How can African countries prosper when prices of its human and natural resources are dictated by aliens? 1972 was the last time Arab oil embargo helped Africans call their price. Before that Kwame Nkrumah made effort to cartel cocoa producers but failed because South American countries could not hold on any longer. Jaja of Opobo in 1871, well before Nkrumah, boycotted the British middle men and renegotiated oil price and other products directly with Europe.

It was Jaja of Opobo that confronted the British until gunboat diplomacy Protectorate made him cave in. He was a great businessman in his days. Though ancient Oyo’s Oba-Koso mystic, prowess and bullets from kolanuts attracted visitors afar to pay homage. Unfortunately, the other times Africans were able to dictate the prices of their products and human services were during the reigns of Ghana, Mali and Songhai Empires. Hausa before Fulani, were leaders then.

Negotiation, demand and supply usually play well in commerce but unfair and advantageous relationship between unequal buyers and sellers work in favor of those with power dangling it in the face of the powerless. The power to negotiate is what African countries lack. Therefore, buyers and their biased Rating Agencies dictate prices of African products and human services.

In the market place, on negotiating table or at town markets, you get what you negotiate not what you deserve. Arab Oil Embargo in 1972 proved that there is more to trade than economics of demand and supply. Political and social factors play important roles when the sellers acquire power to force the buyers into an agreement. It is what happens in the case of employees and employers when strong unions become a demanding factor forcing higher wages.

In order to decrease the price of a commodity, buyers always look for surplus market while sellers monopolize their products by embargo on who to sell to in the case of Arab oil, hoarding or restriction to cut supply in the case of Nkrumah cocoa and Jaja oil strategies. Another way buyers can beat down the sellers’ price is to create surplus with artificial cotton, wool, cocoa or polished gold and diamond. They can also establish their own farms with genetically modified seeds, for example banana farms: by playing West Indian countries with South American farms.

Trade by barter worked in the past but not between countries exchanging gold for mirror or plastic; slaves for guns, horses and mercenaries. If you think that was ancient history, think again. African countries do not manufacture arms, fighter jets and bombs they use against one another today. Their main suppliers are United States, Britain and Russia. Iran just ridiculed $110b Saudi Arabia and USA Arms Agreement ; unfazed Iran can manufacture its own arms.

African administrators and politicians that are well informed and educated use their brains for self-enrichment not how to manufacture products locally creating secondary markets and jobs. It must be understood that the mentality for foreign-made and services were acquired via mis-education, religions and languages. While there is nothing wrong with each of these if used for trade/barter or to understand those we deal with. It has been used to “wannabe” like them.

Western countries also have experts in every country in the world that speak languages, study world religions and on cultures but never get carried away to the point where most relegate, despise and forsake their own cultures. Many trained Africans melt into foreign cultures and boldly justify foreigners’ economic and sociopolitical policies to exploit and destroy their own.

There is no difference between our toxic economists, Umar Farouk Mutallab or Boko Haram that forsake talikawa and almajiri causes at home. Politicians of different parties and all ethnic groups merry while our indoctrinated economists, Umar(s) and Boko Haram took on causes of foreigners devastating the innocent and poor; instead of targeting their suicide bombs in the midst of looters without acquired means of livelihood competing as conspicuous spenders with exotic cars and planes at weddings, awards, other ceremonies for their girlfriends and wives.

Indeed, Africans have been conditioned to accept trading away their resources while brain drains have been facilitated by worldly educated professionals whose skills can be employed cheaply outside but ignorant and inadaptable to local issues and problems. It does not make sense to train an engineer that can only function with foreign equipment, cannot locally design tools for infrastructure or have good medical scientists in foreign diseases but clueless on Ebola.

In each of these cases, Africa has to depend on foreign expertise to cure local problems when there are depth of knowledge locally waiting for discovery and sanitization. The best doctors in Africa are the children of the medicine-man or babalawo. They understand oyinbo and local diseases but would not share or write about what they know locally to increase patients’ traffic to their clinics. Africa has a great deal of local knowledge not just natural resources for sale.

Imagine the wealth of Africa if our politicians, sociopolitical scientists and scientists think locally and sell their wealth of knowledge at their own price internationally. There are international and world arbitration bodies that mediate trade disputes between countries. Africans have not been complainants against exclusion and ridiculous prices of our products. Foreigners do Africa a favor: if they allow banana or cassava into their markets: cassava bread is a delicacy outside!

We could say today that if Africans were always in control of their prices and products, most of the African countries could have been prosperous. Before we day dream, you must ask what oil producing African countries did with the big increase in price of oil since 1972 Arab oil embargo. Instead of money spent on education to acquire skills on how to build our infrastructure base, we spent most of the money on foreign goods and contracts to stash kickbacks in Dubai desert!

These same Africans survive and perform better outside the Continent than they do inside, so there is nothing wrong with African intelligence if pushed. Nigerians, as an example, are better educated with higher average income than any other group in United States. But they cannot do as well or work so hard in their own countries while watching their leaders goof off and raid allocations from their local, state and national budgets. They even write books on corruptions!

People noted in 2017: magnificent bridges built with little local jobs, local factories or services. Most of the prices quoted for skill labor, services and materials are as foreign as Eko Atlantic!

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Articles by Farouk Martins Aresa