these same issues that you have raised in your excellent essay. I agree with your analyses for the most part, I however have some different perspectives on some specifics.
Africans have been the recipients of an unfair amount of meddling, interferences and outright interruptions by external forces of evil. There are of course, in Africa, people who are human beings, like every other human being on earth, who are not in possession of plentiful virtue, but instead warped attributes or vices.
It has become exceedingly easy, sexy and even entertaining to be extremely critical of the African continent and its travails.
Africa’s litany of critics, are conversely unwilling to critically examine the role and impact of external factors, and external players that have created, that sustains and even exacerbates the crises and sufferings in Africa. Adversities and perversities have sources and causes remote and immediate, internal and external
We must wonder about what would have happened to Africa without the twin evils of slavery and colonialism. We must wonder what would have happened to African development without the planned obsolescence of departing colonial powers.
Departing colonial powers were only interested in maintaining former colonies as supply chains and vassals for the “mother” country. Former colonial powers were splendidly disinterested in the independence (political and economic) of former colonies.
England in particular, maintained and has sustained itself, as it kept former colonies tied to its apron strings. Most former colonies remain satellite countries of former colonial powers, for all intents and purposes. Most, if not all former colonies have remained as suppliers of raw materials such as rubber, cocoa, cotton and crude oil to former colonial powers.
Most former colonies remain the sphere of influence of former colonial powers. France is quickly able to dabble in purely internal affairs of Haiti and Ivory Coast. While England, is able to wield a lot of influence in Abuja and Accra.
During the Cold War, America and Western Europe usurped local authorities in Africa as did the former Soviet Union or USSR which led the former Eastern bloc on the communist flank. The competition between American/Western Europe capitalism model and Soviet Union/Eastern Europe’s communism disparately, represented extreme sides of the spectrum. Africa was as a consequence, a pawn in the deadly chess game between East and West ideological competitions.
Africa social, political and economic policies were balkanize along these lines of external competitions, competitions which had no relevance or direct benefits for Africa.
Africans were caught in the middle, nonetheless.
History is therefore our best witness to the truism that Africa has never been left alone to do well or do badly on its own. Instability in Africa has been foisted and fostered externally, for the unquenchable appetites of those who are quick to point to our failings and inadequacies.
Mr. or Ms. Oghre made a poignant point in comments in response Mr. Abidde’s article, comments which are now reproduced in quotes below;
“The issue is how can we ameliorate?
If Africans want to stop negative depiction of us then we should be prepared to mobilize and rebut any false reporting of the continent. Africans have this passive and subservient posture when dealing with anything western that they feel it must either be right or cannot be any other way”
“The fact is they continue to enjoy the denigrating luxury of carting us with the same brush because it is easier to tarnish our reputation collectively that way. They do deadly business with many African nations daily and colonized and demarcated the place, so they know it better than Africans”.
“They use arms manufactured by the Whiteman to kill each other, and they stash Africa’s wealth belonging to the people in the west.”
“How many times have you heard an African diplomat in the west or an African government official or the Government of African countries rebut or protest untrue publications about the place? Was there ever a conference where the OAU discussed ways of stopping western negative depiction of the entire continent?”
“Being the only race to use a nuclear weapon on humans to colonization to slavery to …… to racism to unfair trading standards to mass murder but they enjoy better media publicity than us. It is up to Africans to reverse that trend by speaking up every single time something negative or untrue is reported, with time the trend will slow down. We need to instill some kind of political correctness when report about African nations by reporting an issue in one country as African.”
It might be added as well, that Americans and Europe have been adept at creating weapons and armaments more than anyone else. America spends more money on its military industrial complex than it spends on anything else. America is the country to have used weapons of mass destruction and ironically, the country that pursues North Korea, Iran and every other country in connections with weapons of mass destruction.
America has committed war crimes in the past and continues to commit more war crimes now. America has invaded many countries in the last twenty-five years more than any other country. Count Grenada, Panama, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq and there was Vietnam etc before these. Just imagine if it were an African country that has behaved in the manner that America has over the years?
