For many South Africans, the recent European-African summit in Abidjan elicited a sense of déja vu. In the late 1940s too, such conferences were held in South Africa where fears were expressed that the European population of the country might ultimately be swamped by African population growth and migration from the tribal homelands. South Africa in 1950 was a microcosm of Europe now.
Apartheid, officially known as “separate development” inside the country, was a scheme whereby the ethnic homelands of Africans were to be economically developed so as to persuade the rapidly growing populations in those areas to “stay at home”. As we all know, despite billions of dollars being spent on South Africa’s internal version of “African development aid”, the policy was eventually abandoned as unsuccessful and replaced with a kind of migratory laissez-faire. Within a decade or two, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town became overcrowded, crime-ridden hell-holes surrounded by shantytowns. What Europeans see as their future nightmare, when their cities would be simply taken over by incoming Africans who would impose their own culture and rules, has already happened in South Africa.
As a formerly first world industrial state, South Africa is finished. It has been “Africanised” in the negative sense and the daily hysteria in its media about corruption, lack of water, murder and robbery, represent evidence of its new status as “just another African country”.
Judging by their naively optimistic pronouncements about creating “the African economy of the future”, the European leaders wish to repeat South Africa’s apartheid experiment, but on a much larger scale. At least Afrikaners spoke African languages and understood conditions on the continent, which guided them in tailoring their development plans that many impartial observers from outside thought realistic and practical at the time. Even the Swedish secretary general of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjöld, gave Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd the benefit of the doubt on his separate-development policy. Despite the opprobrium routinely heaped upon South Africa in the past, and notwithstanding its present decay into third-world status, it still represents the only example of successful development on the continent. That in itself should persuade the EU to at least look and learn from South Africa’s tumultuous history.
However, over the last fifty years, not a single European or Western intervention in an African country could be described as a success. With a demographic crisis gaining momentum as reported on this site, Europe’s reigning grande dame, Mrs. Angela Merkel, promised more aid in Abidjan:
“It’s very important that we simply support Africans to put a stop to illegal migration, so people don’t have to either suffer in horrible camps in Libya or are even being traded.”
Clearly, Mrs. Merkel has not ready any books on the subject of African aid. Otherwise she would have been conscious of the fact that Africans may or may not want aid. But regardless of how much aid they receive, they do not want to be told how to spend it, nor what policies they should pursue. A graphic example of this was to be found in the aftermath of the EU-AU summit, when Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron at the presidential palace in Accra in no uncertain terms that “we can no longer continue to make policy for ourselves, in our country, in our region, in our continent on the basis of whatever support that the Western world or France, or the European Union can give us. It will not work. It has not worked and it will not work.”
Akufo-Addo went on to say: “We have to get away from this mindset of dependency. This mindset about ‘what can France do for us?’. France will do whatever it wants to do for its own sake, and when those coincide with ours, ‘tant mieux’ [so much better] as the French people say…Our concern should be what do we need to do in this 21st century to move Africa away from being cap in hand and begging for aid, for charity, for handouts. The African continent when you look at its resources, should be giving monies to other places…We need to have a mindset that says we can do it…and once we have that mindset we’ll see there’s a liberating factor for ourselves.”
At the same time, and contrary to his expressed stance on moving away from the “mindset of dependency”, Akufo-Addo said that he would not decline offers of aid, or “look a gift horse in the mouth”, as he put it.
However, the choice for Europe is stark: Either it will pursue an apartheid or separate development exercise, dishing out more aid to corrupt African governments who will line their own pockets, or it must heed the black continent’s call that it desires to be completely independent and self-sufficient.
Money set aside to curb migration should rather be spent on securing Europe’s own borders, instead of supplying another round of largesse to countries that have absorbed many Marshall plans over and over again, without any visible improvement.