An African country, the Central African Republic (CAR), becomes the second country in the world, after El Salvador, to adopt Bitcoin as a national currency. As its name says it, CAR is a country in Central Africa. The country of the late Jean-Bedel Bokassa is rich in diamonds, gold, uranium, and other precious minerals; yet it is one of the poorest countries in the world (when you have the FCFA as a currency, can it be any different?).
On Wednesday, a bill to adopt Bitcoin as the country’s legal tender was passed unanimously by the parliament. The office of CAR president, Faustin-Archange Touadera, claimed the move would “improve the conditions of Central African citizens” and distinguish CAR as “of the world’s boldest and most visionary countries.” I couldn’t have said it any better… it is about time to get rid of the FCFA [The 11 Components of the French Colonial Tax in Africa] anyways, why not do it in style? Excerpts below are from the BBC.
The Central African Republic (CAR) has approved Bitcoin as legal tender – just the second country to do so.
CAR is one of the world’s poorest countries, but is rich in diamonds, gold and uranium. It has been wracked by conflict for decades and is a close Russian ally, with mercenaries from the Wagner Group helping fight rebel forces. Lawmakers voted unanimously to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender, said a statement from the CAR presidency. The move puts CAR “on the map of the world’s boldest and most visionary countries“, it said.
… Others have raised fears that cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin could make it easier for criminals to launder money, and that they are environmentally damaging because they use so much electricity to generate [as if exploiting uranium was eco-friendly! could they possibly be happy when the golden hen is going away?]. The internet is needed to use any cryptocurrency but in 2019, just 4% of people in CAR had access to the web, according to the WorldData website.
The country currently uses the French-backed CFA franc as its currency, along with most other former French colonies in Africa. Some see the adoption of Bitcoin as an attempt to undermine the CFA, amid a contest for influence over the resource-rich country between Russia and France. “The context, given the systemic corruption and a Russian partner facing international sanctions, does encourage suspicion,” French analyst Thierry Vircoulon told the AFP news agency [of course, France will be suspicious of former slave colonies finding friendship elsewhere].
In the capital, Bangui, the response was mixed. Economist Yann Daworo told BBC Afrique it would make life easier, as transactions can be made with smartphones and it was easy to convert Bitcoin to any other currency. “Businessmen will no longer have to walk around with suitcases of CFA francs that will have to be converted into dollars or any other currency to make purchases abroad,” he said.
He also argued that the CFA was not being used “to benefit Africa” [preach cousin]. There are growing calls in several countries for the currency to be dropped by those who see it as a relic of the colonial era, enabling France to continue to exercise economic control.
However, computer scientist Sydney Tickaya said he thought the adoption of the cryptocurrency was “premature” and “irresponsible“. “Internet access is still underdeveloped in the country while Bitcoin depends entirely on the internet,” he said, adding that the CAR had more pressing issues such as security, education and access to drinking water [sure… but after over 100 years of dealing with France and the FCFA, and not even getting simple roads or education or water, while your diamonds are exploited without you getting a dime, isn’t it time to try something different? when will it be mature enough, or responsible enough to take a leap?] .
Today, I would like to highlight the work of yet another African who has been working on alternatives, this time bringing back ancient grains to the forefront. Meet Senegalese Sanoussi Diakite, professor of mechanical engineering, who has invented a fonio husker machine. Diakite has been working tirelessly for several years to find ways to husk fonio. For those who know it, fonio is a cereal that has been cultivated for centuries if not millennia in at least 16 African countries from Cape Verde to Chad. Fonio is nutritious, gluten-free, high in dietary fiber, and drought resistant. It grows anywhere and does not need fertilizers. It is one of the fastest-growing cereals, reaching maturity in as little as 6 to 8 weeks. Unfortunately, it is very labor intensive to husk. It takes about 2 hours to pound (yes you heard it right, women pound the fonio) to get 2 kg of fonio. It could easily take a woman the whole day to pound the fonio if she has a large family (not including the preparation of the meal afterwards), and this is one of the reasons many have shied away from the ancient grain in their nutrition. Diakite’s husking machine produces 5 kg of fonio in 8 minutes. Talk of a revolution!
The Fonio Husker Machine has been patented, and effectively husks and cleans the fonio grains as they pass through the shifting and flexible paddle which is set on a vertical axis and on top of a fixed plate. The separation of grain and husk is done simultaneously. To learn more, take a look at the article on MyHero, Kumatoo, and and his bio as he was awarded the Rolex Awards for Enterprise. It might have taken time, but like he says himself to BBC, everything is endurance and perseverance; at the core, he wanted to help women and reinstate the millennial grain.
