Friday, July 9, 2010

Another African ‘liberation’ day

To those among us celebrating 'ALD,' I say sorry for playing the Killjoy! This was written few years ago.

“How good and pleasant it would be
Before God and man
to see the unification of Africa…
Africa Unite, unite for the benefit of your children.”
– Bob Marley

Another May 25th is upon us. And African leaders are girding their loins to celebrate another day marking Africa’s liberation. Our leaders are going to be attired in their best to do what they do best: make boring, tendentious proclamations.

Our leaders are going to make the same pious statement they have been making since the dawn of time. They are going to pontificate. They are going to vociferate. They are going to berate. They are going to cajole. They are going to blow hot steam, making the same dreadfully nauseating statements they ritually every year.

Let us make a blanket condemnation here: All African leaders, safe for Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, are complete sell-outs. They are without exception agent of the neo-colonial powers. They are all puppets of the globalizers. They are leaders who are leading their people to nowhere except deeper in to the clutches of the vultures of the IMF and the World bank.

Among the dictionary definitions of ‘liberation’ is to ‘set free.’

Let’s be honest, have we really been set free in Africa? Maybe the physical chains of slavery and colonialism have been removed from our necks, ankles wrists but what about our minds?

Not only do we not feed ourselves with our own foods, we also do not clothe ourselves in garments of our design. And what idea do we consume in Africa today that belongs to us? In the name of globalization, we have taken to foreign ideas the ways dogs take to bones. Neither the political system we practice nor the economic systems we have are indigenous. And sadly, those mis-ruling us continue to appear baffled when the badly-understood foreign ideas failed to work.

Let u stake the neo-colonial economic system we practice as an example. It shouldn’t require too much intelligence to know that a situation whereby buyers dictate the prices to producers will only result in a dependency. Those with the power to dictate will forever super ordinate themselves on those that allow themselves to be so dominated.

In a recent interview, former President John Kufuor, admitted that he fought tooth and nail to secure a ten percent (yes 10%) share for Ghana in the oil deals. It say so much about how thoroughly comprised Ghana has become when there were no angry protests to greet this rather insulting revelation.

Imagine the situation whereby someone will have the temerity to offer you a ten percent stake in something that should, as of right belong to you!

Our ex-president did not only pat himself on the back for a good job done, he managed to craft for himself a special gold medal. In addition he got a ludicrous ex-gratia package. Today he is up there as an African elder statesman, dispensing wise counsels.

Apologists of the rotten system will argue that the investors bring their money and their technology.

Me I say that that they still offer to us these neo-colonial jazz shows the great contempt they still have for us.

Those who offer these types of jejune arguments should take the time off to go the depleted gold mines at Dunkwa on Offin, Prestea and the diamond mines at Akwatia and other places.

No one told us what percentage the government of Ghana collected for the exploitation of our gold and diamond, but given the sorry state of our economy, it couldn’t have amounted to much. Today the mines are depleted and we are left with devastated environment.

Today, the vultures are after our oil wealth and they are offering us the same stupid arguments of investment and transfer of technology! And we continue to believe them!
What technology did those that mined our gold and diamond transferred that is today useful to us?

The chains have been removed from our necks; it now hangs firmly on our minds.
“The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” – Steve Bantu Biko.

Sadly, it was a Ghanaian that wrote the seminal work on neo-colonialism. It was the Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah, who in his “Neo-colonialism, the Last Stage of Imperialism,’ wrote the definitive work on the insidiousness of imperialism, which unlike colonialism, relies more heavily on subterfuge than direct physical confrontation.
Today African presidents behave more and more like rentiers acting on behalf of the imperialist countries. The colonial powers can sit comfortably at their capitals rest assured that their hirelings in power in Africa will ensure that the neo-colonial status quo will be maintained at all cost. And Africans continue to be the losers.

Any African who spends a stint of time in Europe will only be left wondering if our leaders in Africa are not truly totally infirmed.

