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Festus Adedayo
Zimbabwe-born medical doctor and activist, Arikana Chihombori-Quao’s viral video which hit airwaves last week evokes the music of iconoclastic Jamaican reggae musician, Peter Tosh. The video explains the rebellion going on in the Sahel against France. In Tosh’s system-bashing, anthem-of-resistance song, a call to action against the evils of colonialism and oppression, the coup in Niger Republic and France’s decades of paternal oppression against French-speaking Africa gets graphic detailing. His Mystic album, especially the track Babylon, your Queendom is falling, is pregnant with powerful lyricism that is unpretentious against colonial oppression. It calls on black people of the world to reclaim their hearts, their lands, culture, heritage and humanity from the stranglehold of colonizers. Tosh especially chose the oppressive colonial and post-colonial system that underdeveloped black people for censure. He labeled this power structure system that has enslaved and exploited black people in the world for centuries as “Mystery Babylon.” The concept of white supremacy and its Queen(King)dom is falling, Tosh sang: “Mystery Babylon, your Queendom a falling/Tumbling down/And Rahab, a Ethiopia calling…”
If you call Tosh a prophet, you would not be mistaken. As the lyrics lament white oppression, wrapped in fluid-flowing and danceable tune, Tosh addresses the systematic downfall of Babylon and how Ethiopia, regarded as the promised land of Africa, is rising in rebellion, from its ashes of oppression. After so many decades of sustenance of black people’s oppression from the capitals of oppression of the world, Tosh sang, the Babylonian system is meeting its waterloo as the oppression is coming to an end. He made a biblical allusion to Rahab and then to Ethiopia, the only African country never colonized. Rahab was the prostitute from Jericho who helped Joshua and his army in the conquest of the city of Jericho and his reference to Ethiopia was a call for the overthrow of white oppressive system in Africa.
Tosh sang effusively in the Jamaican patois with optimism that all that was stolen from Africa and taken to Babylon would be returned after the system’s overthrow: “Gimme back mi gold, mi ruby an mi diamond…sent I sons and daughters from a far off… I said all those that are called of I name…Gimme back mi zebra, mi lion an mi tiger… Gimme back mi land, mi language and mi culture… I said, take back your chink, your roach and mosquito…” He asked for repatriation of all stolen invaluable possessions which he symbolized with gold, diamonds, rubies, zebras, lions, tigers, land, language and culture, rudely and crudely stolen by stealth by white colonizers.
In the viral video, Chihombori-Quao had appeared on the Eye Gambia, alongside other commentators. She gave a present-day bite to the Tosh song, especially France and French-speaking Africa colonial and post-colonial relations. Former African Union representative to the United States from 2017 to 2019, Chihombori-Quao viewed Africa with the same lens that Tosh looked at the continent’s underdevelopment. This outspoken Zimbabwean, renowned for her caustic review of the implications of the Berlin Conferenc in Germany in 1885, made some earth-shaking revelations that put the coup in Niger and the rebellion in the Sahel in perspective. Chihombori-Quao is known for her rave lectures delivered on the outcome of the selfish, self-centered and haphazard partitioning of the African continent in Berlin. To her, that division is responsible for the multiplication of Africa’s problems and why, in the words of Walter Rodney, Africa remains underdeveloped.
“The government of France has significant control over all their former colonies, specifically fourteen of them. When they were giving them independence, they forced them to sign a document which they called the pact for the continuation of colonization. On one hand, they say we are giving you independence which comes out to be political independence but that you have to sign this document… You are going to be independent, but you have to agree to continually be colonized. Two countries said, absolutely not, they (were) not going to sign the document. They are Mali and Guinea. What the French did was that, they entered those countries, took everything that they thought they brought into those economies, poured concrete into sewage pipes and completely devastated the two economies. They did this to let other countries know that if they (did) not sign this document, this (was) the fate that (awaited them).
