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Aid agencies undermine Africa sovereignty

11 January 2013 21:39

africa-mapAn analyst says Africa needs a fundamental restructuring of society and that aid agencies exist to serve their own interests without actually helping the Continent.

In the background of this, OXFAM aid agency is leading a shift to inform the world that Africa is not a land of starving children and self pity, which is what has been pushed for decades to induce donations. OXFAM is know historically to have helped lead the world’s aid campaign of highlighting starving children of Africa. It is an acknowledgment that such previous images do not depict the truth of life now on the world’s second largest continent. Many observers say that an attitude of dependence on aid is a step in the wrong direction for Africans.

Press TV has interviewed Ms. Esther Stanford Xosei of the Pan-African Reparations Coalition in Europe about this issue. Joining her on Press TV’s Africa Today program is Mr. Ambrose Nzeyimana, Coordinator of Organizing For Africa, London and Mr. Alun McDonald a spokesperson for OXFAM. The following is an approximate transcription of the interview.

Press TV: A lot of Africans have been commentating for decades advocating for exactly what OXFAM is now finally doing – Not just OXFAM by the way, obviously as Alun has said. What are your thoughts when you read headlines like this?

Stanford Xosei: When I read the headline I found it very interesting because once again it seems as though a Western NGO is being credited with something that basically I’m sure has come as a result of pressure from Africans on the ground. And it’s very interesting that OXFAM is being credited in taking the lead in this endeavor without recognizing that Africans have been saying this for decades.

In fact one very famous African, an East scholar called Walter Rodney wrote specifically about OXFAM in this regard in his, How Europe… developed Africa in 1972. So it’s taken a very long time, but I guess they say better late than never.

Press TV: Alun couldn’t come up with any specific examples where they gratefully said OK they can pull out now because we’ve created an economically viable situation for a given group. How do you read that when you hear things like that?

Stanford Xosei: It’s very clear that the aid industry is an industry that is self-perpetuating and it’s very much served by self interests of the so-called Western donor agencies. It’s not really about the self-determination of Africans on the ground.

And so as long as they’re using a model that keeps them in work because essentially the aid industry supports about two million people in the West. So there is no real incentive for aid to work because otherwise many people would lose their jobs and their livelihoods and their position of relative privilege vis e vis Africans.

Press TV: And there is a concern about people here in the UK and elsewhere not giving because they’ve recognized that it’s “manipulative, hopeless and depressing”.

Stanford Xosei: Yes. It’s poverty poorness they would call it. Obviously moneys are being lost because not as many British people and other European people are giving to these so-called needy Africans and that’s a huge problem because what’s not been touched on is how much of this money actually goes into the administration of many of these Western NGOs as opposed to benefiting people on the ground.

Press TV: Are you out of touch Esther?

Stanford Xosei: Definitely not. It’s the same old thing talking about setting up projects and handing over – it was the same thing the former colonial masters did. This is just a new form of colonialism.

Press TV: Let’s talk about new ideas and a new model… What vision would you have of the ideal model because you’ve criticized it a lot?

Stanford Xosei: Sure. The ideal model is again not a new idea and it’s the model around reparations. That’s really what hasn’t effectively happened in Africa.

And reparations is not just about financial compensation, it has to be about a fundamental restructuring of African society. It must be based on true sovereignty not flag and anthem independence, which is what we’ve got today.

So, reparations… When these aid charities start talking about reparations and start talking about debt repudiation then I think I would take them a lot more seriously.

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