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Thomas Sankara speaking to the Canadian journalist and author Joan Baxter in Ouagadougou, 1987. The popular leader of Burkina Faso was overthrown and killed the same year in a French-instigated coup. Since 1960, a total of 68 coups have been carried out in 27 countries in Africa mostly to remove leaders who wouldn’t dance to the tune of the former colonial powers / © Joan Baxter

Why no African country is truly free or independent

No African country is truly free or independent; all of them are still being destabilized and manipulated so that their former European colonizers can still make profit, argues Kalidou Diouf. Education is the only way Africa can free itself from the oppression of the first world, he posits.


Africa is the richest continent in the world. The surface of the cradle of humanity has been blessed with infinite beauty and abundance of flora and fauna. Africa is producing the most exquisite harvest of cocoa, coffee fruit, and vegetables. It is home to an incredibly diverse wildlife and vast marine resources.

The land that is literally golden is covered with breath-taking mountains, rivers that are flowing into oceans in front of gorgeous beaches spreading over four different climatic zones. Besides the obvious treasures of the African soil such as gold and diamonds, Africa has about 20 unique and precious minerals.

The German-Senegalese author is a student of Journalism and New Media in California / USA
The Heidelberg-born, German-Senegalese author, Kalidou Diouf, is a student of Journalism and New Media in California,  USA

It is a paradise, inhabited by the most beautiful souls. Nevertheless, the richness of the world’s largest continent has not been a blessing for Africa but a curse that has turned it into the most underdeveloped continent on the planet.

Ever since the 19th Century Africa has faced European imperialist aggression, diplomatic pressures, military invasions and eventual conquest and colonization. In the 1870’s (about 200 years after the peak of the transatlantic slave trades), established empires, notably Britain, Portugal and France, were trying to gain control of African kingdoms, tribes and societies by claiming vast areas of Africa and consequently taking their natural resources.

Naturally, Africans resisted and insisted on the maintenance of a system of commercial interaction with foreigners which expressed their sovereignties as autonomous political and economic entities, but after a couple of decades their resistance was successfully defeated by the colonizer’s superior military technologies.

The Europeans took mineral and agricultural products from these colonies at the cheapest possible prices. The colonies also provided markets for manufactured European goods. Manufacturing by Africans in African colonies (and in the Caribbean) was forbidden and African enterprise was diminished or eliminated in every possible way.

During the time of colonization, Africa had become impoverished tremendously. Many of the people of the former kingdoms and societies that had functioned perfectly without any form of currency were now forced to adjust to the new systems and therefore were forced to work degrading jobs for a salary that was, in most cases, barely enough to survive on.

However, despite the constant oppression and educational propaganda Africans had to deal with during the “century” of colonization, their spirit and pride was never broken. Eventually, the riots in the colonies and the generally agitated population were too much to handle for the colonial administrators, so the colonial powers had to withdraw them. Especially during the 60’s and 70’s a multitude of African countries had “freed” themselves from colonization.

But the European empires were smart, so they didn’t leave without keeping control over the entire economy and natural resources of the continent. France was specifically angry about losing their most profitable source of income for their country, therefore when the people of Guinea decided in 1958 to “free” themselves and get out of the French colonial empire, the French colonial elite in Paris got so furious, that in a historic act of fury the French administration in Guinea destroyed everything in the country which represented what they called the benefits from French colonization, including schools, nurseries, public administration buildings, cars, books, medicine, research institute’s instruments, tractors. Also, horses, cows, and pigs were killed in the farms and food in warehouses was poisoned or burned.

It was obvious that the reason for this immense act of violence and destruction was committed in order to send a warning to the remaining French colonies that if they decide to reject France it will have consequences. But the other French colonized countries weren’t intimidated by that for too long, and so in 1960 the Republic of Togo decided that it was not going to be part of the French empire anymore.

In this case, however, the first president of Togo, Sylvanus Olympio, played it smart. Aware of the violence and destruction his country would have to suffer for wanting to be independent, he agreed that the Togolese Republic would pay an annual debt to France for the so called benefits Togo got from French colonization.

It was the only way to keep the French from destroying the country before leaving; the only problem was that the amount estimated by France was so huge that the annual repayment of the so called “colonial debt” was close to 40% of the country’s budget in 1961.

