The African Union should develop diplomatic strategies to help American investors engage Africa’s vast pool of genius, writes Okello Oculi
Akinwumi Adesina and Donald Trump have known 2020 as a season of elections crucial for their personal histories and for their mission in governance of a bank for a vast continent, and a vast country of 50 federated states, respectively. Adesina is a younger man with a dazzling record in academic achievements and participation in boards of visionary institutions.
Trump is an old billionaire with a daunting record of jumping off business bankruptcies; making donations to campaign pots of candidates for elections; earning nation-wide recognition through a gripping television drama, and stoking racial hatred against Barack Obama’s candidacy for the presidency by relentlessly lying about his country of birth. Both achieved visibility before contesting for their different types of presidency.
Trump seems committed to profiting from hugging macabre counter-revolutionary history. Specifically, exploiting memories of former slave owners who lost the American civil war but turned their defeat to gain by passing laws which cancelled all laws promoted by Abraham Lincoln’s dedication to America’s constitutional declaration that Black and White people are equal and must enjoy equal rights. In its practice, the legislature of South Carolina was made up of elected 48 African-Americans and 12 White members.
The Ku Klux Klan began to take Blacks back to their former status of slaves; subjecting them to barbaric cruelties. To intimidate Blacks and Whites who believed in equality for all, they hanged them in a festival by members of the organisation. They hanged a white person who supported rights of Black people: in a ratio of four Blacks for every white victim.
Trump’s refusal to condemn white policemen murdering Black men; his support for the 18-year- old lad who went from the State of Illinois to shoot and kill two persons in a Kenosha town in the State of Wisconsin: where a policeman had pumped seven bullets into the back of a Black man who was opening the door of his car to drive his children home. Trump’s electoral base would have screamed in rage if he had condemned the act.
Trump seems determined to create a future personal business market in Russia by shocking Americans weaned in the Cold War era (1945-1989) with the historical truth that 20 million Russians perished in defeating Hitler’s troops directed to make Russia a colony larger than any in the world. Moreover, Hitler’s Germany had killed six million Jews and rolled his army from Poland to Portugal. It was Russia’s destruction of German troops which enabled American and British armies to roll back German knees from necks of western Europeans. Perhaps he seeks to win markets in Russia by cleansing fake history by the ‘’Deep State’’ that Russia is the enemy of Euro-Americans.
Adesina’s dictum that ‘’agriculture is a business’’ promises to inject capital into farming by households. Multinationals in agro-business should welcome it. Under colonialism they paid households less than subsistence income.
Injecting capital into colonial agriculture was limited to European immigrant farmers. Banks, insurance companies and railway companies interacted with these farmers but never with peasant households. Adesina’s vision promises to reverse this historical discrimination.
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) favoured the racist models in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia and Kenya which robbed rural households of their land: while individuals grabbed vast tracts of land. Their history is of impoverishment, starvation and migration to slums; violent colonial dictatorships, and armed struggle by dispossessed peoples. Adesina is not expected to follow this route.
Euro-American, Chinese, Japanese and Russian agriculture are linked to industrial production in all stages: from ploughing land to processing products ranging from chocolate from cocoa; perfume from shea nuts, and wine from rice and banana fruits. Massive intellectual work by engineers, biochemists, manufacturers, shippers and transport operators are engaged. In Africa, Adesina must support infrastructure for building and sustaining these intellectual capacities.
Paul Kagame has emphasised the value of self-confidence. African leaders have wished for inflow of capital whose conditions respect their vision, and promises high benefits. Where the IMF denies a loan to a country because it is poor, AfDB must be creative and wipe away Trump’s vision of Africa as ‘’As a Shit-hole’’; an insult meant to excite his racist voters.
President Trump opposed Adesina’s re-election apparently because he is open to Chinese investment in Africa. American diplomats should abandon past wreckage of Africa with the ‘’Structural Adjustment Programme’’. Positive American support for Africa’s development may come with Joe Biden’s victory. However, her long tradition of assassinating patriotic African, Asian and South American leaders was recently used in Iraq. The African Union must protect Adesina by developing economic diplomatic strategies based on helping American investors to transit to emphasis on creative positive engagement with Africa’s vast pool of genius.