Europe should be humble in its relations with Africa


Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images
Job Shipululo Amupanda

May 25, 2017

The third generation of African freedom fighters is growing impatient with the contradictions of ongoing coloniality in the Motherland. Europe and its allies continue their imperialist subjugation and plunder with the support of puppet leaders as Africans suffer. A new anti-imperialist wave is gathering momentum across Africa to complete the continent’s unfinished liberation.

In November 2017, African and European leaders will converge in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, for the Africa-EU Summit. From the 9th-10th May 2017 I joined researchers, policy makers, heads of civil society organizations, activists, government officials, and AU and EU officials in Addis Ababa for a precursor conference aimed at addressing issues of common concern and interest in the Africa-EU partnership. It was jointly organised by the Nairobi-based Centre for Citizens’ Participation on the African Union (CCPAU) and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Addis Ababa office. We covered peace and security, migration, economic relations, the youth; and also assessed the progress made thus far. At the end of those dialogues, and in retrospect, it is clear that Europe needs humility in its relations with Africa.

For Dr. Admore Kambudzi, the acting Director for Peace and Security at the AU, Africa-EU partnership has assisted the AU in attaining the milestone of functional coherence in the African Peace and Security Architecture particularly the work in Burundi, South Sudan and Somalia. But the Head of Peace and Security section of the EU Delegation to the AU, Dr. Thorsten Clausing, sees it differently, arguing that the EU is not getting a return on investment. At the beginning of 2016, the EU cut its funding to African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) by 20 percent.

A deeper conversation is needed beyond the ‘value-for-money’ capitalist interpretation. Europe is being disingenuous, thus needing a reminder that Africa’s problems are a direct result of incompatibilities of European state systems they imposed on Africa in the 1880s. See it this way: the fight is about who must cook and eat when, how, why and where in a European kitchen located in Africa, the state. Before this forceful unification in the European kitchen, Africans presided over their own, separate kitchens. Europe cannot, therefore, abscond its responsibilities resulting from its recreation and reconfiguring of Africa.

And it is not just 1880s-related coloniality. Europe and its diaspora (the US) moved into Libya in 2011, ignoring the AU, to kill President Muammar Gaddafi and install puppets. Libya is yet to recover. Francophone Africa is in a mess with wounded knowledge and confidence of self and perpetual conflicts. France continues to manipulate currencies, support dictators and remove (arrest and imprison) leaders (Laurent Gbagbo). Just imagine how our ancestors from Francophone Africa – Senghor Leopold, Frantz Fanon and Thomas Sankara – feel from Ancestry.

Most major conflicts in Africa hitherto have had a direct or indirect European hand. For Europe to assume its current stance is extraordinary arrogance. Europe needs humility!

Following its refugee crisis, Europe has introduced migration as a new condition for development cooperation. Certain African countries will now be forced to agree to those migration conditionalities. Strangely, of all migrants that come to Europe, Africa only accounts for less than 20 percent. Take France, for illustrative purposes, with its 36,000+ municipalities. For the 25,000 migrants it was asked to take, there will still be 12,000+ municipalities starved of migrants – taking one migrant per municipality. What is the hullabaloo, really? Europe, which purports to be a key promoter of human rights, fails to capture the human rights dimension of migration. Migrants do not risk their lives travelling to Europe in search of cigarettes. Sometimes it is really a matter of life and death.

But Europe needs to be reminded: Africa has experiencing a serious influx of brutal and violent European migrants since the 1880s. Those migrants are still in Africa today – 100 years later – controlling African economies and occupying millions of hectares of African land, particularly in Southern African countries. Europe’s introduction of migration conditionality on Africa is therefore pure arrogance. The imperial continent needs humility.

Europe still controls most African economies 50 years after political independence. The Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) serve to consolidate Europe’s grip on these economies. The EPAs have effectively undermined Africa’s common economic strategy. Interestingly, Britain – a big trading partner of most African countries – has exited the EPAs. It is not clear what will be Africa’s response in the context of the EPAs.

Africa’s sellout liberation generation has been effectively seduced and romanced to maintain the neoliberal economic order profiting Europe. But there is a new wave – a wave of decoloniality demanding the completion of the struggle against Europe colonialism. There is an awake generation of fearless and radical young men and women of Africa rejecting the lengthy ‘visions’ and promises of European-made bouncers/bodyguards masquerading as African leaders. Those who disagree must go ask Ben Ali, Hosni Mubarak, Blaise Compaore and other western stooges. It is a struggle that will complete and deal with coloniality of being, power and knowledge. Indeed, it is a struggle to resolve the remaining contradictions of economic power.

It is a struggle that is led by fearless young men and women of Africa, ready to surrender their lives. It does not exist in the boardrooms of European-funded civil society but on African streets and shacks. This generation of radical activists promises Europe nothing but a reversal of most, if not all, deals that have been concluded with their bodyguards. Everything will be renegotiated.

All is not lost, African leaders can still go to Abidjan in November 2017 and tell Europeans that there is an impatient generation that is tired of old formulas, a generation ready to tear up deals recolonizing Africa. If the European bodyguards masquerading as African leaders fail to do so, this third generation of freedom fighters, after the heavy celebratory drinks from celebrating European economic defeat, will search for their graves of current leaders and urinate on them.

Europe must quickly be told to review its stance of peace and security, on migration and economic cooperation. Indeed, Europe must urgently search and learn about this thing: humility!

* Job Shipululo Amupanda is a commissioner for the African Diaspora and External Affairs of the African Youth Commission (AYC). He lectures political science at the University of Namibia

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