August 14, 2016, Next time you hear western countries especially England, France, Belgium and Portugal discuss how much money they give in aid, ask when they will pay back what they stole. Over the next few months we will explore how history can help us answer the following question:
Why are the people with the most natural wealth not so well off when the people with the least natural wealth enjoy the highest standards of living?
Yes we have corruption, yes we have bad leaders, yes, yes, yes we hear it all the time. Unfortunately, those arguments present only half the story and create a smokescreen that prevents us from looking at our problems holistically. This is not about blame or reparations but about making Africans smarter about how they view the world. We must stop coming to the table with our heads held low asking for the IMF, World Bank, UN or other international NGO (non-governmental organization) to solve our problems.
We are not just people looking for a handout from the West. We are the most hardworking, intelligent and loving people and we want to find out why we don’t have what we should have. Over the next few months we will explore different events in history that explain how African economies got to where they are today.
We would like to look at Africa’s situation from an economic perspective, because we understand that beyond the issues of race and ethnicity is the driving force behind most events in history, MONEY!
BRICS AND THE NEW DEVELOPMENT BANK
To put things in our current context, the BRICS countries recently launched the New Development Bank BRICS (NDB BRICS), formerly referred to as the BRICS Development Bank, a multilateral development bank operated by the BRICS states (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) to serve as an alternative to the existing US-dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). This bank could potentially offer African countries another borrowing option.
Since it was formed there have been different events in these member countries, mostly linked to attempts at regime change, a rapid slow down in their economies and so forth. Specifically, there has been a consistent push to remove South Africa’s President Zuma for one reason or another. First, it had to do with the removal of the Finance Minister, then Nkandla and the list goes on. In Brazil, the lower house recently voted to remove President Rousseff for corruption and mismanagement of the economy. Russia, is currently under economic sanctions from the West. Whether or not any of these events is directly tied to their desire to set up their own bank, we will let you judge. One of the missions of the New Development Bank is to stop using the US dollar as the main currency. They have already implemented dollar-less BRICS energy deals, currency swaps and foreign direct investment not tied to the US dollar.
Our goal is to start the conversation about the causes of poverty in African economies. We will explore different stories about the events that have helped shape various African economies. This week we will begin with an example of a more recent story from the news. Barclays bank recently announced that it is leaving Africa.
Barclays Bank recently announced its departure from Africa as if it was a loss to us. We say good riddance. After many centuries of plundering Africa maybe just maybe it’s about time. Sometimes the news is reported to make us feel sorry for ourselves, that perhaps we are doing something wrong, we are mismanaging our economies, or maybe even have unstable political environments. When one looks at it from a long term perspective, most Africans are better off without Barclays Bank.
Several banks like Barclays, can trace their origins and wealth to the financing of the transatlantic slave trade. Many banks such as Barclays, Barings and HSBC and the Bank of England were built with the wealth of slavery. Some can trace their origins the Thomas Leyland’s banking house, which was notorious for financing slave trade. Hundreds of Britain’s great houses were built with the wealth of slavery including the Church of England which also acknowledges it financially gained from slavery. When slavery was abolished in England, many slave traders and owners were even compensated but the actual slaves taken from Africa never received anything. England did not even apologize for slavery.
In the 1980s, Barclays bank became known as ‘Boerclaysbank’, because of their continued involvement and support of the apartheid regime in South Africa.
Former UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair was accused of selling a useless air traffic control system to Tanzania in 2001. Clare Short, a UK Member of Parliament describes the agreement, “The deal was useless and hostile to the interests of Tanzania……… Barclays Bank had colluded with the government by loaning Tanzania the money, but lying to the World Bank about the type and size of the loan……..Tanzania could have paid much less for the same equipment which cost them £28m”
In the 2000s, Barclays Bank continued to finance Zimbabwe’s Mugabe regime during some of their most brutal and violent elections.
Barclays Bank, like Anglo- American, Bayer, De Beers and the Cabot Corporation, were also implicated in fueling the DRC conflict.
Also read our previous article on ‘How France Continues Slavery and Colonialism in the 21st Century’ to help explain why former French colonies face an uphill battle in becoming economically independent.
We would like to know what you think. Let us know about other events in African history that help to explain why we don’t have what we should have. Comment below.