Sunday, 10 June 2012

Africa and China deserve eachother

There is a myth of Africa beloved of Western liberals as a sort of Utopia in which a continent of happy but simple natives played their musical instruments, drank millet beer and sat around generally loving one another in an idyllic rusticana. Into this Eden came the rapacious European, who enslaved them, stole from them and infected them with syphilis. So pervasive has this distortion become that a Prime Minister of the recent past actually apologised for it. Let me make one thing very clear; of the 14m Africans transported as part of the Atlantic slave trade, only perhaps a very few tens of thousands were enslaved by Europeans. Almost the entire 14m were captured and enslaved by their fellow Africans. And this was nothing new; before the 15th century, African slaves had found a ready and lucrative market in North Africa and Arabia, and before this the Pharoahs were buying them by the million. Enslaving and selling your neighbour has been an integral part of  African culture since Mitochondrial Eve climbed out of the rift valley. What Europe brought them between the 15th and mid 19th century was a massive new market for a commodity they had in abundance.

The irony lost to Blair and other idiots devoid of any historical perspective is that it was only by the second half of the 19th century that Europeans had the three things that allowed them to move into the African interior from the few coastal forts in which they maintained a trade foothold; without quinine prophylaxis, the breech-loading rifle and steam gunboats, Europeans had been largely confined to their ships since the 15th century. Portuguese sailors who tried to capture their own blacks found the cost was about one sailor dead of disease for each slave captured. They soon learned to leave the hard work to the professionals, and buy their human cargoes from the beach. The irony of course was that when we did come back, it was to enforce the abolition of the trade amongst the native population, much as we banned Suttee in India. We had only limited success. 

Africa has now had half a century in trying to impose the mores and values of a post-Enlightenment Europe on its peoples, and this, too, has had only limited success. Without an endogenous African Enlightenment, our ways are foreign, and may even be described as 'colonial'. Well, things are changing. In an article of remarkable naivity in the Indie, Emily Dugan actually misses the point of a quote she includes;
" If you're interested in states becoming more economically successful, then what is coming out of Africa is good news. But if you are interested in an Africa where human rights are respected and governments take on the attributes of Western democratic countries, including fair elections and freedom of speech, then it isn't good. African states are finding their own ways to economic growth which don't conform to those liberal human rights criteria. Part of that is because Europe is declining, so European prescriptions of how to behave, in terms of governance, is becoming less attractive to African states."
 The commodity that Africa is selling today is no longer human flesh but minerals. While it's quite sweet that those such as Emily Dugan believe the income is being used exclusively to open schools and hospitals, you can bet much more is going on arms and building-up war capacity. After all, when your Cobalt runs out, you're going to have to take your neighbour's ore beds by force. And the buyer, too, is protecting its investment; China's new Aircraft Carriers will be there as part of a game they've learned from us - sell arms to both sides, and when it all kicks-off, send in the Marines and helicopters to evacuate your own nationals then sit back and wait to see who wins before stepping ashore with new contracts.

In a cruel sort of way, they really do deserve each other.  


Anonymous said...

Cynical China: but oh so true. About the slave trade: indubitably so.

I can recall some Graunaid-sad-inista - ratting on re, how those wonderful chaps from China are opening up the interior of the DRC and indeed; yes they are, so they can ship out the minerals.
NB, the Chinese are not smelting in the DRC either.

Greg Tingey said...

How cynical!


JJJW said...

It seems clear that the real story of slavery in and around Africa is not about race, but instead about opportunity. The slavers captured whoever they had access to, and being from Africa they enslaved mostly Africans.

This piece about the impact of the North African slavers on the Christian countries of Europe has some interesting numbers attached to it. It appears that white slaves were mostly traded within North Africa, which may be why we are less aware of their existence.

Fantana said...

I've always found it odd that such as Cassius Clay/ Mohammed Ali made such a thing about changing their name from that of the people who bought their forefathers to that of the people who sold them.