“We're saying the time has come for us to take our destiny in our own hands.”
Rabat – Nana Akufo-Addo, Ghana’s president who is famous in pan-African circles for “telling the truth to the West,” has yet again said that Europe shares blame for a number of realities on the African continent.
Speaking in Paris yesterday, July 11, to France’s Emmanuel Macron in front of over 400 representatives of the African diaspora, the Ghanaian president said that Africa needs to rethink how it engages with Europe—and other parts of the world for that matter—to ensure that its dealings with the outside world actually benefit Africans.
Relations with Europe must change
Even as the rapid transformation of this age have made it imperative for Africa to establish social and economic links with other continents, it must do so by emphasizing the need to be self-reliant and capable of one day exploiting its large quantity of raw resources.
“Africa and Europe are natural partners,” President Akufo-Addo said, adding however that the terms of the partnership need to change to pave the path for “a relationship that has to be different from what we’ve had up to now.”
He explained: “That relationship has enriched Europe but has not enriched Africa. So, we need to change that dynamic and we can only do it by ourselves, taking the correct measures for our future.”
He further argued that, “We have to get away from the idea that there is some Father Christmas who’s going to come and develop our continent for us. There is no Father Christmas, there is just us.”
President Akufo-Addo went on to speak in warm and profuse terms of the emerging pan-African mindset across the continent. He dwelled on China’s success story, especially stressing how the Asian country’s image and reputation has significantly improved as a result of the economic prosperity it has achieved in recent decades.
Because “that development of China has changed the status and the position of Chinese all over the world,” he argued.
Once Africa finds a way to educate its populations, “give them skills, and put Africa “on the path to a very, very strong economic growth,” the continent might as well gain the respect and consideration that China has secured of late, he postulated.
Turning to President Macron, the Ghanaian leader hastened to make his point much clearer, saying that he does not wish for Africa to cut links with the world.
Instead, the continent needs to claim its due and deal with partners in a way that is different than what Akufo-Addo sees as the patronizing and Africa-belittling partnerships that currently prevail. “So, Mr. President, we’re saying the time has come for us to take our destiny in our own hands.”
The Ghanaian leader was onto something of significance to African policy circles when he raised the point about the need for a paradigm shift in Euro-African relations.
Speaking at a Euro-African conference in Vienna in December of last year, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame blamed a sizable portion of Africa’s problems on Europe’s wrong-headed policies on the continent.
Of the deepening immigration problem, Kagame said it is partly Europe’s failed policies that are driving millions of Africans out of their continent. “Europe has a migration problem because it failed to address the issue early. Instead of helping Africa, it further impoverished the continent. Don’t misunderstand me: I am not blaming Europe for the problem of migration. It is a shared problem.”
Meanwhile, African leaders have taken many steps in the past months to realize their aspiration of a much more interconnected, prosperous, and internationally vocal Africa.
Ongoing projects such as the single African passport, or the Africa free trade area have been presented as part of a broader ambition of realizing African unity and solidarity on a wide range of topics as well as development affecting many lives on the continent.