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22 Mar

To all my African people who think the lives lost in Paris or Brussels in the terrorist attacks from late last year until now matter far more than the scores lost daily in Nigeria, Chad, Mali, Niger, Kenya, Cameroon and other fragile places to Boko Haram, Al Shabab, Aqim… stop your mass media fueled circus and change that French flag overlay on your profile picture using this app.
This reminds me of some previous sad self denial incidents. hours to the Charlie Hebdo attack there was an attack on the town of Baga near lake Chad where over 2000 were slain by Boko militants. Africans became ”JeSuis Charlie” instead and our presidents flew to France (With Media/Speech/Expression Freedom Comes Responsibility). Then came the attack on school kids in Kenya and we looked aside. Even as we speak the tally of suicide bombers in North Cameroon is counting ahead yet my people are flying french and Belgian flags on social media.
My heart goes out to all the victims of global terror at the hands of state sponsored elements, sadist militants of false religious ideologies and right wing crack heads. The more reason why I think the convention against torture and human rights should be denied to those caught visiting out these inhumane acts.
If by some misfortune the terrorists involved are part of this recent European immigration wave, suspicion and difficulty towards every other immigrant, economic or refugee is going to get toughest.


There is No Honour or Nobility in War!!

7 Sep

War in this era knows nothing about distance or natural barriers! Countries have acquired the technological capacity to couple long and short range missile warheads in their kitchens and garages. Add to this the unending increase in ideological antagonisms which feed hate and blood lust or the interests of multinational corporations and stock markets? War is a legitimized genocide, a very irrational act and whoever lets them self to be swayed by the emotionless eloquence of politicians is as good as the charred remains of combatants. War is the folly of rich and powerful for which the poor always pay the ultimate price for vaguery such as valor, honour, patriotism, humanitarian… In this case, there is no need to sing  “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.”

Is there such thing as a neutral country in this current world order? Concerning the Syrian Chemical Weapons Question on whether or not to carry out a Libya 2011 style rhetorical military invasion, the ongoing tug of words between the US and its allies or its minion on the ground Israel versus the uneasy alliance of Russia, China and Iran invokes to mind some Cold War memories of the world tethering on the edge of peace and eventually tipping off the balance of power relations between these camps who surpass each other only by way of propaganda and the institutions that sponsor the legitimization of violence.

The first and second world wars came about as a result of the ‘All for one and one for all’ system alliances. If the US and it’s NATO allies decide to hit Syria with bombs, what stops Iran from aiming at Israel? And if Russia and China honour their vows to come to the aid of the battered Syrian regime, then it becomes a proxy war that will eventually suck in regional states. With bombs and gunfire sparking in that neighbourhood, imagine that a trigger happy fellow pulls a shot in Kashmir or at the Korean 38 parallel? Previous wars in this era have shown that there is no such thing as brief war or a non-resort to insurgency by the vanquished in a conflict. Increased global interdependence means a shot fired in Yemen can have ripple effects as far and near as in Mali or a suburban American community. It takes political will and diplomatic options to win over an ideology which is politicized in the logic that force is the only ultimate argument left for it to express and survive.

Thought’s about Zimbabwe’s 2013 Election

7 Aug

Agreed, there are basic tenets of democracy that have universality in appeal and function. But now it seems to have become a de jure rule by the Western world led interpretation of what and how democracy is and works for other nations with a completely different cultural reality from them. What makes you think that what is good for the Dog is good for the Wolf?
In Zimbabwe for more than ten years now the western powers have bullied the die-hard Mugabe regime over it’s land redistribution scheme have held economic justice hostage to democratic values. In 2001 the US and the EU literally locked down access to the international monetary and economic system from Zimbabwe and twelve years down the line, the country has been through the thick and thin of human, political and economic crises. So I ask my self, how human are these humanitarians when they watch a buoyant stable economy slip into ruins?Zimbabwe is living in splendid isolation and not even the African Union peer club of gerontocrats has been able to flex a rescue muscle.
Does the western lobby really think Zimbabweans are stupid enough not to read the inscription on the forehead of their puppet in the house called Tsvangirai? Can deliver, Mugabe may be very old for active leadership, but we got to give him some vanilla ice cream for standing up this long. Most African presidents will charter the next jet plane to go beg the ‘masters’ for aid. For the West, Mugabe’s land reform is a pure violation of private property rights and ownership. But they deliberately ignore the facts around the legitimacy of the acquisition of these properties. 


 So because things didn’t work out well for a few European expatriates, millions of Zimbabweans have to pay the price? I don’t get the point with these embargoes and sanctions anymore! How does one ask a hungry and sick person to be democratic as a prerequisite to have food? Food might be a non-issue in the west as evidenced by the lakes and mountains disposed as garbage from homes, shops, restaurants and supermarkets but down there they don’t throw nothing edible. When strife affected Zimbabweans it was no news but when the going got tough and rough for European post-colonialists we saw the demonization of a nation.

I quote my doctoral friend:

“many Zimbabweans might be suffering unjustly. But that’s exactly what happens when economic sanctions are used as tools for extracting political concessions. In a realist international system where might makes right, where states are more egoistic and less altruistic, where states decide their trade, aid and investment partners, and where nonpolitically-motivated humanitarianism is unusual, expect international relations to remain predominantly amoral, and even vengeful – as is the case between the West and Mugabe. In the normative world, Zimbabweans shouldn’t have to pay for the pains of ‘a few European expatriates’. Disappointingly, the realist realm is anything but veritably just.”  C.A.M, London

Dear ‘international Community’ of the veto powers.Forget about Mugabe and give Zimbabweans a chance to conceive, shape and decide their own democracy.

Foreign Interventions and Double Standards

16 Mar

Following the firm establishment of the new world economic and political order in East-South-Central Africa from Somalia, Zimbabwe to Congo DR, the next theater of operations is in North-West-Central Africa. The geopolotical and strategic stakes in the Gulf of Guinea are such that to Counter China’s increasing foothold in the sub-region, soft-power politics is shelved in favour hard-power. With eyes on Nigeria as a key player in the continent’s future economy and political breakthrough, the blight being cast now by religious extremists and the excuses for intervention seem to mismatch each other. Watch-out, Nigeria is being encircled for the containment of its simulated implosive explosion either by proxies or directly.
After the French military adventure in Cote d’Ivoire and their defense hypothesis testing in Libya, the French are on military tourism in Mali with plans to rejuvenate the carcasses of their former colonial legacies of French West and Equatorial Africa. Over the pond, America just annexed Niger with 100 commandos, as French legionnaires from their dominion of Chad have declared a protectorate over North Cameroon, the ideal point of entrance into Central Africa. With all the sub-regions hosting foreign military commands and drone bases, how much louder can African states or the African Union wail amid the shrieks of NGO’s, the hissing of multinational corporations, the chatter of Western firepower or the roar of the Asian Cats? It’s just a matter of time, new front-line republics and symbols of sovereignty are going to appear.

