What am I doing in Holland?

by Femi Akomolafe. 1994.

Such is the amount of make-me-happy interpretation of history the Dutch are being fed by their ideological institutions, that some people still believe the fiction that Holland, and Europe, is giving aid to Africa! This is 1994, guys!

Aid could simply be define as the 'act of giving support.' Get real, guys, is Europe supporting Africa or is Africa supporting Europe?

Year in, year out, Africa is repatriating in excess of US$10 billion to Euro-American banks and governments. That is interests payments alone on the debt Africa is supposed to be owing. Many African countries are using more than half of their entire budget for debt servicing. Even at the height of its famine, Sudan was meeting its debt obligations. Of course, we do not see such images on television. The only thing we hear are obscene claims that Europeans are aiding Africans. Euro-American governments said Africa is owing over US$300 billion. The question has to be asked where in Africa do we have projects worth that much? Or are we to believe that corruption and bad government alone have swallowed that mind-boggling amount?

As poor and as wretched as we are, we are supporting Europe. I wish those clamoring for logic will consider the simple fact that there is hardly a European country that could stand on its own without Africa. Such is the amount of ignorance going on that Europeans who should be vibrating with gratitude to Africa, have become swollen-headed and arrogant. Look around you, what do you have in this flat, barren country that does not originate outside Holland? Perhaps your potatoes! What could be more comical than the sight of some poor souls, high on caffeine (from African coffee), their dental work destroyed by over-consumption of chocolate (from African cocoa), a stick of cigarette (made from African tobacco) dangling from a corner of their mouths, parading the streets of Holland shouting, 'Africans Out!'

Look around you, almost all the factories in Europe were built to refine African minerals. You Dutch like to tout your city, Amsterdam, as 'Diamond City,' why don't you show us where your diamond mines are. Why don't you have the courage to say that you are looting African minerals and proclaiming same as your glory? If you are honest, you'll be saying 'Amsterdam, Diamond City - Courtesy of Africa!' And by what magic is a country (sic) like Belgium giving 'aid' to Zaire? Zaire has abundant mineral resources that Belgium was supposed to be buying. There must be a lot of hanky-panky going on to turn a mineral-rich country like Zaire into a beggar-nation.

Western aid-agencies are now making a song-and-dance about helping African famine victims. Where, I ask, were the bleeding hearts when their governments were sponsoring the murderous wars raging in Africa? Opinion polls in the West were in support of these naked aggressions. As long as jobs are guaranteed and profits assured, what does the average Westerner care about an African life? No one in the West lost any sleep while their governments went around the world destroying human lives. As long as the wars are fought to keep the world safe for capitalism, and the profits repatriated to create jobs at home, that is okay and acceptable to the generality of the Western public. Many of those now 'HELPING' Africa make their living producing the munitions that are destroying lives in Africa.

Take the case of Angola.

We have Stockwell's book, In Search of Enemies, to tell us the real causes of the war in Angola, where a beaten guerrilla leader was turned into a CIA agent of destabilisation to decimate Angola. For over a century, while Angolans suffered bestial Portuguese colonial oppression, the Americans were contented to watch and cheer from the sidelines. No sooner have the Angolans liberated themselves that the Yankees discovered how badly Angolans needed 'democracy' and 'human-rights,' and foisted on them a very expensive war, from which that unfortunate country is still reeling. For years to come, the major chunk of Angola's income will go into paying the military debt, incurred to prosecute the Yankee-inspired 'civil war.'

What happened in Angola was a mirror of what transpired in the Horn of Africa, where Ethiopia was encouraged to lock horn with Somalia over foreign ideologies. The rulers of those countries were prodded into a war of death and destruction, from which their citizens would continue to suffer for the foreseeable future. We see the results of these devastations on television. The legacy of the West's 'geo-political strategies' are dying children and starving Somalis, Rwandans, Liberians and Angolans.

The West's response, as usual, was to organize charities. If you guys will just pause to examine the consequences of your wretched interventions, you will not need to send 'aids,' and we will be happy to live peaceful lives in our countries. You are supposed to be democratic, why do you continue to vote for governments that go all over the world and destroy the lives of non-Europeans?