In recent weeks, we have all felt the effects of the war in Ukraine, particularly at the gas pump. Prices keep going up everyday, forcing many to either stop driving, start biking, use public transportation, or switch to electric or hybrid vehicles when possible. The gas prices unfortunately affect almost everything else, such as the cost of food, given that it costs more to transport from the place of production to the stores. Today, we will highlight two African inventors who have been working on energy alternatives for quite a while now, but have now come to the forefront thanks to the crisis in Ukraine.
Now comes Maxwell Chikumbutso, an inventor from Zimbabwe. Chikumbutso has created a Radio-frequency powered television: no power cable needed, and the TV is powered purely by radio waves similar to WiFi and Bluetooth. He said to The Herald, “With an RF-powered generator embedded on a TV set, it is now possible for many people to enjoy watching TV whilst they are off-grid. For me, this started off as a dream in 2003, but today it’s now a reality. We have successfully developed a solution that powers televisions, smartphones, laptop computers, fridges just to name a few.” His invention is a green energy solution, as it converts radio frequencies into clean renewable energy. Lately, he has manufactured a hybrid helicopter which runs on 6 different types of fuel, a green power generator which produces electricity with radio frequencies, cordless televisions, an electric car which does not need to be charged (watch out Elon Musk, there might be some competition in the future), and much more. Chikumbutso is the founder of Saith Holdings Inc.. Unfortunately, he has not had much support from the government; he was not able to patent his work because the authorities said that his inventions violated the laws of physics. To learn more about him and his inventions, please check out this article at the Perimeter and The Hub.News.
Now, these inventors remain underrated as our African governments still seem to think that great inventions will come from the West, or given that their agenda and development are run by foreign entities, their hands are tied. It is high time that Africans understand that in order to be competitive in the future, we need to be industrialized, and we have the manpower for it, as well as great minds that will propel us forward. Our deliverance will not come from the west or the east, as they after all look for their own interests not ours, but we have the potential to address our own problems directly with solutions that work for us. Is it not about time Africa believed in herself?
Last week, we saw several European countries turn to Africa for their energetic needs. Since the beginning of the Ukraine conflict, many places in the world have seen high prices of products such as wheat, gas, and oil. Wheat because Russia and Ukraine are the world’s largest producers of wheat (who would have thought? from my little eyes, I thought it was too cold to grow anything). Oil and gas because Russia is the largest producer and provider of gas to the rest of Europe, and of oil as well… and the shortsighted decisions of European governments to dump all sorts of embargo and restrictions on Russia has exacerbated the effects felt from the lack of those elements.Al-Jazeerahas a very good article on the effect of the sanctions on wheat, and the high prices.
Countries around the world, and on the African continent who depend on wheat as a source of food, particularly Egypt, the world’s biggest importer of wheat, have been struggling. Thus, many have had to come up with quick solutions, likeEgypt quickly diversifying its wheat suppliers. For some, these solutions already existed and the crisis has now made the public more receptive to trying different ways. Today, we will highlight the work of Cameroonian bakerGuy Marcel Nganta, who is making bread from local sweet potato, cassava, and much more. Nganta has always been working on these alternative flours; however, the conflict and the high price of wheat have increased the demands for his products. Enjoy… excerpts below are fromAfricaNews. Honestly, Africans should encourage and develop local productions. Why should we import wheat from somewhere else, when we can produce alternatives… and more importantly, do we really need to eat wheat? How did we, Africans, live before wheat imports? did we not have our local produces?
A baker in Yaounde is making bread from sweet potato flour. And it is a relief for his consumers who are increasingly finding bread made from wheat flour pricey .
Guy Marcel Nganta, with his big, colorful hat screwed on his head, has been making baguettes with sweet potato, cassava, and other legumes flour for 13 years in Yaoundé. A godsend for this small baker now that in Cameroon, as elsewhere, the war in Ukraine is making wheat supplies more expensive.
… since Russia invaded Ukraine more than a month ago, his customers, whom he supplies only on order, have increased from about twenty to about fifty, according to him.
… A sweet smell escapes from a small rudimentary bread oven. The craftsman kneads, … and molds bread made only with food “made in Cameroon“, says Guy Marcel proudly.
