In his book, Neo-colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism, Kwame Nkrumah, one of the brightest minds and most outstanding leaders to come out of Africa, wrote that the neo-colonialism of today represents imperialism in perhaps its most dangerous stage. The great mind wrote, “the essence of neo-colonialism is that the State which is subject to it is, in theory, independent and has all the outward trappings of international sovereignty. Its economic system and thus its political policy is directed from outside.” Last week’s death of strongman Idriss Deby and France’s role in butchering Chad’s constitution and choosing the country’s new leadership revealed the ugly head of neo-colonialism in Africa again.
Idris Deby seized power in a coup in 1990 and was a prolific murderer of his political opponents and appointed himself Field Marshall of Chad in a lavish but primitive ceremony in August 2020. Despite Chad being blessed with enormous uranium, petroleum, and gold deposits, like many of its neighbours, many of its over 12 million inhabitants live in dismal poverty. The country suffers from inadequate infrastructure, first-rate corruption, and internal conflict. It is inundated with human rights abuses, and according to Fund for Peace, in 2020, Chad was ranked 7th in its Fragile State Index. In simple terms, Chad is a failed state. Along with its neighbour, The Central African Republic, Chad has the lowest life expectancy in the world.
Chad is awash with weapons thanks France’s involvement in starting the war in Libya. The arsonist now claims to be the firefighter. The politics of destabilising regions to facilitate the theft of raw materials is a well-known tactic of imperialists and neo-colonialists. FACT rebels in Chad are delivering a master class in guerrilla warfare, and this war is far from over. If the past is anything to go by, military superiority is no guarantee of winning a war of occupation.
Despite a 30-years-catalogue of criminal accomplishments by the slain Idriss Deby, President Macron of France last Friday, on a visit to N’djamena to install its new French-selected-dummy, said, “France will not let anybody put into question or threaten today or tomorrow Chad’s stability and integrity.”The photo of Macron smiling with his new dummy in Chad at the funeral of Idriss Deby is provocative to Pan-Africanists the world over. Many nations are crafty with their imperialistic activities in Africa, but France hides not its shameless and shameful ambitions and actions. This arrogance of white superiority and dominion over Africa assumed by France and facilitated by many African donkeys passing for leaders is the most significant political challenge of our generation. Africa must confront and defeat this evil.
The suggestion that France is in Chad and the Sahel to fight Islamic terrorists is for the birds. According to www.worldstopexports.com, France exports electricity worth$3 billion annually. France is the second-largest exporter of electricity on the planet, and the primary source of this electricity is uranium. Uranium is key to the French economy, but the country is not blessed with its deposits. Mali and Chad happen to have vast deposits of uranium. Elementary!
It is sickening that while the people of Chad live in constant blackouts and unending poverty, the State of France is blatantly making billions of US dollars from the uranium stolen from Chad. Nothing can be more insulting. At the funeral of Idriss Deby, President Macron said “You lived as a soldier; you died as a soldier with weapons in hand. You gave your life for Chad in defense of its citizens.” Idriss Deby made a life of helping and abetting French multinationals and the French Treasury in their clandestine pursuit of Chad’s resources while his people died in poverty.
Long before Macron was born, his country had participated unsuccessfully in many neo-colonial and imperialist wars against indigenous people in Africa, and Algeria always comes to mind. France’s current illegal presence in Mali for uranium and gold and its continuous political romance with corrupt misleaders in France-Afrique is the greatest danger to Africa since the slave trade. France has stubbornly refused to learn any lessons from history, and Macron has proven that neo-colonialism is deeply rooted in the French political psyche.
Let us make no mistake; the aim of neo-colonialism, as Kwame Nkrumah wrote, is abuse, exploitation, and theft. France’s dogged determination not to decolonise is evident, and the time has come for Africans to stop the silence and participate in forcing neo-colonialists out of the continent. The notion that the Chadian constitution can be butchered and the parliament dissolved because France said so is unacceptable political vandalism. France has failed to recognise that Africans are tired of its gimmicks and arrogant neo-colonial pursuits. In neighbouring Cameroun, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Congo Brazzaville, political instability and poverty are rife as French policies have produced failed states.
France learned nothing in Algeria and Libya and are about to make the same mistakes in Chad. The action of France over the last week does not just hurt Chad; it hurts the whole sub-Saharan region. For Africa to change, we must change the paradigm. We must accept that our continent’s economic poverty and political backwardness are because of policies hatched in western capitals and executed by handpicked dummies passing for leaders. Our silence is criminal and tantamount to complicity. We must be radical in dealing with neo-colonialists and their collaborators. The time for Africans to stand up for themselves is now.
At 68, Idris Deby was recently elected for a sixth term in office. Sad! Everyone with a modicum of honesty would accept that the pseudo-election was a charade. Some have erroneously stated that he was an ally of France in the fight against jihadist groups across West Africa. Like many of his fellow misleaders in France-Afrique, he was a French lackey who made available his country’s resources to giant French multinationals and the State of France. Like France, Idris Deby was an enemy of Africa.
Frantz Fanon urged the under-developed nations not to be content with the definitions and policies ascribed by the colonisers, for these policies are designed to exploit and oppress. Africans must find creative ways to manage their political affairs and resources without interference from France and other imperialists. Africans can no longer allow men of different races and nations to define their experiences. We must call neo-colonialism out and attack it wherever it raises its ugly head.
For 30 years, Idris Deby misruled and murdered his people with the backing of France. At 37, Mahamat Idriss Deby takes over after France chose him to succeed his father. His brief is to continue policies designed in Paris to impoverish Chad’s people whilst enriching the State of France: neo-colonialism. Francois Verschave was right about France-Afrique when he wrote that it was the most prolonged scandal of the Fifth Republic. Unfortunately, France is not about to end this scandal voluntarily. France is, therefore, a clear and obvious danger to the political stability and economic prosperity of Africa. Africans must stand up to this evil.
London Bureau Chief
Cameroon Concord News Group