Why imposed policies with pre-determined outcomes on countries and if they resist or quibble, their leaders are cut down. But if they follow such wrong headed policies and they fail as they do, then they are incapable imbeciles? Why do the Americans prefer particular Iraqis to be Prime Ministers now?
Could it be, perhaps to influence policies and their outcomes? Why seek puppets everywhere? Puppets are usually not in the business of serving the local people!
Catastrophic hurricane Katrina happened in America with images of helplessness and extreme hopelessness or desperations, the types that people are quick to associate with Africa and yet, this was twenty-first century America!
After September 11, 2001, the US federal government has conducted itself like a dictatorship without a care about civil liberties and constitutional rights. There have been detentions without trials. There have been wire tapping and eaves dropping on American citizens and resident aliens. There have been countless cases of torture and abuses.
There have been inordinate amounts of searches and seizures. Road blocks have multiplied and code red, code orange and other terror alerts now permeates. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/24/world/middleeast/24amnesty.html
CONTRACTORS; Rights Group Criticizes U.S. Over ' Outsourcing' in Iraq
Amnesty Urges U.S. on Iraq Contractors
These used to be indices of dictatorships, usually outside the United States!
Some have called President Bush an emperor or king for good reasons! How is the American federal government materially different from African governments apart from the difference in the size of wealth? Who hasn’t heard of the cronyism and conflicts of interests in appointments by the Bush White House? Who hasn’t heard of reconstruction contracts in New Orleans and Iraq as unbidden and reserved for friends of Bush in the Carlyle Group or at Halliburton? What are the differences in these and African government’s cronyism and disregard for conflicts of interests?
I have no difficulty in comparing African crises to the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, prison abuse and the outsourcing of torture and imprisonment without trials in Guantannamo Bay etc. Oh Bush uses more sophisticated methods?
Mr. Abidde also would have had a more balanced essay, if had generously spiced it with accomplishments and innovations in Africa. As I read his essay, I kept asking myself, how come he did not highlight the good things in Africa? He is almost sounding like the Western press who are often quick to eloquently describe the challenges in Africa and stops without references to hopes and redemptive pathways.
Additionally, I wondered why he did not question why BBC, CNN, Fox etc never talk to or about Nigerian/African medical doctors, lawyers, bankers, stock brokers etc why the fixation and auto focus on adversity and perversity? Or the man bite dog angle? There is a stock exchange in Nigeria and there are brokers there, there are companies there… let CNN and the BBC talk about the Nigerian Stock Exchange for a change!
Let the Western media talk to some Nigerian/African doctors and lawyers and business persons for a change! Let the western media leave their voyeurism for a week and talk instead about marriage, birth, death, sunrise and sunset in Africa. Human angles presented without the usual gory adversities and perversities. Is there joy in Africa?
If you watch or listen to Western media long enough, you will start to believe that there are only wars and famine and ebola in all of Africa every time, anytime and all the time!
Why is it so much easier to sell weapons to Africans than to sell technology and economic development tools to the same Africans? Why is it so easy to Westerners dealing with crooks in Africa and why is it so easy for Westerners to become strange bedfellows with the Mobutus of the world, the Saddam Husein of the world or even the Pakistani Perverz Musharaf of the world?
When Westerners interests are involved.... private individuals and western governments are quick to look the other way.... when diamond or oil or some other strategic private or national interests of westerners are at stake!
It should occur to Nigerians and Africans humans are the same, there are virtues and vices every where in the world, Africa, Europe, America, Asia etc
Bribes are illegal, but Congressman William Jefferson is alleged to have accepted bribes on behalf of Ghanaian and Nigerian officials? Bribes are illegal in America as they are equally illegal in Nigeria. Why collect bribes on behalf of Nigerian officials and then complain about how corrupt Nigerians are? Why protect illegal loots in your banks on the behalf of the corrupt officials and then lecture us, on their warped and twisted ways/
Just look at history..... Slavery, Colonialism, Cold War.... how Africans were deeply affected by all these and the ping-pong and toss-ball roles imposed on Africa by Europeans and the Americans.... African have always been pawns in the hands of American and European struggles for superiority and world domination
Africans do badly by themselves, but too frequently, the Africans get IMMENSE help and assistance from America and Europe for the ruination of our continent