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Dear Africa: Watch out! You can’t trust America!

Opinion-Editorial

JAMES STRONG | 8/14/2014, 5:08 p.m.

You can’t trust a friend who ties strings around your friendship. You can’t trust a priest who laughs at your confessions and shares them with comedians. And like in the Serengeti and near the river Zambezi, you can’t trust hyenas trained for a day to be your companions.

However, you can trust centuries of history warning against European colonialism, that monstrous-teethed eel Inkanyamba, and American imperialism, the sex-starved, one-eyed bat Popobawa.

I remind you of these warnings not to dampen your enthusiasm for the recent US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C., but to soak it in the pure waters of caution. As America offers the handshake of friendship to Africa, Africa should wear gloves when shaking the hand of America.

I remind you, then, though you may find a partnership with America beneficial, of the omen expressed by the father of modern Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta, at the sunrise of African independence: “When the missionaries arrived, the Africans had the land and the missionaries had the Bible. They taught [us] how to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible.”

I remind you that Barack Obama didn’t even visit Africa until his fifth year in office. This first Black American president and son of a Kenyan father delayed his contact with the continent until his fifth year in office. Likewise, he convened the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit after a mob of complaints by the very Black Americans who elected him, who wondered, “Why haven’t you loved the motherland?”

Do you remember what he said at the summit? Did you feel the insult when he set the conditions, when he tightened the strings, for economic cooperation between America and Africa? Did you not hear him affirm that “corruption, good governance and democracy” is the barge on which America will tow an African and American partnership across the seas of commerce to profitable shores?

He who presides over a nation where corruption abounds in government, in business and in religion nags you about corruption. He who can hardly get anything done because Republicans in Congress oppose his policies and hate him personally taunts you for shortage of good governance. He who talks about democracy but supports the tyranny of the minority in Israel and the tyranny of the majority in France dams you unless democracy flows into the continent.

I remind you: The son should not defame the father, the father should chastise the son.

That’s why I commend you on your present course of action for economic development. In 2013, Europe did $200 billion worth of business with Africa. China did $170 billion and has done that amount already in the first six months of 2014. The U.S. only did about $60 billion worth of business in Africa in 2013. Even though Obama has pledged $33 billion worth of new business with Africa, that amount may be far-fetched. Don’t forget, Congress may have to renew the African Growth and Opportunity Act in 2015 before you benefit from future American investments.

And the Republican Party, which is a racist party, which detests you almost as much as it abhors Obama and which is not too keen on investment in Africa, could derail AGOA. Your present policy, then, of building business and economic ties with other nations, including India and Japan, is wise policy.

So I remind you of the tale of the cheetah that entrusted the safety of her three cubs to a lioness, which befriended her just before she went to hunt food for the cubs. After three hours, she returned to her den, exhausted and bleeding, dragging a small deer between her teeth.

She reached the den just as she saw the lioness swallow the tail of her last cub. Between screams and tears, the cheetah chided the lioness for eating her cubs, to which the lioness replied, “And they were tasty too.”