War isn’t the best way to learn geography but now, as the US charts a major military intervention into Nigeria, those in the US will finally learn that Africa is a continent, not a country–an immense continent that most of us know nothing about (even those who listen to the BBC). But we are now forced to learn since re-colonizing Africa is the grand neoliberal strategy involving competition between countries for who can loot the most & fastest & with the most ruthless disregard for human life. Many of the countries we live in are involved in this corruption up to their eyeballs & we are all going to have to start a crash course–though we don’t even have to know where Nigeria is on a map to know that US intervention will bring nothing but carnage & disaster to the Nigerian people.
In another case of “you can’t make this crap up,” the World Economic Forum on Africa is now meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, under the theme “Forging Inclusive Growth, Creating Jobs.” Nine hundred international big wheels are attending, including several African presidents, international bankers, more bankers, investment firms, academics (who like to yodel for their supper), management consulting firms (akin to loan sharks in their moral fiber), & multinationals like General Electric. Let’s be frank; they’re not going there to improve the quality of human life. Those unsavory thugs are the creme de la creme of global plunder.
Articles about the economic forum claim Africa is undergoing an economic renaissance, that half of the ten fastest-growing economies in the world are in Africa, that the economic growth rate for sub-Saharan countries has surpassed much richer countries for more than a decade. According to the panegyrics, there are “dramatic improvements” in education, maternal & child mortality, agricultural development.
Nobody who has trouble balancing a check book wants to wrangle with the richest bankers in the world but something isn’t computing here because it is also reported that health & education indicators are the lowest in the world, that nearly half of all Africans live in extreme poverty & under the World Bank poverty rate of US $1.25 a day. The jubilant bankers don’t even mention the hundreds of thousands of sub-Saharan Africans trekking thousands of miles north to Israel & Europe for work. So those economies may look damn good for the bankers & multinational marauders but not for the working people of Africa.
Tottering on the borders of parody, the articles point out that this economic renaissance is due to the new generation of African leaders committed to widespread reform–by which, of course, the bankers mean barbaric austerity programs to maximize profits for the multinationals. We don’t want to presume a knowledge we don’t possess about African politics, but does this new breed of politicians include Goodluck Jonathan from Nigeria, Paul Kagame from Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, or Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe?
There is an omission in the financial panegyrics that stands out like a sore thumb & that is the war in the Congo that has taken millions of lives, employs mass rape as a weapon of war, has caused massive dislocation & millions of refugees, & entails UN occupation. If we want to understand the dystopic vision neoliberalism has in mind for Africa, we only need look at the Congo where the lives of working people are a living hell while multinationals milk the country for all it’s worth in natural abundance.
This wrenching photo is two Congolese refugees taken in 2012 when there were an estimated 280,000 refugees in the eastern part of the country. It’s a shocking image of two war-traumatized children who have become the chattel & the offal of neoliberal barbarism. Keep this image in mind if you’re the least bit inclined to wave one of those damn bring back our girls placards.
(Photo by Jerome Daly/AP)