You see what happens when you constantly threaten a country with war and sanction them? you push them to a corner and they become desperate and that leads them to defense innovation and the most developed survival instincts. if North Korea, Zimbabwe, Libya or the other branded pariah states gets militarily sophisticated and immune to international law or let’s say Iran ever gets a nuclear bomb, it will all be 100% the fault of the unguarded guardian states. Scapegoating all the rise of Terrorism in the Southern world now by the nickname ”Islamist”. Sorry you can’t push people into a tight corner and expect them to keep still or quiet! It’s either they turn against their leaders as you wish or worse case side with them to label you the real oppressor.

Balance of Power means Balance of Threat. The lessons learnt by sanctioned states after the Libya coup is that the best way to stay secure is to have the military ability to deter and international police. The French ‘liberation’ in Mali, has not eliminated militant groups but has merely pushed them into different countries, a future excuse to launch another campaign. How do you win such a war when the goal is to plant your values and establish dependent systems? By creating a cycle of conflict.Given the endless reports about emerging economies and projected growth booms, there’s a covert resource war going on and every hegemony is seeking to get a foothold in this zone. Remind, why did Iran become an international bad boy again?

After the military campaigns in Ivory Coast, Libya, Mali and covertly in Niger these past months, the hydra has now spread its tentacles to Cameroon. French special forces have arrived northern Cameroon today and France has asked its nationals as well to leave north Cameroon after a French tourist family of seven kidnapped near the Cameroon-Nigeria border by radical religious militants.
The French ploy to recolonize Africa with its resource and “Islamist” war agenda is well on schedule. Thousands are dying because one man denied being a neo-colonial puppet! Sorry for the French citizens though.

 our discussion is not about the kidnapping but rather we’re reacting to French adventures in Africa and the impact it has on the affected countries. I agree with the French on halting radical militant activities and condemn kidnapping or the targeting of persons as a tactic. my bone of contention is with the free riding self-serving French policy towards Africa. don’t Africans go or live in France? but what are their living standards? Does an African mugged by skin-heads in a French banlieue get the same treatment from his country or French authorities as a French will get in Africa? the French wouldn’t hesitate to bomb 100 Africans to smithereens to secure 1 French national. that’s why their special forces can move in on us but our officially invited president to France can’t get welcome by his host the French president. 
I say TOURISM to satisfy some over-paid expatriate can go to hell when 7 Cameroonians die from a fire caused by electricity failure, goods rot as businesses grind to a halt from a power outage and a patient dies in surgery from electricity failure…and our leaders don’t mention them in their public address or warn the multinational monopoly to better its service delivery, yet just one week after, a French tourist family of 7 is taken hostage alive and it becomes global breaking news to a point where our government deploys a military battalion and arsenal when it can’t do same for its citizens in same situations. Does this mean French citizens are more worthy than us? i ask again!
I’ll prefer us to be economically better without a single tourist visiting, than to be most visited like Tanzania and yet more foreign aid dependent. kidnapped citizens or not, French policy has alienated many from their governments and radicalized them. The kidnapping is the spark that swings the patrimonial machine into action. What if Gbagbo and Gaddafi were left alone? 

We cannot wish for French or citizens of any nationality to be kidnapped on our soil. the point most folks are vexed with here is the legacy of France’s colonial rule and continuous interference in the political life of its former colonies. Isn’t it strange how militants have suddenly been on the rise this last decade? something or someones policies have caused them into action. and until the French realize that, all they’ll keep on doing is to hop from one militant zone to the next. If you play the righteous one always, the unrighteous would get disenchanted and weary of you.

Well considering that the French ‘tricolor’ is flying higher than the Malian flag now, the price of liberation is the reinforcement of the patrimonial system. Image cleansing after Libya. Even though the French have called for dialogue and plan a quick withdrawal, the task of reconstruction and development cooperation shall go back to them. I’m repulsed by the inaction and feet dragging shown by the African forces during this campaign. Now Mali will listen to Paris more than Addis-Ababa… do you get the blur picture i have in mind?

Equally shameful is the case of Bozize in Centrafrique who begged the French to recolonize them, even going as far as calling them ‘Cousins’. Reminds me of Bokassa and the birth his empire with French technocrats. I mean observe from Gabon, Chad, Cote D’Ivoire, Libya and Mali, it seems France is returning through the door once more to French West Africa. With talks of Drone bases, AFRICOM and other forms of deployment in the pipeline by vanguard countries, i don’t see an early end to conflict hot-spots. It’s either the 100 US commandos in Central Africa are scouts or how can one explain the fact that Seleka rebels overran the country and didn’t come upon Kony even once while US commandos have been trailing for months now. The motives are clouded in abstraction and the talk of the UN increasing it’s forces and procuring drones in East Congo makes me think like they’re doing but a geologic research!

It’s been several days now since the French launched their campaign to rid Mali of radical religious militants.The ECOWAS was caught off guard,which explains their feet dragging antics or careful vigilance to deploy the pledged troops. I am impressed with the Chadians whom despite having domestic crises of their own and belonging to the CEMAC zone,have sent troops to Mali and the Central Africa Republic. Some retards in Algeria show their sympathy for the anarchists in Mali by kidnapping and dying along with many of their hostages. It’s a shame a state like Cameroon always opts for political neutrality and a non confrontation foreign policy has dispatched a scout contingent to Bangui.

The reality is that the French aren’t altruistic. At the end of the day all reconstruction contracts will go to their companies.but for now they’re under responsibility to halt the terrorist threat from consuming the sub region as well as its spill overs into the EU Zone.for now Mali badly needs to return to political stability.  The feet dragging of the ECOWAS and UNSC since the militants took over in April 2012 is truly saddening. With the timetable for the African ECOMOG forces intervention set for September 2013, it was too idealist of them. If the militants could use one month to seize half of the country, imagine what they’ll do before September! for 9 months now all attempts at peaceful resolution have failed and with the militants bent on matching on Bamako, it was time someone did something to halt them. The African bloc must be at the vanguard to make sure that the French stick to their mandate as liberators because anything after that is the pursuit of interests. As such the AU and its regional blocs must take a tough and decisive role in the post-conflict fate of Mali.


