From the archives: The second letter I wrote to Dutch Deputy Minister of Justice in 1992
Dear Mr. Kosto,
I thank you for the letter sent in your behalf (ref. DV-001) as a reply to my letter of 17-11-92. I also thank you for the copies of the speeches you sent.
I think that the differences between us arise because of my emphatic disagreement with your analysis of the immigration problems your country, and the rest of Europe, is facing. I could see from your article that you see the problem as a legal cum charity case. I do not.
I see it as a direct result of European\American policies over the years vis-a-vis Africa. Rational philosophers have long postulated that there are no causes without effects - as there can be no effects without causes. Everyday the bucket goes into the well, one day the bottom will fall out. To put it in scatological terms, one day the shit is going to hit the fan.
For years Europeans have treated Africa like a play-ground that belongs to them to do as they wished. Millions of Africans were carted away into slavery. The continent was carved up to suit the whims and caprices of European colonizers and empire-builders. European settlers took over the choicest part of the continent. Untold billions of dollars of wealth have been looted brazenly to build up Europe. Euro-American Multi-National Corporations continue to unto this day to exploit African minerals as though there is no tomorrow.
To all intent and purposes, Africa has been recolonized. Instead of colonial administrators, we now have missionaries, aid-workers, IMF strategists and World Bank Consultants. As anyone who have been to the continent will tell you, these Europeans are still behaving like the Lords of the lands. They propound and forced policies on African governments. These policies were designed to suit the interests of Euro-America. No thought was given to the interests of the Africans.
As I see it, African immigrants flocking into Europe are the monsters the Frankenstein of Euro-America's slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism engendered.
European governments continue to see the migration of Africans as something that could be countered by more stringent immigration laws, or by granting the police powers to break bones and heads. Nothing could be more profoundly wrong. The gene has been let out of the bottle. As long as there are planes and ships plying the route between Europe and Africa, so long shall the immigrants keep coming. Africans can no longer afford the luxury of looking, with child-like helplessness, while Euro-Americans gorge themselves with loot from their land. They are no longer appeased by the crumbs from the masters table. They can no longer depend on the charity of Euro-America.
The simple truth, Mr. Minister is, as I mentioned in my first letter, that the would-be immigrant would not allowed him\-herself to dissuaded by discriminatory immigration laws. Africans are going to keep on coming to Europe simply because their wealth is in Europe.
I have written elsewhere that, the problems of immigration of Africans into Europe, can only be solved, when European governments stop fooling themselves into the delusion, that Africans are here to enjoy their paradise. This problem cannot be solved by appealing to European conscience, as had been done in the past. It can, and will be solved when the pressures of African immigrants become unbearable on the European governments, that they will be moved to seriously tackled the economic problems facing the continent of Africa. Problems which, as I mentioned in my earlier letter, were largely created by Euro-American interventions and exploitation. The sad truth is that Africa today is simply unlivable due, in no small measure, to the neo-colonial policies foisted on the continent by Western institutions like the IMF. Migrating to Europe, in very large numbers, is among the weapons the Africans can employ to bring about this pressure, and make European governments start to take them serious.
The price of hating other human beings, Eldridge Cleaver wrote, is loving oneself less. The price Europeans are going to pay, for their continuing exploitation of Africa, is the total destruction of their own societies as they know and define it. Should this immigration trend continue, not only would the demography of Europe be radically altered, the vaunted European culture and the European identity would be irredeemably lost. I am no apostle of doom, but anyone with eyes could see that there will be intolerable racial, political and social upheavals, unless European governments change their exploitative attitude towards Africa to make Africa livable for Africans.
For centuries Africans have played the role of hewers of woods and drawers of water to feed Europe. Throughout the centuries, Euro-Americans have treated the continent of Africa like just another plantation to be exploited without giving something back in return. As a Yoruba proverb puts it: 'If you pushed goat to the wall, it will bite back.'
