Nuclear Energy Challenges Western Colonial Mind-Set: Cheikh Anta Diop & John Kennedy Would Concur

By Lawrence Freeman

The article below by my colleague, Nancy Spannaus, creator of the website provides a useful up-date on momentum for expanding the world’s production of nuclear energy. This is of vital importance for the future of the African continent, and its growing population. Almost one third of African nations are involved in some stage of acquiring nuclear energy. A growing number of African leaders are pushing back against the Western dictates, that Africa nations must forgo the use of their own natural energy resources in order to “save the planet” from climate change. These demands are dripping with a racist-colonial mentality that demands Africans cannot use their natural hydrocarbon resources to generate electricity for their people. On a continent with over 600 million without access to electricity and over 450 million Africans living in poverty; this is criminal and immoral.

Cheikh Anta Diop, IFAN laboratory, Dakar, 1976. Photo by Jake Scott,

Nuclear energy must become an increasing portion of energy consumption for African nations. It provides abundant long term energy, it is ideal for desalination, and produces important medical isotopes. On a continent starved for energy, nuclear fission and ultimately fusion, are essential. As importantly, African nations that embrace nuclear energy will lift their economic mode of production to a more advanced energy infrastructure platform. This will prepare these economies to operate an even higher level of technology in the future; fusion power. The application of nuclear technologies, along with space exploration, will force an upshift in the skill level of the labor force, requiring more scientists, engineers, and training centers.

This concept was understood by the great Senegalese scholar, Cheikh Anta Diop more than six decades ago. He optimistically wrote in his renowned book, Black Africa: The Economic and Cultural Basis for a Federated State:

“If we wish to see the African Nation everyone is talking about these days adapt itself to the needs of a modern technical world, we have from its very beginnings to provide those technical institutions that guarantee the life of a modern nation . We should forthwith create the following institutions:

A) an institute of nuclear chemistry and physics;

B) an electronic institute;
C) an aeronautics and astronautics institute;

D) an institute of applied chemistry for industry and agriculture;

E) an institute of tropical agronomy and biochemistry

F) an institute of health, specialized in the study tropical diseases.”

Diop strongly believed it was important for African nations to be engaged in the development of thermonuclear (fusion) energy, which is orders of magnitude more powerful than fission. He wrote, “…Africa should be following: first, to bank on the triumph of thermonuclear energy and immediately create a pilot fusion center in an appropriate African country open to all African researchers willing to follow this line of pursuit…”

President John Kennedy also reflected the same technological optimism of Diop. He supported the right of African nations to developing their economies by utilizing their natural resources and having access to technology. Speaking in 1960, Kennedy said:

“Call it nationalism, call it anti-colonialism, Africa is going through a revolution…Africans want a higher standard of living. Seventy-five percent of the population now lives by subsistence agriculture. They want an opportunity to manage and benefit directly from their resources in, on, and under the land…The African peoples believe that the science, technology, and education available in the modern world can overcome their struggle for existence, that their poverty, squalor, and disease can be conquered.” (Emphasis added)

Should we do less than emulate the thinking of Kennedy and Diop, today?

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: . Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton.