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Modern Scramble And 'desertion' Of Africa

By Emmanuel Onwubiko 
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I do not believe for once that Africa is a dark continent as we were wrongly schooled by the Western Authors of African history written from the perspective of racism and White supremacy.

I believe that Africa is home to our forefathers who had functional ways of life even until these lifestyle were rudely interrupted by the coming of agents of colonialisms who came after our plantations, natural and human resources which were in high demands in their home jurisdictions for the economic purposes of building their economies and expanding their global spheres of influence politically. These foreign and intercontinental forces overpowered our ancestors and captured our geographical territories which they Manipulated and controlled for over a century.

Having said so, one point that is undeniable is that there was a time in World’s history that empire builders from the Western hemisphere disseminated the toxic notion that Africa was a dark continent necessitating some forms of discoveries by the Western Agents of Colonialism. This was why those who wrote some biased history of Africa decided in their weird imagination to allocate certain landmark areas like tributaries and huge rivers to some of their agents as those who discovered these phenomenal places which were hitherto inhabited by our forefathers. For instance, the British said someone from amongst the earliest colonizers discovered the bank of River Niger. This is ridiculous because River Niger has been an important feature of African communities with Africans making use of these natural/water resources. So how can a stranger discover what is already in use by the owners?

This mistaken notion of Africa motivated the proponents of the Berlin conference of 1884 or was it 1885, also known as the Congo Conference (German Kongokonferenz) or West Africa Conference (Westafrika Konfenz) which is historically said to have regulated European colonization and trade in Africa during the new imperialism period and coincided with Germanys’ sudden emergence as an imperial power house.

This conference was held to determine how to allocate African territories to the then European warlords.

Here is a brief note of what scholars recorded from the events of the Berlin Conference.

Patrick Gathara writing a piece published by Aljazeera dated November 15th 2019, wrote that:“On the afternoon of Saturday, November 15, 1884, an international conference was opened by the chancellor of the newly-created German Empire at his official residence on Wilhelmstrasse, in Berlin. Sat around a horseshoe-shaped table in a room overlooking the garden with representatives from every European country, apart from Switzerland , as well as those from the United States and the Ottoman Empire. The only clue as to the purpose of the November gathering of white men was hung on the wall - a large map of Africa "drooping down like a question mark" as Nigerian historian, Professor Godfrey Uzoigwe,would comment .Including a short break for Christmas and the New Year, the West African Conference of Berlin would last 104 days, ending on February 26, 1885."

This researcher continued thus: "In the 135 years since, the conference has come to represent the late 19th-century European Scramble and Partition of the continent. In the popular imagination, the delegates are hunched over a map, armed with rulers and pencils, sketching out national borders on the continent with no idea of what existed on the ground they were parcelling out. Yet this is mistaken. The Berlin Conference did not begin the scramble. That was well under way. Neither did it partition the continent. Only one state, the short-lived horror that was the Congo Free State, came out of it - though strictly speaking it was not actually a creation of the conference.”

Be that as it may, a dominant theme of this reflection is the reality of an ongoing scramble for Africa by not just Western powers but by even the Chinese who have suddenly emerged on the World’s stage as one of the fastest growing economic global powers.

what is however intriguing about this new scramble for African rich Resources by both the dominant Western powers and their rivals from China, is that whereas they are in a hurry to Recolonize Africa through open-ended methodologies of offering aids and credits to dictatorial African leaders who are not nation builders but mostly thieves of their nations' cash, the crude reality of the sudden migration to the West of African youngster has never been this well pronounced. This irony of the owners of Africa leaving in their droves to the West about the time of parallel scrambling of African resources by the West and China is mystifying but understandable.

So Africa undergoes both a scramble from western and Chinese powers and desertion by African young person’s at the same time in such a way that Africa may fall prey to these scrambles.

A notorious sign of the state of uneasiness amongst the two rivals of the West and China regarding Africa is the claims and counter claims of the desire and determination by both the USA and China to set up military bases in Africa.