In another developing story, a Cameroonian film-maker goes missing after producing a very satirical movie about the current regime. After his presumed abduction following a series of anonymous threats on his life and those of his collaborators, a media backlash is unleashed upon government officials and diplomatic missions. In response, France’s ambassador to Cameroon banned a screening of the yet to be released movie at the French Cultural Institute in Yaoundé because France did not want to meddle in Cameroon’s internal affairs. 

Champions of democracy and freedoms in Africa indeed!!!

So I ask again what is the difference between peace and/or war to Cameroonians? Aren’t they becoming synonymous? The use of fear to stifle debate that is contrary to regime agenda is so deeply engraved in Cameroonians psyche such that any dissenting voice is  silenced and accused of steering trouble and incitement for disorder, not by regime lackeys and cronies but rather by the now inherently phobic and politically apathetic citizens.

Now let us ask Mr. French Ambassador how is Cameroon different from Libya, Ivory Coast, Central African Republic and Mali? Were their issues not internal too before they intervened? Double standards!!! I wish all those Breaking News medias and expert human rights NGOs and activists can take up these university cinematography students cause  with the same enthusiasm they demonstrate for other causes.

By Nwanatifu Nwaco

Legitimacy Crises and the State System in Africa

18 Jan

An introductory essay by Nwanatifu Nwaco

The constant occurrence of territorial disputes in Africa has necessitated numerous scholarly research and theoretical formulations on predicting, understanding, explaining why states wage war against each other.  What is intriguing is that most of these disputed territories might in fact have no geostrategic or economic resources that benefit the claimants. Looking at the several self determination and secessionist movements in Africa as engineers of internal and trans-border conflict, the very nature and process of state formation and building of African states explains the prevalence of conflicts in and among them, in the same way it determines their how they relate to each other. 

States vary in how they have been formed, so do their sources of legitimacy. African states comply with the Montevideo treaty’s [1] definition of a state. The Peace treaty of Westphalia in 1648 established two predominant principles of international relations among states into:

(1)   The government of each country is unequivocally sovereign within its territorial jurisdiction.

(2)   Countries shall not interfere in each other’s domestic affairs.[2]

This legitimized the ideas of sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of states. States in the modern state system always claim or invoke these principles to justify their actions. However recent African states are in contrast failing to develop into sovereign nation-states if compared in terms of institutions and state capacity to the older states that had have evolved since Westphalian state system.

The Oxford concise dictionary of politics defines a state as “a distinct set of political institutions whose specific concern is with the organization of domination, in the name of common interest, within a particular territory.” It defines further that the most influential definition of the modern state is that provided by Weber which emphasizes three aspects of territoriality, the monopoly of the means of physical violence and its legitimacy. [3]

“A state is defined as a territorial association of people recognized for the purpose of law and diplomacy as a legally equal member of the system of states.”[4]

The embedded and interacting attributes in the above definitions are the State, Government and Legitimacy. Due to the abstract nature of the state, the governmental attribute shall be used to explain how the conflict resolution process between the African states in question was acquired and exercised with dependence on legitimacy and recognition from other states. The principle of territoriality interweaves in the formulation of the theory of state legitimacy to explore the  question why the international community is successful in preventing conflicts in some border disputes but not in others?

The quest for theories to explain the causes of boundary disputes in Africa in respect to other states within the international political system and on the continent of Africa, while they stress territoriality more and emphasizing short comings from governance as established causes and potential solutions, has not gone in depth into researching how the external dependency of African states owing to their process of arbitrary creation from international action by European colonialism[5], recognition has been both a cause and choice of solution to these states. As such, the willingness and denial of the disputants in the Bakassi and Badme border disputes of international pressure for peace is more a matter of acquiring legitimacy and recognition from fellow states.

Max Weber and why do African states fail to establish this monopoly?

Max Weber offers yet an outstanding definition of Legitimacy as:

a compulsory political association with continuous organization that successfully upholds a claim to the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force in the enforcement of its order within a given territorial area.”[6]

The Weberian definition the state is the source of monopoly of the legitimate use of force which is exercised by state institutions or persons and commands obedience from the governed or the component elements of the state. Legitimacy enables the government to project authority and dominion over the internal and external sovereignty of the state it represents.

Deducing from empirical research, African states do not have the monopoly over the legitimate use of physical force, due to variations in state capacity, because of difficult geography, rough terrain, poverty, inter-state competition and warfare and the domestic political competition influence the incentives of politicians to build state capacity.[7]  Moreover, “Claims to territorial legitimacy may rest on the asserted right of a state to control all of the territory which it has occupied at some point in the past on its own right to govern the area allocated to it by international agreements or revolutionary aspirations to liberate or even salvation.”

Weak countries and failed states lack the means or competence to deal effectively with violent conflict because they are not capable of guaranteeing internal security and their instruments to execute the state monopoly of violence are inefficient. This lack of effective control over territory and sociologic components of the state, the absence of authority to advance basic rights and freedoms, enforce laws and allow for citizens participation in the political process, breeds the need for external intervention by the international community in the sovereign domain of a state if its government cannot provide the most basic state functions makes them risky to both the people of that country and to international peace and security.[8] These erode internal legitimacy and leave the state dependent on external sources of legitimacy for internal domination.

Cycles of Conflict

If a reason exists that has succeeded in replicating itself within the causal factors responsible for the emergence of disagreements and disputes between states, it is none other than boundary related disputes. The world in general and indeed Africa in particular is sated with such disputes.  Nevertheless, boundary or territorial disputes between nation-states are based on rival or competing interests…

This introduction is a prologue to a subsequent article on the theme: “Military interventions and the peace building processes in failed states.”

[1] Montevideo Convention on Rights and Duties of States; December 26, 1933, ARTICLE 1 definesThe state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: a ) a permanent population; b ) a defined territory; c ) government; and d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.