Cameroon, like many other countries on the continent or elsewhere, is affected by the war between Russia and Ukraine, respectively the first and fourth-largest exporter of wheat in the world, a commodity whose prices soar since the beginning of the war.
… The 44-year-old baker’s bread has the same appearance as that made with wheat flour, but it is heavier and more consistent in the mouth. And the taste, slightly sweet.
“I do very well with local flour,” Nganta says. Because if he cannot sell his baguette more expensive or cheaper than his competitors because of a price fixed by the state, at least their production cost is lower and therefore his profits are higher.
… “The taste is really different for bread made in Cameroon and it fills the belly more,” enthuses Lewis Ateba, an electrical engineer who leaves the shop with several baguettes.
There has been recent news of European nations turning to Africa to meet their energetic needs because of the sanctions they have placed on Russia, and to reduce their reliance on Russia. Although we should applaud their sudden remembrance of African countries, it is still important to note that they turn to Africa because they can just pay peanuts compared to Russia, and the fact that Africa has so many little-little countries, Europeans can impose their own prize, or threaten them with never-ending debts inherited from colonial times. Thus, the reason they could afford to place Russia under sanctions that have proven in the past to never work.
Below are excerpts from two articles on Africanews. The first which came out today announces thatEurope is turning to Nigeria for gas needs, and the other from yesterday showsItaly turning to Algeria for gas needs. When I read this, I just remember that the same United nations of thieves bombed Libya, installed jihadists in the entire Sahel region so they could ‘freely’ get Uranium (Niger), gold (Mali), and much more. Let’s hope African countries work on developing their local industries, and building transcontinental collaboration.
On Monday, the EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Samuela Isopi, together with France, Italy, Portugal and Spain’s ambassador met with the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC).
The European Union is courting its first African liquefied natural gas supplier. EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Samuela Isopi, together with France, Italy, Portugal and Spain’s ambassadors visited Monday the headquarters of the NNPC and met with the company’s management. The visit came as Europe tries to reduce its reliance on Russian gas. After the United States and Qatar, Russia was in 2021, Europe’s third liquified natural gas supplier. The European envoys to Nigeria therefore sought to strengthen their cooperation in the energy sector with Africa’s top economy. …
Italian Premier Mario Draghi has secured a deal for more natural gas imports across a Mediterranean pipeline from Algeria.
It’s the latest push by a European Union nation to reduce dependence on Russian energy following its invasion of Ukraine.
Russia is Italy’s biggest supplier of natural gas, representing 40 per cent of total imports, followed by Algeria, which provides some 21 billion cubic meters of gas via the Trans-Mediterranean pipeline.
After meeting with President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Draghi said that an agreement to intensify bilateral cooperation in the energy sector along with the deal to export more gas to Italy is significant for the “strategic goal” of quickly replacing Russian energy.
“Immediately after the invasion of Ukraine, I announced that Italy would move with the utmost speed to reduce dependence on Russian gas,” he said. …
In these days of exacerbated capitalism and companies shipping jobs oversees so as not to pay the locals fair salaries in the face of increasing cost of living, or people’s ideas stolen by big corporations without a single penny in return, it is refreshing to learn the story of Nkosana Makate. Nkosana Makate is a South African man who worked for Vodacom in South Africa and who is the mind behind the “Please Call Me” texting service, yet it took him 14 years to be remunerated for his invention. His story is one of perseverance when in the right, and endurance. How many would have given up? After almost 2 decades of fighting, Makate is now about to receive several millions of dollars in compensation for his idea. Excerpts below are from the BBC.
South African Nkosana Makate’s 14-year court battle against a huge corporate opponent is testimony to the idea that it is sometimes worth fighting on, as he is now in line for a pay-out worth millions of dollars, writes the BBC’s Pumza Fihlani in Johannesburg.
… Two decades ago, he came up with the concept that went on to become Vodacom’s Please Call Me texting service, which allows customers to send a free message to another user on the same network requesting to be called back.
… Twenty-two years ago Mr Makate was working as a trainee in Vodacom’s finance department.
“Rebecca [my wife] was a student at Fort Hare University and we were in a long-distance relationship. There’d be times where she’d want to call me but didn’t have airtime [credit to call].
“I thought: ‘Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to initiate a call even when you didn’t have airtime?’ That’s how the idea came about,” he beamed, reliving the moment.
He entered into a verbal agreement with the company’s then director of product development and management, Philip Geissler, that he would get a share of the revenue generated by the product once it went to market.