The United States understandably is worried about the plots by the Chinese to dominate the military scenes in Africa to such an extent that it has officially protested and warned Africans of the risks.

The Washington post of December 14th 2018 written by Patrick Martin, reports that:“When unveiling the Trump administration’s new Africa policy on Thursday, national security adviser John Bolton made a point to speak about a single container port in the tiny East African nation of Djibouti. Officials say the Doraleh Container Terminal is critical for resupplying the only permanent U.S. base in Africa, and Bolton said China could take control of this port. While Djibouti is slightly smaller than New Jersey and has a population of less than 1 million, its strategic location gives it an outsize influence. At the southern end of the Red Sea, Djibouti is on the shipping route between Asia and the Suez Canal. Every day an estimated 4.8 million barrels of oil transit the Bab el-Mandab strait adjacent to Djibouti. Djibouti’s proximity to terrorist havens in Yemen and Somalia also made it an ideal location for the U.S. military. Camp Lemonnier, a former French foreign legion base, became an expeditionary base for counterterrorism operations after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The base, which shares a runway with Djibouti’s only international airport, has grown significantly over the years. The Washington Post further reports that: "In October, the military announced $240 million worth of contracts for expansion of facilities that will include infrastructure to support the Air Force’s largest cargo jets. This is just part of the $1.4 billion plan for the base that the Pentagon announced in 2012. The Obama administration entered a 30-year lease for Camp Lemonnier in 2014 at a cost of $63 million per year."

The point comes down to the fact that despite the concerns raised by the West on the risks that Africans can face if they allow the Chinese to take hold of Africa, there is every indication that a lot of countries in Africa, unable to build their nations around the precepts and principles of constitutional democracy and respect for the rule of law, Countries like Nigeria under the current political dispensation has continued to embrace China which is awash with cheap Dollars to borrow but at unimaginably strangulating condition precedents.

Already there is a well grounded alarm raised by some vigilant members of the law making institution in Abuja that indeed President Buhari has already enslaved Nigeria by picking up toxic loans that contains dangerous provisions that endangers Nigeria’s national security and sovereigrity.

So, effectively, if this allegation is true, it means that Nigeria has a government that has voluntarily surrendered our sovereignty to China.

Here is how a particular foreign press (adf-magazine.com) reported the controversy on the dubious Chinese loans collected by the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration in Nigeria.

The title of the newspaper report says it all when it shouted thus “Sovereignty at stake? Nigeria House probes Chinese loans.” It then proceded to report thus: “China has long been accused of using “debt-trap diplomacy,” in which it saddles a developing country with a high debt burden only to extract concessions later on. The issue has taken on far greater urgency and caused widespread economic anxiety in Nigeria, the continent’s largest economy, because of the dual tolls of the COVID-19 pandemic and plunging oil prices.”

The ADF magazine also says: "Nigeria’s 2020 budget revision sparked a public outcry over debt because servicing of loans will consume about 27% of allocated funds. The country expects a 40% decline in oil revenue due to declining global demand.. Oil production constitutes about 70% of Nigeria’s income. China is the largest foreign debt holder in Nigeria with about $3.1 billion, or 11.28% of its total external debt, according to the nation’s Debt Management Office.

The House of Representatives ordered an investigation into Chinese loans in May, putting many ministry officials under intense scrutiny.

Tempers flared on August 17 as House members grilled Minister of Transportation Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi over billions of dollars in loans from China’s state-owned Export-Import Bank, it reports .

Amaechi, according to The Premium Times, told the committee to “look the other way” or risk losing Chinese loans for many infrastructure projects. That perceived threat to halt the probe sparked outrage that spilled into multiple Assembly meetings.

Prominent Nigerian economist Kinglsey Moghalu decried the exclusion of public debate and urged transparency.

“There is no competitive bidding for the projects financed by China loans,” he said on Twitter. “The projects such as railways and airport terminals are awarded to Chinese firms, the supplies are from China, labor is from China.

“This is a rip-off. This is not a loan. It is much more. Nigeria is subsidizing China’s export strategy as financed by that country’s Export-Import Bank.”

