As if to make up for the disastrous consequences of the Berlin Conference of 1884-5, which neatly divided Africa into European spheres of influence with its attendant mayhem on Africa, a new spirit of collaboration between Europe and Africa is been fostered by the European African Alliance, through a series of conferences to be held between January and March, 2012.
I have been privileged to be invited to the Berlin, Paris and London Conferences of the European Organization.
I hope to dutifully attend and to actively participate.
The Conference Agenda is very intriguing and thought-provoking. The first conference will be held in Berlin, Germany from the 9th-13th, 2012. The theme is “European African Alliance.” In February, 2012, the Conference will hold in Paris. The conference will explore the relationship between the AU and EU. In March 2012, the conference will hold in London. It will discuss the “The Power of Africa”.
This Conference is meant to” raise awareness about the interdependence between Europe and Africa, as well as the challenges and opportunities this relationship might lace”. The big picture seems to center on Cultural diplomacy.
Beyond Cultural Diplomacy.
The Conference seems to put emphasis on cultural diplomacy, on topics like tourism, art forms, human rights, climate change and environmental problems, trade and investment, the promotion of good governance, trade liberalization, and free trade, foreign direct investments in Africa, deeping cultural alliance etc.
My candid observation is that in as much as these topics are relevant discussion items, they are limited in scope. The Conference suggests at a point that Africa should consider adopting the EU model. This shows that European intellectual arrogance is still thriving. The impression one gains that Europeans regard what they know as infinite knowledge and others must accept or be dammed.
European prescriptions in the investment and monetary policies, fall short of the standard evinced in contemporary world society, in which Europe is in dire financial seismic crisis. There can be no meaningful AU_EU international economic relations in which there is and there has been profound inequalities in the international division of labour, whereby African raw materials are under-priced by European cartels, while Europe sells her manufactured goods at the prices they dictate.
The entry of China in African economies has assisted the African to have access to cheap goods, in the awareness that “half bread is better than none.”
The continued exclusion of African intellectuals from G8 and G20 meetings of the so-called developed economies, now in a free fall means that Euro-Americans keep talking to themselves and on behalf of Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.
This makes a mockery of the term “international community” The international community is a nebulous appellation, which does not include half of mankind. This arrogant disposition of Europe to other peoples is remarkable.
In defiance of the fact that there has been a shift from a bi-polar to a multi-polar, world, European states act as if this were the Age of Discovery.
The Conference has invited the World Community to come and discuss already mapped out strategies for “promoting EU-AU relations, perhaps without an input from African writers, diplomats, intellectuals and the vibrant academia, whose graduates are from European institutions of higher learning and , who speak German, English, French, Russian, and have written extensively about contemporary world society.
Perhaps, the TARZAN and KING KONG stereotypes yet to fade from European psyche. This is because of the failure of the Euro-American media of old.
Europe is yet to acknowledge the intellectual prowess of New Africa, which has moved beyond cultural habits like dancing, singing and reading romantic poetry and acting Shakespearean plays.
The Conference agenda seems to ignore the core diplomatic crisis that has engulfed contemporary world society., from the Arab spring, to the violations in international law and diplomacy in the last ten years, since George Bush set the World on terrorists pursuits and the calamities that we witness ed in Iraq, Kuwait, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Arab/Israeli conflicts, the European seismic wave, the Wall Street protests, protests on Greece, Spain, England, France, the myriad of dirty tricks scandals to dethrone non-conformists.
These and others should form the core diplomatic issues to be discussed at the EU/AU Conference. The BRICS new influence on the world economy etc.
Cultural Diplomacy: African Responses to Euro-American Intellectual Arrogance.
The power of New Africa is no longer restricted to art forms, song and dance. The New Africa now has academic voices which are no longer satisfied with being advised, dictated to, and goaded to comply with Euro-American diplomatic prescriptions, economic impositions by the IMF, World Bank and the G-8, G20 pontifications on world economic affairs.
African scholarship is now characterized by knowledge acquired after a mastery of European languages, in-depth studies in European literature in the social sciences, international law and diplomacy and other related disciplines.
These have imbued the new African scholar, with a critical mien that challenges existing dogmas in social sciences, geo-politics, philosophy and international relations. This is the attitude we bring into every discussion in world affairs, including our present unsavoury commentary on cultural diplomacy.
We have, in the last ten years, published topical commentaries challenging many dominant ideas that tended to arrogantly prescribed Euro-American views that are supposed to be applicable to every state on earth.
The European seismic economic wave and the inability of Germany and France to apprehend the dangerous economic failure and contagion effect, which is mutating, creates doubt as to the infallibility of existing capitalist theories, now exploded by real developments in their financial sector.
The raging African Renaissance now provides seismic responses to both right-wing and left-wing ideological positions that promote Euro-centric views of a world that is moving through shifting sands.
Cultural diplomacy deals with non-controversial issues and seems to condone the extremism of radical ideologies, with religious fervor. These have now festered and in the last twenty years have terrorized the world.
Cultural diplomacy promotes romanticism, day-dreaming, focusing its attention on trade, cultural exchange and artistic ventures.
The Diplomacy of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” The cultural diplomacy of soft handling of Arab sheiks, who ran undemocratic governments based on ancient monarchist tenets gave vent to the ascendancy of Islamic jihadists groups, which have entrenched fear in human and state relations, in the last twenty years.
The Baath Socialist movement, which had its roots in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon, was crushed by pro-Western states and leaders in the Arab World. Egypt, under Mubarak, Saudi Arabia and other Arab kingdoms did not like the activities of the Baath socialists.