These wars, incorrectly termed 'civil-wars,' were anything but that. They were externally fomented by Western agents of destruction and destabilisation. As Bob Marley puts it, 'When you gonna get some food, your brother got to be your enemy.' They are part of the classical 'divide-and-conquer' game, whereby ancient animosities are dusted off from the archives and promoted with fanfare, to ensure that the Somalis will not want to live in peace with the Ethiopians; to ensure that the tribal groups in Angola are forever at odds with each other. Meanwhile, while the Africans are engaged in murdering each other, the Europeans are gladly making neat profits. They are busy supplying weapons to both sides, and milking the mineral resources which the combatants are too pre-occupied to exploit.

We have Americans officials on record boasting in an August 1989 issue of TIME magazine that these wars were not to ensure that one side triumph over the other, but just to turn brothers against brothers, so that people will continue to live wretched lives: "The objective of the war is not to make UNITA win a war, but to devastate Angola and make the people lead wretched lives." (TIME, August 10, 1987. p.33)

The murderous regime that slaughtered Rwandans was in cohort with the French and Belgian governments. The troops were trained and armed by these European nations. Sometimes last year, the rebels (now the de facto and de jure government) were poised to take Kigali, the capital. French paratroopers intervened and stopped them. What this means is that without that French intervention, half a million Rwandans might still be alive today. This is a fact that is not being mentioned when we see Europeans commenting on the Rwandan tragedy.

Some people were talking about dictatorship and corrupt government. Are these guys\gals incapable of thinking - straight or crooked? Who installed and maintained these dictators in power in Africa? Who provided the training? Who paid them the bribes and where are the bribes kept? How many times have French and Belgian and American troops intervened to thwart the efforts to topple Mobutu? How many times have Western secret agencies organized coups in Africa?

It is rather humorous to see the children and grand-children of 'Pioneers of Civilization,' who go around the world 'pacifying' the locals, to make the world safe for white people, asking me what I am doing in Holland!

I suffer from no complex. I offer no apologies for living in Holland, or anywhere else in Europe for that matter. I felt neither joy nor gratitude for living in this country.

Thousands of Dutch people are living colonial lives in my country. Most of them command salaries and emoluments big enough to make a European Royalty blush with envy. Their needs are catered for by a legion of domestic servants. We are human enough not to ask them what they are doing in 'our country.' We are unlike the over- civilized, over-Christianized Europeans, who go around bashing the heads of people, solely on the account of the pigmentation of the skin.

Perhaps the Dutch people needed to be reminded that thousands of Dutch people are migrating yearly to look for better opportunities in other countries, they are simply obeying the natural law of survival. The only difference is that while these Dutch and European emigrants are termed 'discoverers,' 'explorers,' 'missionaries,' 'consultants' and 'aid-workers,' African immigrants are refer to only in zoological and scatological terms. We are called 'parasites,' economic-migrants,' 'illegals,' 'asylum- seekers.' Even the sign at the foreign police office in Amsterdam refer to us as 'aliens,' as though we do not belong in this world.

'You reap what you sow,' enjoins the Bible. Over the centuries, Europeans go around the world sowing discord, hatred, violence, devastation, death and destruction. Africa was carved up at a conference in Berlin. When European empire-builders were stealing whole countries, the rightful owners of those lands didn't enjoy it one bit. Now the children of the dispossessed are coming to Europe, Europeans are making obstreperous noises. They didn't like it. That is understandable. The bad shoe is on the European foot, and it's pinching hard, exactly the way it pinched the Africans who had their lands brazenly stolen. Europeans are just going to get use to it, the way they forced our fathers to get used to their piracy, plunder, subjugation and oppression.

The time of the boomerang has arrived. As Paul Satre said, Europe, in the past made history, now it is being made on it. African immigrants are the monsters European colonial Frankenstein sired.

No other race contributed as much in blood as Africans to build the wealth of Euro-America. This simple fact is obscured by the myths and legends Europeans concocted to console and celebrate themselves.

