There is no doubt that Africa is highly endowed with both natural and human resources but it takes more than that to prosper and excel in a real world. Believe it or not, it also takes some physical threats as a form of deterrence against trading partners to negotiate terms and agreement in the use of its human and material resources. The definitions of these physical threats vary from the time of Empire building to the globalization of today.
Nobody gets what he deserves; we get what we negotiate for. This is true in trade practice among nations as it is for individual negotiating a salary. Hidden in this negotiation is the master-servant, weak-strong or poor-rich disadvantage-advantage relationships. Many of us have missed the mark thinking that Africa is poor because its people are lazy. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Indeed, poor people work so hard, they hardly have anytime to make money. The richer you are the easier it becomes to make more money.
There is nothing new under the sun and sincere African leaders have tried to correct this anomaly in trade practices and have failed miserably. Kwame Nkrumah tried to arrange a cartel for cocoa; the same South Americans that are waking up today failed him. Our Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, tried internal sufficiency without foreign aid but was sabotaged before others could follow. I can go deeper into history of Gold Coast, Ivory Coast and Slave Coast that never benefited the Coast countries or Continent but our children are no more interested in Roots or slave stories. They want the Leaves from those Roots.
The only product that has gained certain amount of leverage is crude oil. The cartel actually took off and made money for producing countries, some of which are in Africa . Even then, a single product will not and cannot liberate a people. Harnessed human potential does. The problem oil has caused may be more than its benefit. Take it from the Gulf to Nigeria where most productive material resources have been neglected and turned a whole generation into lazy hustlers for the black gold. People who could have been engaged in mass production of finished products think they have enough crude oil to import refined petrol.
It goes back to the same negotiating relationship: oil companies are making more money than the countries the oil is coming from. Laws have been on the books in Nigeria for them to declare their profit, but to no avail. If they are finally forced to, bookkeeping will hide all the profit under expenses and the host countries will see nothing. Only South American countries are now waving the threat of gradual or immediate nationalization. Ask Mugabe of Zimbabwe what calamity that threat of nationalization brings.
There are other companies like Enron did, promising developing countries power generation and miracle products with the full support of their governments facilitating world and global trade only to come up empty. We have a few fraudulent individuals with high IQs that can be better utilized in our universities. They are known as four-one-nine taking advantage of church reverends, doctors, lawyers, professors and housewives with low IQs who think that God has finally answered their prayers. Most Africans detest their practices. We do not ask for the full weight of our governments to use their influence to advance the fraudulent adventures of some big companies or individuals.
Unbalanced and unfair trade that is forced on Africa cannot be forced on people who stand together behind their nuclear or any power. The appearance of power or pursuing power has its advantages. Once acquired, the country becomes a favored trading post and joins the trading markets no matter how substandard its products. Cheap China products are well known in Nigerian market, but so are Taiwan products. It took some time before the Japanese cars and steel became world class. China products will soon become the standard desired for competition.
China is also a good example of currency devaluation. That currency was strong when it was buying American and European products and China remained unmoved. Once China gained access and unloaded its products into world market, its currency was devalued for foreigners to but it products. Now, they are calling on China to revalue its currency.
The lesson here is that when Africa has no access to world market to sell its finished products, it is not in our interest to devalue our currency, no matter what, not even the threat to overthrow, or make one of us the President. By succumbing, some of our leaders feel more comfortable abroad soliciting support in exchange for one way access. All they do is buys us cheap. How many days do cocoa farmers have to work and how many tons of cocoa will that famer need to purchase one tractor with cheap naira? Lazy eh?
When we tell our children to work hard, we mean that they should beat any obstacle in their ways against all odds. A Jewish colleague of mine once told me the same thing we have been told as a kid that fingers are not equal. He said his parent told him to tread this world on that basis and work to overcome those unequal fingers. Yes, there was slavery, colonialism, world wars and work camps. These are not leverages but odds we and our children have to work against. We cannot pretend that they do not exist, they should hype our determination, not relax it.
The determination to excel is stronger than any laborious duty. It is natural to plan and determine a way to overcome our negotiating partner. If all fails, we simply resort to our basic instinct of naked aggression. As we size and strategize on ways to overcome one another, we develop bow and arrow while others think on how to better those with guns. Any hunter of animals for food knows that. You do not take gorilla on with your fist. That we are here today in terms of weapon of mass destruction is history.
We blame our leaders because they are selfish and they negotiate our human and material resources away, still exchanging gold for mirrors. How much they steal from us may not be important to world economy. After all, the budget of a Country like Nigeria can be easily compared to the budget of Californian or New York with less mouth to care for. But if we allow these thieves to get away, we are preparing our children as gangsters for bigger pies. Our real focus must be on the rate of exchange of currency, product and man services. Those determine who end up with substantial surplus to take care of our people.
The surplus is what allows powerful countries to put professors, their human potentials in institutions: universities, polytechnics or research centers and pay them better welfare than the poor, to develop new products including weapon of threat in case any encounter arises. While these professors may be highly intelligent, they hardly rule or control their communities. The most productive members of their communities are the “C” students who create jobs and sponsor research and laureate prizes that support the colleges.
The politicians are a mixture of all grades of students from all walks of life but highly influenced by the “C” business leaders. Under these are the lucky ones turned stars like Ali, the Beatles, Elvis Pressley, Michael Jackson, Beyounce and Elizabeth Taylor etc. It must be made clear that while this class may not be “A” students in schools, they are gifted actors that are very creative in their fields. Indeed their influences in the world sell more of their countries products than anything ever sold or endorsed by Nelson Mandela.
The ceremonial influences of their royalties are no different than ours today. The reason they were overthrown has to do with the serf system of government. Americans fought a civil war because of Queen Domination. So if new powers rejected it, why would those who have been relegated to serfs today like it, we may wonder?
The situation Africans find themselves today is not different to that of labor camps or the old serf system where workers end up owing more at the end of their working life than when they started. In order to pay back what they owe in their working life, their children and wives had to work and the cycle never ended. The more African human and material resources are traded and sold to its trading partners at a loss the more African children owe.