[2] Andreas Osiander, Sovereignty, International Relations, and the Westphalian Myth. International Organization  No.55, 2, Spring 2001, pp. 260-261

[3] Ian McLean, 1996, The Oxford concise dictionary of politics, Oxford University Press, pp 472-474

[4] Christopher Clapham, 1996, Africa and the International System: The Politics of State Survival, Cambridge University Press, pp 11

[5] Op.cit, Clapham, 2006, pp 4

[6] Max Weber, 1947, The Theory Of Social And Economic Organization, The Free Press, pp 154

[7] Daron Acemoglu, James A. Robinson, Rafael J. Santos, November 2009, The Monopoly of Violence: Evidence from Colombia, pp1

[8] Herbert Wulf, 2006, Reconstructing the Public Monopoly of Legitimate Force, Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces , pp 87 – 89

Yes We Can Obama, Let’s Fall in Love Again

18 Nov

I was particularly amazed how some love struck African brothers and sisters were  flooding my Facebook timeline with Photoshop images and love declarations for Obama. I have not been as keen to following the 2012 American presidential extravagance and war of words as I did in 2008 with every conviction. I wish African elections had all the free and fairness of vote casting, counting and acceptance of results, that will greatly spare us from the frequent cries of ‘stolen victories’ or the now infamous  ” Power Sharing Governments.”  As a victim of hope, I am nerved by his seemingly spontaneous and non-concise Africa Policy and not by his personality as Obama who still inspires me.

Obama is an American president and that is an undeniable fact but he’s also an African (more rightly a Kenyan but some say he is more Irish) as clearly advocated when he put forward his candidacy and in the wee days of his mandate. This very identification put a moral debt upon him and so far the ‘Brother Son’ over there not held to his side of the heritage bargain. His election gave a lot of hope to Africans worldwide that all things are possible. In order to avert audience costs, it seems wrong for him to show some human ‘weakness’ to complement the hope he stirred up, others before him did and will do it – the tabooed ‘special favors, which semantics will style as cooperation, alliance or networking. Oh wait then that will make of his case racist or tribalism! Was the ‘Marshall Aid Plan’ not a special favor from the Americans to their European cousins? (The basis of which some African home and diaspora interests have founded their demands for reparations for slavery and colonialism).  There is a patronizing African proverb that: “If you know someone on top of a tree, you are sure to eat a ripe fruit.” I guess we will have to wait for another African president (excuse me, another ‘Black’ president) and these come once in who knows how many years.

Photo credit: A Photo edit by Cameroon movie entrepreneur Eric Ntang,

This is to say, i don’t oppose his global foreign policy of head on confrontation in words and action, but what the heck! despite Africa being the marrow in the bone of his foreign policy theater  apart from Libya, I heard him say nothing concerning Africa all through the debates except for the contending Romney mentioning Mali and Libya while expressing his concerns about the middle east and the assassins attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya. 

Obama’s Africa policy has been characterized more by overt and covert military operations than economic policies as the latter has been resigned to China. Militarization not trade and investment is perhaps Obama’s way of getting democracy installed in Africa. May be because over the years, he has observed how African leaders are developing quasi-immunity to democratization. While the thought of military invasions in Africa could have scared previous ‘white’ presidents, he probably said this to his officials, “I know these dudes, i’ll do the job and ya’ll  thank me later.”  

We have witnessed the deployment of commandos and joint military training’s and drills with regional proxy states, drone strikes at hot-targets, the shelling and bombing by American led alliances on African soil despite the strong condemnation from the African Union which has been totally ignored to the sound of its own barking. As seems to be the goal, the US AFRICOM will be firmly implanted in Africa and for now it has been training African armies that only serve of their new skills to overturn governments as done Mali and could be a long run Conquistador force against the resource rich states.

As it stands, the only positive non-military effect he has had was continuing a program instituted by President Bush before living office that has been effective in fighting HIV/AIDS, but as someone with close link to the continent as himself, should he be sailing on Bush’s Africa legacy or setting his own. According to an article by News Week:

“President George W. Bush’s administration, for all its flaws, truly brought to change to Africa through its PEPFAR program, which injected billions of dollars of money into nearly every aspect of the fight against HIV/AIDS, from prevention to critical antiretroviral (ARV) treatment programs. Outside of the war on terrorism, Bush made it the centerpiece of his foreign policy, and it animated a great deal of time and attention from the executive branch. Projects like PEPFAR take years to show results and a steady influx of billions to maintain. But they pay off. Last month, South Africa began clinical trials in the first-ever AIDS vaccine on the continent. That never would have been possible without PEPFAR. Admittedly, it’s early, but for now it’s clear that Bush was better than Obama for Africa.”

Africans need to wake up as soon as possible, clean up their governments and stick to the cleanliness if they ever succeed to clean it up. Including you and I, I don’t see all the educated Africans whether at home or abroad helping to change the outlook of the local people by providing alternative hope in Obama style. Given Mitt Romney’s instability with his own pronouncements on  things to-do, if he was elected President of the US, the  relationship between the US and African countries would anchor on uncertainty. In which case Obama was then a likely bet winner for a second term presidency. I say congratulations to him for this second term re-election and hope he can, and YES WE CAN with this renewed mandate say LET’s FALL IN LOVE AGAIN as we did in when you visited motherland as a Senator and also in 2008 and beyond when he shattered a record streak to become the first Black president of the US. The point as reality has proven is that Africa should not expect favors from him, but disfavors from him would not be welcomed as well.

By Nwanatifu Nwaco

Corruption – a Global Problem or an African Cancer?

19 Oct

Is African corruption unique, or is it just like corruption in the many other parts of the world? Citizens of African countries tend to argue that they have an unchallengeable lead in the whole business of corruption – their own problem exceeds that of all other countries. International corporate types, however, tend to see corruption in Africa as being no different to that which they face or participate in across a range of countries. In NGO circles corruption in Africa tends to be regarded as a product of western influence and the siren voices of capitalism. Where does the truth lie?

France Africa e1345237239156 photo

Corrupt African leaders are propped up by outsiders

In my book, Global Corruption : Money, Power and Ethics in the Modern World, I explore the nature of corruption across the world, the forces which drive it forward, and the roadblocks to combating it. Many of the issues discussed are common to a range of countries. I particularly focus on five key drivers. The first is the size of the ‘unrecorded economy’ – in many countries from Russia to Nigeria unrecorded transactions amount to at least 40 per cent of GDP, constituting a vast reservoir from which corrupt payments can be made without trace.

