Africa needs a new “Berlin Conference”

by Michael Oluwagbemi II

“When you see the Earth from space, you don’t see any divisions of nation-states there. – Joseph Campbell

I understand phrasing the title with the despicable “Berlin Conference” is in itself politically incorrect. I apologize- but Berlin conference stirs up in my mind an epoch making event in the history of the proud people of Africa. Berlin conference represented the scramble by the European powers for the resources, land, livelihood, and people of Africa. It represented the height of the blatant dehumanization of Africans i.e. German plot to kill the Negroes in Namibia by water poisoning, the legalization of more than three centuries of slave trade under the blindfold of civilizing Africa and a kind of stamp of legitimacy the authorities gave to the concept of pulverizing and looting Africa. After engaging in years of slave trade and kidnapping of Africans, as well as the stealing of their artworks that today litter the criminal halls of private homes and museum in Europe, indeed today Africa is dogged around with phony debts still lodged by western collaborators (traitors called “leaders”) in western banks, the West and her fascist rulers came up with the concept of Berlin Conference.

Berlin conference of 1884-85 represents everything that is wrong with Africa today. It was at Berlin conference the borders of nations that have little or no homogeneities were drawn. There, like animals, Africans were divided into colonial barns along the lines of the economic and vestigial racist interests of the colonizers (a view supported by their science) and slave criminals, the fathers of today’s oppressors and super power. At this point it must be suffice to note the ameliorating role United States played in this conference, which however does not absolve her of culpability in not only being the number one customer of slave trade but also a culpable conspirator in the dehumanization of Africans. The European powers in their infinite “wisdom” decided with no African present, no permission whatsoever the boundaries of societies arbitrarily. Virtually all the wars and bloodshed that has been let out in Africa from 1940 to date can be directly linked to this racist, genocidal, and criminal conference which culminated in practices like displaying Africans literally in human zoos. Why then do we need another one?

Not by any chance am I suggesting that another conference should take place in Berlin- the homeland of fascist Hitler- a man who simply took after what his forefathers have laid out for those of the darker skin (his treatment of Jesse Owen comes to mind). However, what Africa requires is a conference held on African soil, manned by African people without interference from any known or unknown super power to redraw the lines of nation-states to reflect the realities on ground. Fact is, while some states in Africa have learnt to live together, others have simply not. This fact is reflective in the development growth rates of these countries. Among the few I might point to that have evolved a national identity might be South Africa, Egypt, and Botswana. On the other hand, countries like Sudan, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, and even Ghana have continued to question their very existence as nation-states. The agitation within their borders is real and to ignore such might be disastrous. It is not enough to deal with this situation on a case by case basis as the Darfur region is undergoing now, and tension continues to kick in between Nigeria’s: a wholesale delineation of national borders is truly the way forward.

A cursory look at the map of Africa will reveal a continent broken up into weak nation-states that can barely sustain themselves. In reality, very few African countries are actually viable by themselves without a measure of foreign aid and consequently intervention. This has led to the erosion of self confidence of Africans, that may even some have suggested a return to the genocidal colonial era. As a result of this miniaturization, we also suffer from duplication of institutions and functions across board. Small nation states overspend on military and security services to the detriment of infrastructure and welfare – this also produced economic stagnation that makes the presence of intra-African states virtually non-existent. A rise of fewer but more viable states drawn along the lines of resource sustainability, shared economic interests, common history, and trust and founded on solid negotiation instead of colonial mentality will boost intra-African trade; encourage a return to the basics of development instead of spending feverishly to oil the pockets of Russia, China, EU, and American military industrial complex.

This proposal is a win-win situation: in that, we will spend less time on divisive subjects and instead concentrate our national efforts of friendly competition with our new found bigger and better neighbors. This will spurn trade, fuel economic revitalizations, and see the birth of the new African renaissance. It is true that foreign powers especially those in “Old Europe” will do everything in their power to see this does not take place. A more powerful and organized Africa will remove from them the last front in their empire: Africa will no more require their aid (Greek gifts) and she will no more supply the cheap resources that fuel their economy and the cheap and forced labor that migrate yearly to Europe to then be discriminated against and held down. I am not being charitable to America, but I understand that America has within the fabric of her public morality an ability to tolerate a developed Africa more so if this push comes from within the country- especially from the children of Africa whose forefathers were kidnapped against their will. This will is clearly absent in Europe- where Jacque Chirac is still mesmerized by the thought of Africans coming in drove and overrunning the Élysée Palace.

While I do not know how these lines might eventually be drawn (fifteen to twenty-five is a good number); it is my belief that Africa is rich in resources and endowed with enough idealism to cause a rise of fewer, newer, and better nation states superior to the kleptomaniac fiefdoms that have sprung up from the seabed of colonial duplicity and terror. The new super states can be drawn with common language, culture, and availability of resources for development in mind. It is in this direction that I exhort the Nigerian government not to raise a single hand to subvert the will of the people of Bakassi. The same should be said to the government of Cameroon. There is no use for brothers to spill the blood of another while we buy weapons from the Western locusts that like to see us consume ourselves. Bakassi Peninsula can be a hope to Africa that from the rot of colonization we can raise Africa’s own Dubai at the behest of the Niger Delta. A nation of that small population and so much fabled natural resources beneath its soil is a good thing waiting to happen. If we must depart, let us depart in peace. The mistakes of the past must not be repeated. There is can be no true kinship after defeating a blood brother in a contest. The inspiration that should be drawn from the current situation is that colonial borders are simply insufficient for the second coming of the African super-states. But will the African Elites ever listen?

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