In 1963 Kenyan socialist and nationalist leader Oginga Odinga published his autobiography “Not Yet Uhuru. ” Uhuru is the Kiswahili word for independence. Tragically, Africa is not yet uhuru, almost six decades later.
The consequences are –power struggles, corrupt regimes and dictatorships that fail to deliver for the African people, from Algeria, Togo, Sudan, to Uganda. There were once very promising days for Africa. Kwame Nkrumah was the hero of Ghana’s 1957 independence from Britain. In his book, Neocolonialism The Last Stage of Imperialism, Nkrumah warned that without a United States of Africa, the West would continue dominating Africa in order to exploit the continent’s resources.
Formal colonial control over Africa started in 1884 when Germany’s chancellor Otto von Bismarck hosted the Berlin Conference, attended by 13 European nations and the United States, to set rules for partitioning Africa. Europeans avoided warfare amongst themselves. Africans were to die. Ten million Congolese were exterminated in a colonial Holocaust under the murderous regime of King Leopold II of the Belgians.
Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal spilt up Africa. They obtained slave-like labor for agricultural products; and they plundered minerals and natural resources.
Africans were forced to buy, at inflated prices, products manufactured in Europe with Africa’s stolen resources. Africa enriched Europe.
In the 1960s formal colonialism ended in most African countries. In the Portuguese colonies of Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea Bissau, it didn’t end until the mid-1970s. The Portuguese were crushed after armed resistance led by freedom fighters like Agostinho Neto, Samora Machel, and Amilcar Cabral with major help from China, the Soviet Union and Cuba.
Yet, today, Africa still provides cheap raw materials to enrich Europe, the United States, Japan; and the new imperial power, China. Africa still imports expensive manufactured products. The World Bank maintains this neocolonialism. Conditions for loans –called Structural Adjustment– bans Africa from industrializing. This is not surprising. The Majority shareholders of The World Bank are the countries that attended The Berlin Conference 135 years ago.
So, Bismarck and Leopold are very much alive. Africa continues to subsidize high-living standards in the industrialized countries.
The youth of Africa are struggling in the streets—from Algeria, Togo, Sudan, Uganda, and elsewhere. They must throw out the dictators.
Only then can they confront the Berlin Project.
Africa is not yet Uhuru.