Who does Africa really belong to?

There has been an unspoken belief that Africa belongs to Africans, but who does Africa belong to really?  That is the question that has been pondering on the minds of many Africans. Does it belong to the black people because they were colonized? What about the white people then? Should they leave Africa because they were not colonized? Keeping in mind that their ancestors are the colonizers not them, do we blame them? Do we then take this to be a battle against black and white? 

The truth is they want us to believe that Africa belongs to African’s while they sell Africa and its resources to the Chinese, British, Europeans, etc. This is not something recent but Africa has been exploited for its resources for years and it still continues. With the continues Land battle in South Africa and many other African countries, it could emphasise the urge of having this questions answered.

Having a low human density, for a long period of time Africa has been colonized by outside nations, exploiting African resources. Some economistshave talked about the ‘scourge of raw materials’, large quantities of rare raw materials putting Africa under heavy pressures and leading to wars and slow development. Despite these abundance of natural resources, claims suggest that many Western nations like the United States, Canada, Australia, France and the United Kingdom as well as emerging economic powerhouses like China often exploit Africa’s natural resources today, causing most of the value and money from the natural resources to go to the West and East Asia rather than Africa, further causing the poverty in Africa. A Guyanese historian, Walter Rodney, posits that foreign ownership of African natural resources is the “most direct way” that rich countries continue to dominate African states without formally colonizing them: “When citizens of Europe own the land and the mines of Africa, this is the most direct way of sucking the African continent

In these statements attributed to the § by social media users, it is said :

 “We drained Africa for 4 and a half centuries. Next, we plundered its raw materials. After that, we said: they (Africans) are good for nothing. In the name of religion, we destroyed their culture and now, as we have to act with elegance, we are picking their brains with scholarships. Thereupon, we are claiming that the unfortunate Africa is not in a brilliant condition, and is not making elites. Having enriched on its back, we are now lecturing”.

Jacques Chirac
22nd French president – Jacques Chirac

It is hard for some pan Africans to believe that a former French president uttered these statements that incriminate France’s foreign policy for Africa, yet, this was truly said by Jacques Chirac. He said this in January 2001 (a year before the end of his first presidential term 1995-2002), in Yaoundé during the 21st Africa-France summit where about 30 heads of States gathered.  

Different African countries have a different view or rather experience when it comes to their country belonging to those who live in it. South Africa has a personal relationship with this statement as it is one that exists in the 1955 Freedom Charter which is what was being fought for but till this day, the “land” is what brings conflict amongst South Africans and Politicians. 

AP Photo /

In the case of Sierra Leon, thousands of its citizens are fleeing the country, heading to the west in pursuit of a better life, corrupt individuals and businesses see the country as a land of opportunity, a place to exploit. Sierra Leone’s natural resources, which should have been a blessing, have been nothing but a curse.

A little over a decade ago, it was diamonds that played a serious role in the eleven year long civil war which devastated Sierra Leone’s environment as rebels exploited this valuable mineral to fund their campaign. Now even in peacetime, a possible new agent of war is emerging and this time it is buried deep in the bush and it’s known to the locals as “gbenie” a unique type of wood that is secondly only to ebony.

As in most parts of Africa, timber has become the new diamonds. The country’s forests are at risk of being completely wiped out, an unfortunate situation many African countries are faced with. 

Africa has a large quantity of natural resources, including diamonds, sugar, salt, gold, iron, cobalt, uranium, copper, bauxite, silver, petroleum and cocoa beans, but also woods and tropical fruits.

Recent oil reserve discoveries have increased the importance of that commodity on African economies. Sudan and Nigeria are two of the main oil producers. China owns 40% of Congo’s oil production. Oil is provided by both continental and offshore productions. Sudan’s oil exports in 2010 are estimated by the United States Department of State at $9 billion with United States dollars.

Five countries dominate Africa’s upstream oil production. Together they account for 85% of the continent’s oil production and are, in order of decreasing output, Nigeria, Libya, Algeria, Egypt and Angola. Other oil producing countries are Gabon, Congo, Cameroon, Tunisia, Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire and more recently, Ghana. Exploration is taking place in a number of other countries that aim to increase their output or become first time producers. Included in this list are Chad, Sudan, Namibia, South Africa and Madagascar while Mozambique and Tanzania are potential oil producers.

Many Pan Africanist would argue that Africa stopped belonging to Africas when the Berlin Conference was concluded and this could be true to some extent. We don’t have to tell you that the French colonized a considerable amount of the African continent (and some of the US as well). For a country that has never won a war, the French secured their legacy by imposing themselves on some of the most resource-rich countries on the African continent. Even though the continent is mostly independent now, France never really left Africa and it is clear that, as long as there is money to made, it doesn’t intend to.

To this day, up to 14 African countries still pay colonial tax to France, buffering the extravagance associated with everything French and answering many questions about how the French economy has managed to stay afloat with wine, croissants and French elitism to support it. This colonial debt is to be paid by these countries as a sort of “tax” for all the amenities the French built to make themselves comfortable while looting these African countries of their resources.

In March 2008, former French President Jacques Chirac said something that would explain French behavior in Africa succinctly: “Without Africa, France will slide down into the rank of a third [world] power.” 

“The reality is, Africa is being ripped off big time,” was the unusually blunt assessment by Donald Kaberuka, president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), in an interview with Reuters on Sunday.

Kaberuka was addressing the perennial question of foreign corporations extracting Africa’s mineral resources at huge profit for shareholders with scant reward for local populations.

Speaking a day after meeting British and African leaders in London before the G8 summit, Kaberuka told the news agency: “Africa wants to grow itself out of poverty through trade and investment – part of doing so is to ensure there is transparency and sound governance in the natural resources sector.”

Africa loses an estimated $62.2bn (£40bn) in illegal outflows and price manipulation every year, much of it exported by multinationals. The Africa Progress Panel under former UN secretary general Kofi Annan recently highlighted how the Democratic Republic of the Congo lost at least $1.36bn in potential revenues between 2010 and 2012 due to knock-down sales of mining assets to offshore companies.

The question of who owns the Africa’s lands and natural resources is a major source of contestation around the globe, affecting prospects for rural economic development, human rights and dignity, cultural survival, political stability, conservation of the environment, and efforts to combat climate change. To inform advocacy and action on community land rights. So in conclusion of assessing who Africa really belongs to; we want to believe that it belongs to Africans as it should.

But what does it actually mean to “own” Africa? Does Africa Belong to those who own its resources or does it belong to those who call it ‘home’? I would like to believe that it belongs to those who live in it, and those who live in it should own the resources that come from it.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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