Activist Baba Aye concludes his interview with TRNN’s Ben Norton, discussing the ongoing harms of colonialism and imperialism in Africa and the Global South, and how they are an integral part of the capitalist system
BEN NORTON: It’s The Real News and I’m Ben Norton. It’s not just Macron who has made these kinds of remarks. Also Hillary Clinton, and when she was secretary of state in the United States here in 2010, she infamously declared at a conference on U.S. diplomacy in Africa, “For goodness sakes, this is the 21st century. We’ve got to get over what happened 50, 100, 200 years ago, and let’s make money for everybody.” So Reuters also summarized Clinton’s words, saying “African nations must stop seeking handouts and begin tough structural reforms.”
Joining us to discuss this today is Baba Aye. Baba is the policy officer for Health and Social Service of the Public Services International, a global trade union federation. He is also editor of the Socialist Worker Nigeria, and a contributing editor for the Review of African Political Economy. Thanks for joining us, Baba.
BABA AYE: Thank you for having me Ben.
BEN NORTON: So briefly, I’m wondering if you could comment on how France, which colonized large parts of Africa, certainly has a legacy of colonialism- very brutal colonialism- and we see how Macron reflects an indifference to the massive damage that colonialism has done historically and imperialism continues to do today. But briefly I’m wondering if you could also comment on how this is not just a matter of French imperialism, but also American, British, and global imperialism.
BABA AYE: You see, with imperialism in general, while there is competition amongst the imperial powers always, they are united against poor working masses. Particularly from the countries that they underdeveloped. You see, for Hillary Clinton to have said that, she should first have been asked. She shouldn’t be talking about Africa. Why is it that in the United States of North America, parts of North America, you have blacks still by far, a disproportionate portion of blacks are those that are the poorest. You look at incarceration, You look at the state, This is not accidental. These have roots, deep roots in slavery. These have deep roots in Jim Crow laws. Even the fact that blacks vote today. It was not something that Hillary Clinton’s political forbearers magnanimously bestowed. It had to be fought for and won in the ’60s. So it’s like exactly what Macron is doing, Theresa May, Angela Merkel, and so on and so forth. To give the impression that’s it’s about let’s make money, and then it trickles down.
Well, the fact of the matter is it never trickles down. On the contrary, it gushes up. It gushes up. Between 1973 and now, real wages vis-a-vis the income of capital in the United States has declined drastically. And blacks, Hispanics, colored people, particularly blacks, have been the more worse off of this. And that also brings us down to what is the primary line of division in society, including in the United States. Of course there are millionaire blacks also, who might not feel uncomfortable with sharing such views that “let’s make money.” We had that kind of diatribe from Kanye West.
But there are not only poor whites which partly has been said, who fed into the mass anger, of the rise of the of the far right. Partly because of these in some places subtle, in other places like the loudmouth now the White House more brazenly puts. But trying to give colorations of race of nationality to what are essentially class divides. What divides us is the ostentatious and stupendous wealth of the one percent on the one hand, and and the ever increasing poverty and disillusionment of the 99 percent on the other hand. And “let’s make money” that she’s saying, the evidence is there that it is “let the one percent make money,” then some within the 99 percent get the crumbs from the masters or the mistress table, and like the house negro, cry when the master is sick. The master is not only sick, the system of the master is sick. And that system, driven by imperialism, has shown itself incapable of ensuring a better live for the immense majority of the human population, because it puts profits before people. And the challenge to youths in Africa, the challenge to working class people in Africa, the challenge for youths outside Africa, the challenge to youths and working class people outside Africa, is for us to see the beyond the lies, beyond this ideological posturing of the likes of Hillary, of the likes of Macron, and fight to make the world better, and fight for the system that puts people over profits. As the slogan used to go of the Social Forum process: another world is possible. But we have to make it, the future is for the making.
What people like Macron, like Hillary are doing is trying to form a narrative that engenders the continuation of the anti-poor practices, and at each opportunity we should reveal this for what it is. We should go beyond revealing it for what it is. We should organize, mobilize, and fight against it and fight for a better world.
BEN NORTON: We’re going to have to end our conversation there. We were joined by Baba Aye. Thanks so much, Baba, for the incredibly enlightening discussion. He raised a lot of really interesting points, and it’s something definitely that we should all think about today. Baba is the policy officer for the Health and Social Sector of Public Services International, a global trade union federation. He is also editor of the Socialist Worker Nigeria, and a contributing editor for the Review of African Political Economy. Thanks so much.
BABA AYE: My pleasure.
BEN NORTON: For The Real News, I’m Ben Norton.