At the time [in 2000] the firm even shared an internal newsletter praising him for the concept.
But something changed at some point and it is not clear why.
“Suddenly I was told that I’m being greedy for wanting a share of the profits from what I created,” said Mr Makate.
Instead of accepting the situation and deciding it was not worth taking on Vodacom, he went to court in 2008.
… His team of experts estimate that Vodacom made at least $4.7bn (£3.4bn) from Please Call Me and he has not seen a cent of those profits. Mr Makate has been asking for 15% of that.
At first, the company denied that their ex-employee had come up with the idea and then they said he was not due any financial benefits from it.
The case has gone through a number of courts
Eventually, in 2016, it ended up in the highest court, the Constitutional Court, which found in Mr Makate’s favour and ordered the two sides to negotiate remuneration.
The company offered a settlement of $3.1m saying it was “overly generous“, but he rejected it.
… “For me it’s about what is right, what is fair and it’s about justice. What they are doing is wrong and I cannot allow that,” he said …
… “I’m happy we persisted with the court review because we have now been vindicated,” he said.
Earlier this month, High Court judge Wendy Hughes said that Vodacom had gone against the Constitutional Court ruling and negotiated in bad faith.
Judge Hughes also said he [Makate] was entitled to a much bigger share of the revenue, which could run into the tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars.
… “… I will not give up,” he said, … He wants to make his children proud.
“I hope they know that daddy fought a clean good fight and that they learn to stand for something in life. I also hope they learn that nothing worthy comes easy.”
Hundred years after the “signing” of all these lands in Africa to Europeans (we all know it was not a consensual signing as there were threats of war, aggression from other tribes, sometimes bombings, etc), the scramble for Africa, colonization, and more, a new scramble has started again, with lands yet again being “signed” off to foreigners to the detriment of the locals. Below is the recent signing of hundreds of acres of protected land in Whale Bay, in Sierra Leone to Chinese companies. This is a catastrophic story, especially as it will cause an ecological disaster. This is not the only area where it is happening, it is not just in Sierra Leone, and it is not just Chinese companies, but many more … reminiscent of the 999 year land treaty in Kenya [Did You Know about the 999-year Lease granted to Europeans in Kenya ?]… We, Africans, need better laws, better governance, love of our own selves, patriotism, and less corruption. True, we need development, but it cannot be at the expense of ourselves. There are also several questions: is this a land sell, a lease, or what? Can it be overturned? Excerpts below are from The Guardian…
A $55m (£39m) deal struck by the government of Sierra Leone with China to build an industrial fishing harbour on 100 hectares (250 acres) of beach and protected rainforest has been criticised as “a catastrophic human and ecological disaster” by conservationists, landowners and rights groups.
The gold and black sands of Black Johnson beach fringe the African nation’s Western Area Peninsula national park, home to endangered species including the duiker antelope and pangolins. The waters are rich in sardines, barracuda and grouper, caught by local fishermen who produce 70% of the fish for the domestic market.
After reports of a Chinese-backed fishmeal plant began circulating on social media, A statement that appeared to be from the Sierra Leonean fisheries ministry confirmed the deal, but denied the planned construction was a “fish mill”. The facility would be a harbour for tuna and “other bigger fishing” vessels exporting to international markets, it said. It would include a “waste-management component” to “recycle marine and other wastes into useful products”.
The government said the beach, one of many along the nation’s 250-mile (400km) coastline, was the “most suitable place” for construction, and revealed the finance ministry had set aside a compensation package of 13.76bn leone (£950,000) for affected landowners. But the statement leaves more questions than answers, say those objecting to the plan.
… “Under the constitution, the government can sequester land if it is in the public interest,” Tonner said. “Even if this just a deep-water harbour, it is not in the public interest because it’s not a suitable site. There are fish breeding sites in the lagoon. It will wipe out the local fish people live on.”
… James Tonner, who owns land at Black Johnson with his mother, Jane Aspden Gbandewa, has written an open letter to the president, Julius Maada Bio, calling for him to intervene and stop the construction, which Tonner said would be “disastrous for the country and the planet”.
It would destroy pristine rainforest, plunder fish stocks and pollute fish breeding grounds and several ecosystems, Tonner said. The beach is on Whale Bay, so-named because whales and dolphins are seen there.
… “Under the constitution, the government can sequester land if it is in the public interest,” Tonner said. “Even if this just a deep-water harbour, it is not in the public interest because it’s not a suitable site. There are fish breeding sites in the lagoon. It will wipe out the local fish people live on.”