He or she will question what the attraction Europe continues to hold for our rulers in Africa. For some very strange reasons African leaders continue to be enamoured by Euro-America. They continue to believe the stupid lies that the West has the interest of Africa at heart. They continue to delude themselves that the West has hoarded some serious money they are going to give to Africa as soon as we fulfill some conditionalities.

Three decades of listening to the same stupid, darned lies have not dampened Africa leader’s enthusiasm to be fooled? How on earth can any intelligent person continue to think that the US is coming to bail him out of some economic mess?

For crying out loud, Uncle Sam itself is groaning under a debt burden that will soon hit the 13 trillion dollars mark. The US is a bankrupt (I didn’t say virtual) country kept afloat by Asians loans. It is an Emperor that continues to trots around even when all the cloths are long gone.

With the possible of Germany, the whole of Europe is in deep economic shit (what other word to use here?). Greece spectacularly exploded (or did it implode?). Spain and Portugal are set to follow. Britain is living, literally, on borrowed time. The empire is sinking under gargantuan debt burden.

Let’s throw some statistics around:

“More than 13 million people in the UK live in poverty – that’s one in five of the population. Many people can't afford essential clothing, or to heat their homes. Children go to school hungry, or to bed without enough food. It's not just outrageous – it's unnecessary. With enough public pressure for change – and enough political will – our politicians can put this right.”

“The Campaign to End Child Poverty says 5.5 million children are in families that are classed as "struggling" - 98% of children in some areas. The campaign classes households as being in poverty if they are living on under £10 per person per day.”

Britain is a country that is staggering under a debt of some £1.2 trillion. “These are 10 deeply frightening facts on British DEBT:

1. Britain’s total personal debt now stands at a quite frankly unimaginable figure of £1.39 trillion ( many zeros is that?).

2. Collectively we pay out £93 billion (slightly less zeros) a year in interest on loans, credit cards, overdrafts and mortgages.

3. The average household owes £56,234 including mortgages and is paying over £3,700 in interest each year. (If you take this down to an individual level, each adult owes more than £29,000).

4. Nearly a quarter of the population feel their current level of debt is unmanageable.

5. 10,000 people are predicted to go insolvent each month in 2008.

6. The average twenty-something has debts of more than £6,000 with an additional overdraft of £1,500.

7. Brits borrow on average twice as much as their European counterparts on unsecured debts.

8. For the 11.8 million households with a mortgage, their average outstanding mortage stands just shy of £100,000 at £99,690

9. Two-thirds of twenty-somethings aren’t paying into a pension, with nearly 40% saying this is because they simply can’t afford to

10. Britain’s personal debt is increasing by £1 million every 4 minutes (… now surely that's frightened you).”

A classic neo-colonial state is one that does not repose confidence in its own people. The rulers have been badly mis-educated to think that salvation will come from colonial masters. These leaders have been totally stripped of any resemblance of self-confidence. They not only believe intrinsically in their own inferiority, they have been taught and conditioned to believe that they are incapable of self-redemption.

Let’s give specific examples.

What reason, what logic informed Africa’s lack of capacity to feed itself? Ok, many parts of Africa is arid and capitalist’s mindless over-exploitation of natural resources have thrown the world’s weather out of sync, but there is no earthly reason why a country like our dear Ghana should ever go into debt to buy expired European poultry products or Thai rice.

And year in year out, our leaders continue to bemoan our spending about US$600 million to import rice which until few years ago was not among our staple. Today, our so-called businessmen make good money importing pork feet from all over the world
A glance at our streets will only reveal the terrible neo-colonial status of our beloved republic. How on earth did we end up becoming the dumping ground for Euro-America and Arab junks? Who in our ports approved the clearing of the junks that we see on our street corners – disused fridges, ancient radios, kaput computers and, gasp aloud, old newspapers!

