Is Africa the forgotten but outstanding achiever in a world beset by imploding crises?
Rabat – America’s first female secretary of state, Madeline Albright, has singled out Africa’s upbeat developments in a world witnessing many crises, both between and within counties.
Albright, who led America’s diplomatic corps 1997-2001 during Bill Clinton’s presidency, was one of the leading guest speakers at the 7th Atlantic Dialogues, a geopolitical event in Marrakech December 13-15.
Organized by the Center for the New South, formerly known as OCP Policy Center, the three-day event continued its tradition of inviting leading voices on diplomacy and global affairs to speak on some of the trends in international relations.
In a speech that echoed this year’s Atlantic Dialogues’ theme, “Atlantic Dynamics: Overcoming the Choke Points,” the American diplomat copiously spoke of the growing friction between countries brought about by a politics of resentment and “rage.”
Arguing that isolationism and rivalry are replacing international dialogue, Albright regretted the “dangerous rise of nationalism in the world, notably in Europe.”
She particularly lambasted the West for the plight of migrants and refugees and called out Europe and the US for their increasingly security-oriented migration policies. President Trump, she said, is America’s “least democratic president.”
“No one seems to understand how the system really works,” she said of the rise of post-truth, fake news, and conspiracy theories used by far-right parties to demonize migrants and push for nationalistic policies.
She said nationalism is on the rampage while conspiracy theories threaten the order of the post-World War II world.
‘Remarkable’ changes in Africa
When asked at the end of the question and answer session to make a few remarks on important topics she felt were sidelined or not brought up at all in her speech and the questions that ensued, Albright was full of praise for Morocco and Africa.
Referring to the Benguerir-based King Mohammed VI Polytechnic University, which she visited prior to speaking in Marrakech, Albright said she was “blown away” by both the design of the campus and the aspiration of the university.
“It was fantastic,” she said, explaining that Morocco and the African continent need such higher learning institutions to accompany and foster the optimistic dynamics that the continent has witnessed of late.
“I think that what we should be asking ourselves is what is really happening in Africa, and I think it is remarkable in terms of a rising Africa and a new Africa.”
Staying clear of some of the pejorative and stereotyped descriptions of Africa, Albright spoke of a continent full of potential with a bright future.
She elaborated, “One of the things I think we need to talk about is the potential of Africa with a very young population that is now being educated and is in fact ready to play their role.”
For her, despite some persisting social issues on the continent, African countries should be granted the space to “play their roles both as nation-states and within the context of globalization.”
Rather than patronizing the continent, especially for the rising number of young Africans choosing to migrate, the West should take Africa’s concerns seriously and welcome it as “part of the solution to some of the issues.”