The second is the system of ‘political finance,’ by which huge sums of money, often gained corruptly, are invested in the political process with the expectation of a corruptly gained reward once power is secured or re-secured. This is easily discernible in most political systems from the US to India.

The third is the role of organised crime in securing political support and cover for trading operations ranging from drugs to counterfeit pharmaceuticals – a recognised practice from Italy to Thailand.

The fourth is the role of national and international companies in the ‘mis-pricing’ of products which enable a large chunk of profits to be moved to havens where tax is low or non-existent – a common phenomenon from Russia to Peru.

The last is the system by which illegally and corruptly gained products – such as oil, timber and rare minerals – transit from the illegal sector to the legal sector, such as timber from Cambodia or counterfeit drugs in south east Asia.

It is easy to see that these five drivers are also at work across Africa. No African country has an economy, except South Africa, in which more than 60 per cent is recorded in standard GDP figures; dominant political parties are typically funded by a small clique with corporate interests ; organised crime is a major factor in many countries especially in the drugs and counterfeit pharmaceuticals business ; ‘mis-pricing’ of mineral and timber exports is common; and the transit of illegally acquired products – such as timber, oil and coltan – from the informal to the formal sector is widespread. By these criteria, corruption in Africa is very much part of an international pattern.

How does this work out at the country level?

In Cameroon Paul Biya, in power for 30 years, is partly sustained by the export of illegally felled logs from Cameroun’s vast forest reserves. Key politicians in Guinea-Conakry and Guinea-Bissau have become active partners with Colombian drug cartels in the trans-shipment of cocaine to Europe. In Nigeria, oil ‘bunkering’ from the Delta enriches both local and national players in the government and the army – a classic case of illegally acquired products entering the world’s legal trade through the Rotterdam market. The price at which Tanzania’s booming mineral exports – notably gold, platinum and uranium – enter the world market is controversial and secret.

Whilst these types of corruption are common across much of the world, it is difficult to argue that Africa is a victim of global and corrupt processes which, substantially, it cannot control. The question of the size of the unrecorded sector is one which governments can tackle over a three to four year period as, for example, Rwanda has shown. Any increase in the local tax take – a growing theme amongst donors – depends on a steady increase in the relative size of the formal sector. The control of political finance is a big problem throughout the world, but the more outrageous raids in Africa on Treasuries, Central Banks and the defence budget can be dramatically reduced. The expansion of the tentacles of organised crime depends on the compliance of at least some elected and non-elected officials, but the process is not inevitable. The transit of products from the illegal to the legal sector, although a mechanism requiring international collaboration, is ultimately triggered by local rather than international initiative.

The question of mispricing is one for which the responsibility falls much more heavily on the corporate world outside Africa and where African countries are undoubtedly frequent victims of this, losing huge quantities of revenue in the process. Here initiatives such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which commits both companies and governments to reporting the revenue they respectively earn and receive from the exploitation of mineral resources, are key (of the 14 countries which are ‘fully compliant’ with EITI, seven are in Africa).

Africa’s corruption has many global aspects, especially the fact that it arises from deep structural factors which it will take great energy and courage to change. Heroes such as Nuhu Ribadu and John Githongo have shown the way forward, but have also demonstrated the depth of resistance to rolling it back – both were forced into exile. As elsewhere in the world, governments will have to address the underlying issues as well as the symptomatic cases which are only occasionally brought to court.

Click below for original article.

Laurence Cockcroft is a development economist and former chair of Transparency Internatiional. 

How to Write About Africa

12 Aug


by Binyavanga Wainaina, a classic satirical essay from a Kenyan writer.

Always use the word ‘Africa’ or ‘Darkness’ or ‘Safari’ in your title. Subtitles may include the words ‘Zanzibar’, ‘Masai’, ‘Zulu’, ‘Zambezi’, ‘Congo’, ‘Nile’, ‘Big’, ‘Sky’, ‘Shadow’, ‘Drum’, ‘Sun’ or ‘Bygone’. Also useful are words such as ‘Guerrillas’, ‘Timeless’, ‘Primordial’ and ‘Tribal’. Note that ‘People’ means Africans who are not black, while ‘The People’ means black Africans.

Never have a picture of a well-adjusted African on the cover of your book, or in it, unless that African has won the Nobel Prize. An AK-47, prominent ribs, naked breasts: use these. If you must include an African, make sure you get one in Masai or Zulu or Dogon dress.

In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country. It is hot and dusty with rolling grasslands and huge herds of animals and tall, thin people who are starving. Or it is hot and steamy with very short people who eat primates. Don’t get bogged down with precise descriptions. Africa is big: fifty-four countries, 900 million people who are too busy starving and dying and warring and emigrating to read your book. The continent is full of deserts, jungles, highlands, savannahs and many other things, but your reader doesn’t care about all that, so keep your descriptions romantic and evocative and unparticular.

Make sure you show how Africans have music and rhythm deep in their souls, and eat things no other humans eat. Do not mention rice and beef and wheat; monkey-brain is an African’s cuisine of choice, along with goat, snake, worms and grubs and all manner of game meat. Make sure you show that you are able to eat such food without flinching, and describe how you learn to enjoy it—because you care.

Taboo subjects: ordinary domestic scenes, love between Africans (unless a death is involved), references to African writers or intellectuals, mention of school-going children who are not suffering from yaws or Ebola fever or female genital mutilation.

Throughout the book, adopt a sotto voice, in conspiracy with the reader, and a sad I-expected-so-much tone. Establish early on that your liberalism is impeccable, and mention near the beginning how much you love Africa, how you fell in love with the place and can’t live without her. Africa is the only continent you can love—take advantage of this. If you are a man, thrust yourself into her warm virgin forests. If you are a woman, treat Africa as a man who wears a bush jacket and disappears off into the sunset. Africa is to be pitied, worshipped or dominated. Whichever angle you take, be sure to leave the strong impression that without your intervention and your important book, Africa is doomed.

