By Julius Oweh
At the apogee of European imperial ambitions and territorial acquisition of Africa, a British historian and philosopher, John Atkinson Hobson, swimming in the delusion of arrogance and intellectual disdain, maintained that the aim of colonialism was `more of the white man burden to bring civilization to Africa as that would lead to universal happiness.
Piqued by that racist sentiment, Vladimir Lenin, a leading communist mind replied that `imperialism was the highest form of capitalism. Today, the Caucasian race, the people of European descent in their closet believe that they are superior to other people and that nothing good can come from Africa.
That is why the atomic bomb was used on the Asian people at Hiroshima and Nagasaki even though Japan joined the war late. The architects of World War II, Germany and Italy were not subjected to the ravages of the atomic bomb. It was the same mind that made some western writers to state with no scientific evidence that HIV/AIDS originated from Africa. But some of us are aware that those Americans who took monkeys from Africa and were doing sexual experimentation with them in Los Angeles caused the dreaded disease.
Today another dreaded disease is ravaging the world but the origin is China. Yet some French scientists, in what can clearly be described as after-whiskey talks, said that any vaccine trial about the cure of coronavirus should be done in Africa. These people know that the first case of coronavirus was from China in a market that sold live wild animals. Yet such misguided people will have none of that and will prefer the first vaccine trial be undertaken in Africa, the so called `dark` continent.
Promptly, the World Health Organization reacted angrily to that suggestion, saying it was `racist` and dripping of `colonial mentality`. Speaking within the week, the director-general of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said thus: “Africa cannot and will not be a testing ground for any vaccine. We will follow all the rules to test any vaccine or therapeutics all over the world, whether it is in Europe, Africa or wherever.”
This writer is full of gratitude to the WHO director-general but gnawed with pain that the derision harbored for Africa is because of the behavior of our leaders. Africans are very hard working and very intelligent but become apologies when it comes to recruiting of leaders. With few exceptions, our leaders are very autocratic and they see political office as means to instant wealth and fame.
Once they are in power, they behave like tin gods and see the treasury as personal estate. That is why a councilor in Nigeria can be richer than a university professor and nothing is wrong with that in our clime. Corruption is another name for our leaders and they take pleasure in stealing public money and taking them to Europe and America. That is why any European can make any dirty joke about Africa and get away with it.
Was it not Donald John Trump, the president of the United States of America who said that there are shitholes in Africa? What did our leaders do? Instead they ran to Washington to hold meetings with a man who has hatred and disdain for us as a race. The US president failed to realize that the best brains in medicine, engineering and space technology are from Africa.
Today Trump had eaten the humble pie and faced with the ravaging effect of coronavirus is begging nurses and doctors in Africa to come to the United States. The French scientists could have suggested China for the trial of any vaccine against coronavirus or Europe where thousands of people are dying daily. The truth of the matter is that as far as this coronavirus is concerned, Europe and America are the cemeteries and not Africa. We may be poor and governed by a bunch of self-seeking leaders but certainly Africans are no dummies and this is the point those in western capitals must bear in mind.
Those Europeans and Americans who still believe in Hobson’s unproved hypothesis of bringing civilization to Africa are clearly living in the past and should be pitied.
Africa can no longer be regarded as the dustbin of the world. Europe and America, despite their sophisticated healthcare systems, are at the mercy of coronavirus and should there be any need to pass blame, that blame should be directed towards the Chinese.
Agreed that the world is today a global village but no part of that village, because of colonialism or slave trade, should be reduced to the butt of dirty jokes. This is one unique opportunity for our leaders to do the right thing and shame those who believe that nothing good can come from Africa. I rest my case.
Julius Oweh, a journalist, writes from Asaba, Delta State.