Modern science, and especially the latest archeological discoveries, has shown that the African continent is the cradle of humankind. Its people were developing slowly and steadily at their own pace until some external forces invaded the continent and carted away its able bodied men and women to strange lands where they were forced to toil for generations building the emerging economies of another continent.
Some have referred to this process as an exchange or perhaps a kind of trade, but could it be described as such when humans, treated like nothing but property, were exchanged for goods such as guns and gin. No wonder Walter Rodney, in reference to his book How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, argued that it was a combination of power politics and economic exploitation of Africa by Europeans that eventually led to the poor state of African political and economic development as became evident in the late 20th century. Although the author did not state his intention "to remove the ultimate responsibility for development from the shoulders of Africans... [He believes that] every African has a responsibility to understand the [capitalist] system and work for its overthrow."
Similarly, Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth provides insights into how the developmental strides of Africa were distorted. The psychiatrist provided a psychological and psychiatric analysis of the dehumanizing effects of colonization upon the individuals and the nations of Africa, and discussed the broader social, cultural, and political implications of establishing a social movement for the decolonization of a person and of a people.
It has been many decades since colonization “ended” on the African continent, but the continent has not fully healed from this past trauma and continues to search for a path to continue from where its development was disrupted. Perhaps this search may have at last come to an end with the support of a country that had also once witnessed a dose of colonization and whose people has since healed from this inhumane history, having emerged from the ruins of colonization and wars to become the fastest growing economy on the planet. That country is none other than the People’s Republic of China.
China has presented Africa with a way out of its constant state of underdevelopment by offering a friendly win-win international development springboard in the form of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). At the opening ceremony of the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping quoted the observations of an ancient Chinese scholar, who stated that: “Only with deep roots can a tree yield rich fruit; only filled with oil can a lamp burn brightly.” Xi noted that history follows its own rules and logic, and that with a similar fate in the past and a common mission, China and Africa have extended sympathy to and helped each other throughout all the past years. He said: “Together, we have embarked on a distinctive path of win-win cooperation.”
“Marching on this path, China has followed the principle of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith and the principle of pursuing the greater good and shared interests. China has stood with African countries. Together, we have worked in unity and forged ahead,” said Xi.
The words of President Xi is the moving spirit behind the FOCAC. Since the 2015 FOCAC Johannesburg Summit, China has fully implemented the 10 cooperation plans adopted at the Summit. A large number of railways, highways, airports, ports and other infrastructure projects as well as a number of economic and trade cooperation zones have been built or are under construction. Mutual cooperation on peace and security, science and technology, education, culture, health, poverty reduction, and people-to-people exchanges has been deepened. The massive financing pledged by China has been either delivered or arranged to be delivered. These 10 cooperation plans have brought huge benefits to the African and Chinese peoples. They have fully demonstrated the creativity, rallying power and efficiency of China-Africa cooperation, and have lifted the China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership to new heights.
China has meanwhile promised to build an even closer-knit China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era. It has even gone a step further to launch an industrial promotion initiative and a China-Africa economic and trade expo in China to encourage Chinese companies to increase their investment in Africa, in addition to building and upgrading a number of economic and trade cooperation zones in Africa. China also has a plan to support Africa in achieving general food security by 2030, working with Africa to formulate and implement a program of action to promote China-Africa cooperation on agricultural modernization. China has continued to strengthen cooperation with African countries in local currency settlement and has made good use of the China-Africa Development Fund, the China-Africa Fund for Industrial Cooperation, and the Special Loan for the Development of African SMEs.
The list is endless. Every series of important cooperation plans proposed by China during each FOCAC Summit has been effectively implemented, which has provided a great boost to the economic and social development of Africa and which has been highly praised by the African people and the international community.
China-Africa trade and cooperation have both blossomed. A number of major Chinese-assisted infrastructure projects have been completed, including the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway, Kenya's standard gauge railway from Mombasa to Nairobi, and Cote d'Ivoire's Soubre hydropower plant. These projects provide much needed transport and energy infrastructure to help further develop local industries.
The facts are there for everyone to see that Africa has finally and gradually started moving towards a promising mode of development thanks to the fellow brother that China has proven itself to be.
Michael Olugbode is a journalist with the Nigerian newspaper This Day.