Beware of Greeks bearing gifts


Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.

This is a metaphor that strongly discourages trusting your enemies, and it is one and the same with suspicion.

Beware of Greeks bearing gifts comes out of a story where the ancient Greeks won a famous military victory against the Trojans, who unwisely accepted the gift of a large horse which concealed Greek soldiers who infiltrated the city at night.

As the continent of Africa is always the recipient of foreign aid – gift – from powerful nations, it should view this assistance with scepticism and suspicion as most of this assistance is “ring-fenced”.

The continent should be wary of “Greeks bearing gifts” because the aid is coming from former colonisers who are even prepared to bleed the continent of its enormous resources using gifts as baits.

Joram Nyathi, the Group Political Editor of at the Zimbabwe Newspapers, agrees that African countries must be fully conscious when dealing with foreign aid assistance as the need for external funding to raise productivity exposes the continent to the whims of charlatan Samaritans and capitalists of various hues purporting to bring in foreign direct investment.

He advises that the continent of Africa must at all times be fully conscious that it is dealing with the proverbial Greeks bearing gifts.

Subscribing to Nyathi’s assertions, Masimba Brian Mavhudzi, development practitioner based in Harare, adds that foreign aid attached with hidden agendas is cancerous to the socio-economic development of the continent.

Quoting Julio Caesar, the Roman general, statement, Consul, and notable author of Latin prose, who once said “give them bread and they will never revolt”, Mavhudzi notes that the so-called aid offering is intended to distract attention of Africans from real issues.

“In ancient Rome, bread was used to keep the underprivileged poor people quiet. Therefore, in our case, developed nations are using aid assistance as gifts to foil discontent while looting our resources,” he says, adding that “with all aid resources channeled in the continent, why Africa is the only continent where poverty in some parts is actually increasing? This questions the impact of foreign aid (gifts concealed in a big horse) to the development of the continent.”

This, therefore, means the continent of Africa needs to wake up, and use its sufficient natural and human resources to transform her economy. The continent should not be enticed with small toxic gifts, but should be an equal partner in the global market mix.

Currently, most African countries are on the sidelines as only sources of raw materials. Their crime is simply that they are receiving gifts from powerful nations, and as a result, they do not have a say when it comes to serious development issues.

Because of this, Lin Songtian, the Director of the Department of African Affairs in the Republic of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, says Africa will never be socially and politically independent if it continues to rely on ‘gifts concealed in big horses’.

“Powerful countries should not just give gifts in the form of foreign aid assistance, but foster win-win partnerships that are based on mutual trust and respect,” agrees Rogers C Riddel, in his book “Does Foreign Aid Really Work?”

Further to that, Africa needs a transformative developmental framework. This framework, according to Carlos Lopes, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, requires an adequate, predictable, sustainable and integrated financing mechanism geared towards financing developmental goals.

“The better use of Official Development Assistance nowadays should be to create the support mechanisms that would allow Africans to benefit from their own wealth rather than providing foreign aid,” adds Lopes.

Poetically, the British have a saying that there is no such thing as free lunch. This is a popular adage communicating the idea that it is impossible to get something for nothing.

Accordingly, countries within and across the African continent should be wary of aid that comes with strings attached. In fact, they must at all times be fully conscious that they are dealing with the proverbial Greeks bearing gifts. If they unwisely accept the gifts, developed nations will devour Africa and her citizenry.

October 2014
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