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The fallacies of independence in Africa

SOLLY RAKGOMO
This past Saturday many people across the southern African region watched in admiration as Botswana celebrated “independence”.

In fact, it was an occasion to mark the 51st year Botswana is said to have broken away from the heavy yoke of British colonialism. As I watched all the fanfare from my old “black and white” television set, so many questions crossed my mind as to whether indeed those documents that African liberation heroes signed with their colonial masters in the 60s and 70s was indeed independence in a true sense of the word or just a fallacy masqueraded as independence.

When taking a deep look into the state of Africa (culturally and economically) there are some striking  but disturbing features that make me  radically question  whether the continent is indeed independent. When many African countries got their independence from the British, French, Portuguese e.t.c, expectations were that years of brutal rape and plundering of Africa’s resources would come to an abrupt.

It was a period when many African poor people whose land was taken away by brutal colonialists wrongly thought that land would be redistributed and African people would have a place to stay, till the land and keep their livestock and enjoy a peaceful stay in their continent. Furthermore it was expected that Africa, with its vast and abundant  mineral resources would give Africans a chance to be in full control of their economies and make Africa a bread basket for all its children who have being marginalised by greedy colonial masters who kept everything for themselves and their countrymen in Europe.

It is frustratingly disturbing to say that after more than five decades of “independence” almost all African countries are facing a huge challenge of dependency on their colonial masters. Economic independence, which is a cornerstone of any real independence, has never being granted by colonial powers to Africa. In fact, the situation is so bad that some African countries’ annual national budgets depend on donor “aid” that further solidifies the neo-colonial rule in the continent. For example, through the use of  international Financial Institutions like the “Imperialist” Monetary Fund (IMF ) World Bank, western powers has entrenched their hegemonic influence on many African economies through  debt bondage which is perpetrated through  corrupt and manipulative control.

Despite these financial institutions being glorified by western mainstream media together with their puppet neo-liberal scholars as a panacea to Africa’s economic deficit, the truth is, Neo-liberal Structural Adjustment Programmes has transfixed many African economies in what can be termed as “economic intensive care units”. The debt burden of many African countries exacerbate their overly

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dependent attitudes that often morphes to stages of cultural imperialism . As most of our national budgets are crafted and tailor made for western interests, African people have now lost their pride and essence of being an African. Western thoughts, culture, ideas and ways of doing things are viewed by Africans from the so called “independent “continent as god-given. For example, many people whom I have engaged with on issues of justice are quick to vehemently defend the International Criminal Court (ICC) as the only entity to end impunity in Africa.  Africans feel Africa is incapable of crafting its own justice mechanism despite the success of the Senegalese Tribunal which prosecuted and convicted former president of Chad, Hissene Habri. The utterly biased ICC which promotes selective justice is the only entity that majority of   Africans look up to as a source of justice provision despite its glaring biasness in all its dealings.

The issue of independence in Africa is a fallacy because imperialist countries often call the shots when it comes to issues of foreign policy. For example, there was a huge outcry from China when Botswana decided to host Tibetan Monk, Dalai Lama. Many Batswana supported China’s imperialist stance as they feared that China might stop throwing some economic breadcrumbs to Botswana, an “independent” state. Botswana finally bowed to pressure from China and its citizens. Imperialist China is now confident that in Botswana and other African countries, it has secured conformist economic colonies that will always pander to its imperialist whims. It is interesting that those few African leaders who tried to inculcate a spirit of true independence were often shunned, demonised and marginalised by the West with the help of African leaders. For example the pan-Africanist ideals of Nkurumah, Nyerere and Gaddaffi were deemed too radical by Africans who viewed any economic and cultural decolonisation potentially destabilising to their “unshakable relationship and friendship” with the West. In short in Africa a politician risks becoming an endangered species if heshe advocates for welfare policies independent from western influence via international financial institutions.

My parting shot is that despite all the fanfare, pomp and extravagance that characterises most of Africa during “independence” celebrations, the continent is far from independence as long as it continues to fail in seeking an alternative economic path that can free it from the yoke of economic colonialism at the hands of dangerous western and Asian imperialist with no interest to the welfare of African people.



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