Your African characters may include naked warriors, loyal servants, diviners and seers, ancient wise men living in hermitic splendour. Or corrupt politicians, inept polygamous travel-guides, and prostitutes you have slept with. The Loyal Servant always behaves like a seven-year-old and needs a firm hand; he is scared of snakes, good with children, and always involving you in his complex domestic dramas. The Ancient Wise Man always comes from a noble tribe (not the money-grubbing tribes like the Gikuyu, the Igbo or the Shona). He has rheumy eyes and is close to the Earth. The Modern African is a fat man who steals and works in the visa office, refusing to give work permits to qualified Westerners who really care about Africa. He is an enemy of development, always using his government job to make it difficult for pragmatic and good-hearted expats to set up NGOs or Legal Conservation Areas. Or he is an Oxford-educated intellectual turned serial-killing politician in a Savile Row suit. He is a cannibal who likes Cristal champagne, and his mother is a rich witch-doctor who really runs the country.

Among your characters you must always include The Starving African, who wanders the refugee camp nearly naked, and waits for the benevolence of the West. Her children have flies on their eyelids and pot bellies, and her breasts are flat and empty. She must look utterly helpless. She can have no past, no history; such diversions ruin the dramatic moment. Moans are good. She must never say anything about herself in the dialogue except to speak of her (unspeakable) suffering. Also be sure to include a warm and motherly woman who has a rolling laugh and who is concerned for your well-being. Just call her Mama. Her children are all delinquent. These characters should buzz around your main hero, making him look good. Your hero can teach them, bathe them, feed them; he carries lots of babies and has seen Death. Your hero is you (if reportage), or a beautiful, tragic international celebrity/aristocrat who now cares for animals (if fiction).

Bad Western characters may include children of Tory cabinet ministers, Afrikaners, employees of the World Bank. When talking about exploitation by foreigners mention the Chinese and Indian traders. Blame the West for Africa’s situation. But do not be too specific.

Broad brushstrokes throughout are good. Avoid having the African characters laugh, or struggle to educate their kids, or just make do in mundane circumstances. Have them illuminate something about Europe or America in Africa. African characters should be colourful, exotic, larger than life—but empty inside, with no dialogue, no conflicts or resolutions in their stories, no depth or quirks to confuse the cause.

Describe, in detail, naked breasts (young, old, conservative, recently raped, big, small) or mutilated genitals, or enhanced genitals. Or any kind of genitals. And dead bodies. Or, better, naked dead bodies. And especially rotting naked dead bodies. Remember, any work you submit in which people look filthy and miserable will be referred to as the ‘real Africa’, and you want that on your dust jacket. Do not feel queasy about this: you are trying to help them to get aid from the West. The biggest taboo in writing about Africa is to describe or show dead or suffering white people.

Animals, on the other hand, must be treated as well rounded, complex characters. They speak (or grunt while tossing their manes proudly) and have names, ambitions and desires. They also have family values: see how lions teach their children? Elephants are caring, and are good feminists or dignified patriarchs. So are gorillas. Never, ever say anything negative about an elephant or a gorilla. Elephants may attack people’s property, destroy their crops, and even kill them. Always take the side of the elephant. Big cats have public-school accents. Hyenas are fair game and have vaguely Middle Eastern accents. Any short Africans who live in the jungle or desert may be portrayed with good humour (unless they are in conflict with an elephant or chimpanzee or gorilla, in which case they are pure evil).

After celebrity activists and aid workers, conservationists are Africa’s most important people. Do not offend them. You need them to invite you to their 30,000-acre game ranch or ‘conservation area’, and this is the only way you will get to interview the celebrity activist. Often a book cover with a heroic-looking conservationist on it works magic for sales. Anybody white, tanned and wearing khaki who once had a pet antelope or a farm is a conservationist, one who is preserving Africa’s rich heritage. When interviewing him or her, do not ask how much funding they have; do not ask how much money they make off their game. Never ask how much they pay their employees.

Readers will be put off if you don’t mention the light in Africa. And sunsets, the African sunset is a must. It is always big and red. There is always a big sky. Wide empty spaces and game are critical—Africa is the Land of Wide Empty Spaces. When writing about the plight of flora and fauna, make sure you mention that Africa is overpopulated. When your main character is in a desert or jungle living with indigenous peoples (anybody short) it is okay to mention that Africa has been severely depopulated by Aids and War (use caps).

You’ll also need a nightclub called Tropicana, where mercenaries, evil nouveau riche Africans and prostitutes and guerrillas and expats hang out.

Always end your book with Nelson Mandela saying something about rainbows or renaissances. Because you care. 

As originally published in Granta 92





What Will African Economies Do Upon The Inevitable Death Of The Dollar And The Euro?

10 Aug

By: Deitric Muhammad – Chief Economist of MGE19

Today we are witnessing the inevitable collapse of Western economies. Inevitable — not because of the encompassing debt that Western nations have succumbed to. Inevitable — not because of ill governance and misappropriation of fiscal revenue by government officials and embezzlement by central banking institutions. No. It is inevitable due the economic structures of these economies at the root. The economic structure is a parasitic design. The economic structures of these economies require “host” economies from which to gain its sustenance and preservation.

The genius of this design is its ability to make the host economies believe they are themselves “dependent” on the “parasitic” economies — and can neither sustain nor preserve themselves without the assistance, guidance, financial backing and currency of the “parasite” economies. Simply genius! An absolutely marvelous and wonderful design!

These parasitic economies required an external labor force in order to extract resources from external economies in order to import natural resources that would support and actually back these parasitic economic structures. This is understandable because these resources were not produced in large quantities within these economies. However, to accomplish this, those external economies had to be utterly destroyed in order to reap maximum (limitless) benefit. Actually, this was not the only option. A cooperative measure could have been instituted if desired. However, this was not the desired option.

Nonetheless, through deception and war-making, the twin institutions of slavery and colonialism were established. The purpose was to utilize the expertise and labor of the indigenous populations in order to extract the natural resources of those “host” economies in order to support and back the “parasite” economies of Europe.

Now we have the motivating factor behind European expansion into the Western hemisphere, Africa, Asia, and throughout the planet. This was an ingenious operation in its execution and effectiveness. The best executive factor is that the European populations actually convinced the indigenous populations that they can not produce anything for themselves from their own resources without the expertise of their successful European counterparts. This would be laughable if it was not true.

Let’s fast-forward to the 1700s-1900s. All Western economies had currencies that were subjected to a monetary standard. This is a mechanism that allows a currency to be backed by a monetized commodity which is set at a particular nominal price per measure of that commodity. This set price/measure attribute was the indicator that detected inflationary and deflationary pressure at its earliest stages. This detection enabled the economies to check these market forces at their earliest stages by taking out and adding in currency in order to sustain the set price/measure of that monetized commodity. This brought price stability, monetary stability — for it stabilized and preserved the value of the currency, and ultimately, economic stability.