The problems facing Africa is enormous. It is too simplistic to blame everything on bad and corrupt dictators - this is not to excuse them. The masters must share in the blame. The Euro-American ideas of treating Africa like a charity case demands a re-appraisal. What did jamborees like 'Een Voor Afrika' and 'We are The World,' achieved in concrete terms? New perspectives have to be found to make it worthwhile for Africans to stay and develop their own countries. There must be something fundamentally wrong, in the system whereby a resources-rich continent like Africa, becomes the world's basket case. The 'New World Order' that makes this possible ought to be discarded.
Instead of organizing charities, I suggest the following practical ways European governments can make Africa livable for Africans, so that people will stop dreaming about migrating to Euro-America. So that those foul-mouthed racists will stop scape-goating Africans for the ineptitude of their own governments.
1.) Allow Africa to develop its own political and economic system, without interference and lectures from Euro-America: Over the years, European governments have treated Africa as they did during the period of colonialism. Stooges were installed whose sole purpose was to protect European interests. These vassals are prepared to brutalize their own people in the interests of Euro-America. Recently, French President Mitterand said that France has stopped organizing coups in Africa. Welcome as this was, he didn't tell us the untold hardship French and European interventions have caused the continent. The agonies suffered by Africans at the hands of these European-installed dictators went unmentioned, un-atoned for. I don't know if Mitterand expect Africans to start vibrating with gratitude. If France got out of the coup-organizing business, has the American CIA or the British M16 or your own BVD stopped with their covert activities in Africa?
Apparently still suffering from colonial hangover, European politicians still keep preaching to African governments on the political and economic path to trod. Even when all empirical evidence pointed to the simple fact that over a quarter of century of European prescription, the economies of Africa still remain in the doldrums. The sad truth is that almost all African countries have long lost their sovereign rights to determine their economic future. IMF and World Banks have taken over the management of several African economies. There is hardly an African country that has not been pursuing a punishing IMF-imposed 'Structural Adjustment Policies,' for over five years. Africans, sadly, continue to get the blame when these neo-colonial policies doesn't result in any appreciable growth to the local economy.
As long as Euro-America, through its agencies like the IMF continue to bleed Africa through their surrogates, in order to save jobs and prosperity , so long shall they plagued with 'illegal immigrants.'
Euro-Americans would like to bury their heads in sand like ostriches, and pretend that African woes are caused by incompetent and corrupt leaders. This just doesn't wash anymore. For over six years my own country, Nigeria, has been pursuing an economic program prescribed by the IMF. The only 'benefits' that have been reaped by the faithful adherence to this policy are armies of unemployed youth; a grossly devalued and, virtually inutile currency; a plummeted standard of living; hyper-inflation; and crumbling social infrastructure. Students have stopped going to school, either because their parents are too poor to pay their fees, or because their teachers have not been paid for upward of five months. Health care are collapsing because of lack of funds. In the month of January, the whole country was paralysed by a civil-servants strike over wages. A decade ago, a graduate in Nigeria can afford a decent home and a car, today, such dreams are gone.
Euro-America 'experts' have long being prescribing 'solutions' to Africa's myriad of problems. Africa has been turned into a huge laboratory where every idea by a Westerner, however idiotic, is tried out. While IMF and World Bank 'experts' are prescribing economic solutions, Western politicians and Political Scientist are shouting themselves hoarse on the best political track for Africa. These 'solutions' are divined by people totally unaware of the realities of Africa. Western-style democracy was promoted to the level of praxis, touted as the cure-all solution to Africa's ailment. The West is never short of mixture when one fails. Just one case should suffice: since the inception of democracy, Zambia has gone from bad to worse.
Production of cash crops was promoted over food crops, with the twisted logic that heavily-subsidized Euro-American foods are cheaper. Euro-American farmers continue to enjoy export boom and higher living standards at the expense of the Africans, who must use their meager resources to import Western foods. In the meantime, the prices of the so-called cash-crops are falling on the 'World-Market' - heavily dominated by Euro-American dealers. So once self-sufficient countries like Zimbabwe have to go into debt to by Euro-American foods.
Fairy-tales economics were imposed on Africa with the promise of a better life tomorrow. I need not remind you that nowhere in Africa has the people enjoyed the befits of the Structural Adjustment Policies, forcibly foisted on them, by institutions in which your country is a leading member. Nowhere in Africa are people enjoying the paradise promised by the prophets of SAP.
