Russia-Africa Economic Summit: Putin points accusing finger at the West [Opinion]

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Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with his Turkish counterpart in Sochi on October 22, 2019. (Photo by Sergei CHIRIKOV / POOL / AFP)

Over the past few centuries, Africa has been the cow to the West and her allies to milk. This comes as no surprise as the continent is rich in natural resources. Since the Partition of Africa by European powers during that period now referred to as the New Imperialism, exploitation, intimidation and desecration of the African continent has been a feature of the relationship between the Western world and Africa.

This brings us to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent statement during the build-up of the 2019 African Economic Summit in Russia. President Putin, while speaking in an interview with TASS News Agency ahead of the summit, where some 47 African heads of state are expected, talked about the agenda of the 2-day meeting.

The talking point of the interview was when the Russian president condemned Western powers for their actions towards Africa. He said “We see how an array of Western countries are resorting to pressure, intimidation and blackmail of sovereign African governments.

“They are using such methods to try to return lost influence and dominance in their former colonies in a new guise and rushing to pump out maximum profits and exploit the continent”.

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Putin’s statement was remarkable to some, but not all. It is only remarkable to the extent that it raises public consciousness to the terrible continued treatment of Africa and her people by Western powers.

This has unfortunately enthroned distrust in the diplomatic relationship Africa shares with the West. To this effect, any hand of friendship or help the West and their allies extend to Africa, no matter how favourable, is always accepted with mixed feelings. It is like the proverbial ‘Gift of the Devil’ which always comes with conditions that may end up destroying the recipient. Such is the history Africa shares with the West and her allies. 

Let us revisit some events that lend credence to the assertions of President Putin. Recently, it was reported that France makes a whopping 500 billion dollars from Africa. You read it and laughed it off as one of many conspiracy theories about Africa and the West? Well, truth they say is stranger than fiction. 

In 1958, Guinean political leader Sekou Toure championed his country’s breakup from the French colonial empire. This courageous move by Toure infuriated French colonial elite in no small measures. They reacted by destroying all they termed the benefits of colonization – schools, hospitals, medicines, public administration buildings, research institutes, farms and animals, you name it.

Guinea’s economy was crushed as a result of this singular act. The major purpose of the French in doing this was to instil fear in their other African colonies who may be thinking of following Sekou Toure’s footsteps. 

The plan achieved its aim. Other African-French colonies never toed the path of Guinea. Instead, Sylvanus Olympio, the first president of the Republic of Togo found another solution when Togo wanted to discontinue colonial ties with France.

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Olympio had rejected the colonization continuation Pact France proposed, however, he entered a new pact with France in which he agreed to pay an annual debt to France to offset the cost of the so-called benefit Togo got from France. Other African colonies found favour in Togo’s choice and readily signed similar pacts with France.

The so-called debts were humongous, and as a result, most of the countries are still paying till date. This is the history of the notorious 500 billion dollars France is earning from Africa.

So, the Russian president merely stated the obvious when he criticized the West for exploiting, intimidating and blackmailing Africa. The Russia Africa Economic Summit will be co-chaired by the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, the president of Egypt, Abdel Fattah El Sisi and the African Union Chairman, Abdelfattah Al Sisi.  The Summit starts on October 23. It will take place at the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect News Central TV’s editorial stance.

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