20 March 2011

What is Neocolonialism?

There is a war of words going on at the moment – between the supporters of General Gaddafi and (it seems) the rest of the world and one word is being bandied about a great deal – colonialism. Gaddafi and his cronies are accusing those countries now involved in the no fly zone of just that.

Yet they are not the only critics. Many people are suggesting that the only reason there is a no fly zone is because the nation has oil – a point which is difficult to disprove because, well, it has. One can only make the point that the humanitarian suffering is so great in Libya at the moment that something is needed. Yet is it colonialism, whichever side you are on?

Perhaps the best word Gaddafi could have used should have been neo-colonialism – a term which was traditionally used to describe the involvement of former colonial powers to keep control of their former colonies after independence. Whether you agree with his opinion is up to you but there is a new threat of neo-colonialism hanging over the African continent.  The term has now been extended somewhat to include nations which previously had no control over a country gaining influence over it: indeed it often gains that control with the collusion of the government of that very nation. The real danger for the African nations is quite possibly being sold down the river by their own governments.

Take the example of Ethiopia – and this is happening all over the continent. Vast swathes of land are being acquired for use by various Asian nations. You can argue what came first – the chicken or the egg – what coerced the African governments to agree to the leasing out of their land to foreign powers with little benefit to their own people? On the other hand the action of these countries (such as China and India) seems to fall short of what might be described as ethical. Africa is in danger of being leased out of existence.