I was listening to a debate today about the situation in Mali but after hearing commentators upon commentators vilify France for its imperialism, I turned the TV off. The comments were in essence saying the same thing: it is always the fault of France (or any other country in Europe or America) if Africa cannot develop itself. There is so much of the same thing you can hear again and again without being tired. To quote Patience Dabany, chéri, ton disque est rayé. Always blaming Europe for all the woes of Africa is now starting to sound like a scratched record.
The problem with Africa is Africa itself, anything else is a false debate. It is because we are unable to say no that Europe will keep on pumping our resources – natural, financial, human and whatever else we might have as valuable for many more years, if not centuries to come. After all, what interest does Europe have in leaving us alone? General de Gaulle even said, “France has no friend, she only has interests.” So which part of that sentence are we Africans struggling to understand? Or what do we get out of this exploitation that we sit there, accepting it?
Recently, President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria called on the French, the British and the Americans for their assistance in finding out where on earth Boko Haram had hidden the girls? And he actually only got out of his stupor when the Bring Back our Girls campaign got too much for him to pretend that nothing was happening. By the way, before anyone thinks the mothers of these girls were sitting in front of their mud huts with their hands under their chin, let’s establish here and there that the campaign started with the women of Nigeria first before everyone else got onto the bandwagon. What would be nice to know here is why did President Goodluck Jonathan not call on Cameroon, or any of the other countries it shares borders with, or South Africa?
Some speak of rivalry and pride. The mighty Nigeria couldn’t be seen to be weak. But of course, it could afford to be weak when France organised that summit. But if Nigeria wanted to appear to be strong, what about its neighbours or the other African countries? If your brother wants to let pride blind his eyes, can you not be the bigger brother? But our African countries behaved as if what was happening to Nigeria did not concern them, otherwise, they would have got a move on sooner.
You get my point. The problem with Africa is not Europe; it is Africa itself. Nobody is forcing us to run to the Europeans or Americans every time there is fire at home; what’s forcing us however is our own lack of unity. And what’s worse is that we don’t learn. Since when has any intervention of Europe on the African continent resolved anything? Examples of their fiasco abound: Mali, Libya, Ivory Coast, Central Republic, Sudan… Soon, Nigeria shall join that sad list of examples and we will then sit around tables and vilify France, Britain and co. for plundering Africa. But why shouldn’t they plunder if we open the door and tell them to help themselves to everything.