The past 12 months were very intense on the African continent. Some very important elections stirred- up a whole lot of interests. Those interests went far more outside of the African borders for the simple fact that the outcome of each one of those elections defines the new frontiers of the shared zones of influence, which are being renegotiated between the old powers of the world ………………..
The case of Cameroun and Côte d’Ivoire
by Jean-Paul Pougala – Translated from French by Therese Boua – North Carolina USA 12/24/2011
The past 12 months were very intense on the African continent. Some very important elections stirred- up a whole lot of interests. Those interests went far more outside of the African borders for the simple fact that the outcome of each one of those elections defines the new frontiers of the shared zones of influence, which are being renegotiated between the old powers of the world, the Western, and the new power, China. In quoting the ranking seen in Ukraine, one can freely state that in Cote d’Ivoire, in Zambia or in Liberia, the pro-westerner won the party. In Cameroun or in the Democratic Republic of Congo, it is the pro- China who won.
Since the African Independences about 50 years ago, in the logic of the cold war, African countries were all under one of the 2 banners, pro-western or pro–Soviet Union. With the fall of Berlin wall in 1989 and the consequent end of the cold war era, all Africa became, either by their own willing or by force, pro-western.
The tandem, International Monetary Founds’ (IMF) and the World Bank took in fact power in Africa, deciding entirely or partially the economical, financial, social and even the judicial politics of most African countries. As a result of those 20-30 years of that kind of power in Africa, there is not in existence, a single country that succeeded thanks to their revenues coming straight from Washington DC. This brought about dissidences and rebellions from some countries against the ultraliberal IMF-World Bank, with one particularity: when it fails, only African leaders take the blame. They are re-baptized for the circumstance “African dictators” in order to divert attention from the real authorship of the failure: the western ultra liberalism. This tragic comedy continues to this day, since the same recipes are being prescribed to Greece, Portugal and to Italy, recipes which failed in Africa 20 years ago.
These African dissidents looked elsewhere, toward Eastern, toward China. There are not many, because they have to have courage to brave tremendous western pressure, which pressure may well end up in coup-d’états maneuvered through rebels who never explained how and by whom they were financed. This is the context in which electoral rendezvous are held on the African continent, where the only true social project is to find out if countries will be content with the status quo, with the same old known misery of 50 years in the hand of the West, or will they take a jump into the unknown by choosing China, in the hope of emerging with her, not really knowing where we are all going to land?
Today, I will take, in examination, 2 African countries that made opposite choices, first, the Ivory Coast, who decided to stay like before, under western control and second, the Cameroun, who chose to jump into the unknown with China.
Which one of those 2 countries made the right choice?
To answer this question, I am restraining myself in giving any judgment in the value of either one of those elections. I’m not about to re-create history here. I will only review the events on a purely geostrategic angle.
Cameroun and Cote d’Ivoire are two African countries in which election took place recently. The common point of these two elections is that the two world’s giants, China and the West threw their full support behind their selective choice. In Cote d’Ivoire, we may or may not agree on the methods used, but every modern citizen was able to watch, live, the induction of an African administration by both France and the United States of America. It is not wrong to assert that the power in place was pro-Western.
In Cameroun, Mr. Biya has been the “darling” of Beijing. The city has become the only official destination for Biya and his ministers’ outside of Cameroun’s geographical borders, for these past couple of years. At the last congress of the RDPC, Mr. Biya’s political party, Mr. Sarkozy’s UMP was not invited as usual. In this rightful place, instead, China’s communist party was invited and was designated as “the best friend” of Cameroun. In addition, the results of the presidential election in Cameroon were announced by Beijing and not Yaoundé, four hours before the results’ were proclaimed by the Cameroun’s Supreme Court. This bring us to say, without fear of being wrong, that Cameroun’s position is pro-China. This is the reason why Mr. Obama’s America could only throw in the tower, as a sign of giving up, in front of the displayed support of China, in what had been afraid to be called “post election crisis of Cameroun”. The American Ambassador, Mr. Jackson’s accusations against the electoral process only got the effect of “a barking dog while the caravan continues its merry way”. With these maneuvers, Beijing had already made it clear that Cameroon was not Cote d’Ivoire. As this was not a random decision in Beijing to choose the date of 10/8/2011, one day before the election, the joint ceremony between Mr. Biya and the Chinese representative to put together, the foundation stone of Kribi’s deep water construction site, with an initial envelop of $ 1 billion paid as a real challenge to Westerners who themselves are in deep financial crisis. Cameroun’s electoral approved of this act, by sanctifying, the day after, the election of Mr. Biya with 78%. This is Far from the mismanagement of the situation in Cote d’Ivoire by the West a few months earlier.
