If you ask a youngster in school in Europe or America to describe the first thing he or she thinks of when they think of Africa, the answers can be easily predicted. They are likely to start with “poverty” and end somewhere with “war and conflict.” Many kids are surprised to learn that there are high-rise buildings and highways and fancy sports cars in many African cities.
Where do these stereotypes come from and why do they persist? Indeed, ridding Africa of poverty, corruption, disease and violent conflict has been the holy grail of many US and Western leaders, not to mention Peace Corp volunteers and billionaire philanthropists for at least 100 years. Africa is the place where everybody is hungry and looking for a handout.
Most US presidents in the last few administrators treated Africa as an after-thought at best. They had no defined Africa policy. Like many people around the world, American Presidents – at least the last several – seem to still hold very stereotypical notions of the continent, and the people who live there.
This needs to change. Especially in America. To continue to harbor this propaganda and to believe it and to misinform children about Africa is not only a disservice to the people on this continent, it will become a security threat for the next generation of people on the American continent.
In the short run, over the next 4 years that is, continuing to hold these stereotypical notions about Africa could turn out to be a foreign policy disaster for Donald Trump’s administration.
China. China is and has been in Africa for some time now building relationships and promoting investment and trade. America is there too but perhaps in a different way and with a different motive. China sees the types of opportunity in Africa that America historically has not. China views Africa, if not an “equal” then certainly more as a “partner” in many ways than the US seems to at this time.
And make no mistake, there are many American companies, banks and investors in Africa who know the value of people and the continent. But the one thing many people seem to overlook is Africa’s geopolitical significance – especially in the new world order being carved out by Donald Trump.
A continent could not have been more perfectly situated than Africa is for what is coming. What is coming? Some very serious shizzo. A lot of it will be stoked by the Trump presidency. He knows how to rattle, perturb, unnerve and agitate. The world is not going to be the same world after a Trump presidency.
The Chinese saw this long before Donald Trump was elected and they have sought to exploit their opportunities to build partnerships and relationships that will help them when the time comes.
Trump is unlikely to hold Africa and the people there in high regard. He will not see them as equals. He will try to commandeer them and impose his will and to a large extent, he probably will get away with it. But it won’t be the same as before. Because of China.
Of course, Africa is not a country. There are many different players involved and many different types of opportunities. Hopefully, also, African leaders have learned their history lessons and will not allow their country and continent to be exploited any more than it already has been by the “great powers.” They will instead demand their place at the negotiating table like all the other partners in what is to come.
For now though, as far as nuclear Armageddon, much of Africa is still a bit of a sleeper. If the Chinese have “colonized” any of these states (insofar as their military ambitions go) they have been working with great stealth (crouching tiger hidden dragon). But it would be folly for a Trump administration to sit back and ignore Africa and think of Africa in this old fashioned way as a place where there is nothing but lack.
This simply is no longer true in many instances. But it is the potential Africa has – due to its geopolitical position – for nuclear exploration and exploitation by (desperate) rivals of the United States that should be of the greatest concern to the new administration.