“Patiently endured as long as it seems beyond redress, a grievance comes to appear intolerable once the possibility of removing it crosses men’s minds.” Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859)
In the ongoing conversation between Speransky and Prince Andrey Bolkonsky from the book War and Peace. Bolkonsky ardently listens to Speransky who in the course of their conversation about society and its mediocre, mundane school of thought says “…We want the wolves to be well fed and the sheep to remain unhurt…”.Speransky does not elaborate on this statement however, leaving us to resolve whatever qualms left in our minds. Time and time again I have thought about this statement reflecting on its relevance in regards to past, future and contemporary times .Each time the answer has been the same, I see no other way; That the powerful will do whatever it takes to retain their position, that there must be casualties in this struggle to retain superiority, that these casualties are inevitably forced to accept their role as that and that the powerful are more than satisfied to keep them that way.
Believe in a system where you are the victim .If Neocolonialism had an apothegm, that would probably be it. Economic exploitation disguised under investments that only serve to extend the gap between rich and poor. Political subjugation exercised by collaborative governments that work together for the superficial benefit of all but for the inherent good of one. Cultural erosion characterized by ideological shifts and the supposed assimilation of sophistication. Increased dependency cultivated by seemingly benign funding and administrative aids. Industrial labour harnessed from the poor manufacturing goods for the rich. Multinational corporations controlling national resources.The list is endless, forms of Neocolonialism exist in almost all walks of our lives,Kwame Nkrumah termed it the last stage of imperialism.The last most subtle yet cunningly profound stage indeed.”In order to halt foreign interference in the affairs of developing countries it is necessary to study, understand, expose and actively combat neo-colonialism in whatever guise it may appear. For the methods of neo-colonialists are subtle and varied. They operate not only in the economic field, but also in the political, religious, ideological and cultural spheres.”(Kwame Nkurumah 1965)
In retrospect ,it is important to consider what role we as citizens of the “developing world” have had to play in the strengthening of the power held over us? Taking Neocolonialism into account particularly where it is most prevalent, Africa. The effects of colonialism and the colonial school of thought are far reaching, they go well beyond economics and politics down to our mentality and the very perception we have of ourselves. It’s no secret that in most African countries a white man is automatically treated with slight veneration. Not for any apparent reason, simply because that is what we have been taught to believe. A direct repercussion of colonialism, whose main teaching was that of inferiority and subjugation. The continent’s presidents and politicians would rather have their children study abroad because education standards within their own countries are relatively second-rate. Education standards which they are essentially entrusted to improve. Development contracts would rather be given to foreign companies other than local contractors, because local companies are more than likely to do a shoddy job. True or false one thing is certain ,the notion that foreign is superior, local is inferior is ingrained all around us and regrettably within us.
We could talk all we want about the evils of neocolonialism, critique it as much as we want taking our approach from all feasible angles, basing our attack from every possible front, but at the end of the day, Are we prepared to completely break free from cultural, economic and political ties that render us so dependent on western countries? And just in case we are, are we prepared to face the consequences of choosing to follow such a path? Consequences which include sanctions, trade embargoes, strained foreign relations among many others. Consequences which will affect all aspects of our lives, spanning from our education, to our tourism, our health, our agriculture.Consequences that will disrupt the entire system,turn it all around.
Say we chose to follow this dreary route, Are we willing to work hard enough to rebuild our economies? Are we willing to direct our veneration towards each other not towards ‘others’? Are we capable of working collectively for the good of both the rich and the poor? Are we wise enough to chose leaders based on merit not on financial, ethnic grounds? Leaders who are competent enough to steer their countries in the appropriate direction and denounce any form of puppetry?
I say neocolonialism is a necessary evil today because we have learnt to accept the suppressed state we have been tacitly forced into. Tomorrow is uncertain and so is each and every day after that. We can choose to change this, we can choose to leave it in the saddening state it is. Forget all the resources that make Africa lucrative, forget the minerals, the crops, the climate, the wildlife, the land…the greatest and most valuable resource at our disposal is our minds. As in the philosophies of Che Guevara, Malcolm X, Bob Marley and many others, this is the first thing that needs liberation, the mind.
That we can live in a world where we are equal socially, economically and politically is highly implausible. That the day will come when developing countries will be truly independent and free of external control is almost inconceivable. Yet with whatever faith we have left we must strive to believe; that we have the power to break free and earn the respect we deserve , that we can work hard enough to build our countries not necessarily for us but for our children, not necessarily for them but for their children. The end justifies the means they say, this is an end I believe all African countries ought to have. An end worth the respect, equality, recognition and prosperity they deserve.