Some choice quotes:
some new version of colonialism may be the best thing that could happen to at least some countries in the postcolonial world.
The colonialists of yore may often have been bigots, but they were also, just as often, doers. Their colonies were better places than the shipwrecked countries we have today.
I am trying to look beyond my rage to write a coherent response, but right now all I can see is red. Let me begin by saying categorically, that regardless of how messed up the situation in Cote d’Ivoire, Zimbabwe and many other countries in Africa may be, it is still preferable to murderous, racist and incredibly damaging regime that the colonial period represents.
To say that Africans are incapable of ruling themselves is to ignore the historical and current context in which postcolonial African states exist: the continually damaging legacy of colonialism (including the creation of the states in question) , the neocolonial financial practices and policies that keep African states indebted and the fact that liberal democracy as these African states are failing to embody is a Western import.
To say that Africans are incapable of ruling themselves, which is what this article says in essence, is an incredibly racist statement, the author of the article is racist and ignorant, and the editor of the wsj.com, who probably tacked on the article byline “perhaps we need a new kind of colonialism” cares nothing for offending a whole race of people, and continent, if it garners him page views.
The last time I saw anything this horrifically ignorant was Sarkozy’s embarassment of a speech at Cheikh Anta Diop University in his first year of office. Back in 2007, in front of Senegal’s educational elite Sarkozy actually said
The African peasant only knows the eternal renewal of time, rhythmed by the endless repetition of the same gestures and the same words…In this imaginary world where everything starts over and over again, there is no place for human adventure or for the idea of progress,
among other extremely ignorant things. You can download Sarkozy’s speech (translated in English) here
While political correctness has its drawbacks, one of its benefits was that it ushered in an age in which people cannot just speak whatever custard is rolling around their empty brains when they have no knowledge on the topic. But it seems that when it comes to Africa, people can just say whatever they want.
Achille Mbembe, eminent African scholar, said in his wonderful response to Sarkozy’s buffoonery:
In all relations in which one of the parties is not free nor equal enough, the act of violation often begins with language – a language which, on the pretext of simply expressing the speaker’s deepest convictions, excuses all, refuses to expose its reasons and declares itself immune whilst at the same time forcing the weakest to bear the full force of its violence.
I am still reeling from the violence in Bret Stephen’s column, so I will leave my response at that.
You can find Mbembe’s response (tanrslated in English) here
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