By Femi Akomolafe
“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.” (Frantz Fanon, ‘The Wretched of The Earth.’ Grove Press, Inc. New York. p. 101).
Like many Africans in Europe, I am completely baffled by the latest Western neo-colonial project in Africa.
Here we are, deluding ourselves that the infamous Berlin Conference of 1884-5 was a long distant, almost forgotten memory, the likes of which will never happen again.
We were rudely shocked that, despite all the agonies, the vast violence, massive despoliation of human and material lives, the wholesale massacres, the gnashing of teeth and the gross racism caused by the Europeans in our continent, very little, if anything, has changed.
The mentalities of the inheritors of those immense crimes still retain the essential elements of their forebears.
The more we look the less we understand.
Among the questions that constantly baffle our minds is why Europeans extend so much energies and efforts in trying to export commodities that are sorely lacking in their own societies?
Many of us grew up in Africa with European missionaries who drummed into our heads such lofty injunctions like, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us”; “Love your enemies”; “Turn the other cheek.”
Of course, our civics classes were full of those nice definitions the Europeans put in our school syllabuses like “democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people,” and the other blah, blahs.
We received our first cultural jolt when we come to Europe and see people who are total opposite of what they preached to us. We see a total disconnect between rhetoric and deeds. It is as though in the West, people, especially leaders and scholars, don’t mean what they say. It appears that words do not function than mere rhetoric.
We never see any European nation forgiven anyone that transgressed against it. In Europe, loving your neighbor continues to exist in peoples’ imaginations. And heaven forbid a European nation to turn any cheek when assaulted – enemies; real or imagined must be obliterated!
The insane War on Terror the West fights across the world remains a prime example.
We see the vast hypocrisy of the Western world in the elevation of the Mandiba, Nelson Mandela, to an iconic figure by a people that would consider him a wimp if he rules in any of their countries.
It says a lot about the duplicity of the West that they elevate Mandela to sainthood whilst they keep on electing war-mongers as rulers.
Like most Europeans, the Dutch suffer from gross historical amnesia. That is the only reason we can adduce for a people that should bury their collective heads in shame, gallivanting around the world, self-promoting themselves as champions of freedom, human rights and democracy.
More than any Europeans, the Dutch should be the last to even ever consider launching an attack on Africa under any pretense or circumstance.
Given the vileness, the peculiar nastiness and the virulent nature of their brand of racism, Dutch people should be the most sensitive Europeans to the sensibilities of Africans.
If only for the terrible apartheid system they brought to Africa, the Dutch should be ultra-sensitive to not injuring our feelings.
The Dutch were, by many measures, simply the most bestial of the despoilers of our beautiful continent.
I write this with the authority of the knowledge of the depravity of the Belgians, the British, the Danes, the French and not forgetting the Portuguese.
Beginning with slavery, the Dutch led the way both in the quantity of their loot (per head) and the cruelty of their slavers.
These are some of the things we read from history:
“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).
“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).
The cruelty of the Dutch was again on display in the colonization of Africa. Is it any co-incidence that the Dutch possession in Africa, the Boer republic of South Africa was the cruelest, the most dogmatic and lasted the longest?
And let it not be forgotten that the Dutch even pressed their god into service in their cruel enterprise in our continent. The Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) consistently provided the apartheid regime with spiritual succuor and with Biblical support to the heinous crimes the Boers perpetrated against Africans.
Many of those that came forward at the Truth Commission cited the church as the spiritual inspiration for their gruesome work in support of the former apartheid regime.
It was not until 1992 that the DRC finally acknowledged apartheid as a sin and confessed to great wrongs in the past, and said the Church was guilty of spiritual and structural injustices under apartheid. Of course no mention was made of making amends for past wrong-doings.
Two figures that helped the most in the despoliation of Africa and the dehumanization of Africans happened to be born in the Netherlands. Both Jan Van Riebeeck (the pirate that founded the Dutch colony in South Africa) and Henrik Frensch Verwoerd, apartheid’s chief theoretician, were Dutch citizens born in the Netherlands.
It galls to no end then to see that the Dutch become enthusiastic partners in the West re-colonisation project in Libya.
Like they did in Iraq, the Western alliance hid behind a UN resolution to effect their plan for a regime change in Libya.
The objective, as it is emerging, was a recolonisation enterprise that would put Libya’s vast oil reserves under the control of the west. The plan was, like the Iraq venture, to remove Qaddafi, install a puppet regime and start to suck the blood out of their newly-acquired territory.
