Thursday, December 2

Top 10 books on neocolonialism | History books


TThe nations of Africa cheerfully bid farewell to their European occupants in the second half of the 20th century. But in many cases, their freedom was short-lived: because after the colonizers left through the front door, they quietly returned through the back. And this time America came too: the hungry new kid on the block, collaborating with big business and local elites to exploit Africa’s rich resources.

This process underpins White malice, my account of the secret infiltration of the CIA in the new free nations of Africa. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president, watched in dismay as the new states became independent in theory, with “all the external trappings of international sovereignty,” but their economic and political policies were directed from the outside. This, he lamented, is the “essence of neocolonialism.”

These ten books help answer the questions posed by Abderrahmane Sissako’s remarkable 2006 film Bamako, in which the World Bank and IMF are tried in Mali: “Why when Africa sows it does not reap? Why when Africa harvests does not eat? “The books deal mainly with the African continent, but not exclusively: neocolonialism is by no means limited to Africa.

1. The Quiet American by Graham greene (1955)

In this gripping novel set in Saigon in 1952, the “quiet American” is a CIA agent, Alden Pyle, covertly backing a third force led by a Vietnamese warlord. In Greene’s description, Pyle represents America’s strategy of fooling around between French colonialism and the Communists. Provide the explosives for a murderous warlord attack on innocent people. But in the Hollywood version of 1958, the ending changed: the communists are responsible for the bombings and Pyle is a good guy who is framed. Greene was enraged. He didn’t live to see the 2002 remake, which is largely true to the book.

2. Neocolonialism: The last stage of imperialism by Kwame Nkrumah (1965)

Described as the classic statement on the post-colonial condition, this makes for compelling read and is backed up by a wealth of detail. Nkrumah believed that neocolonialism is “the worst form of imperialism”, on the basis that those who practice it exercise “power without responsibility and for those who suffer it, it means exploitation without redress.”

The United States government was outraged by the book. According to a senior state department official, it was “the straw that broke the camel’s back … He accused the United States of every conceivable sin. They blamed us for everything in the world ”. The year after its publication, Nkrumah was ousted in a CIA-backed coup.

3. Thomas Sankara Speaks: The Burkina Faso Revolution by Thomas sankara (1988)

Sankara, president of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987, is currently in the news because an investigation into his assassination has just begun. This collection of her interviews and speeches provides a window into her programs to improve people’s lives, which include land redistribution, literacy and education, a focus on women’s rights, and a mass vaccination scheme. Revered as the Che Guevara of Africa, Sankara challenged the neocolonial control of France, the former colonial power, and the United States. He described the debt, presented as aid, as “neocolonialism, in which the colonizers were transformed into ‘technical assistance’. We should say ‘technical assassins’ ”.

After the coup that killed Sankara, Burkina Faso’s natural resources were privatized and debt payments to the IMF resumed. Accusations of complicity have been leveled against French intelligence and the CIA.

Four. In search of enemies: A CIA History by John stockwell (1974)

This book reads like a spy novel, but it is a memoir. After 12 years as a CIA operations officer, Stockwell, the antidote to Greene’s Pyle, resigned from the agency in 1976 and wrote this whistleblower. Assigned in 1975 to command the CIA task force in Angola, he was appalled at US policy: “Under the leadership of the CIA director, we lied to Congress and … began joint activities with South Africa.” It shows that the escalation of the war in Angola was not led by the Soviets and Cubans, but by the United States. The war lasted 27 years.

Stockwell, the son of missionaries, went to school in the same province as Patrice Lumumba, the first legally elected leader of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who was assassinated in 1961. “Eventually,” Stockwell wrote, “we learned that Lumumba was assassinated, not by our poisons, but beaten to death, apparently by men who were loyal to men who had agency cryptonyms and received agency salaries. “

5. The Congo from Leopold to Kabila: the story of a people by Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja (2002)

The development of the Congolese democratic movement was complex. But this “people’s story” by an eminent Congolese scholar tells his story clearly and well, showing how the suffering of the Congolese at the hands of foreigners continued long after Belgium’s independence. In the neo-colonial state created by the United States, President Mobutu was propped up for 32 years. Nzongola-Ntalaja’s emphasis is on struggle and agency: Congolese have sought not only to establish democratic institutions at home, but also to free themselves from foreign exploitation. Nzongola-Ntalaja describes her work as academic activism and is an inspiration to many, including me.

6. The Jakarta method by Vincent Bevins (2020)

Indonesian President Sukarno, who described the conditions of forced dependence on the West as neo-colonialism, told the United States in 1964: “Go to hell with your help.” In this powerful book, American journalist Bevins draws on interviews with survivors to tell the tragic story of the anti-communist massacres that took place in Indonesia between 1965 and 1966, when the US-backed dictator Suharto deposed Sukarno. “Between 500,000 and a million people were massacred,” Bevins records, “and a million more were herded into concentration camps.”

7. Who paid the piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War by Frances Stonor Saunders (1999)

Neo-colonialism takes various forms, including patronage of culture. This CIA study during the cold war reveals the history of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, a CIA front based in Paris, which was active on all five continents, including Africa. Among an astonishing variety of activities, it funded conferences, cultural centers, books and magazines, including Encounter in London. “Very soon,” exclaimed Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka in disgust, “we would discover that we had been dining, and with delight, with the original of that serpentine incarnation, the devil himself, frolicking in our postcolonial Garden of Eden and gorging on the fruits of the tree. of knowledge! “

8. Devil on the cross by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (1980)

This deeply symbolic novel is dedicated: “To all Kenyans who fight against the neocolonial stage of imperialism.” It was written on toilet paper in prison, when Ngũgĩ was detained without trial. Here, the devil represents international bankers and financiers, in collaboration with the Kenyan elite. One of the devil’s disciples advocates extreme versions of privatization, including the sale of bottled air. “We could even import some air from outside, imported air, which we could then sell to people at special prices ”. The story ends with a thrilling act of resistance by its heroine, Jacinta Wariinga. The novel’s form is itself an act of resistance: it was originally written in Gikuyu, not English, to foster a national literature in one of the Kenyan languages.

9. How to write about Africa by Binyavanga wainaina (2005)

In this brilliant and scathing essay, Wainaina pokes fun at the prejudices that inform Western writing about Africa and are used to excuse, even justify, neo-colonial intervention. He offers sardonic advice to budding writers in the West: “Remember, any work you submit in which people appear dirty and miserable will be referred to as ‘real Africa’, and you want that on your dust jacket. Don’t be dizzy about this – you’re trying to help them get help from the west. ”Wainaina, a Kenyan gay rights activist, died too young in 2019.

10. The sale by Tendai Huchu (2012)

China has been described as the last neocolonial power in Africa. In his short story, The Sale, Huchu takes China’s investments in his own country, Zimbabwe, to a threatening extreme. In its dystopian world, neocolonialism has morphed into a terrifying form, where China and the United States buy up heavily indebted countries. When the deficit remains, citizens are sold and then controlled and monitored by drones. At the center of this chilling story is China’s intention to demolish the medieval city of Great Zimbabwe, now “owned by Ling Lee Antiquities Enterprises and Debt Recovery.”


www.theguardian.com

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