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468 CHAPTER 26 Breaking the Cycle of Colonialism and Dependency in Africa TheRoleoftheAfricanDiaspora Oscar Brathwaite INTRODUCTION A century ago the renowned pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey declared: ‘Wake up, Africa! Let us work toward the one glorious end of a free, and redeemed mighty nation. Let Africa be a bright star among the constellation of nations’1 (Garvey, 1969). This was an appeal to Continental Africans and Africans in the Diaspora to develop strategies that would propel Africa forward. Garvey realised that a collaborative effort was essential to enable Africa to deal with the challenges of that time. For more than a century pan-Africanists have championed the call for collective action by Africans globally to counter the dominance of colonialism, neo-colonialism and racism. They encouraged Africans in the Diaspora to contribute their skills, talents and resources to the empowerment of Africa. Planning for the future without a clear understanding of the past is a formula for confusion and failure. It is imperative that Africans worldwide understand and place history in its right perspective. This will enable them to be in a better position to conceptualise and contextualise the impact that the European slave trade, colonisation and neo-colonisation inflicted on the African continent and on Africans worldwide. This background knowledge would enable Africans to design and implement the type of roadmap that cannot be easily derailed, and would enable Africa to overcome the challenges of the 21st Century. After centuries of enslavement and colonisation, Africa and Africans globally are still suffering from the seismic shocks of the devastation that was perpetrated against Africa and its people. In his book How Europe Under Developed Africa, Rodney argues that the slave trade and colonialism benefited Europe’s industrial and economic development , and set conditions in motion for the underdevelopment of Africa’s 2 (Rodney, 1972). Forty years after Rodney’s book was published, and 469 over one hundred years between the Berlin Conference and the Economic Partnership Agreement a comparison is made to show how Europe continues to stifle Africa’s development. In an Article ‘From Berlin to Brussels,’ the Economist Chukwuma Soludo declares that, ‘Africa is in trouble. Its future is once again on the table and it is Europe that holds the aces. Although it is not the Berlin Conference of 1884–85, which balkanised Africa among 13 European powers to guarantee a source of raw materials and markets, the current ambitions under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) spearhead by the European Union, are the modern-day equivalent… Behind the scenes Europe is tying the hands of Africa and condemning it to perpetual underdevelopment via the EPAs.’3 The slave trade also left indelible scars on the psyche of Diaspora Africans and this may be one of the principal reasons for their apparent disconnectedness to the mother land (Africa). Another factor that can be attributed to their feeling of detachment from Africa is centuries of Euro-centric indoctrination of their minds. Scholars have argued that if we can control people’s mind, then we can control their behaviour and action. There are many obstacles to Africa’s stability and progress including the legacy of the infamous European colonisation of the continent at the Berlin Conference of 1884-85. In addition there is the impact of globalisation as manifest in bodies like the World Trade Organisation. When we analyse the method of carving up Africa, and put that history in its in true perspective, we will come to the realisation that it was conducted with complete disregard for the historical ethnicities and allegiances of the different population groups. In reality the borders were moved around with impunity like the proverbial chess pieces on a chess board by players who did not know where the chess board was, and who neither knew nor cared about the game. In the process, some European countries were allocated African territory several times larger than their own countries4 (Meredith, 2005). However, Africans are an innovative and resilient people who collectively will, eventually, triumph over those travesties, and in due course Africa’s unity will come to fruition. Many initiatives were put in place by African leaders over the last fifty years to correct problems emanating from the European rampage of Africa over the centuries. For example, convening the conference the ‘African Renaissance’, the excerpt from Thabo Mbeki’s article tells us that the African leadership was always seeking solutions to the problems that beset the continent: ‘It is a matter of great...


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