I am no economist, but common-sense tells me that when a mono-crop economy, like Nigeria's, is forced to devalue its currency. The only side that could benefit are the buyers of the crop. Nigeria's primary product is petroleum oil which is priced in Dollars. When Nigeria was forced to devalue her currency, it follows that it will receive less for her oil and pay more for her imports - mostly from Euro-America. Almost all African countries are in the same quandary.
Again while African countries have faithfully complied with their part of the bargain, the West's end of the deal remains to be fulfilled. The promised Western investment, the magic wand that would transform Africa into a paradise, remains an illusion. The only thing Euro-America is doing was to continue what it has being doing for ages: extracting African minerals to feed its industries. Setting up Coca Cola bottling companies and McCDonalds' outlets.
2.) Debt Reduction. While it is morally obligatory to honor debt commitments, it's morally indefensible to expect someone to starve to death in order to pay off debt. This is exactly what Euro-America has been demanding of Africa. Africa is said to be owing US$250 billion - close to the total GDP of the entire continent. Most African countries are paying in excess of 50% of their earnings to service debt. Mr. Minister, how much did Africa borrowed? How much have been paid back in ever-increasing interests alone? When will the bleeding of Africa stopped?
Let me illustrate again with the case of Nigeria. The entire budget of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for fiscal 1993 was 112.1 billion naira ( about ? 7.4 billion). Out of this amount, 58.4 naira ( about ? 3.9 billion) was earmarked for servicing external debt. That's a whopping 52.1 percent! Nigerians, there are about 90 million of them, have to make do with about three point five billion guilders, while close to four billion guilders will be sent to Euro-American governments and banks. That was why I said, in my first letter, that Africans migrating to Europe are just following their money. I wasn't joking.
Nigeria is not unique; the story is the same all over Africa. Last year, Africa transferred close to US$10 billion to Western banks in loan servicing alone. Little wonder then that someone said Africa is giving 'Marshall-Aid' to Euro-America. You and I know that for the past decade or so, there has been a net transfer of money from Africa to Europe and America. Although the only thing we hear are the obscene claims that Euro-America is giving aid to Africa.
The debt problems have to be tackled with more vigor. A lot of African lives are being wasted in paying off these debts. Money that the poor countries could use to create jobs, so that people will have less incentive to 'invade' Europe, are being transfer to the rich countries of Euro-America. The price Europe will pay for her Shylockian debt policies are increasing numbers of desperate immigrants flocking to her shores.
And while Africa has been bleeding itself to pay off her debt, Euro-America continue to ignore their own debt obligation to Africa. Africans have been demanding reparations for the centuries of slavery and colonization at the hands of the Europeans. Even if we take the low estimate of 20 million slaves, we can do some simple arithmetic to find out who is owing whom.
Let's assume that the 20 millions are paid US$10 per hour for their labor, and they work for ten hours a day, we get: 20,000,000 * 10 dollars per hour = US$200,000,000 per hour 200,000,000 * 10 hours per day = US$2,000,000,000 per day 2,000,000,000 * 360 = US$720,000,000,000 per year 720,000,000,000 * 500 = US$360,000,000,000,000 We have a sum of three-hundred and sixty trillion dollars, excluding accruing interests!
This is a debt Euro-America owed to Africa. And although the plea has been largely ignored to date, the cry is bound to become too deafening. Africans are starving themselves to honor their debt burden to Europe, while Europeans continue to ignore their own obligations. By what moral right are Euro-Americans asking Africa to pay back US$250 billion, when they make no attempt to pay bach their whopping debt of US$360 trillion?
3.) Better Prices for African Products. As anyone who drinks coffee in Holland can attest, the prices are remarkably stable - that's when they are not 'goedkoop.' African farmers are slaving more and more to get less and less for their products, the prices of which, determined in London, Chicago, Paris and New York, keep tumbling down! Production of coffee is back-braking job, as anyone who has been to a coffee farm can tell you.
