Europe needs humility in its relations with Africa

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In November 2017, African and European leaders will converge in Abidjan for the Africa-EU Summit. Between 9 and 10 May 2017, I joined researchers, policymakers, heads of civil society organisations, activists, government officials, and AU and EU officials in Addis Ababa for a precursor conference aimed at addressing issues of common concern and interest in the Africa-EU partnership.

It was jointly organised by the Nairobi-based Centre for Citizens’ Participation on the African Union (CCPAU) and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Addis Ababa office. We covered peace and security, migration, economic relations, the youth and also assessed the progress made thus far. At the end of these dialogues and in retrospect, it was clear that Europe needs to humble itself when dealing with Africa.

Dr Admore Kambudzi, the Acting Director for the Peace and Security department of the AU, Africa-EU has assisted the AU in attaining the milestone of functional coherence in the African Peace and Security Architecture particularly the work in Burundi, South Sudan and Somalia. The Head of the Peace and Security section of the EU Delegation to the AU, Dr Thorsten Clausing, saw it differently, arguing that the EU is not getting return on investment.

At the beginning of 2016, the EU cut its funding to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) by 20 percent. A deeper conversation is needed beyond ‘value for money’ capitalist interpretation. Europe is being disingenuous thus needing a reminder that Africa’s problems, problems of governance, are a direct result of incompatibilities of the European state system they imposed on Africa in the 1880s.

See it this way; the fight is about who must cook and eat when – when, how, why and where in a European kitchen located in Africa; the state. Before this forceful unification in the European kitchen, Africans presided over their own, separate kitchens. Europe cannot, therefore, abscond its responsibilities resulting from its recreation and reconfiguring of Africa.

It is not just 1880s related coloniality. Recently, Europe and its diaspora (the US) moved into Libya, ignoring the AU, to kill President Gaddafi and install puppets. Libya is yet to recover. Francophone Africa is in a mess with wounded knowledge and confidence of self and perpetual conflicts. France continues to manipulate currencies, support dictators and remove (arrest and imprison) leaders such as Laurent Gbagbo.

Just imagine how our ancestors from Francophone Africa – Senghor Leopold, Frantz Fanon and Thomas Sankara – feel from ancestry. Most major conflicts in Africa hitherto have had a direct or indirect European hand. For Europe to assume its current stance is extraordinary arrogance. Europe needs humility!

Following its refugee crisis, Europe has introduced migration as a new condition for development cooperation. Certain African countries will now be forced to agree with migration conditionality. Strangely, of all migrants that come to Europe, Africa only accounts for less than 20 percent. Take France, for illustrative purposes, with its 36 000+ municipalities. For the 25 000 migrants it was asked to take, there will still be 12 000+ municipalities starved of migrants – taking one migrant per municipality. What is the hullabaloo, really? Europe, a key promoter of human rights, failed to capture the human right dimension of migration. Migrants do not risk their lives travelling to Europe in search of cigarettes. Sometimes it is really a matter of life and death. But Europe needs to be reminded that Africa has experienced a serious influx of brutal and violent European migrants since the 1880s. Those migrants are still in Africa today – 100 years later – controlling African economies and occupying millions of hectares of African land, particularly in the Southern African countries of Namibia and South Africa.

Africa’s sellout liberating generation has been effectively seduced and romanced to maintain the neoliberal economic order profiting Europe. But there is a new wave – a wave of decoloniality demanding the completion of the struggle against European colonialism. There is an awake generation of fearless and radical young men and women of Africa rejecting the lengthy ‘visions’ and promises of European bouncers/bodyguards masquerading as African leaders.

Those who disagree must go ask Ben Ali, Hosni Mubarak, Blasie Compaore and other western stooges. It is a struggle that will complete and deal with coloniality of being, power and knowledge. Indeed, it is a struggle to resolve the remaining contradictions of economic power. It is a struggle that will be led by fearless young men and women of Africa ready to surrender their lives. It does not exist in the boardrooms of European-funded civil society but in African streets and shacks.

If the European bodyguards masquerading African leaders fail to do so, this 3rd generation of freedom fighters, after the heavy celebratory drinks from celebrating European economic defeat, will search for the graves of current leaders and urinate on them. For Europe, it must be quickly be told to review its stance of peace and security, on migration and economic cooperation. Indeed, Europe must urgently search and learn about this thing; humility!

* Job Shipululo Amupanda is a commissioner for the African Diaspora and External Affairs of the African Youth Commission (AYC). He lectures political science at the University of Namibia.

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