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Primer for Trump: How Africa developed Europe and America

Monday January 15 2018

counter-protesters shouting slogans

Counter-protesters shouting slogans at white nationalists during an anti-immigration rally front of the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC on December 3, 2017. PHOTO |MANDEL NGAN | AFP 

RASNA WARAH
By RASNA WARAH
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I don’t think President Donald Trump deserves more media attention than what he already generates through his ridiculously rash and ignorant tweets.

But a comment he allegedly made last week needs to be forcefully rebutted — if only to give the United States president a primer in history and world affairs.

Trump’s statement at a meeting of senators to discuss immigration — where he is said to have referred to Haitians and Africans as being from “sh**hole countries” — has already been widely condemned for being racist. But what most critics are not addressing is how the US and the West in general have benefitted from the African continent and kept these countries in a permanent state of penury.

Before I delve into this issue, I would like to remind the US president that, had it not been for the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and the free labour provided by Africans, America would not have become a wealthy nation and there would be fewer blacks living there.

SLAVERY

By refusing to accept this reality, Trump and his ilk absolve themselves and their ancestors of all responsibility for slavery and also for the near-extermination of the indigenous native American people, who now live in marginalised and under-serviced reserves in their own country.

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Trump should know that Africa is the net exporter of capital to the West, not vice-versa.

The true story of Africa’s billion-dollar losses, a report by a group of United Kingdom- and Africa-based NGOs, shows that $134 billion flows into Africa every year, predominantly in the form of loans, foreign investment and aid.

The report, which was published recent, adds that, of this, $192 billion is taken out, mainly in profits made by Western multinational companies, tax evasion and loan repayments — the latter often to financial institutions that are tied to Western capital.

This means Africa suffers a net loss of $58 billion a year, which is nearly double the amount of foreign aid the continent receives annually.

POLITICAL TOOL

It is also worth noting that aid is a political tool used by rich nations to obtain lucrative military contracts from African governments. Bilateral aid from Britain, France and the US, in particular, is often pegged to deals for military equipment from the donor country.

Usually, these contracts are worth several times more than the aid. Since most of these contracts are signed secretly due to their sensitive nature, it is hard to estimate just how much of Africa’s wealth goes towards enriching the West’s military industrial complex but it is, no doubt, worth billions of dollars.

Africa’s vast natural resources — including oil, copper, diamonds, coltan and uranium — are also looted through dubious contracts.

Big corporations (mostly based in the West but now also increasingly in China) are adept at drawing up mining and other agreements that give them undue advantage, with the result that many African governments — especially those in strife-torn countries or those with corrupt leaders or weak regulatory laws — end up getting a raw deal.

WEALTH

Africa’s wealth is siphoned in other ways too. It is not widely known or acknowledged but as many 14 Francophone African countries — including Mali, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Central African Republic — are is still joined at the hip to their former colonial master through a colonial Francafrique pact that obliges them to deposit up to 50 per cent of their foreign reserves into France’s central bank.

According to the Bank of France’s 2012 annual report, the amount of cash it holds from African countries is larger than the GDPs of all except two of the 14 nations. Apparently, the money is held “in trust” by the French government to guarantee the CFA franc — the currency that is used in these former French colonies.

OUSTED

Any African leader who has resisted this form of neo-colonialism, or threatened to disobey the pact, finds himself either ousted in a coup or killed. For example, when Togo’s first president Sylvanus Olympio decided to issue Togolese national currency and discontinue the CFA franc, he was assassinated by a former French army sergeant, supposedly on the orders of the French government.

Without the wealth looted from African countries, the US and European countries would be much poorer and much less developed than they are. It is these “sh**hole” African countries that have made Trump and his cronies in the West very, very rich.

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