Having suppressed that movement that intended to bring about a change in the Arab regimes in the Middle East, jihadist took over.
Everyone can recall the mayhem they caused around the world, before Barack Obama, adopted the Mosaic law of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
Cultural diplomacy could not rescue Arab leaders in the fragmented and backward Middle East region and in North Africa, the torrents of revolution that swept away dictators and unwanted leaders.
Cultural diplomacy was helpless in the face of the decline in the jeans culture, the hip hop culture, the abdication of intellectual discourse by scholars and the rise of glib talk-show hosts, who trivialize complex societal problems.
Until the intellectual rigour of the We
st returns and Western governments realize that mortal truth does not reside in Euro-American states alone, the present financial woes will persist.
From listening to and reading Western political and diplomatic commentaries on the on-going financial crisis, one gets the impression that what is known to Western minds alone is knowledge and others, who beg to disagree must be crucified.
This has remained the world-view of arrogant Euro-American intellectual category, since 2001. No-one seems to have learnt that one must listen to the other members of the “international community.”
For example, the Conference organizers are suggesting that the African Union should be modeled along the lines of the European Union. The European Union, fears about the possible collapse of the Euro-zone and the European edifice. It can no longer serve as a model to be emulated.
Europe in History
A cursory review of European history and the circumstance of how it became rich is important here. From the Industrial Revolution, the rise of colonial and imperialist conquests, the slave trade and its other disastrous exploits around the globe, these leave “shock and awe in the soul of man.”
The carving up of nations in Africa at the infamous Berlin Conference of 1884-5, was not based on cultural evangelism but on hard geo-politics. With the benefit of historical hindsight, one becomes skeptical about the propagation of cultural diplomacy, as a panacea for Euro-African diplomatic engagements in the 21st century.
“Once bitten, twice shy”
Holland, Spain, Germany, Britain, France and later the USA brought “civilization” to Africa, Latin America and Asia, at great cost to human lives.
The Nanking treaty of 1842, the German occupation of Qingdao, the Japanese mayhem in Nanjing, the use of napalm bombs in Vietnam, these actions did not flow from a culturally-minded disposition but by the emissions from gun-boats.
China has just crawled out of centuries of incapacitation and is reaping the harvest of its socialist-oriented economic system, with Chinese specifics.
Sino-African relations have been criticized by the Western media, for the wrong reasons. Yet, Africans witness the Western states indebtedness to Communist China, to the tune of trillions of dollars!
With massive lending to Euro-American states in the red, Communism has found a new grand stand. This is why Lee Chou, a cynical commentator screamed, “COMMUNISTS TO THE RESCUE”! when we met in Hong Kong in 2007.
All those, who can remember the strident geo-political containment of communism, the propaganda against “THE REDS”, the “Hand of Moscow and Peking”, the fear of the spread of communism and the fight against the ideology, will find the new accommodation with Communist China, very intriguing. Where are the McCarthy ideological irredentists?
The African mind was conditioned against dealing with communist states, a feature, which has left indelible ideological scars on the untutored African mind till date.
In the specific case of Nigeria, Soviet trained lawyers were prohibited from legal practice. According to the then Chief Justice Elias, British Intelligence had told him that Soviet trained graduates were revolutionaries, who posed a DANGER , to the Government of Nigeria under Tafawa Balewa.
Fortunately, no coup in Nigeria was ever organized by Soviet trained graduates but by Sandhurst, WestPoint and Pakistani trained military officers!!!
Cultural diplomacy is a smoke-screen that conceals the real intentions of some states. During colonial times, the Europeans came to Africa brandishing the Bible with the left hand and the rifle in their right hands.
While in Europe, I observed that most of the churches were and are still empty!!!. In Europe, their fine culture of appropriate dressing and good manners, have given way to the jeans culture, scruffy, jaded beards, broken homes, the single mother phenomenon, former wives are now partners,
The permission granted for same-sex marriages is rife and David Cameron’s threat to withdraw aid to African states that pass laws against such marriages, herald the END-TIMES.
Cultural diplomacy is powerless in the face of catastrophic wars and inclement weather conditions that ravage cities, towns and villages world-wide.
Shared Responsibilities Amongst Nations.
The panacea that will restore peace in the world is for states to resume shared responsibilities on the footing of equality, mutual respect, mutual advantage, the cardinal principles of justice and equity, fairness, Godliness, God acceptance, God-fearing attitudes, God adoration, God worship.
All these will cause the earth “to have the knowledge of God as the water covers the sea.”
Very soon Nigeria will send out its diplomats to represent the state in the comity of nations. We should pursue economic diplomacy, in which we shall mandate our envoys to seek for investments and encourage the establishment of international commercial relations.
Recently, the Jonathan administration demonstrated that it SHALL conduct Nigerian diplomacy with candour and independence. This trend should continue. We must resist eternal influences and let it be known that we shall stand our ground, use our discretion and good judgment, which we are fully capable of, in our diplomatic relations.
Our diplomats have acquainted themselves with the relevant knowledge, which would assist them in their diplomatic practice, on behalf of a nation in transition.
Cultural diplomacy between AU and EU states must be based on mutuality, utmost good faith, justice and fairness.
Perhaps the best gesture to show remorse for European relations with Africa in history is to show respect for African opinion, without the condescending attitudes that have been etched in the European psyche, which even the precious blood that was shed at Calvary, cannot wash away.
I hope to publish my views in a book that I hope to present at the Conference.