Many things we do that bring joys to the faces of our rulers are precisely the things that should make us shed tears for our nation. Next time you see the amount of security we provide for the vans transporting the bullion from our gold mines to the airports to overseas refineries, shed a tear for mother Ghana.

We used to be known as the Gold Coast; today the gold mines are almost depleted. Our officials have not come out to tell us how much we earned from the gold deposits. And over the years, our officials with their neo-colonial mind-sets did not deem it fit to set a refinery in our dear land. Not only would a refinery add good value to our gold, we would have benefited from the technology of refining gold that we could be earning good money even when the gold deposits are long gone.

Of course, the inimitable Osagyefo established a gold refinery and, of course, those were among the first thing the brain-dead coupists, instigated by the CIA, cancelled on their usurpation of power.

Today, our gold is almost gone, we have not benefitted in any tangible way from the sales of raw gold and we have not developed any marketable technology that could have aided us.

Like a child, we seem to have learn nothing from our debacle in the gold industry. If the imperialists, in their infinite kindness, offered us a ten-percent share in our oil wealth, our response should have been ‘thanks, but no thanks.

In the article, “The Descent of the Vultures,” I wrote, inter alia, “Let’s now turn to something very interesting that happened recently in Nigeria that should be taken very seriously by Ghanaian energy policy makers.

The Nigerian newspaper, NEXT, of November 24, 2009 carried a report on the earful the Nigerian Minister of Information, Mrs. Dora Akinyuli, got from the Venezuelan Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Enrique Fernando Arrundell, when she appealed to the envoy to help woo his country’s investors to come and help develop Nigeria’s oil sector.
Taking his cue from his into-your-face bluntness of his president and brushing aside diplomatic niceties, Mr. Arrundell told the Nigerian Minister some very bitter home truth: “In Venezuela, since 1999, we’ve never had a raise in fuel price. We only pay $1.02 to fill the tank. What I pay for with N12, 000 here (Nigeria), in Venezuela I’ll pay N400. What is happening is simple. Our President (Hugo Chavez) decided one day to control the industry, because it belongs to the Venezuelans. If you don’t control the industry, your development will be in the hands of the foreigners. You have to have your own country. The oil is your country’s. Sorry I am telling you this. I am giving you the experience of Venezuela. We have 12 refineries in the United States, 18,000 gas stations in the West Coast. All we are doing is in the hands of the Venezuelans.”

The envoy continued: “Before 1999, we had three or four foreign companies working with us. That time they were taking 80 per cent, and giving us 20. Now, we have 90 per cent, and giving them 10. But now, we have 22 companies working with us in that condition. It is the Venezuelan condition. You know why? It is because 60 per cent of the income goes to social programmes. That’s why we have 22,000 medical doctors assisting the people in the community. The people don’t go to the hospital; doctors go to their houses. This is because the money is handled by the Venezuelans. How come Nigeria that has more technical manpower than Venezuela, with 150 million people, and very intellectual people all around, not been able to get it right? The question is: If you are not handling your resources, how are you going to handle the country?
The envoy rounded up by saying: “So, it is important that Nigeria takes control of her resources. We have no illiterate people. We have over 17 new universities totally free. I graduated from the university without paying one cent, and take three meals every day, because we have the resources. We want the resources of the Nigerian people for the Nigerians. It is enough! It is enough, Minister!”

Luckily for us in Ghana, we have the experience of other nations (Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea among them) to guide us. Whether or not we decide to learn from these experiences is left for us. Thankfully, we now also have some insight about what other people (Venezuelans under Hugo Chavez) have done with their god-given resources.”

In another piece I canvassed that our leaders should publish any agreement they sign on behalf of the republic. We live in a democracy which is supposed to be a government of the people, by the people and for the people, why then should agreements be shrouded in secrecy?

Whenever I read in our papers how police bosses are arresting gun-smiths in our villages, I never fail to realize how far down in the neo-colonial road we have travelled.

