Kudos to Macron: Why Europe’s colonialization of Africa is still relevant

The latest comments by French President, Emmanuel Macron concerning the African continent’s “civilizational problems” hints towards the same narrow and worrisome ideology that still pervades many discussions concerning African development and prosperity.

It’s such an easy and logical rationale, that many, even Africans themselves have internalized it and began to preach the gospel: Africa cannot, in fact, should not continue to use the history and legacy of European colonialism as a way to explain the widespread state of economic, social and political calamity experienced by most of the continent. Many of us today, feel ashamed, backward even, to begin distilling the horrific atrocities of colonial rule as a way to argue the continent’s current state of acute famine, disease, and poor or absent governance. And, yes, this should make a great deal of sense. After all, by the 1960’s most former colonies were celebrating independence. Viva a free Africa! well, maybe not entirely free but really, why does Africa even need to be totally independent?

The latest comments by French President, Emmanuel Macron concerning the African continent’s “civilizational problems” hints towards the same narrow and worrisome ideology that still pervades many discussions concerning African development and prosperity. Instead of starting from the root cause of the African development palaver, the continent is continuously bombarded with a bucket list of suggestions, reforms, and overpriced projects. Macron’s comments at the G20 Summit provide ample reason why unpacking and detangling the history of colonial rule in Africa is still a necessary step for progress to take place.  Simply put, the careless statement should not be dismissed but rather, analyzed as a prime example of the simplistic approach that Africa’s complex issues are often viewed by the West. And yes, throwing ‘millions of dollars of aid’ also falls into that category.  As the Guardian’s Eliza Anyangwe so eloquently notes, “Macron’s statements make the blood boil not because they are novel but because they make no mention of the root causes of the challenges of which the president speaks. Gone is the lucid, welcome admission that France’s role in its former colonies was anything but laudable.”

So, no Macron, you cannot get a gold star for stating that Africa’s problems are to do with a lack of civilization (which your people supposedly brought, all quite confusing, right?) or that we have too many babies (which is done out of a need to survive, rather than our senseless desire to copulate). Such simplistic comments demonstrate the Western world’s lack of accountability and respect for the African continent. Most importantly, they tell us, as African people that de-colonialization still needs to happen both physically and mentally. We cannot argue that away, we simply need to deal with it.

p.c: http://bit.ly/2vkrZOR

 

Paradox Unraveled

I know she often thinks of the beauty of death.

As she lays down her weary body

That once swayed gracefully from side to side

That once paid homage to the goddess of vitality.

But she is now weary and withdrawn-

Withdrawn from the world and withdrawn from herself

Unable to recognize the reflection of the ghost before her

She weeps quietly,

Inwardly

It is the inward pain that has devoured her

It came silently but knowingly

Knowing the destruction it would cause and the

Disarray that would be the final result

And as she lays down her weary body

I want to reach out and pull her

Close to me

Close to something

Living-

Because life is what she has lost

Because life is what she has used to barter

Because life is what she deserves to have.

But she is weary now

Weary of living.

The art of unliving

Of always giving of herself

Is one she has perfected

Thus, she no longer knows

What it means to live whole

And not,

as a sacrifice.

As she lays down her weary body

Her eyes grow distant and wide

Searching for her home above the heavens,

her place among the stars.

Perhaps, this is really living

She has found peace in this paradox

Of being dead to find life

I want to reach out and pull her

Close to me

But there is futility embroidered around this effort

She has found something-

Something much more potent than life itself

Black Gold

I am Black Gold

They try to crack the ridges

And ends of my being

but my armor is impermeable.

They try to sing my freedom songs

And buy my history.

I am Black Gold

My calloused memory

Retains the path of my ancestors

Whipped and raped

Forced to grovel

But continuing to rise.

I am Black Gold

They try to resist the flowers that bloom within me

Telling me there is no place for my beauty

Rejecting my roots

And defining my identities

While erasing my mother tongue.

I am Black Gold

They teach me to walk straight

To tilt my hat

To hide my colors

But to open my legs

And to always keep my mind shut.

I am Black Gold

Sold by my brothers

Who saw their reflections in the mirrors

But did not see the evil of their ways

Who prayed to a God of a color

That bore no resemblance to their own

I am Black Gold

I stand tall and break free

I have found my way home

In the belly of the Niger River

I found love in the blackness

And I have made peace with it all.

The mourning Women

I hear them in quiet moments.

These women with their mourning songs-

So hauntingly beautiful,

So hollow and wide

but always reaching my spirit in it’s darkest depths.

I sometimes call out to them to stop.

Knowing however, that I want nothing of the sort.

These women whose wails have created more life

and pleasure than can be comprehended.

They carry their mourning songs sewn and wrapped across their hearts.

These women with calloused hands that have cultivated and uprooted their hopes

and have faithfully watered the ego’s of pot-bellied husbands.

These mourning Women with their distant looks

and forgotten stories.

I have seen them many times before

in mirrors of the past and echos of the future

I shut my eyes and try to paint a lighter reflection-

one that demands less of my being.

She appears again, silent at first

And then her mourning song begins.

Those swallowed by the waters

This poem is a tribute to the thousands who have lost their lives while boarding boats often from Africa headed to European countries. As one reporter said, these people are not adventure seekers but rather desperate individuals seeking a better life for themselves and their loved ones. This poem takes a snap shot at the reality of what it means to be an immigrant in the 21st century.

There are the desperate many,

who have chosen to flee the familiar

Only to be swallowed by the hungry ocean waters.

They belong nowhere-

and own passports destined for heaven.

They hang in limbo.

Unable to return to a life they once knew

while blinded by the life they will be denied.

If you are silent,

you will hear their wails.

As they sink into the murky place

between their hopes

and the pain

of their realities.

The African Dream

When they painted the African narrative

They did not anticipate growth.

Or perhaps they prayed against it?

The beauty of the African dream,

the black dream in the white mind

is that it never comes true.

It must remain blurry and murky before it can be realized.

For it is upon the pot-bellied rulers that they discuss

“the New Africa”

the “Rebirth”.

The beauty of the African dream-

must be found in the impoverished infant

suckling a dried and withered breast

of a smiling corpse

The beauty of the African dream

is the illiterate woman,

toiling the fields,

for crops that will never yield.

Of the dirty children playing under the

Amarula tree.

The beauty of the African dream

is found in the colonized ideology fed to the locals

in the disguise of the Saints and Mother Mary.

That is the only narrative the white mind

can swallow with his morning tea.