By Elias Mhegera, Beijing – The African Continent is re-bouncing back, winning over the years of stagnation through colonization but also of mismanagement by African themselves in the post independence period.
As from December 2015 Africa and China entered into a new arrangement of co-operation through the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), an arrangement which some, particularly in the western media have branded as a new form of colonialism through China’s ‘soft power’ style.
The FOCAC arrangement has one main advantage which could be singled out, that it is an avenue for African to meet and discuss their continent’s pertinent demands outside the African Union arrangement which at times is hit by camps of retrogressive notions of non-interference.
The aim of this article is not to indulge into a debate on who is doing right things to Africa or not, but to analyse within a minor scope of the projections of what Africa can be in world politics if it revitalises its strength through unity.
In the formative years development of Africa was seen as interwoven within issues of race relations. This is because of strong movements of the African Diasporas in the United States and elsewhere during the independent struggles.
From 1960s and 50 plus years after independence this continent was held up in a political stalemate, there were inter and intra-state conflicts, corruption, coup d’états and other similar negative development.
My stay in China for nine months has indicated that there is a new trend towards Africa. Starting from the FOCAC arrangement itself to the western media portrayal of African images, there are indications of positive trends.
However, even if this might be perceived negatively, there are trends of Africa to re-connect itself with its Diasporas, being an overall effect of globalization. Probably the outgoing US President Barack Obama might also have an influence on this effect given his background as an Afro-American.
But also President of the World Bank Group Dr Young Kim said recently during the Investing in Africa Forum in Guangzhou in the Guangdong province of China, that the six fastest growing nations (economically), according to the 2015 World Bank Report, are countries from Africa. Follow the summary of the forum at this link: http://allafrica.com/stories/201609260894.html
It has been mentioned that the main two obstacles to a vibrant economy in Africa are energy and poor infrastructure once those are overcome there would be a different story.
The revitalizing of Africa could be seen when recently in Beijing, 15 countries forming the Southern African Development Community (SADC), managed to show case their goods in terms of few portable items that could be brought to the hall, but also through documents and DVDs.
On behalf of African ambassadors in China the Botswana’s Ambassador to China, Hon. Sasara Chasala George called for investing partners in the tourism industry so as to create jobs and promote African economy in general.
But it was Mr. Bradley Brouwer, SADC’s tourism coordinator who gave a lot of explanations on what tourists intending to go to Africa as well as prospective investors should expect.
He revealed that so far the tourism sector has employed over 1.3 million people throughout the SADC member countries but he indicated that this is not enough.
A good number of attendees were prospective tourists and investors; tour operators and owners of Chinese restaurants. However others were small scale investors who have already been operating tour cars and offices, while others are merely consultants and promoters.
“As from 2000 to 2010 African countries have earned over USD $940, which means your support is of vital importance, “commented Brouwer. He further showered praise to Tanzania which has had considerable years of peace.
“It is because of its peace that tourists flock in to visit the Kilimanjaro, Spice Islands of Zanzibar to the Serengeti which hosts the largest terrestrial mammal migration in the world, it is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa and one of the ten natural travel wonders of the world.
The Serengeti is also renowned for its large lion population and is one of the best places to observe prides in their natural environment,” he added. He elaborated on the unique movement of animals from Tanzania, crossing the border to its neighbouring Kenya seasonally.
But he also cherished the Victoria Falls which in a way unites Zambia and Zimbabwe, and called for investors even to supply choppers in order to make things much easier to tourists interested in watching these falls.
But other attractions that were mentioned are the special wines emanating from the Kalahari Desert, which conjoins three countries of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. He also reminded about the ruins of the once powerful Mwenemutapa Empire.
The significance of this empire being that it indicated how Africans could organize themselves; in order to achieve development through the process of evolution. But generally there was applause from all corners when elephants and giraffes were shown in the video.
But this does not mean to undermine the peculiar gardens of Malawi and Mauritius where florist business has become a major source of income.
But even more this country boasted of its special honey, and soap from tree barks, but also Kuanfu tea claiming that it has been proven to be the best digestive and health beverage, and that it improves users sleep.
From South Africa there were various items but the hall was preoccupied by the amazing marula tree which is also known as an ‘elephant tree’ due to the gigantic animal’s preference of its leaves.
All attendees enjoyed the treat of a free-of-charge bottle of Amarula drink which was launched in 1989. Apart from this drink the fruits of this tree are also used to prepare Amarula juice and for traditional herbs. But this is not to forget the Amarula perfumes and oil for skin. South Africa exports Amarula alcohol to more than 100 countries worldwide.
From Madagascar it was a treasure of fish stocks, water cruising, while from Seychelles it was its riches in tourist beach hotels along the Indian Ocean. But also for its rocks which are rich for decoration purposes, and not to forget high quality oil for massage.
Moreover, Madagascar was also praised for its good co-ordination in sea related business whether it is fish or other products. This is not forgetting swimming and yacht competitions, exhibitions of unique tortoises and birds in different colours.
Botswana was showcased for its rich wildlife like elephants, antelopes, ducks and rivers which flow throughout the year. Apart from that it was its treasure of tree logs which can be used for construction purposes, carvings and ornamentation both in home and offices.
But this discussion did not end without a unanimous condemnation of poaching which has seen a number of elephants decreasing significantly.
In a separate event organised by envoys in China from all over the world, again African goods attracted a lot of attention. In this event, Sudanese national and Editor Mr. Mohamed Abdelaziz, his wife Mrs Mwahib and a journalist from Egypt Mr. Hani Kamel Mohamed represented Africa.
They did so by showcasing little items and cuisine through the China-Africa Press Centre (CAPC) pavilion. But again from Madagascar were baskets and other domestic items, but from Sudan were food items.
From Benin were clothes but its pavilion had Congolese music which attracted a considerable attention. But even more in showing Africa has a long culture now almost neglected in the continent it was unique dresses by Fijians of African decency and traditional dances by the African Diaspora from the Micronesia.
The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is a country spread across the western Pacific Ocean comprising more than 600 islands. Micronesia is made up of 4 island states: Pohnpei, Kosrae, Chuuk and Yap. This is a country with a considerable number of the African Diaspora.
While the population consists of a mix of people who trace their descent from Sri Lanka, India, Arab countries, and Africa, but one could learn through their dances that there was a massive transfer of African culture during their migration.
Historical sources indicates that treks of people from Africa to Asia started from the 12th and 15th centuries in small proportions but in 1851 there was a massive transfer of these people you can read here for further reference: http://exhibitions.nypl.org/africansindianocean/essay-south-asia.php