“The impact (was) terrible. The pact that that those countries had to deposit 85 per cent of their bank reserves with the French Central Bank, under the control of the French Minister of Finance and should those countries wish to request some of those monies – remember they are only left with 15 per cent of their reserves – they have to submit financial statement for the country and if approved, they can only access up 20 per cent of whatever they had deposited year before as a loan at commercial interest rate. The only difference now is the 85 per cent deposits have now been lowered down to maybe 50 and 60 percent but the countries are still forced and required to deposit their bank reserves with the French Central Bank.
“Now, picture this situation: you are depositing your monies with France. Should you need some of your money, you get it as a loan at commercial interest rates. Immediately, you have credit with France, but you begin to owe France! This has been going on and continuous till this day. So, combined, the 14 countries are giving to France cash of over $500 billion every year and France takes that money and invests it in its own stock market under the French name… currently, for every 14 billion that France takes out of Africa, by the time they finish investing it in the French stock market, they realize upwards of $300 billion so you do the maths to see how much France takes out of Africa every year. And France has the audacity to then look at African countries and call them poor. Why would poor African countries give France $500 billion year in year out? But what gets me the most is, how does the world sit back and watch this carnage take place in Africa. Where is the United Nations? This is the body that is supposed to be looking for any violation of human rights. It is my humble opinion that, singularly, what France is doing to Africa is the biggest violation of human rights. Women and children are dying of starvation, youth unemployment and these same poor countries are giving $500 billion to France. It simply does not make any sense and I don’t know how the world can sit back and watch all this unfold and nobody is saying anything. It is unacceptable. It is wrong and we are simply asking France to do what is right, what is just and right with Africans,” she said.
Ahmed Sekou Toure was the president of Guinea who refused to sign that pact of servitude. He rejected the French and its bid to appropriate the wealth and farmland of Guinean traditional landlords. He was famous with the lingo that “Guinea prefers poverty in freedom to riches in slavery” and argued that Africa lost its essence and future during colonization. He advocated that Africa should retaliate by cutting off ties with her former colonial masters and for clinging to the apron of the west as their puppeteers. He also voiced his distrust of other African nations.
The above Chihombori-Quao submission may sound inscrutable, horrific and frightening. Another video, which went viral recently, was of Sierra Leonean-German multi-facetted social entrepreneur, Mallence Bart-Williams. At a Ted event, she explained the chaos and crises in Africa and said that chaos in Africa is orchestrated because of the resources of Africa that are cheaply and fraudulently taken out of Africa.
“A healthy and thriving Africa will not disperse its resources as freely and cheaply… which in turn may destabilize and weaken western economies established on the post-colonial free meal system” she said. Affirming France’s yearly collection of foreign reserve deposit from Africa posited by Chihombori-Quao, she said France based it on “colonial debt which they force them to pay.” This, she said, was affirmed by former French president Jacques Chirac who an interview said that “we have to be honest and acknowledge that the big part of the money in out banks comes precisely from the exploitation of the African continent” and that in 2008, Chirac said that without Africa, France will slide down in the ranks of third world powers.”
Another expose has put the animosity against the new military rulers of Niger to the pipeline project that passes through the republic on the way from Nigeria to Europe. The uranium deposit in Niger is also the contention, a mineral that Europe and Africa have been stealing from Africa for decades. The resistance against the new junta, a regime that has promised to disconnect the stealing and cheap sales of is “the quest to gain back their wealth, the uranium, gold, iron, phosphate, iron and gas and this scares the west.” In this quest to regain their national sovereignty, delink from being an European colony and Russia is backing French-Africa. This incenses the west and America.
This is why the Bola Tinubu-led ECOWAS’s resistance to the revolution going on in Niger and other Francophone African countries is benumbing. Some have alleged that the post-colonial planting of puppeteer governments in Africa, held by the CIA, MI6 and other intelligence services, may just be the explanation. The overwhelming voices in Africa right now are that the imperialists, Peter Tosh’s “Mystery Babylon,” should get out of the continent. If ECOWAS does not listen to the voice of reason and continues to abet America and the west’s continued servitude of Africa, they will be footnotes and flotsams of history when today’s story of their people’s rebellion against puppeteers is told.