France, Euro, West African Eco, and the future of the Naira (I)

I believe Nigeria and any other interested nation who may have sent delegates everywhere to discuss how to put the Eco currency together for the purpose of integrating the West African economy, should be seeking redress – financial and otherwise – from France for the hijack of the idea. Whether we had a patent or copyright or not should not matter as people had spent time on that concept. The name was coined somehow, and these countries had gone through much trouble building consensus, and chiseling out other modalities, with a view to going live with the idea this year, only for wily old France to jump on the idea and use it as another colonial crutch to further its racist aims. Now the currency will have to be printed in France, and tethered to the Euro whether countries like Nigeria like it or not.  France will also dictate the way everything works and every modality. It’s just like getting colonized by France after being colonized by Britain. What an insult. It just cannot be right, can it?

Now, France is a very racist nation, even though we here don’t see it often. It is this racist attitude that leads to the regular meltdowns where riots cripple the nation. Those riots are often led by generations of migrants from Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, and some of the black African colonies like Senegal, who have been traumatized for too long in France. France never wanted to grant independence to any African country, and from what we have seen with this Eco saga, it seems true that indeed the country gave the independence goat to African countries but held on to the rope. When guys like Mawuna Koutonin write that the presidential villa in Abidjan is owned by France and that Cote D’Ivoire merely pays rent, we sometimes feel he is going over the board. When Mrs Arikana Chihombori-Quao, the beautiful former AU Ambassador to the US spoke about this self-same issue, she was relieved of her appointment. But for once we have found confirmation that all this while at least, France had their own people (usually white), sitting on the board of the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) in Dakar, Senegal, with veto power in their suitcases, and that 50% of the reserves of these countries had to be domiciled in the French Central Bank! They claim to be conceding these otherwise outrageous and utterly condescending conditions with the new move to the stolen Eco.

Why not another name? Why steal an idea in order to ‘do right’ by people whom you had traumatized for at least 6 decades? It could only be that France has not healed itself of the traumatizing, oppressing state of mind. Imagine that upon granting ‘independence’ to their former colonies, the French could not bequeath the Franc, like the British bequeathed the Nigerian ‘Pound’ and later allowed her colonies some more symbolic independence when we birthed the Naira and Ghana, the Cedi.  The French had  created a currency for her colonies, which it named CFA, or Colonies Francaises d’Afrique (French colonies of Africa) since 1945. The name later transmogrified to Communaute Financiere Africaine around 1960.

There is no way we should allow that country extend its tentacles to the rest of us who were never under its darker wings. I tell people that we should know how to count our blessings. Maybe the Brits – warts and all – were the best we could have hoped for out of the few bad options. For example when I visited Liberia in 2012, I was disappointed with the Americans. For the country was a sad representative of what the greatest country in the world could make of an African country. The Americans could have prevented the Liberian war. But even after the war, the Americans through their NGOs seem to be psychologically exploiting that country. One would have expected America to show the rest just how to do it. And even before the Liberian war, that country was only good for the exploitation of companies like Firestone Tires, the American company which owns the largest single piece of Liberian land. The people have always been wretched and beaten down.

The other Francophone African countries are only slightly better than Liberia (which in my view is the worst case in Africa). In all those countries you could sense a lack of confidence among the citizens. Nigeria’s gregariousness stands us out in this regard. The French ‘left’ Africa alright but they took the self-esteem and dignity of the nations they colonized – especially the black Africans – along with them. Since they left, they only prop up guys like Felix Houphouet-Boigny (who figured himself to be a white man) and of late, Alassane Ouattara. These two gentlemen in the case of Cote D’Ivoire, have been used to do hatchet jobs on behalf of the colonial master. Boigny opposed the idea of African Unity when moved by Kwame Nkrumah in 1961, but for support from other countries. Boigny led CIV for over 30 years for being a good lad. He died in office. France moved in troops to remove Prof Laurent Gbagbo and install Ouattara while many of our ignorant African people cheered what they saw on CNN and elsewhere. I wept. Today, we can see Ouattara being used to steal an idea, and short-circuit the idea of West African integration.  We must develop our inner eyes in Africa and stop being led by our noses. It’s amazing how we fall into similar traps over and over again. The same type of specie who fell for the Gbagbo illegal ouster were the ones who hailed the killing of Gaddafi. Am I appalled or am I appalled?

You see, the game of decolonization is misunderstood by most of us Africans. Reading Neil Ferguson’s books I got the alternative history. So, we had nationalists who went through the motions of demanding independence for African nations but indeed we were their slaves. We were conquered in war, merged together at will and looted blind. I could even say we enjoyed some level of magnanimity from some of these colonial powers, for we too are used to waging wars amongst ourselves and taking slaves of the conquered. Anyone who cannot understand this has issues with the concept of fairness. In order to grasp this problem and make progress, the first thing to do is be honest. Many of us are educated but most are dishonest in their analysis of colonization and decolonization. All that jive about why did the Brits not ask us before merging north and south, is what it is; mere jive. No one asks their houseboy what he will have for dinner, or where he needs to have his next vacation.

Anyhow, while all that was going on, world wars were taking place. Europe received its first pounding between 1914 and 1918 in the First World War. The USA was physically too removed to be drawn in with the available technology of that time. Ditto between 1939 and 1944 when the second gory global episode took place. This relative advantage turned the USA into the world leader as she took the world war opportunity to sell loads of ammunition to the warring parties, especially Britain. As the war drew to an end, the USA called the meetings of Bretton Woods, New Hampshire and set up the World Bank, the IMF and other subsidiaries.

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