… “Our own fishermen won’t have a place to fish. Everything will be spoiled. Tourism will be finished.”
Dr Sama Banya, president emeritus of the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone, echoed Gbandewa’s comments, saying the proposed development would have a “disastrous” impact on tourism and “the very fish industry that it’s supposed to support”. …
In recent months, racial and social justice, and systemic racism have been at the forefront of the battle for human equality. A few days ago, Mrs. Gisele Yitamben wrote a piece for the World Economic Forum (WEF) where she addressed a very important point in the battle against systemic racism, namely the fact that the history of the victim needs to be told accurately in all its glory and entirety for the healing process to start. There is a saying that “until the lion tells its story, the hunter will always be the hero.” Mrs Yitamben has been most gracious to share with us her ideas on ways to address systemic racism, and expand on her WEF article here. Enjoy!
History of Histories is Needed to Address Systemic Racism
By Gisele Yitamben*
“Systemic racism” is used to talk about all of the policies and practices entrenched in established institutions that harm certain racial groups and help others. “Systemic” distinguishes what’s happening here from individual racism or overt discrimination, and refers to the way this operates in major parts of society: the economy, politics, education, and more.
Systemic racism is also a form of racism that is embedded as normal practice within society or an organization. It can lead to such issues as discrimination in criminal justice, employment, housing, health care, political power and education, among other issues.
“Systemic racism has its roots in extractive capitalism”
It is “a deeply rooted prejudice, combined with institutional power and systemic oppression of certain groups of people.” continuing inequalities in education, housing, employment, wealth, and representation in leadership positions are rooted in humanity’s shameful history of slavery and systemic racism.
In the case of African and people of African descent, it is a direct consequence of doctrine patiently distilled, policies developed and communications put in place to downgrade the blacks with the end results of taking their wealth, their souls.
To support the Portuguese expansion, Pope Nicholas V issued a Papal bull on 18 June 1452 authorizing Afonso V of Portugal to conquer Saracens (Africans) and pagans and consign them to “perpetual servitude”. Successive popes reiterated the Bull: Pope Callixtus III in 1456 with Inter Pope Sixtus IV in 1481 and Pope Leo X in 1514 with precise denotations.
This position of the Catholic Church, accompanied by the legend of Shem in the Bible, that the noble institution disseminated without being encumbered with its real textual and theological foundation, too happy to have new territories of crusades, of evangelization, would be authority sweeping the reluctance herding slave traders and neophyte traders.
The position of the Catholic Church in relation to the slave trade was not going to be an epiphenomenon, far from it, its encouragements to enslavement would continue throughout the Negro period, like doctrinaire activism of the eminent French theologian Bellon de Saint Quentin, who used the “Holy Scriptures” to free the conscience of those who relied on his science.
All sorts of means will be used to dehumanize races, as a matter of policy to seek to assimilate cultures, for example, US and Canada, established boarding schools, prevented native language speaking, and separated children from their parents to put them in foster homes.
“People went as far as exhibiting Africans in Zoos”
Paris, the capital of lights celebrated 100 years of freedom, equality and fraternity in 1989 with a “Universal Exhibition”. In addition to the brand new Eiffel Tower, the main attraction offered to the 28 million visitors to the “Universal Exhibition is the “Negro village” and its 400 Africans, exhibited on the Esplanade des Invalides, in the middle of the colonial pavilions. For ten years, these indigenous villages have been present in most of the major exhibitions, and they continued to be so for much of the 20th century in Hamburg, London, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Barcelona, Osaka. Senegalese, Nubians, Dahomeans, Egyptians, Lapps, Amerindians, Koreans, and other so-called exotic peoples were thus presented in an environment evoking their countries, often in junk costumes and alongside wild beasts. More than 1 billion visitors rushed to these exhibitions between 1870 and 1940.
One of the most pathetic cases, of those human zoos, is that of Sarah Baartman, who was put on display around Europe as a sexual freak, paraded naked on runways by a keeper who obliged her to walk, sit or stand so that audiences could better see her protruding backside
Even when she died, destitute and diseased, the ”Hottentot Venus,” as she was called, did not get a decent burial. Napoleon Bonaparte’s surgeon general made a plaster cast of her body before dissecting it. He preserved her skeleton and pickled her brain and genitals, placing them in jars displayed at Paris’s Museum of Man. Her brain, skeleton, and sexual organs remained on display in a Paris museum until 1974. Her remains weren’t repatriated and buried until 2002.
