Monday, November 19, 2007

Africom--The Invasion of Africa?

Africom - the Invasion of Africa?

Vanguard (Lagos)
19 November 2007
By Obi Nwakanma

EARLIER in the week, the deputy secretary of state in the United States, Mr. Negroponte came to Abuja.

His mission was clear: he had come to notify the Nigerian government that the United States will establish its Africa Command (Africom) and will site this in an African country. There was no negotiations, just diplomatic courtesy. Some say Africom is a done deal in spite of what seems to be but a feeble resistance by African countries about the presence of the American military command in Africa. In the same week, both President Sirleaf Jonhson suggested that Liberia was prepared to host Africom.

Nigeria's chief of defence, Lt. General Andrew Azazi, nevertheless, answering reporters questions over the reaction of the ECOWAS states said that the matter was not merely a Liberian question, but would be determined by West African military chiefs. The prospects of America's vast military presence in Africa has instigated a flurry of talk and fear by Africans, that finally, all the chips have fallen into place of a long planned re-colonization of Africa.

Many have begun to make associations with once disparate incidents, which are now fitting into complex theories of conspiracy (note that conspiracy theories are not necessarily untrue). There are those who feel that the grounds have been eminently watered for this invasion and recolonization of Africa.

Sometime in 2006, the countries of the Group of Eight industrialized nations, the G-8, met in Berlin to discuss Africa and its condition. The main issue was that no African country was invited and none was, therefore, present in this new Berlin conference. It was an ironic throwback to the other conference in Berlin in the 19th century which foregrounded the scramble for Africa and its laceration into various spheres of influence.

There are many who have noted that not long after the Berlin G-8 meeting on Africa, there followed the much-publicized exhibition of Africans and their habitat in so-called African villages in a German zoo. Perhaps we may make the connections once more, with the implications of the images, the representations, the symbolisms, the absences, the constructions of Africa as a primitive place. Add that with the images of Africa presented across the world as a dying continent, a place decimated by disease, violence and hunger, by the failure of humanity; a place that has variously been described as a "basket case". A place of negation.

The other day, a friend of mine in along phone conversation asked me to think about the implication of the fact, that all the contemporary African writings awarded current prestigious international prizes are carefully selected by what they say about Africa, which is why they are published in the first place by international publishers: the violence, the negation, the image of broken societies and broken humanity, which somehow appeals to the unconscious perception of Africa by a western audience conditioned by such images to imagine and possibly sympathize with Africa's immortal plight.

That sympathy has also translated into charity of the sort that now suggest the failure of African sovereignty: state governors now seek "foreign donors" to come to help them carry out their responsibilities to their citizens. That is the failure of independence, of political authority, and economic autonomy. We can now in fact even begin to imagine, we of this generation, that all that huff-and puff by the leaders of the anti-colonial movement that fought for African independence in the 1940s and 50s was all vain.

According to some of the western mindset, Africa has shown that in the last fifty years, it has been unable to manage the political independence so graciously granted it by the European power after the European war, also known as the World War II.

So what has happened to Africa? The collapse of states and the spawning of stateless actors, terrorists who have taken over the Gulf of Guinea, threatening the world with potential anarchy, and so in its role as the world's most charitable nation, the United States, mindful of the danger this portends for the rest of the world, including poor Africa of course, has now decided to establish and donate it military technology and establish a command in Africa, to help check that menace and secure the vulnerable but strategic Gulf of Guinea.

That is the story. But the conspiracy theory is something different: many see a link between Dr. Watson's recent slip of the tongue about African or Black intelligence as very connected to a larger program embarked upon by a racist Western agenda to take over Africa and become its "guardians" or "trustees" of its undeveloped humanity for their own good and the good of the world. Dr. Watson was quite poignant about his concerns: he was, he said, not hopeful about the future of Africa.

The trouble said the eminent geneticist and Nobel Laureate was that Western institutions and governments were formulating decisions based on presumptions of the equality of African intelligence, whereas, this was in fact unreal. The point to be made is that Dr. Watson may have been hushed down, some Africans have said, but his words reflect the deep thinking and actual positions of the elite in the west: Africa's incapacity to formulate its own decisions; sub-Saharan Africa's lack of ability to govern itself.

Many see this as a throw back to the 19th century, of the fiction of the "civilizing mission" and of Stanley meeting Mutesa, or the subduing of the Congo by the vicious charity of Leopold. Anybody who has read Eric Hobswam's book, The Scramble For Africa will get the point. There are many who have formulated the relation of a long programme begun, right even at the eve of independence to make sure that Africa does not work its way though the mesh of postcolonial transitions.

Who see clearly how the Great European powers mined the polity of the new nations and condemned eternally to conflict and violence. The first symptoms became clear in the Congo with the CIA's complicity in the killing of the nationalist leader, Patrice Lumumba.

Nigeria was the next flashpoint: having undermined he nationalist movement and leadership of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Britons left a national time-bomb with the detonators in the hands of their proxies and lackeys whom they maneouvered into power, and the first indication of the crisis in this "last lighted torch of the century" as the poet Okigbo described Nigeria, was the violence that rocked it, the coups and counter coups of 1966, the genocide against the Igbo, and the devastating civil war, followed by a cycle of foreign-sponsored coups and counter coups that further whittled the meaning of the nation and its possibility.

While all that was going on, people like Chinweizu have shouted themselves hoarse about the international Western complicity to reduce Black population, a program of which Olusegun Obasanjo is fully associated and of which he is a prime advocate. Many have associated and indeed made connections with Obasanjo to very interesting relationships and very interesting characters and programs emanating from his western sponsors.

Chinweizu has spoken very frequently and circulated his theories of a biological warfare against the Black population, which he has noted dates back to the concern of in key epicentres of Western power, about the implication of rising African population; a concern expressed with bitter clarity by the famous Robert McNamara to the US Congress in the 1960s.

There are those who see in the new move by the Americans to establish a military base in Africa, a parallel to Goldie's United African Company, which began from the same Gulf of Guinea site. The next move would be the dissolution of formal Nigerian sovereignty and convocation of all the treaties of Protection against China.

In other words the states in the Gulf of Guinea would soon become protectorates of the United States. Some say, come of it: this is the twenty-first century. Many others say, precisely: welcome to the new century and the invasion of Africa- and the lunch of the new world order.

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