Whom, Between Cameroun and Cote D’Ivoire Will be Right about Their Choice ?
While it is still too early to speak of Cameroun, we can already draw the first conclusions on the case of Cote d’Ivoire, and realized that the situation today is far worse than what prevailed during the crisis under Mr. Laurent Gbagbo. The IMF has put forward a figure of -7.5% growth in the country for 2011, making the Ivory Coast, the only country in recession for the entire African continent, that is to say , worse than Somalia, where even without a stable government, there will 1% growth for 2011, which means a growth somehow positive.
The same sources inform us of underperformances against the Ivorian economy, where the state owe the tidy sum of nearly 1,000 billion CFA francs to companies. And the entire 2012 budget that just passed will be financed from abroad.
Let us take randomly, a common date in the two countries, as of yesterday 23/11/2011. What is the main news in Côte d’Ivoire: the spokesman for the European Commission President, Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, who announces that Mr. Alassane Ouattara Dramane is in Brussels where he will be meeting throughout the day, Mr. Karel de Gucht, European Trade and export Commissioner, is to speak of Ivorian cocoa exportation toward the European Union’s countries.
In the Meantime, in Cameroun, Mr. Martin Yankwa, General Inspector of the Cameroun’s Ministry of Industry, Mines and Technological Development, is announcing the signing of an agreement with the Chinese government, to set up a factory, the SITRACO, worth 1.6 billion FCFA in Douala for the conversion of 40% of all the cotton from Cameroon, in order to supply the many hospitals that China is also building across Cameroun, with medical supplies such as pads and rolls of gauze of cotton.
In the first case, this is yet another visit to the West since taking power last May, 2011. The first visit was at the G8 summit, in Deauville, France, where the friend Sarkozy, President of France had a great desire to celebrate the military victory of his presidency, but had forgotten to inform his protégé, Mr. Ouattara, that he was in a financial storm himself, with three major banks that had just lost at the stock market nearly 40% of their value, which reach very quickly the following day, 65% for the biggest one.
There was the 07/27/2011 visit to Washington to ask for money. Unfortunately again, we forgot to tell Ouattara that Mr. Obama was in a quarrel with the new Republican majority in Congress, that would not grant him (Obama) an extension for new debt, and suddenly, accompanied by other African presidents who all seemed in the White House, like schoolboys in the principal’s office, giving the pictures published by the White House of the meeting, they have the bitter looks on their faces, giving the impression of being at a funeral ceremony.
How to Read These Two Events?
IN COTE D’IVOIRE
The Ivorian approach is wrong, in my opinion, because the Cocoa and Coffee should simply be eradicated in the African continent. This is the only certainty to end the dark days of colonial submission and humiliation, with all its economy, as the cultivation of certain plants, that even a major financial newspapers in the West continues to rank, at the end of 2011 as “colonial products. More than 50 years after independence, an African leader still going to Europe to negotiate a colonial product, that is to say, to voluntarily continue to grow this product, which corresponded to the vision and interests of the European colonial Africa. It’s a political mistake, and especially an historical and economical one, because no country in the face of the world has ever been enriched by continuing the production of a colonial product. Even Brazil was forced to renounced his position, as the world’s leading Coffee producer, to produce Meat, and is now exporting to Europe because it is one 100 times profitable, and the production is weekly, not annually……”.
