Except for countries such as China that have a positive view of Africa and have invested heavily in the continent, no one else seems to care about Africans. The worst culprit is the West, which has a very negative attitude towards Africa. This reality was once again demonstrated during the 54th Munich Security Conference, a nexus for global geo-strategists dedicated to promoting dialogue in security policy challenges, in Germany from February 16 to 18.
The forum was not only a disappointment for Africa, but it also made one thing very clear: In the minds of the Western world, there is nothing good coming out of Africa; and Africa is just a sea of troubles.
In utter disgust and disdain, the moderator of ‘Securing the Sahel’, the only relevant topic discussed concerning Africa, deliberately presented a concoction of fact, fiction, myth, and propaganda about the continent. She claimed Africa’s security is listed among the top 10 risks of 2018; and that the Sahel presents some of the most important challenges facing the world today. These include terrorism, transnational organised crimes, poverty, famine, irregular immigration and disease.
But maybe we should not blame her. The tone for the discussion had already been precast in the Munich Security Report 2018 under the banner, ‘Africa: The Young and the Restless’. The report was filled with descriptions that reinforced the stereotype of Africa as a desperate continent with no future prospects.
The colourful report has excellent graphics, all with negative headings such as ‘The Risk of Famine in Sub-Saharan Africa; Africa’s Trend of Declining Financial Resources; Land and Sea Migration Routes towards Europe; The Rapid Decline of African Countries’ Revenues from Oil; Levels of Defense Spending in Sub-Saharan Africa; and Procurement Priorities of Sub-Saharan Africa’s Armed Forces.
Not surprising, all the worthy global leaders present were given a chance to make opening statements. They included Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Kosovo President Hashim Thaçi, Turkish PM Binali YÄ±ldÄ±rÄ±m, French PM Edouard Philippe, Poland PM Mateusz Morawiecki, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Britain PM Theresa May and United Nations secretary general António Guterres, to name but a few.
No African leader was invited to give a keynote speech, despite the fact that Rwandan President Paul Kagame, also the chairman of the African Union, was present. But maybe I shouldn’t complain too much because even the Chinese, who live next to a nuclear fire-breathing dragon in North Korea, were also left out.
Notwithstanding the invited senior African leaders calmly tackled the preset panel discussion on ‘Securing the Sahel’, a topic that represents the US and EU agendas, because of the war on terror and illegal immigration. Many of us are aware that these are not the main threats to human security in Africa, because each year malaria and road accidents kill more people than acts of terrorism.
No security policy relevant questions were raised throughout the discussions. Queries such as post-colonisation conflict prevention and nation-state building, as opposed to ethno-state building designed by Western countries during the scramble for Africa. Some 65 million Europeans migrated to Africa during that point in history. Questions such as how can development in Africa be structured to provide local alternatives to internal and international migration.
Finally, when senior African leaders were each given five minutes to speak, they politely pointed out that the ongoing military agendas in the Sahel by foreign troops are not connected to Africa’s development agenda, the panacea for her insecurity. Tactical military gains have not translated to long-term sustainable goals.
Going forward, if the MSC wishes to formulate useful security policies for Africa, then they need to change their attitude towards Africa. In addition, deployment of foreign troops to Africa should be done in consultation with the AU. If Africa requires foreign troops support, then these should come from neutral and respectable countries such as China, who were not involved in the African slave trade and colonisation.
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