When I see Western leaders smiling, shaking hands and offering sage and heartfelt advice on tours of Africa, I just can’t help settling in for the show because you know some top level hypocrisy is just around the corner.
By far, my favorite part of politics is watching its highest level practitioners ignore whatever inconvenient facts from the past are getting in the way of the blatant self-interest of the present. The French leader visiting Africa? Well you know this is going to be a good one.
Africa is full of elephants, and many of them are political, sitting in the corners of rooms and trumpeting away merrily at the likes of Emmanuel Macron. His ability to ignore the weight of history has proved commendable.
Macron’s been on a tour of East Africa, specifically Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya. He’s not there to make the world a better place, but because economies in Africa are growing fast, in fact six of the top ten fastest growing economies in the world are there.
One of the agreements Macron made on his trip was to build a trainline in Nairobi. If you had any doubt that colonial instincts run deep, then that blast from the past should get rid of it.
Nothing stirs Europe’s colonial powers like the thought of riches up for grabs in Africa, well apart from the thought that someone else might grab them first.
It was much easier to get away with smash and grab forays into Africa when there were no competitors, but there’s a new power in town that goes by the name of China. France doesn’t like the idea of China getting involved in a part of the world where it has had a free run for, well centuries really, and Macron travelled with dire warnings about letting Beijing in the front door.
Problem is, France already kicked the front door off its hinges, stole the sofa and made the people living in the house cook dinner. Historically speaking of course.
Macron warned of China’s growing presence in Africa saying: “I wouldn’t want a new generation of international investments to encroach on our historical partners’ sovereignty or weaken their economies.”
“What can look good in the short term … can often end up being bad over the medium to long term,” he said.
Just to put that little gem into context, Macron also spent some time visiting French troops in Djibouti, because French troops have been stationed there since it became independent from French rule in 1977. I personally would call that long term.
France doesn’t like the fact that China built its own military base there in 2017. But then again, the US built a military base there in 2002. Herein lies the dilemma, because any Western warnings about China’s presence in Africa is going to be hard to take for anyone with the faintest notion of history, or eyes in their head.
“One of the agreements Macron made on his trip was to build a trainline in Nairobi. If you had any doubt that colonial instincts run deep, then that blast from the past should get rid of it.”
france just cant give it up..
“He’s not there to make the world a better place, but because economies in Africa are growing fast, in fact six of the top ten fastest growing economies in the world are there.”
china versus the west for control of africa..in real time..
Macron’s concern over China’s presence in Africa is about keeping riches in the West