Africa will not be a loaf of bread to be shared by Europeans again

French President Emmanuel Macron, center, flanked by Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou right and Chad's President Idriss Deby left speaks during a press conference following the G5 Sahel summit in Pau, southwestern France, Monday Jan.13, 2020. France is preparing its military to better target Islamic extremists in a West African region that has seen a surge of deadly violence. (Guillaume Horcajuelo/Pool Photo via AP)/ENA152/20013734461512/Pool/2001132130
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In his classic rendition of the African “postcolony,” the philosopher and political theorist, Achille Mbembe, observed that thinking about Africa in the present world does not come easy.

I observe that thinking and writing about Africa and the world in the present does not only not come easy, but it can also be inconvenient and traumatic. In the light and the weight of ongoing geopolitical struggles for global supremacy that pit the USA and its NATO allies against China, Russia and their allies, covert and overt, Africa as a phenomenon and as political food for thought, is a hot potato and what I can call a “political hard hat area” that may not be for the fainted hearted.

Observing, thinking and writing about the position of Africa in the present “world disorder” demands a radical loss of innocence for the political observer and the analyst. It demands what Enrique Dussel calls philosophical atheism where one has to disbelieve in powers that have turned themselves into gods on earth.

That is why most African analysts, when they observe, think and write, do so to endorse the USA and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) narrative that enjoys hegemony in the global media.

According to the narrative of the USA and the NATO alliance, China and Russia are the anti-Christ of the world system and no country, at the pain of severe sanctions, should be seen to be associating with the two countries and their allies, overt and covert.

The very fact that China and Russia have many allies that have chosen to practice their alliance covertly illustrates the trouble that the USA and the NATO collective reserve severe punishment for any country, especially an African country, that may perform any sympathies or support for China and Russia.

Did Namibia speak back to empire?

A video clip circulates online where the Namibian President, Hage Geingob, is in conversation with a German politician, Norbert Lammert. In the conversation, Lammert complains to President Geingob that the Chinese population in Namibia has become too big and that may be unacceptable. The complaint irritates the Namibian leader who explodes into an emotional lecture to the German politician.

Angrily and visibly so, he reminds Lammert that the Namibians, for too long have allowed Germans on a “red carpet” to do what they want in Namibia without hindrance and complaint. While Namibia may not allow the Chinese to “come and play around” in Namibia, it troubles him, Geingob said, that it should take Europeans to worry about China in Namibia.

“Whenever Europeans come here,” in Namibia, their talk “is about China,” and why are the Europeans at long last “sorry for us,” he asked. Why China in Africa has become a problem for Europe not Africans first is a question that worries him, the President said. After that he went on to recount how, Namibians, specifically, and Africans in general, have been victims of racism in Germany.

It must be remembered that the colonial Germans committed a genocide of the Herero people in Namibia. In speaking to a powerful German politician with that candour and forthrightness, he might have done his part in speaking back to Empire. His speech is an act of exemplary courage given that presently there are severe consequences for any country, especially an African country, that seems to side with China or Russia.

The new scramble for Africa

It is not a coincidence but an actual incident that the conference that partitioned Africa into countries such as Namibia took place in Germany, 1884-5. The Germans were central interested parties in the colonisation of Africa.

So, when a German politician, in 2023, complains about the footprints of the Chinese in Namibia, traumatic memories of conquest and colonialism are conjured in our African minds. A new scramble for Africa that pits the West against the East is afoot.

The battle of the East and the West for the control and ownership of Africa is an old one. Africans have been a subject of contestation by other continents for a long time. The stubborn question is what Africans are going to do differently this time around to handle the scramble for the continent and its resources.

We can only hope that the Africa of now is another Africa that will not be reduced into a sphere of influence for foreign powers that are only interested, not in the welfare and happiness of Africans, but the wealthy bounty of resources under their feet.

We should be another Africa, not that Africa that was like a loaf of bread and piece of cake, sliced up in Berlin to be shared among European powers. Africa should not be the same victim that it was yesteryear.

Towards decolonial Pan-African solidarity

President Geingob should not be allowed to be an isolated lonely voice. He should not be isolated to be made an example by angry superpowers that are scrambling for Africa once again.

African leaders should speak with one voice against the new scramble for Africa that is escalating into a true stampede by the day. Africans as a collective should make the point, and make it clearly that Africa will not, once again, be a loaf of bread or some cake to be shared out by foreigners from anywhere in the world.

Now it is the proverbial, “morning yet on creation day” for Africa. It is time to create decolonial and liberated futures.

Cetshwayo Zindabazezwe Mabhena writes from Gezina, Pretoria, in South Africa.