"In the Cote d'Ivoire revenue from cocoa exports dropped from CFA393 billion to just CFA200 bn between 1986 and 1988; but during the same period cocoa bean production rose from 664,000 to 740,000 tonnes. The situation looks set to continue. Already, private companies, which entered the product buying business as a consequence of IMF-inspired market reforms, are paying considerably less than the government-recommended producer prices (CFA200 per kilo for cocoa and CFA85 for coffee). Farmers say the firms are offering to pay them as low as CFA50 for cocoa and CFA20 for coffee." (NEW AFRICA, February 1993. pp 28-29).
The truth of the matter, Mr. Minister, is that Euro-Americans continue to feed fat on African products, as they have done for ages. People in Europe consume chocolates until their teeth fall off, the peasant farmer in Africa slaving upward of sixteen hours a day to tend his cocoa farm, cannot afford even a bar of candy.
Each time the price of coffee or cocoa drop by a single cent, African farmers feel it immediately, how many Europeans will starve if coffee cost a cent more per pack?
Instead of pretending to be sending 'development-aid,' European government can do better by imposing a tax on the products Europeans are practically plundering from Africa. This could be called 'Africa-tax' or whatever. It shouldn't be beyond the competence of Eurocrats to set up the appropriate machinery for its implementation. This could also be done under the auspices of the United Nations. If Africans are getting reasonable prices or their products, that would be a great incentive for them to stay in their own countries instead of 'swarming' Europe.
As you probably know, the EEC slaps a 20% tariff on partially-processed coffee, cocoa and other products from Africa to guarantee the jobs in the coffee and cocoa processing industries in Europe. Africans will gladly stay in their countries if they could work their farms, process their products in their own industries, and find market for them in the consuming countries without being penalized by Eurocracy.
What Africa need is trade not aid. A lot have been written on this so-called aid that I needn't belabor it here. Anyone with eyes can see that the policy of giving aid has failed, miserably, in Africa. About the only thing Western-aid is developing are the bank accounts of the aid-workers.
I cannot understand the magic by which a country (sic) like Belgium will be giving aid to Zaire. Zaire has abundant mineral resources which Belgium is 'buying.' There certainly must be some hanky-panky if a resources-rich country like Zaire could be needing aid from Belgium.
4.)Stolen Money and Capital Flight. There is no denying, or running away from the fact that most of the moronic dictators imposed on Africa by the Western Secret-Services are corrupt beyond redemption. According to the US magazine, National Enquirer (February 2 edition), African dictators are estimated to have stolen US$100 billion over 20 years! Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire is said to be worth about US$8 billion! Nigerians are said to have US$33 billion in Swiss banks.
Of course, this huge theft is known to Euro-American governments. But since the monies are lodged in their banks, they made no attempt to expose it. This money rightly belongs to Africa. US$100 billion is a huge sum by anyone's standard. That is money could be utilize to ameliorate some of the problems that are forcing Africans to flee their countries. It's this monies that Euro-American banks are lending back to Africa at usurious rates. It is the interests on the loans, on monies that rightly belong to them, that Africans are starving themselves to pay.
Your government could act in concert with its Euro-American partners to help repatriate the monies back to their rightful owners. With US$100 billion, millions of jobs could be created, social amenities provided to make it attractive for people to want to stay in their countries.
The austerity measures imposed on African countries by the IMF has made several currencies inutile. Inflation is spiralling daily. This is resulting in huge capital flight from the poor to the rich countries.
5.) MNC's Social Responsibility. This was one of the ideas I suggested in my first letter on how European governments can help make Africa livable for its inhabitants. A situation where Western MNCs continue to pursue a policy of slash-grab-and-run cannot but result in African 'economic-refugees' escaping to Europe.
Your government, in concert with its Euro-American partners, can help in this regard by making it mandatory for Western MNCs to spend a certain percentage of their profits in the localities where such profits are derived. This money could be used to set up small-scale industries, build schools and hospitals. Once again, I illustrate with the case of Nigeria.
Royal SHELL, the giant oil company, called SHELL Petroleum Development Company in Nigeria, is the biggest exploiter of Nigeria's oil. Much of Nigerian oil is located in Ogoni land which spans three local government area in Rivers State. As one commentator put it: "For the Ogoni man whose homeland sits atop a vast expanse of crude oil deposit, life has become synonymous with washing with spittle while living by the riverside."
