The most offensive article I have read in a while

What kind of colonial apologist bullshit is this? And what is it doing on what is supposed to be a respectable site like the Wall Street Journal?


This asshole...

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, 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

If you find something online that would be of interest to Vuga! readers and contributors, email tips to

Also, if you have trouble accessing the full article because of WSJ’s stupid subscriber details, email and I will send you a copy of the text


3 thoughts on “The most offensive article I have read in a while

  1. Sorry to disappoint you but the state of affairs in the African countries is very disappointing. Don’t play martyr to past victimization considering that US $200 billions disappear yearly due to corruption.
    I am sure the descendants of slave in the new world don’t have nice thing to say about Africa’s role in the biggest holocaust the world ever witness.
    When did you hear them complain in one voice about Africa after the abolition of slavery?
    To date, few African countries are democratic and transparent even using their own standard.
    The poorest and most corrupt countries are in Africa. The reason that Africans emigrate is due to the lack of opportunities presented by their governments.
    Don’t you think that after 50 years they could have done better?

    1. No one is arguing that the current state of affairs in Africa is not disappointing. Our governments have, and continue to fail us in the most egregious of ways. However the fact that these botched-together states, made up of a diversity of ethnic and ideological groups exist is a legacy of colonialism. The fact that we have a class of self-serving, corrupt and violent leaders is, at least in part, a legacy of colonialism. The fact that Africans no longer govern themselves in a way that is our own, that makes sense historically, is a legacy of colonialism and neocolonialism.
      What you say is correct but it still does not justify saying black people cannot rule themselves.

  2. Your reply is to the point and accurate but subject to lot of pro and con debates. However note that Africa is diverse and I do not see how it could have been divided in the thousands of ethnicities to satisfy all.
    I agree (I did not read the article so I rely on your argument) that to say that black cannot govern is racist.
    However, to use colonialism as a benchmark of African development is wrong. That’s what I call the martyr syndrome and colonialism is often used as a panacea to blame others for shortcomings.
    Africa is the cradle of humanity and what has happened to its humanity since then…Not much!
    Unfortunately Africa’s comportment reinforces the stereotype that outsiders have of Africans or people of colour who happen to be black, black like me.


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