Debunking the self-propagating global myth an aid-dependent Africa while it is Africa that is aiding the rest of the world. The 2014 Health Poverty Action report shows how Africa makes a net external payment of US$58 billion yearly to the rest of the world / © Health Poverty Action
Debunking the self-propagating global myth of an aid-dependent Africa while it is Africa that is aiding the rest of the world. The 2014 Health Poverty Action report shows how Africa makes a net external payment of US$58 billion yearly to the rest of the world / © Health Poverty Action


As a result, Togo was economically too unstable to survive as an independent country so President Olympio decided that they had to get out of the French colonial money, the CFA, in order to save their economy. On 13 January 1963, three days after Togo started printing its own currency, a squad of illiterate soldiers backed by France killed President Olympio, the first elected President of newly independent Africa.

This was the first out of many murders and coups that the French government initiated in order to keep their former colonies destabilized. David Dacko, Thomas Sankara, Maurice Yaméogo and Hubert Maga are just a few of the most notable Presidents who were either killed or thrown into jail as a result of fighting for their country’s independence. As a matter of fact, since 1960, a total of 68 coups have been carried out in 27 countries all over Africa, 17 of those countries are former French colonies.

These numbers make it pretty obvious that France is incredibly desperate to hold on to its former colonies. That’s why France never actually gave their colonies the opportunity to be independent. It is nothing but an illusion that is supposed make the people feel like they are free and independent and responsible for their own fate, while France still controls almost every significant aspect of their “former” colonies.

In 2008, former French President Jacques Chirac stated: “Without Africa, France will slide down into the rank of a third world country”. Industrial France has nothing to offer that would explain why it is still one of the richest countries in the world. The only reason the country is still as wealthy as it was 50 years ago is that the colonial system puts about 500 billion US-dollars a year from Africa into its treasury.

Even today, 14 African countries are still being economically oppressed by France through a colonial pact that forces them to put 85% of their foreign reserves in France’s central bank under the French Minister of Finance control. Togo, Senegal and about 12 other African countries still have to pay colonial debt to France. African leaders who refuse to pay are killed or become victims of coup. Those who obey are supported and rewarded by France with lavish lifestyle while their people have to endure extreme poverty and desperation.

But France is not the only culprit on this continent: they are just the most obvious ones. Other European countries like Britain, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium and Portugal use the same or similar strategies to retain control of their “former” colonies.

The reality is that no African country is truly free or independent; all of them are still being destabilized and manipulated so that their former European colonizers can still make profit. This type of colonization is called “Neo-colonialism”.

The strategies of the neo-colonisers to maintain control include colonial debt, automatic confiscation of national reserves, the right of first refusal on any raw or natural resource, the exclusive right to supply military equipment and train the country’s military officers, the right to pre-deploy troops and intervene militarily in the country to defend its interests, obligation to use colonial money, the obligation to make the colonial language the official language of the country and the language for education and money; and much more.

Like I mentioned earlier, Africa is the richest continent in the world. The first world needs Africa and its natural resources desperately since alternative resources are almost non-existent outside of Africa. They need Africa for their mobile phones, airplanes, cars, jewellery, construction technology etc. And Africa really does not need them at all. Africa has by far the biggest gold reserves in the world, so how is it possible that 5000 units of every given African currency are worth less than 1 unit of any given first world currency? If Africans are the ones who own all the diamonds and gold in the world how come they are not claiming their property?

Students on a university campus in Nsukka, Nigeria. Africa’s education system has been criticized as having a colonial soul. “Most Africans do not even have the education to understand what is happening in their countries and why they have to live under these degrading conditions,” says the author / © PNN
Students on a university campus in Nsukka, Nigeria. Africa’s education system has been criticized as having a colonial soul. “Most Africans do not even have the education to understand what is happening in their countries and why they have to live under these degrading conditions,” says the author / © PNN


The answer is education. Africa is the worst educated continent on the planet. According to UNECO, only about 50% of all Africans have ever visited a school. About half of all Africans can’t even write or read and most of the Africans who did go to school only learned elementary educational skills. While the rest of the world gets presented an image of Africa that is poor and dying and merely surviving at the mercy of the West, backed up by huge PR-companies (e.g. UNICEF, Red Cross, Life Aid) that continuously run multimillion dollar advertisement campaigns to sustain this image of Africa globally, paid for by millions of innocent people who think they can help with their donations.

Most Africans do not even have the education to understand what is happening in their countries and why they have to live under these degrading conditions. Education is the only way Africa can free itself from the oppression of the first world. If the African peoples understand their situation and the reason why nothing is changing for the better, they will be able to fight for true independence.

Over the last couple of million years of evolution it appeared that whenever a predator became so greedy that he was overhunting and overexploiting the resources, natural selection would take the predator out; and the Black man has been suffering for way too long now…