It was President Nelson Mandelawho took up the cause of trying to get the young woman’s remains a proper resting place. Nelson Mandela sought the intervention of President François Mitterrand for his help in the matter when the two men met in South Africa in 1994. It took 8 more years to finally get Sarah buried.
For more than five centuries, the Doctrine of Discovery and the laws based upon it have legalized the theft of land, labour and resources from Indigenous Peoples across the world. This has regrettably rendered indigenous peoples to be seen as dolls (see history of Sarah Baartman) that appeared not to have made any contribution to the evolution of mankind. Research has proven that modern day medicine took roots from traditional medicines practised by indigenous people. It is the same with other domains of social science.
Addressing the root causes of systemic racism and bias
As a Black woman in Africa, I am living the reality that the “deep roots” of systemic racism lie in extractive capitalism on this continent. Slavery, the colonization of Africa and the economic exploitation and speculation that continues today, are driven by greed for profit which is underpinned by cheap replaceable labour and raw materials seemingly at any cost, using obnoxious cooperative accords inherited from the colonial era [The Charter of Imperialism]. Ultimately, it is greed that has led all European to the systematic and methodical devaluation of all Africans. For centuries, African peoples have been discounted and devalued as the colonizers sought to maximize profits and focused on their own needs and “happiness”. This mindset continues to drive racist attitudes today. What is amazing is that the exploitation of African resources have been going on for 500 years and the minerals are showing no signs of depletion [The Lost Libraries of Timbuktu]!!! This should have called in a big change of the system’s approach.
Current approaches to addressing racism have failed for the most part because they have addressed the symptoms but not the root causes of racism. We see this when we consider that while slavery and colonialism were officially abolished, the system of oppression merely transitioned into Central banks serving slave owners [The Bank of Senegal: Ancestor to the FCFA – producing Bank], but not former slaves [Reclaiming History: Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners], and police forces serving elected officials rather than ordinary citizens. In Liberia for instance, a country populated by ‘freed’ slaves, plantations enslave the rural populace.
If we want to end systemic racism we need to get beneath the surface and understand what’s really going on, especially on an unconscious or subconscious level. And to do this, we need to go beyond campaigns, slogans and figureheads—important as these are—and re-write the real stories of each race and its contribution to humanity.
Writing the history as it happens
It has always been curious to me that the “black pharaohs” of Egypt – powerful Kushite leaders that ruled all of Egypt from Nubia to the Mediterranean Sea from about 760 B.C. to 650 B.C. – have been largely forgotten by history [The forgotten kingdom of Nubia]. This dynasty of leaders embarked on an ambitious building program up and down the Nile, including the construction of pyramids in modern-day Sudan [Africa’s Forbidden Pyramids: Meroe, Nubia, and Sudan], under which their kings are buried. Yet the average person – black and white alike – if you mention pyramids, they think of those in Cairo first, and are not even aware that such structures exist further down the Nile in Sudan because this southern country is mostly a Black country.
“Black people need to start telling their stories”
In confronting racial stereotypes we need to tell the story as it happens and show how the development of the world is made of interwoven efforts; that will rebuild respect. There’s a reason why the Black Lives Matter activists are targeting statues of colonial and slave oppressors – because they recognize that there is power in these stories and symbols that have kept people trapped for centuries. As David Adjaye – lead designer of the Smithsonian Museum’s National Museum for African American History and Culture in Washington DC –once wrote: “there is a direct relationship between symbols and systems and that people are starting to seek complex truths in new symbols that don’t ignore the losers or the forgotten underbelly of history”.
For many years, the narratives about Africa have been about misrule, corruption, poverty and hunger, yet it remains one of the richest continents in terms of mineral wealth and agricultural potential. This is not to discount the reality of poor governance and corruption, which I must stress out is being encouraged and promoted by developed countries within the frame work of the exploitation strategy.; Many people lose their lives each year trying to cross dangerous waters into Europe in search of a better life largely because of these factors [Francis Bebey, Fatou Diome, and Immigration]. But there are positive stories we can tell too.