Former President Mr. Laurent Gbagbo had a choice: to turn to Africa in order for his country to move from a colonial economy to something else, the repositioning of Cote d’Ivoire, to abandon the colonial products such as Coffee and Cocoa, for strategic profitable sectors such as petrochemicals which is 100% African. To achieve this, it is the Ivorian experts who have been admitted to advise and develop infrastructure for this migration concept, including Equatorial Guinea, Angola, etc …
In other words, Côte d’Ivoire was going to specialized in “Intelligence” to count and control in Africa and that, in only six months, Cote d’Ivoire is back to the dark hours of field work, the colonial period , manual work, putting its old servants’ apron back to use, as required by European master, its place in the Cocoa and Coffee plantations and tropical countries.
The approach in Cameroun is to encourage, because the decision to establish a cotton processing plant in Cameroun has two advantages: First, because the real added value of an agricultural product resides in its transformation into finished product, second, because the produce to satisfy a national need, helps to boost local demand and establishes the virtuous circle of wealth creation. It is expected that within the next 10 years, Cameroun will move from being a cotton importer country to a cotton exporting one, satisfying the country’s cotton demand in hospitals and also being able to satisfy the African market.
What the leaders from Cameroun understood is Laurent Gbagbo’ vision, which is that from now on, it is in Africa that we must seek wealth. Sitraco is the tree hiding the forest’s vast health development project’s business in Cameroun, which will attract patients not only from neighbouring countries but from much further. Through its hospitals, Cameroun wants to get the lucrative medical evacuation bonanza to France from French-speaking African countries, in particular for very specific specialties: cardiovascular, trauma, neurosurgical, ontological ophthalmological. According to incredible figures provided by Mr. Bedouma Alain Yoda, Minister of Health of Burkina Faso, the government of a small and poor country like Burkina Faso pays to France to evacuate about fifty patients a year, a whopping 900 million FCFA (1,372,000 Euros) annually. This information was made public by the daily Burkina Faso daily news paper, “The Country”, in its edition of September 19, 2007. In Yaoundé, we want some of that cake. History does not tell us yet, if Paris is very happy with the activism of this new unexpected competitor.
Another area in which the leaders of Yaoundé are looking for trouble with Mr. Sarkozy of France is in training and education. One can easily imagine the scene inside the Etoudi Palace (home of the President of Cameroun), where the host takes a pen and calculator to see how much cash is generated each year from African students who flock in Europe? A real jack pot! And all productive reflections had to be on knowing how to catch some of that! Once again, thanks to the Chinese partnership, public and private Universities are now coming out of the ground like mushrooms, with University campuses, and a shipyards of Chinese construction sites to deliver the works as soon as possible. Cameroun, enjoying the privileged position of being the only bilingual (French / English) country in the African continent, is not only trying to prevent Cameroonians to leave their country, but is also trying to attract other African students. While the host of the Elysee (home of the French President) counts on the stigmatization of African students to boost their poll numbers, one can bet that removing such an excuse will be lived as a crime. Since the month of May 2011 already, a decree has surfaced to summon African students to leave France the day after their graduation.
What To Do Once One Realizes The Mistake in Choosing Alliances?
Today, the development of Africa is a matter of decisive choice in the geostrategic position of each country. The alliance with the West, on the verge of bankruptcy, seems suicidal to me as choice, because the result is known in advance: misery guaranteed as main course and debts for dessert. The Libyan leader Gaddafi is an example of the suicidal choice. He chose the alliance with the West, snubbing China or Russia, and by letting his Secret Service’s be controlled by the CIA. Which later will be fatal to him, knowing that it is the same Secret Service, by becoming american, who was no longer safe for him nowhere on the Libyan soil, let alone for his dolphin. In the wild, mammals look for powerful and strong males to mate and provide offspring in order to guarantee the future. Because the weak is often bitter and generates other weaknesses that leave little to no chance for the race to survive for a longtime, and do not portend any future. Right now, the West is this weakened animal and for that reason, is more dangerous to himself and to its allies. Its weakness makes it bitter.
A day will come when they will understand that they will no longer be saved from their deep financial and social crisis by Cote d’Ivoire and only then, they will realize that they do not need Mr. Ouattara.