It never ceases to amaze me how Europeans could think that by exchanging a piece of cloth they call flag, all the crimes they committed in the colonies are remitted and all the iniquities are forgiven. These are the same people who are prepared to organize jamborees to celebrate themselves at the slightest provocation! These are the same guys who yearly remember the Nazi's occupation of their land!

"Colonialism and imperialism have not paid their score when they withdraw their flags and their police forces from our territories. For centuries the capitalists have behaved in the underdeveloped world like nothing more than war criminals. Deportations, massacres, forced labor and slavery have been the main methods used by capitalism to increase its wealth, its gold or diamond reserves, and to establish its power.

"In the same way we may say that the imperialist states would make a great mistake and commit an unspeakable injustice if they contended themselves with withdrawing from our soil the military cohorts, and the administrative and managerial services whose function was to discover the wealth of the country, to extract it and send it off to the mother countries. We are not blinded by the moral reparation of national independence; nor are we fed by it. THE WEALTH OF THE IMPERIAL COUNTRIES ARE OUR WEALTH TOO. On the universal plane this affirmation, you may be sure, should on no account be taken to signify that we feel ourselves affected by the creations of Western arts and techniques. For in every concrete way Europe has stuffed herself inordinately with the gold and raw materials of the colonial countries; Latin America, China, and Africa. From all these continents, under whose eyes Europe today raises up her tower of opulence, there has flowed out for centuries toward that same Europe diamonds and oil, silk and cotton, wood and exotic products.


(Frantz Fanon, . Grove Press, Inc. New York. pp. 101-102) - all caps for emphasis.

"The Dutch share in the slave-trade was large: in fact, in the seventeenth century, it was the largest. The Dutch West India Company had various settlements on the African coast, and millions of slaves were ferried from there, especially during the time of Dutch occupation of Brazil. In the twelve years (1637-48) they transported no less than 23,163 slaves from Elmina and Loanda, for an amount of 6, 714, 423 guilders and 60 cents, (the Dutch were very precise!) They bought slaves from the Congo for 40 to 50 guilders and sold them in Brazil for 200 to 800 guilders. Certainly a worthwhile business." (J.W. Schulte Nordholt, The People that Walk in Darkness. Ballantine Books, New York. p.10).

Every time I hear the crack of a whip
My blood runs cold I remember on the slave ship,
How they brutalized our souls
Now they say that we are free
Only to be trapped in poverty...

- Bob Marley

Those Dutch with no sense of history ought to be reminded that their fore-fathers were among the most brutal of the slave-raiders who turned Africa into what it is today. "The Dutch had established themselves in Berbice in 1624. During the years 1624 to 1763 they were the cruelest of slave masters. The Dutch slave code was much harsher than the Spanish code (the savagery of the Dutch code is shown by one provision of calculated cruelty: the burning alive of mutinous slaves over a slow fire). The Dutch had no institution comparable to the Spanish audiencia, a tribunal which included four judges. The ruthlessness of the Dutch created the situation that came to a climax in the Berbice slave rebellion." ( Marcus Garvey and the vision of Africa, edited by John Henrik Clarke. Vintage Books, New York. p.19).

When our labor was required to build the industries of Holland, no passport was required of us. No visa was given. The Dutch didn't call us 'illegal immigrants,' or 'aliens,' to be hounded by 'alien' police. When they needed our manpower in their plantations, they didn't refer to us as 'economic-refugees.' When Africans were needed as canon-fodder in the war against nazism, we were not accused of 'invasion'. Now that we are here to partake in the fruit of our labor, we became the focus of racist demonology.

I and I pick the cabbage
I and I plant the corn
Didn't my people before me
Slave for this country?
And now you look me with a scorn

Build your penitentiary
We build your school
You brainwashed our education
To make us the fools
Hate your reward for our love
Telling us about your God above'

(Bob Marley).

As Walter Rodney informed us, "Central and South America gold and silver - mined by Africans - played a crucial role in meeting the need of coin in the expanding capitalist money economy of Western Europe, while African gold was also significant in that respect. AFRICAN GOLD helped the Portuguese to finance further navigation around the Cape of Good Hope and also into Asia ever since the 15th century. AFRICAN GOLD was also the main source for the mintage of Dutch gold coin in the 17th century; HELPING AMSTERDAM TO BECOME THE FINANCIAL CAPITAL OF EUROPE IN THAT PERIOD." (Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Bogle-L'Ouverture Publications, London 1972. p.94) - caps are for emphasis.