“When we really know each other, their contribution to common history and see that their solutions also hold value, we may start to shift systems”
Africa needs to take the lead in telling her stories to shape a new perception. This new perception will be positively shaped if truth is told. It is not about begging to be accepted. We need to tell the stories that make visible the things we value, the beauty and the power that have been written out of history. We have a saying – “Until the lioness tells her side of the story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”
Driving systems change at the local level
By telling real Africa’s stories (victories and downfalls) and making Black history more visible we can start the work of unraveling the systems that hold racism and oppression in place, but this alone will not be enough. Systemic racism has also to be tackled at structural, institutional and political levels. A system that has historically devalued a whole group of people is by definition exclusionary; we need to therefore re-design systems that value inclusiveness. In this, solutions cannot be imposed from outside. Those that need change most must be involved in bringing it about.
The COVID-19 pandemic may ironically be showing us a way here. In Cameroun working in remote areas with social entrepreneurs – lockdown measures have effectively cut us off from our usual means of trade; incomes have collapsed and we’ve been forced to create new systems to ensure that people can attend to their basic needs. This has included creating a local currency to allow people to trade during this time and setting up of new localized trade routes. While driven in this instance by necessity, there is power in this approach in that it starts with what is under the control of the beneficiaries and needed and what is valued and then builds around that.
Going forward, we can seek to apply this principle of localization more broadly. When we start to respect others and see that their solutions also hold value, we can start to shift systems. These systems are built on mutual trust.
I believe social entrepreneurs will have a central role to play in this regard by driving localized solutions, for example, creating access to affordable finance for initiatives that can improve livelihoods for future generations of Africans. In this way we can build out a new narrative for the continent and create systems that value people, and their happiness and well-being, over profits.
We are at a historic moment in the fight against systemic racism. There is a wider moral recognition that some things in our society are fundamentally wrong and a broader understanding of the need to address the root causes of these ills. We have an opportunity to uproot systemic racism and it starts with rediscovering what has been forgotten and revaluing what has been systematically devalued.
Gisele Yitamben is the Founder and President of Association pour le Soutien et l’Appui à la Femme Entrepreneur (ASAFE) a social enterprise that provides business training and development services, alternative financing and access to e-commerce to support thousands of women entrepreneurs in Cameroon as well as in Guinea, Benin, Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She can be reached on email@example.com
My people, have you ever heard about The Bank of Senegal? The grandparent to the current FCFA producing banks (BCEAO, BEAC)? The bank which was created to cover the losses of slaveowners when slavery was abolished?The owner of slaves were compensated, but not the slaves who had been over-exploited. In essence, after the abolition of slavery, in French colonies, a new system of exploitation was put in place through the banking system (The 11 Components of the French Colonial Tax in Africa).
Well, the Bank of Senegal was created by Napoleon III by imperial decree on 23 December 1853. First established in Saint-Louis in Senegal. In 1867, a branch was opened in Gorée (then transferred to Dakar in 1884), then another branch in Rufisque. It was started as a public limited company with a capital of 230,000 F, approved by the Emperor established by reference to the law of April 30, 1849, to settle the problem of compensation granted to slaveholders following the abolition of slavery (Décret d’abolition de l’esclavage du 27 avril 1848).
The Bank of Senegal was created to finance the campaigns of the traders in the purchase of tropical products and the sale of manufactured products. The distribution of capital in this new bank depended on the number of slaves owned or sold. The owner of slaves were compensated, but not the slaves who had been over-exploited. This Private bank had the power to issue bearer, banknotes. In 1901, the bank evolved and became the Bank of West Africa whose shareholders were the Bordeaux houses (60%) (The Maurel house, Teisseire and Beynis), the CNEP (20%), the Marseillais (20%) (Charles Bohn).
In 1901, the Bank of Senegal became La Banque de l’Afrique Occidentale (Bank of West Africa), B.A.O. . In 1929, its emission privilege was expanded and extended to French Equatorial Africa, Cameroon and Togo. The system put in place would help build multinational plantations for international market. As you see, there were no opportunity to access finance for local entrepreneurs. On April 14, 1959, the Central Bank of the Equatorial African States and Cameroon BEAC and the Central Bank of the West African States BCEAO were created. Although they are called Central Banks, they do not play the role of a central bank which is that of implementing monetary policies, setting official interest rate used to manage both inflation and the country’s exchange rate and controlling the nation’s entire money supply.
Let’s examine one of the most incongruous accords in humanity after the black code
It is the convention between France and 14, 15 African countries in the franc zone which stipulates that:
“The member states agree to pool their external assets in a foreign exchange reserve fund. These reserves will be subject to a deposit with the French Treasury in a current account called “operations account.”
From 1945 to 1973, these Africans exported, for example, raw materials for 100 billiondollars they deposited all the 100 billion dollars in the French treasury.