When that day comes, coinciding with the awareness of doing the best interest of Ivoirians people first , it will whistle the end of the recreation for the colonial Cocoa. That day, Ouattara will be soon renamed “African dictator” and there is no need to be a magician in order to predict that, on that day, all NGOs will come out, raising from everywhere to explain how he is wicked and how he enriched himself on the backs of his own people. Another African will be found quickly to replace Ouattara that day and we, the African people will be there to support him with all our strength, exactly as we did for the Libyan Leader and its predecessors. Because the African tradition requiring us to never abandon one of our own, no matter what.
Nicolas Machiavelli (1469-1527) did he not say that “To predict the future, we must know the past, for the events of this world at all times, have links to the times that preceded them. Created by men animated by the same passions, these events must necessarily have the same results? “
How many will we be to respond “present” in support of Mr. Ouattara when his hour of disgrace arrives? What history will remember of him beyond his inglorious page he wrote with his famous “International Community”? only Ouattara and his team will be able to answer these questions, through the actions and decisions they will lead using their brains to not insist on recipes that have already shown their limits. The worst is not to make mistakes, but to persist in making them. And the wisest move for him, in my opinion, will be to have the courage and strength to go against those who put him in power and to free his brother Laurent Gbagbo. He, then will have left the treachery Africa and the “governors” club to enter into the courageous Africa in defense of African human Dignity. We are different from Europeans. To build the European Union, they resorted to a catalog of all conditions to be met before entering the EU and countries like Turkey since 1962, have continuously failed to satisfy these conditions. In Africa we have privileged other values than money. That is why there has never been any catalog of conditions for accession to the Organization of African Unity (OAU) yesterday and to the African Union (AU) today and tomorrow in the United States of Africa under construction. What unites us is primarily the fight against the humiliation that the West wants to impose on us since the dawn of time. The International Criminal Tribunal is not a clear evidence of the animosity against human dignity in Africa?
How to explain that with the 3 million deaths in Cambodia, a genocide perpetrated by the “Khmer Rouge”, the special court is undergoing on the Cambodian soil? The common denominator of the African people is anti-colonialism. It even was the basis for the foundation of the OAU.
And we will not build the United States of Africa without involving everyone, without realizing the harmful ability of those who want to arm us, those who want to divide us in order to hunt our Heads of State from power, and kill them. We are extremely outraged by these acts of barbarism and if those who have power are not aware of this, we must be outraged twice as much.
The decline of the West is paradoxically an opportunity for Africa, provided that we are aware of the importance of the place we can occupy in this new era with the redistribution of seats.
The West cannot help us because it cannot help itself.
Mr. Obama visited Ghana and presented that country as the window of a Western allied who is succeeding, but the truth is a bit bitter. Ghana, for its growth, turned to China and received 10 billion of American dollars, provided by China alone, an amount that no Western country is capable to offer.
For the story, yesterday 11/23/2011, for the first time, even Germany, the European most virtuous and richest country, could not borrow money on the markets, their operators are the first to bet on their inexorable downward spiral.
In this 21st century this is the end of the United Nations and the triumph of CONTINENT-STATES. I do not look forward to the beginning of the prosperity in my country, Cameroun, as long as the economy of another African country, such as Cote d’Ivoire is lowered, because we need to be together, all of us, to have the necessary strength to resist to the aggressors in order to built the basis for a stable continental economy.
To do so, we need alliances, we need to count our friends, our true friends. For now, the best friend of Africa is China and we should all be outraged when Europe goes to Beijing to talk about Africa, about us, without us. Have we not sufficiently grown out of adolescence in the eyes of the West?
Other African heads of state, as Laurent Gbagbo, will be further humiliated by them, and some others, as Kadhafi, will be killed. But the worst thing that an African can do is to be a participant in any way, of these acts, to be an accomplice , directly or indirectly, and direct these acts against his own, against all of us.
Because every African who is demeaned, it is all of us who are demeaned, every African who is humiliated, it is all of us who are humiliated and every African who is insulted “scum” , it is all of us who are insulted “scum”, every African who is killed, it is us all who are killed. Defending one another is to defend oneself today, is to defend our children tomorrow. And to choose our alliances, we must first identify, against whom we have to defend ourselves.
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Translated from French by Therese Boua – North Carolina USA 12/24/2011