By ISAAC SANEY*
I picked up the Globe and Mail to read that Africa “threatens the future of the planet.” Under the guise of advancing the rights of African women, correspondent Geoffrey York (in his front-page article “U.S. cutbacks undermine efforts to keep Africa’s population in check”, Globe and Mail, April 17, 2017) openly advocates the long discredited neo-malthusian imposture.
Moreover, this utterly anti-black racist tract is embedded in the open white supremacist view that there are too many Africans. York actually states “humanity is increasingly becoming African…The result could be an escalating crisis in hunger, over crowding, ecological damage and rising immigration pressures in Europe and North America and within Africa itself.”
Thus, all the problems of Africa are attributed to the existence of excess Africans NOT to the global imperial system that has been built on the dehumanization, brutalization, plunder and exploitation of Africans and the African continent.
York tries to disguise his white supremacist agenda as a defence of women’s rights. The disempowerment of women, in Geoffrey York’s mind, is utterly disconnected from socio-economic and political relations of exploitation and oppression that capitalism and imperialism have sustained not only in Africa but across the world. What he elides is that, in Africa, women have been most empowered, seized the most control of their lives collectively and most effectively challenged and undermined patriarchy through their participation in the radical anti-imperialist cum socialist projects that emerged out of the anti-colonial and national liberation struggles of the post-Second World era. While, these efforts to build new societies may have had their limitations, being necessary but not sufficient in-and-of themselves for the complete liberation of women (and people) they did open the path in that direction. However, imperialism destroyed them through massive economic pressures and untold violence.
In the case of southern Africa, for example, from 1975 to 1988, apartheid South Africa, with the support of the United States, embarked on a campaign of massive destabilization of the region. This war wrought a terrible toll. The financial and human cost cannot only be measured in direct damage and deaths but also in the premature deaths and projected economic loss caused by destruction of infrastructure, agriculture and power networks. While it is very difficult to estimate the economic cost and damage, it was undoubtedly enormous. One study calculates that up to 1988, the total economic cost for the Frontline States was in excess of US$45-billion – in Angola alone the economic cost was US$22-billion; in Mozambique US$12-billion; in Zambia US$7-billion; and in Zimbabwe US$3-billion. Between 1981 and 1988, an estimated 1,5-million people were (directly or indirectly) killed, including 825 000 children. This was the result of Pretoria and Washington sponsored terror (Unita in Angola and Renamo in Mozambique) and direct military actions by the South African armed forces.
Returning to York’s odious and central claim that Africa’s population growth is out of control, one is left with the sickening feeling and reminder that in the last century the world suffered the horrors of that way of thinking. Does not the logical culmination of York’s call for the number of Africans in the world to be reduced lead into the terrible corridors of quasi-genocide?!
Added note May 7th
Geoffrey York’s article (“U.S. cutbacks undermine efforts to keep Africa’s population in check,” Globe and Mail, April 17, 2017) is in the print edition. It appears under a different title in the online edition as “Trump’s aid cuts risk pushing African women ‘into the Dark Ages’, spelling trouble for rising world population.”
*From a post on Facebook by Isaac Saney, who is on faculty, Dalhousie and St. Mary’s universities, where he teaches Black History and International Development. He is author of Cuba: A Revolution in Motion (Fernwood).