Newspaper Review by Oreoluwa D. Babatope.

‘Never again will Africa be dumping ground’[1] 

Policy Areas: Economic Growth and International Relations.

The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) has said never again in history shall African countries be allowed to be a dumping ground of goods, ideas and technology for the western world. During the training of NEPAD in Anambra State, the National President of NEPAD, Ephraim Ato admonished Africans to look inwards to fix the economy of the continent. He observed that Africans were in the past exploited by the Caucasians; adding that it was high time Africans explored and exploited God-given talents and natural resources of the area to make the continent tick. There is the need to reinvent an Affricative economic system midwifed by the United African States that will look Afrocentric in our ways of life.

Colonization of Minds: Is Africa Ready To Gain Independence? 

The drive towards Afrocentrism and the desire to do away with Eurocentric ideas can be ascribed as a means of adjusting to life in Post-Colonial Africa. After a period of both material exploitation and cultural domination, it is no surprise that Africans would want to embrace African values, perhaps as a way of freeing themselves from the captives of the colonial masters. Ekeh (1975)[2] explained the impact of the colonization on Africans by detailing the colonial ideologies that the Europeans used to legitimize their conquest and persuade Africans that colonization was in their best interest. By being taught of the backwardness of the African past and distorting (and defaming) the African history, Africans began to see themselves and their culture through the eyes of their teachers/masters. The blind acceptance of these ideologies and many others further led to the creation of what Ekeh referred to as ‘anti and post-colonial ideologies of legitimization.’ Ironically, however, these ideologies were modelled in conformity with the colonial ideas. After all, the Africans who took up the positions of post-colonial leadership were Western educated. Even if one decides to study in Nigeria, as opposed to a University in London, for example, what one gets is a Western Education. It almost seems like the more Africans try to separate themselves from any semblance of their colonial masters, the more Eurocentric they become. This, therefore, brings to fore the question, ‘what are Afrocentric ideas?’

Discussing the multifaceted, complex, and paramount problems of colonialism, Bulhan (2015)[3] classifies the colonialism in Africa into two stages: from the occupation of land to the occupation of being. He opines that, from the very beginning, colonialization was economic, political, cultural, and psychological. However, while its economic and political motives were most obvious at the beginning (occupation of land); the cultural and psychological motives integral to it all along became more intense and manifest later (occupation of being). This later manifestation is not such that can be easily identified and eliminated, because it is as subtle as it is intense.[4] It involves the enduring cultural, intellectual and social legacies which colonialism left behind. The occupation of land differs from that of being because while the former refers to a period of domination and exploitation, the latter a continuous process of modification in the way of thinking and behaving; ‘modification of the mind.’ Bulhan’s view sheds more light into Ekeh’s perception of Africans in post-colonial Africa. A joint interpretation of both works would show that due to the persisting occupation of our minds by western ideologies and legacies, post-colonial Africans are not as different or separated from their colonizers, as they would want to be. How then can we confidently assert that “never again in history shall African countries be allowed to be a dumping ground of goods, ideas and technology for the western world?”

Since independence, how much technological innovations have we birthed, as a continent? How much expertise have we displayed in governance? The argument here is not that Africans should give up the desire to develop original ideas, technology or to look inwards to fix the economy of the continent, as Mr. Ato puts it. In fact, it has been suggested that even when adopting smart and best practices from developed nations, it is important to apply the African context. The argument is that, to desire to do away with a thing is predicated on the guarantee of having an alternative. In this case, however, what is the African alternative? The aspiration to “reinvent an Affricative economic system midwifed by the United African States that will look Afrocentric in our ways of life,” would remain just that-an aspiration, without adequate analysis on how the African present was (and continues to be) shaped by its colonial past and present.

It is not enough to make overly ambitious statements without backing them up with practical plans and strategies for actualization. Without a successful decolonization of our minds,  independence will continue to remain a distant concept.

 

[1] This Article was taken from Punch (Online) News. Available at: https://punchng.com/never-again-will-africa-be-dumping-ground/. Date: 28/11/2019.

[2] Ekeh P. P. (1975). Colonialism and the Two Publics in Africa: A Theoretical Statement. Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 17, No. 1. (Jan. 1975), pp. 91-112.

[3] Bulhan H.A. (2015). Stages of Colonialism in Africa: From Occupation of Land to Occupation of Being. Journal of Social and Political Psychology. Vol 3, No 1, 2015, from: https://jspp.psychopen.eu/article/view/143/139.

[4] Ibid, p. 252.