Is China the new face of colonialism in Africa?
I have watched the China’s invasion of Africa with great concern. It reminds me of a story I once heard about a certain traveler and his horse. A traveler on horse-back was caught up in the rain. He stopped and set up a tent. As he snuggled in the tent, the horse peeked through the door. “Please could I put one of my paws in the tent, the rain is too much for me.” The traveler thought for a moment. “Okay.” Shortly after the horse said, “it’s too strenuous to have only one paw in. May I bring in the other?” Again the traveler agreed. Yet again the horse requested and finally wanted to bring the second rear paw in. The permission was barely out of the traveler’s mouth before the horse’s large form dragged the tent upon itself and the traveler was left in the rain.
The eagerness of the African leaders to line up and accept billions of US dollar loans from China is disturbing. I am even more disturbed to see the Nigerian president among them. We should be in a position to be lending to our African neighbors.
It is obvious that China is trying to position itself strategically in the world. The greed of the African heads of state has made them an easy prey and before they know it China will become the landlord and no more the tenant. Contrary to the expectation of the African leaders, China is not offering them a bonanza but bait. If we have any doubt, all we need to do is to consider what has happened to Sri Lanka which accepted more than US$8 billion dollar loan from China at high interest rate. When they could no longer afford to repay the loan China took over the seaport they built. China now has 70% stake in the port under a 99-year lease. In Africa, Zambia and Djibouti are now highly indebted to China and are on the verge of losing key infrastructure.
The embezzlement by Nigerian politicians runs into tens of billions of US dollars. That much money would have gone a long way in favorably positioning the country in the world. We could have had security, good roads, hospitals and other infrastructure. We could have attracted tourism and foreign investment. The status of every Nigerian child would have been elevated. Instead our president and our neighbors borrow from China. When China becomes in charge of most of the major infrastructure in Africa will we still be a free people? Who will be running Africa then?
But the leaders of Africa blinded by greed ignore reality and are selling their land one future at a time. Our statesmen that fought for independence must be turning in their graves. Their struggle and their hard-earned freedom are on the verge of being sacrificed. I doubt that China will be an easy master. China is not like the British, the French or the Portuguese. No. We only need to look at the record of human rights in China.
China’s loans to Africa are bait. Their interest policy and their aggressive way of getting back their money is very dangerous. We Africans need to wake up before we pass the point of no return. This is our time to stand our ground, to pursue our future. It is our time to say no to the sly approach of neocolonialism lest we resemble the insults we have been given.