As a citizen of Nigeria, this writer is totally opposed to these wrong steps by President Buhari to mortgage our future under the guise of picking up some dubious loans from the Chinese people even as a discovery is that the Nigeria officials even ridiculously appended their signatures in document that are prepared in the native Chinese language which these greedy Nigerian officials are not conversant with.

Now here is the next dilemma which has to do with the second strand of this brief note. This has to do with the hard reality that young Africans who should constitute the bulk of policy makers in Africa are running away due to poor human rights records of their native countries most of which are currently witnessing wars and instability and are politically controlled by old men who are living in the past and are too put of fashion with the realities of the 21st century World. These African youngsters are running to cross over through dangerous migration into Western Societies governed by young minds with fresh outlooks to governance.

This pattern of MIGRATION of Youths of Africa and Nigeria to the West will no doubt compound the problems associated with the refusal of old rulers to relinquish power and let the fresh minds to organize and govern Africa to put a check to resist the undue renewed modern day scramble for the soul of Africa by China and the Western imperialists. As can be seen from empirical evidence, neither Western powers nor Chinese power has the intrinsic African interests at heart. The reason for the scramble for African resources is to enrich their nations. Nothing more, nothing less. But the worrying development is the migration of Young people away from their homesteads.

Hardly does a day pass, without reading one sad story or the other about the risk embraced by these young Africans running away from their fragile and unstable nations to seek for better life in the West.

Recently, some of these migrants have had fatal encounters and have lost their lives in foreign jurisdictions.

A young man from Eritrea, reports www.infomigrant.net was fatally hit by a car in southern Italy as he was running away from an asylum seeker residence.

Three police officers were reportedly also injured. The Eritrean was part of a group of migrants who had attempted to flee the center following a protest against overcrowding and bad living conditions.

The young Eritrean migrant was struck and killed by a car on a highway in the early morning hours on Friday, according to reports from news agencies AP, ANSA and local Italian media.

According to ANSA, the man was just 20 years old. He was reportedly part of a group of roughly 20 migrants who were trying to flee the "Villa Sikania" residence for asylum seekers.

All others were reportedly caught and brought back to the center.

Three police officers who were trying to catch the migrant were also injured; none of the injuries appear to be life-threating, though one officer reportedly fractured a leg and required surgery.

The driver of the car was arrested and is being investigated for vehicular homicide. The 34-year-old man did not stop the car to help after the accident, according to ANSA. The paper then asked, Why were the migrants running away? It then responded thus: "During the day on Thursday, migrants at the "Villa Silkania" center had staged a protest against overcrowding and bad living conditions at the residence in Siculiana, near the tourist town of Agrigento. Several migrants climbed up on the roof of the building. In the southern Italian region of Sicily, several hosting centers for migrants and refugees are severely overcrowded -- which means that migrants can't socially distance themselves from others, one of the main precautions against the spread of the coronavirus. Protests against overcrowding have erupted at several facilities in recent months.

Recent numbers says the report, show that migrant sea arrivals -- which mostly take place in southern Italian regions like Sicily -- have increased significantly over thepast year.

The Sicilian governor, it recalled, had issued an order to close all migrant centers on the island late last month because they could not uphold anti-coronavirus safety measures, but a court rejected the decree,declaring it invalid.

Sadly, whilst all these negative forces are tearing Africa down, there seems to be retreat, no surrender by corrupt officials of African nations and there is a lack of cohesive force by the young people to take over the governance of their continent from these old principalities and evil powers.

There is no other way to redeem the situation other than for the young people who constitute the majority of the African population to mobilize and energize a movement to repossess the political command and control of their homelands. Running away to the West would mean surrendering Africa to these competitive twin evil powerful forces of the West and China and this would mean letting Africa to become the AXIS OF Evil. Is this the Africa that we want to build? Only time can tell.

*EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) who blogs @ www. huriwanigeria.com; www.emmanielonwubiko.com, [email protected]

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Emmanuel Onwubiko  and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."