NYU Black Renaissance Noire Spring 2015 - Page 110

Brief as the document is, it presents a thorough overview of Africa’s inventory of energy (fossil, geothermal, solar, wind, tidal, nuclear, hydroelectric and biological), mineral, water, agricultural and human resources. It surveys distribution patterns of these resources, and suggests adjustments that could be made in order to organize them to create a series of regional industrial, agricultural and energy bases serving the people of the whole continent. The book then makes it clear that given such an intelligent understanding, control and use of our resources, there would be no further need to hold conferences on African unemployment, pandemics, illiteracy and poverty, because once Africans organize our space and time rationally, these problems, symptoms of resource denial and structured political oppression now being camouflaged as good governance, would become a matter of historical curiosity. This wide range of feasible improvements in African life depends on one design condition: that our planners approach Africa not as a jumble of disconnected sovereign states, but as a unified field. In short, the thesis of Diop’s powerful little book is that in Africa today, economic, social and cultural improvements are feasible, but only if the enabling condition — African unity — is achieved. The present condition of African society presents a sharp contrast to this rational possibility. At a time when people on other continents are coming together to form economic and political unions in order to meet their human needs, African space is still chopped up into walled-off chunks, with complex barrages of administrative, military and police obstacles installed to keep the continent frozen behind its imposed divisions. From the perspective of any reasoning African, the system looks utterly senseless. From any human perspective, its effects on the African people are worse than senseless. For we all see, day after day, that this system is a prolific breeder of conflicts, famine, wars, and all sorts of instability. We see, further, that as a result of the way it works, while our continent is acknowledged to contain fantastic natural and human resources, by most significant indices of human well-being, Africa lies at the bottom of the world. The principle of rational social organization, which underlies the scenario of continental social development outlined in Diop’s book, calls for the selective use of resources contained in the entire continental environment, for meeting the needs of all human beings living there. The Berlin consensus, by which European and American governments systematized the dismemberment of Africa, was based on an opposite principle, the principle of conquest. By that principle, it was permissible and desirable for inhabitants of a given continent to invade another continent, to subdue its population, to deprive them of the right to determine the use of their resources, and to extract from the conquered society such resources as could be used to boost the wellbeing of the conquering society. The application of this principle led to the creation of wealthy, developed invader societies at one end, and of poor, undeveloped societies at the other. If the present configuration of African space is so demonstrably harmful to the continent’s population, and yet has powerful agencies actively maintaining it and extending it into the future, it is logical to wonder why. What purpose was the system designed to serve? Why, in spite of its lethal toxicity, didn’t Africans of the post-Independence generation abandon it, to replace it with a humane, intelligent, African system? Over the past half millennium, one result of the enthusiastic application of this principle — it became a European axiom — was the invasion by Europeans of vast areas of the world, the occupation of territories several times the land mass of their European homeland, the extermination of millions in Asia, the Americas, Australia, and Africa, followed by the enslavement and impoverishment of survivors. This was suffering on a cosmic scale, inflicted on the world against the backdrop of increasing material prosperity and psychological pride for the designers of the system, Europeans and their American descendants. 108 Part of the answer is that though the system is inhuman to Africans, it is hugely profitable to Europe and America. It was, let us remember, the governments of those two societies, America and Europe, that met to establish the present system of African dismemberment in the first place.