Everyone, but Africans, are Scrambling for Africa!
by Kamil Olufowobi
I have lived between the cities of Lagos and New York over the last three decades and I never once visited Badagry Point of No Return in Lagos State or the Statue of Liberty in New York City until last year when I had visitors in town that I was hosting.
What is worrisome in this confession is my proximity disregard of a historical city and a monument cherished by visitors from around the world which I took for granted until I had outsiders come in. It is through these lenses I am trying to understand and explain the phenomenon of why everyone but Africans are scrambling for Africa! And, how we can reverse this trend for the glory of Africa and it’s people worldwide.
It is evident throughout the history of Africa, outsiders have ventured wider and deeper than the locals which explains why their discoveries of her beauty, human and natural resources keep them coming back for more to the detriment of Africa and Africans.
The human scramble of Africa began in the 1500s when Africans were forcefully taken as victims in the commerce of African lives in a global slave trade, which after abolition evolved into countries attracting Africans in a variety of ways including skilled worker visa lottery programs. Interestingly, in recent times, even with the rise of nationalism around the world we still find Africans leaving Africa as migrants, with some so desperate to leave, they cram into ramshackle boats which sink and they drown.
This movement of Africans out of Africa has led to a vacuum inside Africa and created a global African diaspora, with over 250 million people of African descent, embedded in almost every nation in the world, who are contributing to the productivity of these nations but not to Africa.
The first natural resource scramble of Africa between 1881 and 1914 resulted in powerful European nations dividing, occupying and colonizing the continent. From all reports, this movement is resurfacing with the Americans, British, Chinese, Dutch, French, Russians etc. all planting their flags once again in Africa.
The Chinese and English are leading the pack; it is said companies listed on the London Stock Exchange control over $1 Trillion worth of Africa’s resources and the Chinese “gifted” the African Union a headquarters building which they allegedly bugged for state secrets to gain access to confidential information on the continent and its leadership.
Recent research calculated, for the first time, all the financial inflows and outflows to and from sub-Saharan Africa to gauge whether Africa is being helped or exploited by the rest of the world. It found that $134 billion flows into the continent each year, mainly in the form of loans, foreign investment and aid. However, $192 billion is taken out, mainly in profits made by foreign companies and tax dodging. The result is that Africa suffers a net loss of $58 billion a year.
Africa is arguably, the richest continent in the world yet her population are some of the world’s poorest and the least productive. For two simple reasons, Africans have taken Africa for granted and would rather leave it for outsiders to pillage it, while they venture out to be “productive” elsewhere but inside Africa.
In hosting outsiders at the point of no return in Badagry, where my ancestors were taken to the new world, and at the statue of liberty, a global symbol for freedom where immigrants first landed in the United States, it leads to commercial opportunities that had direct positive impact on my finances.
This brought me to a realization that if people of African descent inside Africa want to gain a new appreciation for the Africa we have taken for granted maybe we should get into the business of exploring Africa through the eyes of outsiders.
To Africans inside Africa, let’s sell Africa to Africans in the Diaspora and let them come back to help those inside Africa to explore from their perspective for the glory of Africa.
To people of African descent in the Diaspora worldwide, the next time you hear a foreign individual, company or government mention an interest in Africa, pay attention and if possible jump in or become their representative to/in Africa because you never know what new possibilities you might stumble upon.