At last $ 50 billion has been sunk into Africa. Yes! $ 50 billion but not the anticipated 25 billion vouched for by African heads of state. $ 50 billion, reminiscent of over fifty years that aid agencies should have dealt systematically with problems that they were established to solve and closed shop- if they were really doing and promoting development in the third world. They have done no such thing. They are firmly entrenched on the scene despite the rapid changes that have taken place in the post war world and unrelentingly inflate their budget and staff.
Africa, Europe’s largest cash crop has received $ 50 billion. The growing of Africa for profit is one of the great business success stories in world history. All that is required to raise it is to ensure that there is perpetual conflict, disease, illiteracy and deprivation. To help ensure that Africans grow quickly, the farmers of Africa have created a special fertilizer called aid which gives enough nutrients and other development aids to produce record dependency crops each year.
All cash crops are designed to produce profit. Who benefits from this crop? Listen to Professor George B.N, Ayittey, author of Africa in Chaos and Africa Betrayed: Every foreign entity that goes to Africa does so to pursue their own interest; not those of Africans. Witness the scramble for Africa in the 1880s. Have we not learnt that if you give an African problem to the American, Briton, French or Chinese to solve, each would solve it to their advantage?
Listen to Senator Hubert Humphrey in 1957. I have heard that people may become dependent on us for food. To me that is good news because before people can do anything, they have got to eat. And if you are looking for a way to get people lean on you and be dependent in you, in terms of their own cooperation with you, it seems to me that food dependence would be terrific. Does President Nixon have a clearer message? Listen to him: Let us remember that the main purpose of aid is not to help other nations but to help ourselves.
What about aid agencies? The Hunger Project, a colossal international group that raises funds in the US , Britain and other countries claiming to stamp out persistent hunger and starvation in the third world raised 192,658 pounds but only 7,048 pounds went to the third world (The Independent, London 15 and 17 August 1988). “Why is it that every US dollar comes with twenty Americans attached to it?” Asks one African refugee. Most operating logistics and miscellaneous costs of aid agencies far outweigh the help that they purport to provide. Travel, for example, constitutes a significant element in the UN budgets. Sometimes ago, the President and Executive Board of UNESCO claimed and received reimbursement of US$1,759,548 for their own travel and lodging costs for just one year contrasted with outlays of US$49,000 on education for the handicapped children in Africa, US$7,200 for curriculum development in Pakistan and US$1,000 for teacher training in Honduras. (How UN Spends USD 1 Billion from US Tax Payers, Heritage Foundation, Washington DC, 1984.) Most aid workers interviewed have confessed that huge salaries, allowances and fringe benefits such as tax exemption attracted them to their respective agencies. This money rarely ends up in the country of need. Aid has turned into a lucrative industry forcing respective agencies to adapt to any new need and claim to be the channels through which money should flow to solve the problem. They keep shifting from their original mandate and go to an extent of using dubious means such as hiring novices who pose as expatriates, to fit in the current scenarios. Some of such ‘expatriates’ have been at a loss when faced by challenging situations but continued to ‘serve’ the underprivileged nevertheless. Some volunteers and Non Governmental Organizations, who started off with altruism as a base have been quickly sucked into this profit business.
Africa has been conquered, exploited, deprived of its natural and human resources and used as a market to sell billions of weapons as well as dump toxic nuclear waste. The UN including the G8 watched as thousands of Rwandese were massacred. They watch as people suffer terribly and die of dreadful diseases like malaria that can be eradicated by use of drugs and pesticides such as DDT that they have banned. They used US$300 million to protest against genetically modified foods and set aside US$175 more to campaign against GM foods as millions of Zambians were on the verge of starvation, caught between the trap of accepting GM corn and risk economic sanctions or succumb to ‘international’ pressure and watch citizens die. Zambia chose the latter. No dime from the US$500 was spent on Zambia, for an African starving to death provides news for CNN, BBC etc. Africa is made to set aside vast lands which would have been beneficial for Agriculture and settling landless populations, to serve as game ranges. Most of these are not owned by the Africans themselves and barely benefit Africa in terms of revenue for most personnel who work therein are imported, with the locals serving as sweepers and security guards. Africans are discouraged from working on their land in the name of conserving the environment and restoring it to ‘edenic’ and pristine condition, disregarding the fact that the environment was not meant for aesthetic looks only but it should serve mankind. Africa recoils under the structural adjustment programs, sending workers away on grounds brewed elsewhere.
Where has the G8 and the West gotten all this love and good feelings for Africa? How quickly have they been converted? Can they be trusted? Shouldn’t Africa be more skeptical of people who have hired popular rock stars as showbiz personalities, and sent their First Ladies to Africa to advance their agenda? Muammar Gaddafi, President of Libya, urges African leaders to shun begging from rich nations, embrace self reliance and reject conditional aid from the west. “Begging will not make the future of Africa; instead, it creates a greater gap between the great ones and the small ones.” He continues: “We are being subjected to a double faced phenomenon which is benign on the surface and malicious underneath….If the aid is conditional and leads to compromises, we do not need it! They (Foreign powers) are the ones who need Africa. They need its wealth.” Anglican Archbishops Nzimbi, Akinola and Rucyhana of Kenya, Nigeria and Rwanda respectively have adamantly said No! to financial help from Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and world leader of Anglican churches if it means consenting to the consecration of gay clergy and endorsing of same sex marriages. Has it dawned on the black clergy that the African church is being used as a cash crop?
As some African growers recently commented; “You can’t just let Africans grow by themselves. If left to their own devices they quickly overtake and become dominant in whatever field they are planted. Just look at sports. It used to be all white, and then they planted a few Africans. Now Africans dominate most major sports. Whatever those Africans try to do, they always excel and that is bad news for the whites. So proper growing of Africans is essential for a healthy prosperous Europe”. It is true indeed! Most soccer players have been lured away from Africa to play for foreign teams such as France. They play for these countries which have granted the citizenship as the host country takes all the credit.
As the west attempts to remake its public image after the guilt from past bloody atrocities, Africa should guard against being the basin that will hold the water. Africa should beware of being used as a cash crop in the hands of foreign powers but instead be the farmers to check her own course. With the aid industry booming, it is time Africa demanded payment from aid agencies (out to work in Africa and the existing ones) for providing an environment that has helped the aid agencies get rich. Consequently, it is time Africa was paid before being helped. It is said that Africa has finally gotten the attention from the West but as Isaac the Patriarch put it: The hand indeed is Esau’s, but the voice is Jacob’s.