A letter to the African Union/ African leaders with China's President, Xi Jinping

Historians may differ on the goals of modern societies, but it is safe to argue that one laudable and irreducible goal is to harness an efficient bureaucracy capable of running different sectors of a civil service to the benefit of a broader community. Despite centuries of racism, no historian has been able to erase ancient Egypt, located on the African continent, as the site of humanity’s first major civilization.  

That fact should inform the policies and politics of contemporary Africa. It is significant that Africa emerged as the location of the first flowering of human genius in a variety of fields. That event was not fortuitous. At the very least, it was an extraordinary product of human ingenuity in a variety of fields, including science, arts and the art of governance. As somebody with a religious cast of mind, I would suggest that the achievements of ancient Egyptian civilization represented the design of Almighty God—the creator of heaven and earth.


It is in this context that one feels profoundly saddened by the rapid re-colonization of Africa by China. Most of Africa’s leaders seem to believe it is appropriate to collect paltry kickbacks from the Chinese in exchange for plunging their countries and peoples into slavery. These leaders, I suggest, are making monumental mistakes. And the nature of these historic acts of betrayal will become apparent within a few years of these leaders’ exit from office or even while some of them are still in office. I foresee mass revolutions across Africa in resistance to their leaders’ orchestrated plans to sell parts of the continent to China.


The likes of the late Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Haile Selassie of Ethiopia had a herculean task drawing African countries into the Organization of African Unity (OAU), founded in 1963 and in 2002 renamed the African Union (AU). One hope that animated the OAU was the development of ideas that would transform the continent over time. Indeed, part of what motivated the OAU’s founders was to accelerate the decolonization of the African continent, placing the continent on a trajectory to improve the standard of living of Africans.


Under imperialism, Africans were widely dehumanized. As a result, the road towards independence was rough for many of the countries in Africa. However, at the end of the dark tunnel, there was light. Over time, as Africans and people of African descent struggled to assert their full humanity, many imperial powers came to terms with the idea of total freedom for all. This recognition was demonstrated when President Abraham Lincoln of the United States declared emancipation in 1863. As a less consequential recognition of the cause of black freedom, President Ronald Reagan in 1983 signed a bill setting aside each third Monday in January as a day to celebrate the memory of Martin Luther King, an African American and martyr of the civil rights movement.


These American gestures are clear indications that the world has evolved from the days of slavery to the dawn of freedom for all. It’s therefore absurd for Chinese authorities to think that they can use their financial might to re-enslave Africans in this present moment in history. All enlightened Africans must say—God forbid!


Social media is inundated with numerous videos of racist acts directed by Chinese citizens against Africans. In one of the most viral videos, a Chinese manager at a Chinese restaurant in Kenya metes out corporal punishment on an African worker who came late to work. More recently, dozens of videos have emerged that show Chinese officials mistreating Africans in China. In some, Africans are prohibited from entering shops, restaurants and other establishments; in others, we see scores of Africans evicted from their hotel rooms or even apartments.


Isn’t it amazing that, while the United States, the world’s dominant superpower, has long abandoned slavery, the Chinese are mindlessly and openly toying with imposing slavery on Africans in an age of global information? And they are practicing their nefarious acts of racism because of the servility of African leaders and because Africans are deemed subservient.


There are various viewpoints about the emerging threats of China’s colonization of Africa. Some scholars argue that China’s population is outstripping its geographical space, hence a desire by Chinese leaders to seek territories elsewhere. By this reasoning, the Chinese have concluded that their best bet is to occupy parts of Africa by hook or by crook. They plan to buy up several critical assets in Africa by offering so-called economic development and growth to poverty-stricken African countries. In time, they intend to occupy the seat of power in some countries in Africa, Nigeria being one of their targets.


Some scholars point to the fact that the Chinese plan of colonization will soon collapse if African countries support the US, Europe, the UK, Australia and Japan in the upcoming and inevitable fight to hold China accountable for the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. It is clear that China’s deceptive manipulation of information about the novel coronavirus has offended many countries in the world.


In addition, over many years, the Chinese appeared to have cheated the rest of the world by manipulating their currency, thus violating the norms of international trade. As if that was not enough, in a bid to grab the number one spot of superpower, they aided and abated a virus that has annihilated major parts of the world economically and caused an overwhelming number of deaths.