Although these parasitic economies were dependent on stolen labor, stolen natural resources, and stolen wealth, they were able to sustain and preserve themselves in real terms because they were able to support and back themselves with real resources. The currencies used and created by these European economies represented real value as a unit of account.

They only represented real value because the real value was in the real natural resources from which they extracted from the “host” economies. In other words, the currencies had no value within and of themselves.

Each parasitic economy had its own currency with its own monetary standard. These currencies were superimposed on their colonial “host” economies. This added to the dependency of these colonies on their colonial masters. These various monetary standards naturally had some difficulties in terms of trading and business. This is what prompted the call for Western nations to unite their currencies. Of course, there were other factors as well. During the first World War, the indigenous populations had experienced the power of the firearm at first hand when they used these weapons against the brothers and enemies of their colonial masters. This is what helped sparked the idea of revolution and freeing themselves of their imperialist masters.

The wickedly-wise Western powers saw this and needed to make preparations for this. It was not the idea of indigenous populations using weapons against them that scared them. On the contrary, it was the indigenous populations being economically-independent of them that warranted nightmares. A circumstance needed to be created that would enable these “parasite” economies to continue their control and extraction of natural resources (wealth in real terms) in their “host” economies in perpetuity. The most effective and proven means to accomplish this is through debt. The best established and most proven means to create debt is through war-making.

The Bretton Woods Conference of 1944 from 1-22 July is where the Western “parasite” economies directly pegged their currencies to the US dollar. These “parasite” economies literally dropped their monetary standards and adopted the “gold standard” through the US dollar. The central banks of these “parasite” economies and their “host” economies harmonized in terms of policy in order to become effective. This conference is where the International Reconstruction and Development Bank (IRDB), the International Development Bank (now IDA), the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank (IRDB and IDA) originate. Of course, the League of Nations became the United Nations in 1945. The same year these international banks were established. (,

The history of these organizations and institutions verifies the intent of their creation as mentioned in the paragraph above. Of course, after the liberation wars, these banking institutions and Western economies offered to help these newly-emancipated economies in the rebuilding process. They loaned money to these newly-emancipated economies in order to rebuild the infrastructure and help them to “re-structure” their economies in order to “pay them back”. The most poisonous advice given, in my opinion, was the advice to devalue their currency. The deception is simple. It was explained that if they devalue their currency, prices will rise.

The rise in prices will generate more revenue and increase economic growth. What these Western economists and international banking institutions failed to explain was that the economic growth would be inflationary. This means that eventually costs would catch up with revenue levels — significantly diminishing profit margins which will result in economic decline.

The other aspect of this inflationary economic growth is that the purchasing power of their currency will become significantly weak where their former parasitic colonial masters will be able to extract resources and labor from those “host” economies at a much cheaper rate than in their own economies. The implementation of this failed monetary policy is the direct reason why Western economies continue to have economic dominance in so-called developing economies. This is also the direct reason why Western economies can buy raw materials at a very inexpensive rate, create finished products, sell it back to the “host” economies at retail prices, and still make ridiculous profits although the “host” currency has a significantly-reduced purchasing power.

Fast-forward to 15 August 1971; the former US President Nixon was directed to sever the US dollar-gold link—liberating the US dollar from the restraints and the constraints of the gold monetary standard which governed US monetary policy. The fiat bill was created, and now the US economy was subjected to the money-supply decisions and the interest rate targets of the Federal Reserve bank. Although the dollar was no longer connected to gold, the world currencies were still connected to the US dollar. This, in effect, subjected the world economies to the money-supply decisions and interest rate targets of the Federal Reserve bank. (Now you know how what happened in the US housing market grew into the so-called World Financial Crisis. Oops!)

Whatever happens in the US economy affects the world economies, and since the “host” economies devalued their currencies, they feel the effects of reckless money-supply forces and manipulated interest rates the earliest and the hardest. In a nutshell, the world economies are controlled by remote control via the US dollar — including China! See “Warning to Latin American Governments” in the R & A section at:

There’s no other reason why China is experiencing inflation in general and food-inflation in particular — except that the yuan is still directly pegged to the US dollar. Of course, the yuan was de-pegged from the US dollar by 2%. This increased the purchasing power of the yuan by 2% — allowing the yuan to receive more US dollars for less yuan — the center of the US-Sino trade disputes. However, the yuan is not 100% independent of the US dollar; it is only 2% of the way.

What is the point of this? What will African economies do once the US dollar and the euro collapse? African economies are in a very vulnerable position because of their artificial dependency on external economies — including China. It has been stated that those who control the resources of Africa will become the next superpower for the 21st Century. In 2005, you could hardly find any so-called developed economy seriously considering serious investment in many African nations.

Africa suffered from severe capital flight. It was known to be a hotbed for corruption, wars, famine, and poverty. Not much has changed, yet today there is an explosion of investors looking to invest in Africa. Investment capital, infrastructural financing, and other forms of capital are blasting their way to African economies from the US, Europe, China, and India. France, NATO, Africom, and other entities from parasitic economies are increasing their military presence in the continent.

Is their a sudden interest in the people of Africa or in the resources of Africa? Well, if it is the control of the resources of Africa that will make the prospective nations the next superpower in the 21st Century, should not Africa control its own resources and become the 21st Century’s next superpower? I’m just saying. What worries me is this: We have the Francophone nations still using the franc. This is why the French President Sarkozy interfered in the Ivory Coast elections because he did not want the Francophone African nations to develop their own monetary system. This is the same reason why Libya is being bombarded today.

Libyan leader, Muammar Al-Qathafi wanted to establish the gold dinar as the Pan-African currency and create a Pan-African monetary system that would no longer accept anything but gold to exchange for oil. This would have broken Europe just a little bit quicker than Europe is breaking itself. We have Anglophone African nations that still use the euro and are members of the British Commonwealth — although those nations are still impoverished.

Let’s take Zimbabwe for example. They are a revolutionary nation that has taken back colonially-stolen land and given the land back to the indigenous Blacks. This must be applauded and admired because this is a true act of justice and liberation for the indigenous Blacks of that nation who has suffered unspeakable evils by their white occupiers. Because of this selfless act, Zimbabwe is punished by economic sanctions. The sanctions caused the Zimbabwean economy to suffer hyper-inflation. In 2007, I had offered to help them save the Zimbabwean dollar from the effects of hyper-inflation. I have made this offer on several occasions.

