Alemayehu G Mariam
How the West underdeveloped Africa and is now trying to “finance develop” it
The “Third International Conference on Financing for Development” was held in Addis Ababa last week. It was billed as a “gathering of high-level political representatives, including Heads of State and Government, Ministers of Finance, Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation, as well as all relevant institutional stakeholders, non-governmental organizations and business sector entities.”
The Conference was organized to “assess the progress made in the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus and the Doha Declaration”, and produce an “an intergovernmentally negotiated and agreed outcome, which should constitute an important contribution to and support the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda.”
The checklist of things to do at the Conference covered included evaluation of “recent multilateral efforts to promote international development cooperation and the interrelationship of all sources of development finance”, “assessment of the synergies between financing objectives across the three dimensions of sustainable development” and finding ways of “supporting the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015.”
In 1972, Walter Rodney, the Guyanese historian and political activist wrote his seminal book, “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” and argued that European colonial exploitation is principally responsible for the present underdevelopment of much of the continent.
Rodney examined the political economy of African “underdevelopment” since the Europeans came to Africa in 15th century and concluded African “underdevelopment” is the outcome of a historical process of exploitation and oppression of Africa for the benefit of Europe. Rodney argued the political economy of Africa’s underdevelopment is rooted in the Atlantic slave trade, European violence, conquest, dehumanization, displacement, domination of African peoples and destruction and distortion of indigenous African institutions.
Rodney asserted that European industrial development occurred at the high price of asphyxiation of African colonial economies or underdevelopment. European capitalism created an international division of labor based on domination, subjugation and exploitation of Africans and their natural resources. The structure of international capitalism has always relegated African economies to be providers of raw materials, a dependent relationship which the West will maintain in perpetuity for its own advantage. The contemporary African state exists with its alliance with foreign interests. The only way to break out of dependency is to repudiate imperialism, argued Rodney.
Wole Soyinka, the Nigerian poet and playwright who six years after Rodney’s assassination in Guyana in 1980 received the Nobel Prize in Literature, described Rodney as an individual who “was no captive intellectual playing to the gallery of local or international radicalism. He was clearly one of the most solidly ideologically situated intellectuals ever to look colonialism and its contemporary heir black opportunism and exploitation in the eye.”
Rodney observed, “There was a period when the capitalist system increased the well-being of significant numbers of people as a by-product of seeking out profits for a few, but today the quest for profits comes into sharp conflict with people’s demands that their material and social needs should be fulfilled.” (Emphasis added.)
Today, the West is concocting all sorts of economic conferences and scams to rescue Africa form the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
The latest get-rich-quick scam to “develop” underdeveloped Africa and make it rich is the “Global Conference on Financing Development”.
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