By now, The African-European Union Summit must have concluded in Cairo. The 15 European leaders are either back in their respective countries or have decided to prolong their African visit for more deliberations. The African leaders, motivated by their fantasy that the $350 billion debt to Europe will be entirely dismissed are more than likely heading home with grief and disappointment.
Africa is not interested at all in opening old wounds. But the pain and devastation brought about through a century of colonization was never closed to be re-opened again. The Cairo summit isn't by all means an end to a disturbing relationship between the two continents, filled with abuse and torment. It is indeed a small chapter in a never-ending book.
Yes, African nations ought to search for closure, they ought to seek a positive alternative to blame and they ought to complete their independence by looking onward to provide better lives for their living generation. But before doing so through a healthy equation, those who brought disasters to Africa must change their superior outlook, strive to bring change, and foremost make a sincere apology for the reign of terror which they inflicted on most of Africa.
Many years before the Sierra Leonian rebels instituted amputation campaigns against innocent civilians, Belgian Congo used similar tactics on a much larger scale. When the now Democratic Republic of Congo was a personal possession of King Leopold II, 10 million Congolese died, a very large number were amputated, and an entire population was exposed to slave-labor, as they were all owned by the King. As it has been only four decades since the European flags were lowered in Africa, her future has been largely charted by her past. A past that instituted one of mankind's darkest eras. However, Africa is the one left with the reputation of being the "Dark Continent" and Europe is the one viewed as the torch of "civilization and enlightenment".
Only a naive person could deny the truth that Europe's prosperity was assembled for many years on the shoulders of enslaved Africa, its resources, cheap labor and all other effortless hunts. Now it is being perceived with rejection when African leaders demand a cancellation of their debt. For poorer African nations, the interest on this debt alone surpasses their annual budget for education and health combined.
Is Europe truly looking to clear its conscious, redeem the mistakes of the past and seek complete liberation for its former slaves? Unlikely.
Many European nations are slowly moving toward right wing policies, and in some cases extreme right wing. One main theme for Europe's right wing is cutting immigration from third world countries, mainly Africans counties. Other concerns for Europe are drug trafficking, which apparently thrives in counties torn by wars where the authority of the government is greatly undermined. Although some of these issues warrant legitimate concern, the fact that European union members vowed to prioritize these issues in their first meeting of its kind with Africa's leaders, indicates that Europe is still unwilling to put others' needs before their own interests. On a narrowed level, Britain seems to be primarily occupied by the takeover of 700 white owned farms by Zimbabwe's black war veterans. Robin Cook, Britain's foreign minister has time and again expressed his country's worry over this topic as if it is Africa's greatest worries nowadays.
Perhaps European efforts contain some sincerity. Perhaps some are truly concerned about the fate of Africans through motivation of guilt or simply advocacy for true human rights. But in order for any form of reconciliation to take place, Europe must permanently disable its attitude of the master, who prescribes orders for everyone else. Much of Africa's poverty was a product of Europe's exploitation. Much of its civil wars were stirred by border divisions, which were carelessly imposed by European interests. And last but not least, many of Africa's corrupt leaders are the remains of European style local administrations, which governed the wealth of the exploiter while gathering its own wealth.
But besides blaming Europe, who must be recognized for the cultural, infrastructural and human genocide in Africa, Africans can do something to change the fate ruled by their colonial past. In fact, a painful past can inspire change for a prosperous future. Africa should look inward, explore it potential and cultivate the wealth it possesses. Africa's 50+ nations need each other, for they apparently are the only ones who share the same worries, fears, past and future. Africa cannot forget those who hurt her, even if she tries. In fact, she should beware, for predators of the past are still on the hunt, seeking out more prey.
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