However, they decided to shelf the Zimbabwean dollar and implement foreign currencies such as the US dollar, the euro, and the Azanian rand in order to stabilize their economy. This has been successful, although foreign currency has been difficult to attain, and those whose savings were in Zimbabwean dollars were wiped out due to the hyper-inflation. Now that the euro is collapsing and the US dollar is beginning its fall, what will the Zimbabwean economy do? Zimbabwe does have a “Look East” policy where China and India are making strategic investments in Zimbabwe under very good terms. This is great! It is great to have an alternative to the beastly dealings with the West. However, the yuan is still directly pegged to the US dollar and is subjected to the value-pendulum swings of the US dollar and so is the rupee.

My question is: Instead of “Looking East” why not “Look to Itself”? Zimbabwe alone was the third largest producer of gold in the world. It is mineral rich. All African nations are mineral and resource rich. Why not connect your currency to the land by backing it with a monetized commodity and disconnect it from the collapsing fiat currency market which is dominated by the parasitic economies? When the US dollar falls and the euro falls, the world markets are going to go down with them. This includes China — the largest holder of US debt. It is high time that Africa become the next economic superpower by gaining control over its own resources. I mean, c’mon, how simple is that?

About the Author: Deitric Muhammad is the Chief Economist of MGE19 Economic Research & Structural Models ( He was also the first to predict the so-called World Financial Crisis as early as October 2005. See MGE19’s Economic Report FY2006. To view more of MGE19’s Analytical Reports go to:

MGE19 Economic Research and Structural Models is an economic research firm based in the United States that specializes in Predictive Market Analysis (PMA) and economic structural models designed to create economic stability on a permanent basis and perpetual economic growth through monetary and fiscal paradigms.

MGE19 has designed the monetary policy for an oil-backed currency in which President Chavez is pushing for OPEC to implement. You can learn more about MGE19 Economic Research and Structural Models by going to the company website:

Meet the Cameroonian Afropeans and their Disappearing Acts at London 2012

8 Aug

NWANATIFU is a social critic and researcher on African politics and migration.

My national pride has been mortally hurt!

The false promise of Europe as an El-dorado mentally enslaves Africans and perpetuates the desire to migrate. Intensifying migrant control sends out the message that there is something there that is worth keeping out others. After centuries of exploiting Human and natural resources without making the lives of the exploited better, Europe now sees these abandoned Africans as threats to its economic survival and the cultural values of Europe. Africa is rising but are Africans rising along with it?
Until Europe as the core begins to allow its African periphery to determine the political and economic destiny of their human and economic resources, the talk of reducing migration into the EU fortress is an excellent fable!! Watching the London 2012 Olympic Games one notices that there are many more African diaspora athletes defending foreign colours than homeland athletes.  almost negligible investment on sports infrastructure, pre and post event training personnel or facility for athletes, absconding becomes an easy way out for those who succeed to breach national frontiers.
The French sports ministry like an industry is draining Africa of sports people, or how does one explain how a two-time Olympic long jump gold medalist from Cameroon suddenly became a French citizen on the eve of the games? How can one explain the issue of seeing Cameroonians run the track and play handball in French colours? Multiculturalism only applies to the few Africans who make up more than half of the French national football team while thousands of regular day Africans languish and survive on the edges and margins of Euro society, caught between legalization and integration speed-breaks to their potentials and abilities, bleeding for what others are begged to have.
If those seven athletes wearing the national colors and representing the Cameroon nation can create a media buzz of ‘disappearing’ in London during the 2012 Olympic games, despite their modest pay package according to Cameroon ‘standards’, what do we expect their fellow, repressed and deprived citizens do then? Despite the humiliation brought about by these disappearing acts, national sympathy from citizens at home and abroad is in favour of the vanished athletes. Sooner or later they will turn up in foreign colours or become  protected persons for committing this “treason” (valid grounds to seek asylum, based on the premise that they could be persecuted if   arrested and deported back to Cameroon after over-staying their visas beyond March to November 2012).

The faltering regime currently holding sway over the country has exalted peace over economics as a campaign slogan; peace in Cameroonian terms is the absence of gun shots regardless of  the chronic social injustice, widespread poverty and mass unemployment. Even the process by which these athletes were selected to represent their country is plagued with clientelism and patronage; it would not be surprising to hear that they are relatives of officials at the sports ministry or may have paid sums of money to be selected and  ‘trafficked’ via this event. Now they are being depicted in the media as ‘potential economic migrants or asylum seekers’, which just goes along to feed the stereotypical “Help Save Africa” campaign and appetite for labeling and tagging Africa as a continent of misery and risk projections.

Random picture on Facebook pages. Unidentified source.


Dear EU, before you absorb and quickly drain to waste these runaway talents, ask yourself why they ran away in the first place. Cease from enticing and deluding our nation builders to defect, for it is illogical and double standards when you have a tough anti-immigration stance, yet you shop for the best of talents and brains of the poor and at the same time expect their states and the masses to  be self reliant. You have thrust upon us and continue to legitimize those whom we now refer to as merely secretaries of your foreign ministries serving abroad in the persons of gerontocratic presidents’ for-life at the helm of our artificial states. These ‘leaders’ in effect are accomplices to the full measure of deprivation visited on their citizens and to the ravishing of their economies. This just goes to say the state of Cameroon is economically and politically very sick! Sports as with other employment is highly politicized, service is rendered to Cameroonians not as a right or duty, but rather as a reward to a ‘connected’ and sycophantic few. They like you and I dear reader, are victims of a global system of exploitation and deprivation, which alters national affections.
While FrontEX is busy shielding the heartland from invasions of the peripheral scum, let us reflect on the fate of these seven (number could rise) Cameroonian athletes just as other Africans before and after them, who have thrown away their careers in favour of washing plates and doing many other things that they and their hosts would not otherwise do.


Related News: 
London Olympics: Cameroon athletes ‘abscond’
Cameroon boxers ‘were threatened’ at Olympic Games by state authorities.
Four Congolese Olympians have gone missing in London 
** “Afropeans” are Africans who are assimilated, integrated and culturally obsessed about Europe wherever they may be.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own, representing just a fraction of the many perspectives to this topic.