Some pundits believe that the loans disbursed by China to African countries for ostensible “development” will turn out to be bad debts. In the first place, the loans often did not serve the purpose for which they were disbursed as part of the funds served as kickbacks. As a result, many of the implemented projects were sub-standard and unviable.


Some Nigerians, for example, assert that, at the appropriate time, the Chinese should collect their money from the corrupt Nigerian government officials they struck infrastructure deals with and not from the people of Nigeria. On social media, some Africans were upset that the Chinese man who physically assaulted his Kenyan worker on Africa soil was merely punished with deportation back to China. Some felt he should have been buried alive for his heinous crime.


That sentiment suggests that all may not go smoothly with China’s plan to colonize parts of the African continent through the backdoor.


We live in perilous times, and African leaders must understand clearly that their malevolent actions cannot go unpunished. These leaders think that they can hoodwink their people by setting up think tanks of economists and corrupt professionals who can be manipulated by those in power to engage in pro-China discussions on TV. The strategy is for these teams of supposed technocrats to arrive at the consensus that it makes sense to borrow money from China. These experts also justify the issuance of visas to hundreds of thousands of Chinese, most of them low-skilled artisans, for the alleged goals of building infrastructure in Africa and igniting “economic development.” The calculation is that, once African masses hear the words “economic development,” they are bound to embrace policies that otherwise represent their enslavement and further marginalization. Of course, such words as “infrastructure” and “development” paint a rosy outward picture that the unsuspecting masses may applaud. However, the real impact of such discourse is to betray the masses and sell them into mental and economic slavery in this modern age.


With the surge of Chinese funds and people, the very near future of Africans is easy to predict. It’s not difficult to demystify the hidden agenda of the Chinese people across Africa. As I stated earlier, revolutionary movements may soon start sprouting all over Africa reminiscent of the anti-colonial struggles against European colonizers. At the appropriate time, the masses will begin to defy their leaders as well as the new Chinese colonial authorities. Once Africans discover that they have been duped, they will rise in revolt and demand that the Chinese dismantle the railroads they have built, and carry their pieces of steel back to China.


Sadly, a good portion of Africa’s political elite is made up of knaves and hypocrites who answer only to their stomachs and their greed. It is easier to forgive our first colonization by Europe. After all, our forebears were not educated to the designs of European adventurers and imperial agents. But with the existence for several decades of the Internet, we have no excuses. The Internet has been around for close to forty years now. The Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, is 66 years old. We contend that the world has been a global village for at least 37 years. In effect, any knowledge that Xi Jinping has is, by definition, available as well to African leaders. At any rate, Africa’s leaders have the opportunity to garner and disseminate any information that related to development.


The manual on development, governance, colonialism, exploitation and resistance is widely available—in books, digital databases, songs, and numerous other forms. It’s tragic that many, if not most, African leaders lack the capacity to understand the forces shaping our contemporary world or to generate their own ideas for development and growth. There is a video of a Nigerian Archbishop who, in the middle of a press interview, sang Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song,” song whose lyrics highlight the imperative of redeeming humanity from all forms of oppression. Yet, the senseless, greedy, and evil-minded politicians and bureaucrats that constitute the leadership in Africa are shameless in their determination to mortgage their respective African countries to the Chinese.


China’s investments in Africa come with onerous caveats. It behooves African leaders to be vigilant about the small prints and nuances of their contracts with Chinese leaders. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Japanese officials began to talk openly about offering financial incentives to their companies to leave China and relocate to Japan. This represents Japan’s recognition of the potentially toxic implication of economic dependence on China. Some top US officials are also expressing a desire to move American-owned plants from China to America.

Predation is a lifestyle for some of the Chinese people as they eat everything on this earth and in some instances, they eat raw animals. As such, one can deduce that some of them ate raw bats thereby came in contact with coronavirus. Then, when the Chinese authority recognized how destructive the virus is, they (Chinese) decided to unleash it especially on the United States and Europe. It’s for this human design, intent and malice behind the rampaging virus, that Africans must hasten the process of distancing themselves from the calamitous and unexamined embrace of Chinese imperialists posing as developmental partners. We should not forget that the Geneva Convention, signed in 1925, was meant to restrict the use of chemical and biological agents in warfare.

Tosan Okotie lives in the United States.