By Owei Lakemfa
IT follows a familiar pattern. African leaders who are courageous enough to speak the truth to powerful countries, pay quite heavy prices. They are vilified, victimized, blackmailed or sometimes murdered. Ambassador Arikana Chihombori-Quao, who was the African Union, AU, Ambassador to the United States until this month, is lucky. All she got for speaking out for Africa against its continued looting particularly by France, was a sack. At least the ambassador of Zimbabwean origins, is alive.
Chihombori-Quao, had argued that Africa’s colonial masters had set out a strategy that started with the: “Africans themselves, not respecting and believing in themselves and that which is uniquely theirs.” She painted a graphic picture how European powers in 1885, sat down at the table in Berlin and: “divided our continent, and chopped it up like a piece of pie, into some of the smallest economies, clearly designed to make sure that the continent cannot survive on its own.” The colonialists, she argued: “let the Africans think that everything that is African and uniquely ours was bad, and that everything that’s Western, and particularly British at that time, and French, was better.”
Kwame Nkrumah and other Pan Africanists, she argued: “realized that for Africa to take its rightful place on the world stage, the gutter of the mind that we have lived in for centuries, must be cleaned out.” Then in a manner Walter Rodney would have presented his argument, she said: “Everybody is talking about the monkeys and the squirrels in the room, but no one wants to touch the 10,000 pound gorilla in the room, and that is our thinking, of the African people. How much do we understand our Africa? Why is it that the richest continent on Earth, is painted as the poorest?”
After squaring up like Mohammed Ali in the ring, she delivered the killer punch, that Africa should concentrate on fundamental issues: “like telling France that the $500 billion you are taking out of Africa every year, no more. France needs to be the Third World developing country, not Africa. No more shall we continue to be exploited. France can no longer take $500 billion out of Africa.” It was a bombshell and the most painful thing must have been the fact that despite being an ambassador, she choose to expose the truth in its nakedness, and deliver a knockout punch with bare knuckles.
The French which had for hundreds of years been looting African resources under the guise of development must have felt quite embarrassed. France which gave the world the enduring slogan of “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” is like a greedy monkey with its clenched fist in a jar full of nuts, but refusing to release the nuts so it can free its hand. Paris is addicted to the annual $500 billion she extorts from Africa countries annually. Her economy and wellbeing has come to rely on this annual loot; so her elites are ready to do anything to preserve this theft.
The immediate reaction of her boss, the AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki of Chad, was to sack her. Don’t forget that Chad is one of the satellite states of France who pay colonial tax to their former colonial master and compulsorily deposit over half their entire foreign exchange with the Bank of France in Paris. When there was an angry reaction to the sack, Faki’s office initially claimed that Ambassador Chihombori-Quao’s term had expired. When this was punctured and over 90,000 people signed an online petition asking the AU to reinstate her, the story was changed. She was accused of organizing a beauty pageant with diverted AU funds, having no good work relations with her staff and raising personal funds in the name of AU.
The joke is that the AU has not confronted her with such allegations, and it admitted it is not even probing them! The use of such tactics to get rid of credible Black people is an old one. It was the fake basis Marcus Garvey was convicted and expelled from the United States using the instrumentality of the courts. It was the basis the greatest Africa leader in history, Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown in an American Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, coup in Ghana fifty three years ago.
When Ambassador Chihombori-Quao’s speech went viral, some thought she was exaggerating. It seemed unbelievable that some African countries would enter into such a slavish agreement that allowed their former colonial master loot the little funds accruing to them. To me, this shows how little otherwise educated Africans know of their continent. The true stories Chihombori-Quao told about France this year, had been repeatedly told by Kwame Nkrumah in the early 1960s. In his 1965 book “Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage Of Imperialism’ he wrote that when the momentum for independence increased around the world, France in 1958 conducted a referendum for its African colonies to vote individually: “whether it wished to remain an overseas territory of France, an autonomous republic within the French Community or to be independent.”
Only Guinea, led by Sekou Toure with the slogan: “We prefer freedom in poverty to opulence in slavery” voted to be independent. Nkrumah wrote that: “Fearing that the example of Guinea might be followed by other states which had decided to join the community, the French Government removed everything of value from the territory. Administrators and teachers were withdrawn. Documents and even electric light bulbs were removed from government buildings. Financial assistance, trade support and the payment of pensions to Guinean war veterans were discontinued.” France’s attempt was to return Guinea to pre-Stone Age.
The fourteen countries that voted to remain part of France; Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, were forced to sign an agreement for the continuation of colonialism, pay a tax for being enslaved and colonized by France, pay their foreign reserves into the French Bank in Paris, and made to continue in a zonal currency tied to the French franc, called the CFA. CFA is the acronym for Colonies Francaises d’Afrique (French African Colonies) which was later changed to “Communaute Financiere Africaine”
It is that tradition that subsists till this day and through which France takes $500 billion annually from the ‘Francophone countries’. Nkrumah wrote 54 years ago that: “These states pay their receipts of French francs into operation accounts in the French Treasury (and) at any time their operations accounts in the French Treasury could be blocked, as was done in the case of Guinea”
To fight Africa’s continued enslavement, we need courageous and conscientious youths, men and women willing to make the needed sacrifice for our motherland. Viva Africa!