Had John Moses Browning the famous American inventor of firearms been a Ghanaian, he would have rotten in jail thanks to our neo-colonial mentality which punishes inventions and manufacture fifty years after we hoisted our so-called independence flag. Among Mr. Browning better known inventions was the Colt .45-caliber M1911 pistol, a semiautomatic popular handgun that was the standard sidearm for U.S. military personnel until the early 1980s.

The American government supported Mr. Browning with patents and contracts to supply the US Armed forces. That was a government that encourages innovations, inventions and manufacturing. That was a government that knew a great deal when it sees one.
There are many John Brownings in our Ashanti and Volta regions who will never become rich or famous. They will continually live in fear of persecution by our neo-colonial government which continues to spend substantial amount of scarce income on importing arms and ammunition instead of encouraging our local artisans to perfect their trade.
If it made magnificent sense to the colonialists to ban our people from weapons manufacturing, what informed our own government logic to dissuade our own people from doing it?

OK, Ok, weapons and ammunitions are dangerous, blah, blah, blah. But we are spending our own money to buy them when produced by other people.

It is not only capitalist American that knows how to take care of its own. Mikhail Kalashnikov was a Russian who designed the world famous reliable AK-47 rifle that bears his name, and is beloved by armies all over the world. If He had been born Ghanaian, police harassment would have sent Mr. Kalashnikov to early grave.

Today, Mr. Kalashnikov invention is among the best known Russian export. Vodka, the distilled liquor is another great Russian export what enjoys government support.

The colonialists, to protect British distillers, banned our people from distilling their own drink. Our folks nicknamed their liquor ‘akpeteshi’ (literally hide to drink) and continue to manufacture it illicitly. Fifty years after our so-called independence, those leading us lack the vision to make akpeteshi into a lucrative brand which, given its folkoric history, should be an easy thing to do. We have departments of chemistry at our universities which should have been charged with perfecting the distillation of our akpeteshi to bring it up to world standard. The one million or so Ghanaians living outside our shores would have provide very ready market for their home brew.

Many of our traditional medicines also required to be soaked in liquor; another niche market!

In Gomoa Mpota, a village close to our national capital, Accra lives a man whose technological prowess can rival that of either Mr. Browning r Mr. Kalashnikov. Yours truly has visited the technological village Apostle Kwado Safo has built and I can attest to some of the truly wonderful things full-blooded Ghanaians are building there.

Instead of getting encouragement, our western educated elite, well versed in theoretical knowledge that is totally bereft of any practicality continue to sniff at the man and his inventions.

Let these robed academics with all their fanciful Ph.ds tell us what innovations of theirs is currently making life easier for any Ghanaian. Of course, they know all the theories, but the colonial education stuffed into their brains have made them totally USELESS to their societies.

The role of education is to enable a community to use its resources to improve its well-being. But in neo-colonial setups, this role has been reversed: education exists only to produce elite who are totally alienated from their societies and has absolutely no interest in furthering the interests of their community.

What do our intellectuals do apart from parroting the same nauseating lies their masters in Europe and America are concocting?

There are more than twenty universities in Ghana today, why hasn’t anyone of them take the time to study how we could use say, the cocoa tree, to its full potentials. Why is it beyond them to let their students research the coconut or the palm oil trees? How do we benefit from the useless Term Papers they are forcing their students to produce every term?

How dare we claim to be liberated when nothing on our land belong to us? Apart from Robert Mugabe, may the gods continue to protect him; none of our leaders in Africa is making any meaningful effort to ensure that African tangibly benefitted from their resources. Alas, the imperialists have demonized the old African patriot without his brother presidents lifting a finger in his defense.

Africa shall be liberated only when Africans have totally liberated their minds.

As Prophet Bob Marley wailed: “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves could free our minds.”

“How can you be sitting there
Telling me that you care
That you care
When every time I look around, the people suffer, people suffer
In great suffering?” –
Bob Marley

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