Monday, July 13, 2009

Africa: Over Exploited, Not Underdeveloped
By Gary L. Flowers
Executive Director & CEO
Black Leadership Forum, Inc.
July 12 – 19, 2009
This week, the worldwide media reported that President Barack Obama visited “Africa” for the first time. Wrong. Egypt was, is, and all ways will be in Africa. Correctly stated, President Obama is the first African American president of the United States of America to visit the first post-colonial independent nation on the African continent—Ghana. The lasting message from President Obama’s visit: Over exploitation of the Continent by neo-colonial countries must be met with the willingness to once again develop democratic institutions in African nations.
Today, many African nations are often portrayed as “under developed.” The opposite is true. In most cases, countries with inferior infrastructure, commerce, and production capability are the victims of “over exploitation.”
As the world community learned of southern Arica’s epidemic rise is HIV AIDS nearly 10 years ago I remember learning from pharmaceutical companies of the infrastructure barriers in delivering medical supplies due to the lack of adequate roads and bridges. As a result, jumbo-jet loads of medicines sat on tarmacs, unable to be delivered to most needy of people.
Likewise, I remember learning from rice farmers in Ghana of the inability to sell their crops because the price of imported Chinese rice was cheaper. By undermining the rice market in Ghana, farmer’s production capability was stunted, negatively impacting the Ghanaian economy.
Global technology advances are in large measure moved by minerals found in African soil. For example, columbite-tantalite (or tantalum) found in the African Congo is a key component of I Pods, cell phones, computer circuit boards, and television VCR’s. Forces in African nations that advocate for African companies, rather than American or European ones, controlling mining operations are often labeled as “rebels.”
Africa remains the Cradle of Civilization. As such, rather than exploitation, the global community should court African countries with respect as elder members of the world family. For example, if ancient African nations such as Mali (Nigeria), Nubia (Sudan), and Kemet (Egypt) once were world leaders in commerce, math, and science, why are their descendants excluded from economic meetings of global leaders (i.e. G-9 and G-20)?
In part, I agree with President Obama’s assertion that “Africa’s future is up to Africans”, and that former colonizing nations are not responsible for all of Africa’s woes, but much of what plagues the Mother Continent now is too much debt and not enough development. The result of which is a virtual “sharecropping” arrangement between African nations and the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, wherein Black nations in Africa cannot develop due to derived debt, not of their own making, entirely.
President Obama should be careful not to “blame the victim” by suggesting African nations’ biggest problem is corruption. As an allegory to Reverend Al Sharpton’s message to Michael Jackson’s children, African countries are not corrupt as much as the corruption in the powerful nations that control them. Sons and daughters of Africa must be aware of such.
If African nations were to produce and market natural minerals to the world (as it once did) their economic viability would be strengthened. Over exploitation of Africa must be addressed by the United States Government. Not to due so is to turn away from justice

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