Africans are not as naive as Europeans think. We may not have access to the mass-media to propagate ourselves, but we clearly remember how much Africans have contributed to the Dutch and European industrial and financial infrastructures. If we are 'swarming' Europe as Europeans like to put it, we are just following our money - no pun intended.

Royal Dutch Shell, the giant oil company is a net contributor to the Dutch economy. Thousands of Dutch people are gainfully employed in its refineries and complexes in this country. SHELL is the biggest exploiter of my country's premier resources - petroleum. I cannot help but contrast the opulence in their installations in this country to the wretchedness in their oil fields in the Delta part of Nigeria. The uncaring, inhuman activities of SHELL in Nigeria once prompted a Nigerian Minister to ask the pungent question: 'Is Shell a noun or a verb?' Shell, like most European Multi-nationals, are literally SHELLing the poor countries.

Europeans can argue about their government giving 'aids'. My reply would be that I am not at all excited their your so-called aid. I am not thrilled by the pyrotechnics of your charities. Your 'Een Voor Afrika' was, to me, a useless junket. I liken European do-gooders to firemen who go around setting fire to houses and, putting them out, proclaim, 'Look, what a splendid job we're doing?'

The Rwandan debacle can be directly traced to Belgian colonialism. American CIA started the war in Angola. Mozambique was plunged into war by the apartheid government in South Africa. We do not see the evil forces when they are performing their diabolic deeds. We only see them proclaiming how incapable Africans are of governing themselves, after Africans started to suffer the consequences of their actions. We then see their commentators saying how the misdeeds offend the European sense of decency. That is from a people that until about half a century ago were building ovens for innocent human beings!

If only Holland and the rest of Europe would be paying fair prices for the products they are literally looting from Africa, no one will require your 'aid,' and we will be happy to stay in our country. Each time I go into supermarket in this country, the prices of coffee are falling - until the Brazilian frost problem arose. The same goes for the other products coming from Africa - they are always 'goedkoop.' There is, of course, no correspondence decrease in the prices of the goods that Holland and Europe are shipping to Africa, or in the usurious interest rates Western banks are charging on the debt Africa is said to be owing.

As long as people in Holland and Europe assume that donating food surplus is the answer to the general impoverishment in Africa, they are asking the wrong questions. As long as they believe that they are helping people by going on television to make appeal for food donation, they are being clever by half. They're mis-focusing attention from the true causes of famine and destitution in Africa. Charities are not the answer to the problems of Africa. The Western bankers taking money from poor Africans do not do so on the television screen. The policies of the World Bank and the IMF which have wrought so much devastations in Africa, are drafted and implemented without fanfare. They are conceived in smoke-filed rooms by champagne drinking bureaucrats.

Until European do-gooders recognize the connection between the opulence of the West and the poverty of Africa, so long shall they continue with their charity appeals. Until Western banks and governments can be persuaded to cut or cancel the usurious interest rates they are charging Africa, so long shall people continue to die of famine in Africa. As long as the prices of African primary products continue to fall, so long shall we have desperate Africans running to Europe. As long as Europeans continue to think in terms of geo-politics and violence, so long shall we continue to have Ethiopia and Somalia and Sudan and Rwanda. As long as the rich people of the West continue to rob the poor people of Africa, so long shall the sickening images of starving children continue to haunt them. As long as the people in the West refuse to realize that more money is flowing from poor Africa to rich Europe and America, than the other way round, and persuade their governments to do something about it, so long shall the ghost of Africans continue to torment their dreams.

Europeans can keep their countries, but they shouldn't expect us to stay in ours and watch as our wealth are carted away by European multi-nationals. This is no longer the fifteenth century! To paraphrase John Kennedy: 'Those who make living in Africa impossible, make migration to the Europe inevitable.'

massive greetings,

Femi Akomolafe