From 1973 to 2005, if they exported for $ 100 billion, these same African countries were obliged to deposit 65 billion in the French Treasury in the operations account.
Paradoxically, it is France which decides when the currency can be devalued like in 1994 when the FCFA was devalued by 50%. Since September 20, 2005, the deposit amount stands at 50% for West Africa and 60% for Central Africa. This simply means that if Africans export up to 100 billion dollars or Euros, Yuan, etc. they are obliged to deposit 50 billion in the French treasury.
For Central Africa, 60% of these dollars are purely and simply recovered by the Banque de France, while only 40% go down into the treasury of the African countries
France claims that she is retaining this money to guarantee the fixed exchange rate 1 € = 655 FCFA. This is purely an economic nonsense. First we are told that the rate is fixed, and then we learn that in reality it is not because of market forces that no one can control.
As major consequences, when African countries of the Franc zone export their raw materials to France, let’s say for example 100 million euros, France does not pay a single dime. All she does is mark a plus on the country’s name in the Operation Account better known in French as the “Compte d’opération” in the French treasury. But if it is Nigeria or Ghana that export to France, De Gaulle’s country, will be obliged to take 100 million euros from the Operation Account to pay them.
All this to say, that we, Africans, need to break these chains of economic slavery that have been on our necks for the past 167 years. We need to free ourselves, and not expect France to free us. As Thomas Sankara said in his 1984 speech at the UN, “the slave who is not capable of assuming his rebellion does not deserve that we feel sorry for him. This slave will respond only to his misfortune if he is deluding himself about the suspect condescension of a master who claims to free him. Only struggle liberates [«… l’esclave qui n’est pas capable d’assumer sa révolte ne mérite pas que l’on s’apitoie sur son sort. Cet esclave répondra seul de son malheur s’il se fait des illusions sur la condescendance suspecte d’un maître qui prétend l’affranchir. Seule la lutte libère … »]…!” AFRICA MUST UNITE and FREE ITSELF!!!
Did you guys hear about the government of Zimbabwe agreeing to compensate white farmers the hefty sum of 3.5 billion dollars? I was shocked! When there is barely any money in the country, and the economy is in shambles, how can the government agree to this? Moreover, did these white farmers ever compensate the Africans after independence in 1980 for using their lands for a century, for abusing them off their lands? And for all the years of economic embargo forced on the country? Lastly, the clause is set so that the country will be paying this debt forever… 12 months to raise half of the money when the country is on life support? This is so disgusting, Robert Mugabe must be rolling in his grave!
So my question is, is Zimbabwe the new Haiti? Remember how Haiti was made to pay France for over a century because of their freedom (When France extorted Haiti, the greatest heist in history)? Because the past slaves had beaten the masters, they were forced to pay France for over a century the hefty sum of 90 million goldfrancs (equivalent to 21 billion U.S. dollars in today’s money – when Jean-Bertrand Aristide requested reparations, he was ousted) after winning its freedom from France…? And this is why Haiti is so poor! Imagine this: Someone abuses you for years, not to say decades and generations, you finally free yourself, and now you are forced to compensate them because you freed yourself through a ruthless battle from their years of inhumanity. How fair is that? We must be living in a different type of world, because I just don’t understand the logic! Now, it would seem to be Zimbabwe’s turn?
I have always been skeptical of Mnangagwa… but now it has been fully confirmed! When I see this, I wonder why Africa’s leadership is so full of traitors, collabos, and haters of their own people! This will be the topic for another day. Excerpts below are from the CNN article of July 29, 2020.
Zimbabwe’s government signed an agreement Wednesday worth $3.5 billion to compensate white farmers who were evicted from their land during a controversial and often violent land redistribution program in the early 2000s under former President Robert Mugabe.
“This momentous occasion is historic in many respects, brings both closure and a new beginning in the history of the land discourse in our country Zimbabwe,” said current President Emmerson Mnangagwa, after signing the agreement at State House with Andrew Pascoe, the president of the Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe….
According to the agreement, 50 percent of the $3.5 billion would be paid with 12 months from the day of signing, while the balance is paid within five years.
Economists agree that the Zimbabwean government, cash strapped after years of hyper-inflation and allegations of mismanagement [and economic embargo imposed by Western powers], cannot afford to make the compensation.
In a statement, the Finance Ministry said that they will be issuing long term bonds and that the parties will approach international donors to try and raise the funds.