Wednesday, December 5

Okay, Africa, how much will it cost to ease the pain and suffering you experienced under European colonialism?

Here's the good news about the Africa-EU summit this weekend in Lisbon, Portugal:
LISBON (Reuters) - European and African leaders will seek to forge a fresh partnership to tackle issues like trade, immigration and peacekeeping this week when they hold their first summit in seven years.

Pressed by China's growing investment and influence in Africa, EU leaders hope to reinforce ties with the world's poorest continent by improving cooperation on several fronts and moving away from dependence-inducing aid.

EU president Portugal says the EU-Africa summit is long overdue -- the last was held in Cairo in 2000. [...] Portugal says the summit will herald a multilateral European approach to Africa, moving away once and for all from the colonial heritage of the 1885 Berlin conference when European powers carved up Africa between them.

"The Berlin model of dividing (Africa) among ourselves was the model that has dominated EU-Africa relations before this summit," Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado told Reuters. "This summit marks the end of that model." [...]
The bad news is the colonial-era mentality still influences the actions of several African leaders:
(International Herald Tribune) - Zimbabwe's president has a simple answer to why his country's rich farmland is wasting away as inflation soars: colonialism.

While critics in and outside his country blame Robert Mugabe's land seizures and draconian rule for Zimbabwe's crisis, Mugabe told attendees at a recent state dinner that Britain, the former colonial master, was crippling his country.

Applause was loud and long. [...]

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade took Mugabe's side last week, calling the Zimbabwean president his "African brother" and praising Mugabe as a fighter for the dignity of Africa during a one-day visit to Zimbabwe.

Wade charged that Zimbabwe's problems stemmed from its harsh colonial history. [...]

Last year, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi blamed deadly riots in front of an Italian consulate on Libyans' hatred for Italy — which occupied parts or all of Libya from 1911 to 1943. Gadhafi demanded a goodwill gesture from Italy such as a highway or a hospital to show the colonizer's willingness to made amends for the past. Italy has since pledged to help create a trans-Libyan highway.

Even Mugabe's detractors often say they understand the urge to fight back against a condescending Europe.

John Nagenda, a senior adviser to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and harsh critic of Mugabe, said Zimbabwe's problems are an extreme version of what many former colonies experience with their one-time occupiers.

"There's the master-servant relationship, even if it's not as direct as it once was," Nagenda said. "Many ex-colonial masters feel, consciously or unconsciously, that they are the final arbiters of issues in the country."

Nagenda said this continues to play out in preferential trade agreements and lopsided foreign policy.

In this context, Britain's Gordon Brown, who is boycotting the Lisbon summit because Mugabe will be there, becomes the leader who is grandstanding — playing to a British crowd rather than trying to address Africa's problems on an equal footing with African leaders.[...]
What equal footing can there be, when you insist on taking alms from those you consider your former abuser?

Many Africans support my point but many don't seem to get it. And they won't get it, as long as their leaders continue to hold out their palms to the former colonial masters while whining about abuse.

Maybe the solution is for African governments to get together and hire 1,000 American psychologists specializing in recovering from abuse. Have the psychologists travel from country to country on the continent, giving workshops to Africans on how to disengage from a highly destructive co-dependent relationship.

For Pete's sake; 1943 was more than a half century ago. If you're still saying that what was done to you even a decade ago justifies your unproductive or violent behavior, that's your problem to fix. You learn this, or continue in a passive-aggressive cycle of behavior that always lands you back in the thinking of a beggar or a slave.

If Africans reading this post don't want to listen to Pundita's advice, maybe putting the argument in terms of cash will make a dent in your thinking.

So. Every African leader who feels their people should be compensated for pain and suffering under the colonialists should put a dollar figure to their victim status.

Next, tot up how much -- in today's dollars -- the European colonialists paid for the education, hospitals, roads, railroads, post offices, military training, etc. of the African peoples.

Then add to this the amount of low-interest loans (many now forgiven) and outright charity given to Africans by Europeans during the past half century.

Then subtract that amount from the victim payments deemed owed, or reverse that if the latter amount is larger than the former. Whichever, put the balance down on paper. Then send the paper to the embassy of every European country that was involved in colonialism.

Add these words to the paper: "You no longer owe me this much. I forgive the debt."

Or, if Africa owes on balance, write: "We will repay the balance as soon as we can."

Then -- then you will be thinking like free men and women.

Meanwhile, you can ring up the British Embassy to thank Gordon Brown for standing up to a despot who referred to the poorest among his people as "cockroaches" needing to be exterminated.

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