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Hillary Clinton: Africa, declare independence from China, India

Discussion in 'Jukwaa la Siasa' started by nngu007, Jun 22, 2011.

  1. nngu007

    nngu007 JF-Expert Member

    Jun 22, 2011
    Joined: Aug 2, 2010
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    Posted Sunday, June 19 2011

    One of the cruellest things you can do is to offer a shiny new pair of shoes to a guy who lost his feet in a landmine blast. What use is the gift, except to taunt the victim by reminding him that he no longer has the ability to use the shoes?

    One man who was quite aware of the need not to give good things to people who cannot use them was Chris Rwakasisi, Uganda's security minister in the 1980s. He used to admonish parents of captured rebels not to give them good food as it would make them sick. "These poor boys have been starving in the bush because Museveni had no food to give them," Rwakasisi would say while parading obviously fake rebels "captured" and pardoned by the state, but in reality lured into bogus rebel recruitment organised by government security. "Start them off with very little human food to allow their stomachs to get gradually used to it after so many months eating like monkeys."

    Now we have an international figure who has embraced the reasoning of Ugandan security. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is now warning Africans to guard against a "new colonialism" by foreign powers who are bringing capital and infrastructure to the continent without the usual conditionalities.

    Even the "old colonialism" involved the building of infrastructure - which was of course designed to serve the economic interests of the colonising power. Airports, seaports, roads and railways were built to facilitate movement of goods and people between the colonies and mostly Britain and France, to name names. Schools were built to train labour for the system and hospitals to keep the workers healthy.

    Independence was in most cases a miscarriage because the new African leaders looted public resources, turned states into personal estates and committed acts that in France and Britain would have earned them thousands of years in jail. Because the African rulers destroyed the infrastructure built by the British and the French, corrupted the once efficient civil services, persecuted the political opposition more cruelly and murderously than the colonialists treated the nationalists and practised tribal discrimination far worse than racism, Independence and statehood in Africa started looking like a lost cause.

    Then Africans started getting rid of their hopeless dictators. The "New Breed" of Africans leaders may not have been perfect but they gave new direction to their countries. Now some foreign powers, China and India, to name names, are giving a push through much-needed capital investment in infrastructure – obviously with their own interests in mind as well. What does Mama Clinton want the Africans to do? Proclaim their independence and lock out the investments?

    Our former security minister would probably advise China not to build good roads for the Africans too quickly - speeding cars might knock down the poor ignorant natives. But I have seen the despair of farmers who work their heart out and fail to sell their produce because they lack roads to the market. I know too well the wastage of farm produce occasioned by lack of modern storage. I am too aware of the starvation and perpetual backwardness in some parts of my country caused by lack on links to the rest of the country.

    So I say, if infrastructure built by Chinese and Indians to sort this out is colonialism, then bring it on.

    Joachim Buwembo is a Knight International Fellow for Development Journalism