Africa Rising, State Capture and other myths

By Mkhosana Mathobela Bingweni

THE political domination and economic exploitation of Africa has always been covered up with a thick blanket of myths and illusions.

Slavery and colonialism as violent and genocidal as they were, creatively were couched and represented to Africa and the world as civilisation and modernisation of Africans by benevolent and God fearing Europeans and Americans.

Below the mythical blankets of the civilising and modernising mission, Africa’s resources were siphoned for the development of Europe and America and Africans were exploited and killed on a genocidal scale. In the present era of globalist internationalism and highly technologised imperialism, new myths are being invented and circulated to cover up the present political domination and economic exploitation of the continent and the people of Africa. Chief among the myths that are presently used to cover up the political domination and economic milking of Africa is the “Africa Rising” slogan that scholars and journalists of Empire are circulating as new political and intellectual wisdom.

After the Africa Rising mythology, there is the concocted language of what is increasingly called “State Capture” in South Africa.

When non-European and non-American people in Africa canvas for business and try to mobilise each other to influence government economic and political policies, which is normal anywhere in the world, this is turned around and called corruption and state capture.

This allegation of African corruption and “State Capture” covers up the big truth that all African states are already captured in imperialistic globalisation and the tyranny of the market forces that is perpetuated in neoliberal economic regimes of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

When Europe and America, fronted by the so-called international investors, practice predatory economics in Africa and continue to extract raw materials without adequate beneficiation, what is happening is called normal business and aggressive capitalism.

When Africans aggressively canvas for business and profit in Africa as Africans, their aggressive capitalism is described as primitive cronyism and backward African corruption.

Brutal Truth

Vijay Mahajan has positioned himself as a leading world economist with a chain of merit awards under his belt for prophetic economic analysis and concise economic advice for private corporates and governments throughout the world. In 2009, Mahajan published “Africa Rising”, a book that has given language and meaning to the myth that economically and politically Africa is at last growing and the promised civilisation and modernisation of the continent is visible.

Besides Mahajan, a multiplicity of world journalists and scholars have produced literature that in different words and diverse vocabulary circulate the Africa Rising myth and conceal the brutal truth that as globalisation naturalises itself in the world, Africa further sinks below the weight of political domination and economic exploitation.

The sub-title of Mahajan’s book is even more telling, “How 900 million African consumers offer more than you think.”

The book is addressed to European and American investors who are being alerted of African consumers who are waiting to consume what Europe and America have produced.

In this colonial narrative, Africans are not producers of any goods and services, or any history for that matter, but are simple consumers that have no agency and power. Such topics as “Africa is richer than you think,” “The Power of Africa” and the “Ubuntu Market” are used to flesh out some of the most poisonous economic and political propaganda to be found within one book.

Effectively, Vijay Mahajan employs and deploys statistics to back up his arguments. African economies are growing and developing with impressive annual percentages and rates.

There is always something of Catholic incantation in neoliberal economic calculations that observe growth and development in big figures, yet these healthy statistics do not translate into any change in the lives of the poor majority of black Africans. The majority of black Africans in actuality live outside formal economies and are outside the prophetic radar of neoliberal economic analysis. For that reason, Vijay Mahajan’s observations, arguments and analysis about Africa Rising are reduced to sweeping statements.

What Mahajan and others are actually celebrating and circulating as reality is the rise of Europe and America in Africa.  The further growth and entrenchment of Empire in Africa is deliberately misunderstood as the growth, development and rise of Africa. Economic and political expertise of scholars is deployed in obfuscating and mythologising to conceal continuing coloniality in Africa and in presenting the slow but sure death of Africa as its rise. Vijay Mahajan and others are the true apostles and prophets of coloniality.

Tyranny and Evil

When the United States of America ganged up with Britain to criminally invade Iraq in 2003 under the false claim of the existence of weapons of mass destruction, they perfected the political art of Machiavellianism.

In true Machiavellian fashion, if an enemy does not exist it must be invented and then attacked. Guile and trickery are the rules of the game of political Machiavellianism and hard-nosed realpolitik.

When African politicians practice Machiavellianism in any manner and way in African politics, their actions are described as primitive tyranny and evil.

Tyranny and political violence cannot be justified anywhere for whatever reason, but it seems that when America and Europe practice the evils, theirs is sanitised and their wickedness is presented as progress and necessity, invading another country becomes a good show of the responsibility to protect and benevolent interventionism.

This weapon of mass deception, the presentation of European and American crimes as good for humanity, happens more in economics than politics. In South Africa a collective of Jewish, American and other European corporations own and run the economy.

International corporations with a thin sprinkling of a few black South African elites as fronts own and run the South African economy.

These aggressive capitalists can even manipulate state institutions to protect their interests as dramatised in how the police were used to crush the protesting mine workers of Marikana.

The aggressive capitalists rake in billions of rand in profit from South African natural resources and cheap labour, and give next to nothing in the form of benefits to the African population that is still experiencing the economic marginalisation that was structured by long years of apartheid and racist rule.

When small and insignificant players like the Gupta brothers from India and a few blacks attempt their own aggressive capitalism and make moves to influence the government in their own business direction, they are reviled as the state capturers and the anti-Christ itself.

The media and legal institution are mobilised to condemn the state capture and literally crucify the state capturers.

Public protectors are brought to the fore to protect the interests of private capital under the guise of protecting the public.

The real state capturers in the shape of European and American moguls, in the media and other institutions are covered in glory and nobility and their theft of the state and siphoning of resources is rendered as normal business practice.

In their stolen glory and nobility, these aggressive capitalists sponsor the political opposition and are behind the protest groupings that condemn the liberation movement and the black government as primitive, ignorant and incapable beyond repair.

The myths of “Africa Rising” and the allegations of “State Capture” in Africa might be new in name but they are not really new in effect.

The languages of the civilising mission and modernisation together with the allegations of African primitivism and corruption were used to justify imperialism in the shape of slavery and colonialism.  What liberation movements and black governments in Africa need is to be alert to the changing colours of the imperial chameleon and the shifting grammars and vocabularies of Empire that keep concealing the same old political domination and economic exploitation of the continent.