With several members of the NATO alliance announcing the sending of ‘military advisors,’ money and equipment to the Libyan rebels, in clear breach of UNSC Resolution 1973, the mask has finally been revealed of the true intentions in the reconquering of Libya.
The Dutch wasted no time in joining the colonial assault on Libya, just like they did in their mis-adventure in Afghanistan. The allure of juicy contracts is just too much their piratical instincts to ignore.
As a long-time resident in the Netherlands, the idea of the Dutch going to fight for the rights of Africans seem particularly incongruous, baffling and grossly insulting.
What exactly do the Dutch care about African life?
Despite its reputation as a ‘tolerant’ country, the Netherlands remain among the worst racist countries in Europe. Dutch politics regularly throw up rabidly racist politicians who never hide their desires to keep their nation as white as their snow – we can mention Jan Maat, Aad Kosto, Rita Verdonk and now the peroxide-bleached blonde irritant, Geert Wilders.
In the Netherlands, Non-Europeans are simply totally marginalized with ZERO visibility in any aspect of national life.
Despite Dutch politicians railing against being swamped by non-Europeans, there is not a single non-white person in any position of importance in the whole of the Netherlands. Football used to be one area where blacks used to dominate, but this has been effectively ended following an outcry.
The people that gave the world apartheid have even managed to coin other words that firmly and succinctly expressed their racist mindsets – Allochtone which refers to non-natives (read black) andAutochtone (read white).
These administrative constructs were, like apartheid, designed keep people apart and keep the blacks firmly in their place – at the lowest-rungs of the social, economic and political ladder.
Today, non-Europeans must produce a Certificate of Fluency in Dutch language and culture before they get a renewal of their residence permits.
All of these from the same people that exported their language to South Africa, and killed hundreds of Africans in attempt to imposed their language on the Africans.
In order to help me organise my thoughts on the Dutch government intervention in Libya, I sent a list of questions to the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague.
The reply, pure asinine, reveals the depth of contempt to which the Dutch truly hold us as Africans.
The spokesman at the Ministry, Mr. Aad Meijer, even found it useful to deign to teach me some rules of basic journalism.
I simply cannot imagine a European journalist receiving the same mindless answers to his inquiries.
This is the exchange:
Dear Mr. Akomolafe,
See below for our answers to your questions. Please be so kind to quote them as ‘says a spokesman of the ministry of Foreign Affairs.
1. What is the official Dutch government position on the situation in Libya?
Ans: The Dutch government is very concerned about the situation in Libya. It condemns the use of force by Qaddafi against peaceful demonstrators, his own people. In doing so it considers Qaddafi to have lost his legitimacy. Qaddafi should step down and give space to a negotiated inclusive political solution by all of the Libyan people with respect for human rights, minorities and the rule of law.
2. One of the prerogatives of states is that they hold monopoly on the instruments of violence within their territory. No country will permit an armed-uprising; is a new precedent not being set by the Western Powers in supporting an armed group in Libya? What is the Dutch government’s position on supporting armed rebellion in other countries?
Ans: The NATO mission Unified Protector is mandated by UN resolution 1973 to protect the Libyan population from attacks by the Libyan authorities. The Netherlands supports this goal and contributes to the protection of the Libyan population.
3. Although UNSC Resolution 1973, specifically, did not authorised action to violate the sovereignty of Libya in the name of human rights, nor action in support of the anti-government rebels nor “regime-change” in Libya, today some Western governments (UK, France and the USA) openly called for “regime change,” and have announced plans to send ‘military advisors’ to aid the Libyan “pro-democracy forces.” What is the position of the Dutch government on regime change in Libya?
Ans: I refer to our answer under 1.
4. There appears to be a stalemate in Libya, what exactly is the outcome envisioned by the Dutch government in Libya?
Ans: I refer to our answer under 1.
5. How feasible is the desire of the West to impose democracy and Human Rights by military violence and where should we draw the line?
Ans: The military actions undertaken by NATO and several countries in the region as mandated by the United Nations seek to uphold Security Council resolution 1973. As such the military actions should be limited to protecting the civilian population of Libya against the use of force by the Libyan authorities.
6.What is the response of the Dutch government to the charges by some African commentators that the attacked smacked of double-standards – given the fact that numerous resolutions of the United Nations remain unenforced by the Western Powers? You can see a long list here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_Nations_resolutions_concerning_Israel
Ans: The implementation of Security Council resolutions is an obligation of all members of the United Nations. The Netherlands believes that first and foremost countries in the region share a responsibility to implement these decisions. Where possible the Netherlands seeks to support such efforts either bilaterally or through the European Union.
