Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

African History, Barack Obama, Conflict Mining/Resources

Ravaging Africa

I wrote this post exactly two years ago and speaks to President Obama’s speech in Ghana and denial of the West and in particular, the US, cataclysmic role in Africa.

“Ravaging Africa” is a truly exceptional 4 part radio documentary series on Africa. The series interviewed 26 activists from 16 countries during the WSF in Nairobi in January.

The ravaging of Africa has been enriching Europe and North America for more than 500 years. First, European empires imposed slavery and colonialism on the continent. After 1945, the United States took over as the dominant neo-colonial power.

Through the Pentagon and the CIA, the U.S. government has fueled 14 wars in Africa. The methods employed include direct and proxy invasions as well as arms transfers and military training. The U.S. has used the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to systematically demolish African economies and health and education sectors. This military and economic war enables the looting of Africa’s resources by Western multinational corporations. Washington’s genocidal imperial strategy has killed more than 26 million Africans but failed to suppress popular resistance.

The four episodes are as follows:

1. “Militarizing Africa” describes how the United States has fomented the devastating war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as taken part in and engineered the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia. With Mfuni Kazadi, Millicent Okumu, Farah Maalim and Halima Abdi Arush.

2. “Economic War” focuses on the World Bank’s and IMF’s decimation of the economies and social sectors of Guinea, Zambia, Kenya and South Africa. With Bakary Fofana, Sara Longwe, Caroline Adhiambo, Njuki Githethwa and
Molefe Pilane.

3. “Corporate Plunder” details the disastrous effects of Royal Dutch Shell’s operations in Nigeria and those of Canada’s Tiomin Resources in Kenya. Also highlighted is the massive tax looting of Africa by Western corporations. With Ifieniya Lott, Mwana Siti B. Juma, Charles Abugre and John Christensen.

4. “African Resistance” celebrates the liberation of Southern Africa, the defeat of U.S. aims in the Congo and Somalia, as well as the diverse non-military struggles against U.S. domination that were represented at the World Social Forum. With Wahu Kaara, Amade Suca, Mfuni Kazadi, Farah Maalim, Virginia Magwaza-Setshedi, Emilie Atchaka and Njeru Munyi.

As we well know, war continues in Somalia and in the Congo. The latter particularly has a history of exploitation and some of the most hideous human rights violations which continue today and which are fed in the large part by Western multinationals with the complicity of their respective governments.


Asad Ismi – articles and audio

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  1. I really think that on some level there is a certain amount of denial. And, I found that denial to be the glaring omission in Obama’s speech in Ghana recently. He mentioned the ‘West’s’ failures, Africa’s (at least certain states, some are doing better than others) ineptitude but chose to not acknowledge America’s historical complicity in some of the continent’s problems. Considering he has previously acknowledged certain failures when speaking in Europe, I would have thought he might have done the same, but alas.

    Nevertheless, we Africans have to understand the system we are up against. It involves certain African leaders and their peers squandering opportunities to improve living conditions, it involves foreign interests not concerned with our development but invested in maintaining the status quo and paying large sums to keep it so. Navigating these issues is what African nations need to accomplish, with or without help. There must be a sole minded focus on eradicating/diminishing all factors that stand in the way of democracy and development. There are some, even in Nigeria, who are trying to do that and the people are protecting them, but we need more and all over the continent for that fact. Ah, let me stop myself, I think I will put this up at my blog someday soon…
    .-= solomonsydelle´s last blog ..THE GLARING OMISSION (UPDATED) =-.

  2. Comment by post author


    @Solomonsydelle – Obama has surrounded himself by some very dubious people who clearly either have little knowledge of African history or their own for that matter. I watched an interview on the BBC with a pundit in DC who said exactly the same thing as Obama – its like the race debate in the US and those who insist that it is no longer an issue. Its this habit of framing everything in simplistic terms rather than acknowledging the complexity of our histories and the problems we face today. Firoze Manji wrote an excellent editorial in Pambazuka News – the speech Obama should have given. He could have begun with an admittance and apology for the involvement of the US in coups, wars, murders of our leaders, acknowledge the human rights abuses of US based multinationals and show some understanding that we live in a globalised world where no country stands alone – can stand alone or be solely responsible for what happens within its borders. And seek ways to address all of these. Take climate change – this is impacting exponentially on Africa yet it is the West that caused the problem – how are we in Africa going to manage CC? What is the role of the US etc in sorting out this mess?

    Nonetheless none of this means we do not have to deal with our own leadership but anyone who thinks America or Obama will be of help is seriously misguided.

  3. President Obama said “The Pakistani government’s hold on power was weak, he said, because it could not provide basic services to its people — including education, healthcare and a widely accepted system of law and judicial administration. “And so as a consequence, it is very difficult for them to gain the support and the loyalty of their people.” Nobody has done that before and his speech on Africa might reek of double speak but what else can we look to? Hope? Change?

    I do not intend to champion Obama as I agreed with Tom Engelhardt’s Don’t Let Barack Obama Break Your Heart where he wrote “All you had to do was look at that array of Clinton-era economic types and CEOs behind Obama at his first news conference to think: been there, done that … Didn’t that have the look of previews for a political zombie movie, a line-up of the undead?” The point, Washington is probably the most corrupt place on this planet and that war is big enough. May I beg people to give the man a couple of years before writing him off. Africa is a huge conflict that must be won but it might be up to just us to take up (non lethal) arms in the end.
    .-= Beauty´s last blog ..Obama in Ghana =-.

  4. Comment by post author


    Agreed that the man needs time and to to a large extent he is naive and not very understanding of Africa or foreign affairs generally. One of the problems for Obama is expectations of what he can deliver are extremely high both in the US and in the rest of the world. Nonetheless I sincerely believe that the fact of him being Black is in itself problamatic and brings a new set of dynamics to the global arena.

  5. The speech bothered me. It left me angry for the rest of the day, until I read this and another article that clearly put to words the things that bothered me. When he went to Cairo, he was quick to address the fact that the US has forced it’s way into sovereign Middle Eastern countries. And yet when he went to Africa, he basically blames the state of the continent on Africans, completely overlooking US involvement in it’s economic and political instability. i was very disappointed. I thought he knew more. he needs to do some reading, to catch up or else he will become part of the problem and further hurry the rape of the continent.
    Thank you for writing this Sokari.
    .-= Orchid´s last blog ..“Do Unto Others…” =-.

  6. sam

    Obama made a very smart comment in his speech. i hope people pick up on this. I don’t have the exact quote but paraphrasing he said : while the rest of western countries are caught up in polluting technologies that are now so costly to change and sustain ,Africa is the least polluting and has a unique opportunity to take advantage of all the green technology. one example I thought of is Solar power which is uniquely in Africa’s favor . it could be harnessed and exported to other countries. I hope african leaders /scientists /citizens get their act together or once again we will be paying other countries for what is already in our backyard or even letting them dump their old technology on us ….. Let’s not be negative about Africa’s development state, let’s be smart. I see a silver lining ( think of the story of the tortoise and the hare- at the end of the day the turtle wins:)