Last summer at the height of the “Make Poverty History” campaign, British television station Channel 4 broadcast a documentary titled The Empire Pays Back, in which it estimated Britain’s debt to Africans, both on the continent and in the diaspora, to be in the trillions of pounds sterling.
But it is not only the United Kingdom that owes a debt to Africa and Africans.
Almost every Western European nation and the United States, which participated in and benefited from slavery and the 19th-century scramble for African territories and its wealth, owe the continent something.
Canada, a former settler colony, is guilty by association with Britain because of the trickle-down effects. But these facts are not mentioned in the anti-poverty and development debates that rage on in five-star hotels in western cities. Instead, the haunting images, shown on prime time, of starvation, conflicts, fly-filled faces of children and AIDS, help to maintain a sense of hopelessness and dependence, which serve the purpose of wealthy states.
…. Nowadays, Africans, like their counterparts in other parts of the Global South, continue to contribute to developed countries’ economies by exporting raw materials and providing cheap labour. In turn, the West lowers interest rates and inflates the value of its currencies, enabling consumers to pay peanuts for goods imported from the South.
The fact that Africans helplessly look on while Africa continues to grease the wheels of Western economies says a lot about the current generation of Africans.
I’ve watched Ken make the adjustment from Uganda to Toronto with aplomb, and have benefited a great deal from his critical perspectives on issues abroad and at home. As this article demonstrates, he’s well on his way to building a nifty career for himself. I can’t say how impressed I am that he’s gotten such a strongly-worded piece published in a mainstream paper.