7. Given the fact that Libya is, at least, geographically in Africa, why did the Western powers decided to ignore the publicly-stated position of the African Union (AU) condemning any military solution to the crises in Libya?
Ans: The Netherlands believes that the crisis in Libya will not be solved through military means alone and calls for a political process. It welcomes all diplomatic efforts, including those of the African Union to broker a political solution and underlines the importance of international coordination of initiatives. In order for a political process to come to fruition the Netherlands believes that a real cessation of hostilities and pull back from beleaguered cities is required.
8. Why is the West ever so eager to employ military force in non-western peoplenations, rather than use its considerable powers to compel antagonists to the Conference Table, like providing them with non-lethal (good offices) means to resolve their differences?
Ans: The Netherlands believes that diplomatic efforts are essential to achieve a solution.
9. And what would be the response of the Dutch government to accusations that Africa is being re-colonised. This being derived from the fact that the Western powers continue to hold meetings in European capitals (London, Paris, Berlin) to decide the future of an African country, Libya, which brings back to memory the infamous Berlin Conference of 1884-5?
Ans: The Netherlands believes that the future of Libya should only be decided upon by the Libyan people itself. It stresses that the conferences on Libya do in no way purport to providing the Libyan people with an outside political solution. The conferences but serve as an international focal and coordination point to ensure effective international support to the Libyan people
10. How would the Dutch government react to accusations that the West is trying to counter China’s incursions to Africa. Cited as example is one of the leaks from the Wikileaks’ memos, where we read the following: “1.(C/NF) Summary: Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) renegotiated the terms of its production sharing agreements with France’s Total and its partners in Libya (Germany’s Wintershall and Norway’s StatoilHydro), adjusting the existing stand-alone contracts to bring them into compliance with the Exploration and Production Sharing Agreement (EPSA) rubric. The renegotiation of Total’s contract is of a piece with the NOC’s effort to renegotiate existing contracts to increase the Libya’s share of crude oil production… the renegotiated agreements could adversely impact his revenue stream. End Summary.” See: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/wikileaks-files/libya-wikileaks/8294570/FRENCH-TOTAL-LED-CONSORTIUMS-ACCEPT-LOWER-PRODUCTION-SHARES-IN-LIBYA.html
Ans: The Dutch government does not comment on the content of documents released by Wikileaks.
11.What would be the response of the Dutch government to another concern of Africans, especially those who live in Europe, why countries like France and the Netherlands which continue to treat them with impunity, would want to assume high moral grounds on Human Rights and Democracy in Africa? You can see an example of the treatment of African women and children in France here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZGK33rkk6E
Ans: The Dutch government does not comment on the internal affairs of other states. All residents of the Netherlands enjoy equal rights and obligations under Dutch law.
12. It was a Dutch man Hugo Grotius who, in his seminal work, titled De Jure Belli ac Pacis Libri Tres (Of the Laws of War and Peace) published in 1623, wrote: “Throughout the Christian world, I observed a lack of restraint in relation to war, such as even barbarous races should be ashamed of; I observed that men rush to arms for slight causes, or no cause at all, and that when arms have once been taken up there is no longer any respect for law, divine or human; it is as if, in accordance with a general decree, frenzy had openly been let loose for the committing of all crimes. Confronted with such utter ruthlessness many men, who are the very furthest from being bad men, have come to the point of forbidding all use of arms to the Christian, whose rule of conduct above everything else comprises the duty of loving all men.”
13: Today, we look at Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, and see that not much has changed since 1623. Can we look forward to a time that the west will, in the words of the Christian Bible, turn its sword into plowshare and attain to resolve conflicts through peaceful means rather than on wholesale military violence?
Ans: The Dutch government seeks to end conflict by peaceful means. The promotion of international rule of law is part of its constitution.
It’s difficult for me to imagine what Mr Aad Meijer ate or drunk before he sent his moronic reply. I expected a half-decent attempt to produce some bureaucratic smoke but certainly not these imbecilic answers.
That “All residents of the Netherlands enjoy equal rights and obligations under Dutch law,” is a tale I believe Mr. Aad should tell to the Dutch marines when they return from their colonial killing enterprise in Libya.
For more from the author visit: www.alaye.biz