Not only has oil exploration devastated the Ogonis land, SHELL hasn't deemed it fit to cite any social amenity there. A basic thing like electricity is unknown in this place which has produced billions of dollars in profits to SHELL. Needless to say that there are no industry of any description. The Ogonis are confronted with high pressure oil pipelines flagrantly laid without any consideration for the inhabitants - the people are not even consulted before the pipes are laid. SHELL understands only the language of exploitation, exploitation, exploitation. Of course, I am aware that MNCs are no charity organizations, but the price Europe is going to pay for the inhuman activities of its MNCs are ever-increasing Africans running to Europe. I wondered what your reaction would be if the people of Ogoniland 'swarm' your country, asking for 'economic-asylum' from SHELL activities on their lands.
6.) Stop Throwing Cultural Bombs at Africa. You may be unaware, but the simple truth is that many Africans still look towards Europe as a sort of paradise on earth. They believe that the streets of Europe are paved with gold and diamonds. One can hardly blame them. They are victims of colonial education and powerful Western propaganda still promoting the fantasies of Europe full of roses, with no thorns.
If many of the Africans dreaming about migrating to Europe are told sad realities of your country, many will be shocked. Most will simply not believe them. It is sad irony, your country is projecting the image of Holland as a tolerant, civilized, caring, Christian society, when those who are swayed by your propaganda rushed to paradise, you're asking what they are doing here! It is like asking the Conquistadors what they are doing in the fabled ELDORADO - searching for gold, of course.
Perhaps it time for your government and its Euro-American partners to start sending the correct propaganda materials to Africa. Instead of showing movies where young men, with no apparent means of livelihood, are partying the whole day - frolicking with beauties, driving one-kilometer long limousines, consuming inordinate amount of delicacies and liquor, and keep drawing money from walls with a plastic card, you can send material showing the other side where people are working hard to make ends meet.
I hope that you will take time to study these suggestions and introduce them to your European colleagues. It is stupid to pretend not to know why Africans are migrating to Europe. It's naive and over-simplistic to blame the problem of immigrants on mafia trading in human cargoes. Africa, today, is a living description of hell on earth. Dutch visitors can tell you that lives are being destroyed by the 'New Economic Order,' Africans are forced to adopt.
I sincerely hope that you will act in concert with your colleagues to help find solutions to the problems of Africa, so that Africans can have reason to stay in their countries.
On integration, which you believe is the cure-all panacea to the problem of the immigrants in Holland. I will say that this is fallacy. I do not share your believe that the racism will disappear with integration. Integration is premised on the assumption that one culture is superior to another. It is used by one group to impose its values on another. It is used by racist societies to justified their racism. It is a subterfuge for white supremacy. Integration, in all its assumptions, is a form of cultural racism. Why is it that it is only black people who are compelled to integrate into white societies? How many of the ten-thousand plus Dutch people living in Nigeria are integrated into Nigerian society? For that matter, how many of the millions of Europeans living in Africa are integrated? How many of them could utter a single world in an African language? Why should they, when all the ideological institutions in their countries have imbibed it in their heads that theirs is a great and superior civilization!
I do not believe in integrating into the Dutch society, simply because I do not believe the Dutch culture superior to mine. It is sheer nonsense to maintain that an immigrant's life would be materially uplifted by integrating into the Dutch society. How many of the integrated Africans are better off by their integration? They are still facing the same discrimination like any other black man. In the parlance of African-Americans, the integrated Africans are still catching the same hell.
The Dutch people in South Africa not only refused to integrate, they are forcing the black majority to accept their Afrikaner culture. Thousands of black people have been killed for refusing to speak the language of their oppressor. It was the same all over Africa. The French launched and viciously pursued their policy of ASSIMILATION. The Portuguese brutally enforced their ASSIMILADO policies. The goal is the same: make the African aspire to become a European. I do not intend to commit such cultural HARAKIRI.
On racism, which you so glibly dismissed, I can only hope that the Dutch government policy on racism is not informed by your rather parochial view. As a white person and a top-notch politician to boot, you are never likely to become a victim of racism. That doesn't mean that it should be so flippantly rejected. Racism is as Dutch as Tulip flower. Who feels it, knows it.