President Y’aradua was reported to have expressed shame that Nigeria was absent from the tea party of the world’s most influential economies, recently concluded in London. While the President’s recompense has much been the subject of media analysis and deconstruction, the more troubling signs for Nigeria and indeed Africa took place at the same period, but far closer to home at the Island of Mayotte off the African country of Comoros. The people of Mayotte voted to be recolonized by France.
Every African should be worried about the telltale signs held out by the events at this tiny Island of nearly 200,000 people. What happened in Mayotte is a harbinger of an impending fate for other countries, as the victories of the 60s – fought and paid many times with the blood, sweat, spit and ink of our ancestors- are rolled back under the guise of referendum and willful surrender of African sovereignty. Many falsely assume that Africa’s first colonization was achieved largely by military means. Not true. In fact, many African rulers of those days willfully signed away their independence much the same way the people of Mayotte did at the ballot box; they did so in exchange for so called “greater protection” from their neighbors with whom they have previously fought.
The sad dimension to Mayotte is that we are responsible for the turn of events: the vote of the people of Mayotte was a vote of no confidence in an independent African future. The people of Mayotte voted for their survival, and who is to blame them? Mayotte haven previewed the failure of contemporary African leadership: one that extends from the top to the bottom- decided to go with Plan B. This failure of leadership is largely characterized by maddening corruption, self dealing, cruelty and brutality- one that is repeated across the continent from Mugabe to Bokassa, from Abacha to Idi-Amin. Mayotte refused this future. Who won’t prefer to remain under French overlords, who absent giving them substantial aid – at least will not resort to killing them?
This is not Mayotte’s first contact with the French. In fact, Mayotte has always been a French satellite state- short of being a client state. In return for its status, Mayotte has largely been afforded protection from its larger confederated cousins in Comoros who thus far has failed to convince them to join their turbulent and sometimes sad union. Mayotte did not get great education or economy in exchange for this servile relationship with the French; rather it got exotic diseases brought to the Island by French sex tourists and mercenaries that serve the French diplomatic mission of destabilizing the region and milking their economies in a parasitic relationship. In other words, Mayotte is very much like every other independent African country except the carnage being wrought on her land is not by design, but by the whims and caprices of Paris.
Sad as it may portend, Mayotte is a test bed for an oncoming onslaught of re-colonization drives that will be styled as giving Africans what they want (I fully expect Arab Africa to escape this threat for very obvious reasons). Much as chunks of Africa is already written off as hopeless by the Western media, where foreign aid disappear into black holes, with manic leaders incapable of governing- the template is being readied for enforcing UN plebiscite to give European agitators a slate on the ballot paper: to colonize or not to. While the freedom fighters amongst us might see an opportunity in this future, don’t count on it. In so far as the European Union can prove, just like the French just did, that such colonization efforts were the express will of Africans, there is nothing the freedom fighters amongst us can do about it.
With the best of Sub-Sahara Africa fleeing the continent, and their children emerging leaders in their own right in these Western States, it is a sure thing that one day we shall witness another Berlin Conference, where in the “interest of African people”, the land and resources of Africa will be divvied up for the benefits of foreigners who could care less the shape of the future for African children, states or economies.
To avert this future something must be done. First, Black Africans must demand representative, humane government: rule of law, fair elections and human rights should be the standards: this will create template for governments focused on economic development rather than petty political bickering. It is incumbent on Africans to demand this, and not expect their elite will suddenly change without some form of persistent and sometimes revolutionary process. Freedom does usually come at an expense, and every European, Asian or American power today has been a product of the expense of life, blood and liberty of ordinary citizens that refuse a dark future for their wards in the past.
Also, sub-Sahara Africa in its current miniaturized states of weak, deeply divided and grossly inefficient states cannot measure up to the competition. There must be a necessary agglomeration of African borders to reflect the relative advantages of larger states, devoid of unnecessary competition, and based on practical economic interests instead of colonial legacies that paid no thought to compatibility or access. The focal points of these emerging super-states must be existing countries that show promise as centers of enterprise and culture. Few countries like Black Sudan, Nigeria, Ghana, Congo, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, and Senegal meet these criteria. The sad reality is that of all these countries mentioned, all but two (SA and Ghana) are naturally sick – and perhaps even of these two, only one (Ghana) is not absolutely headed in the wrong direction. It is left for us to salvage what is left of a possibly ruinous future.