Moving from one place to another is a basic characteristic of humanity. People have always been on the go for various reasons. This fact is the origin of human societies.
In the state of nature, human beings traveled to seek water or fruit to feed themselves, but also to escape from ferocious animals and save their lives. They moved to survive.
The discovery of the first objects constituted the first stage of evolution of our race. People moved around in order to organize their food supply (hunting, fishing, gathering) but also to protect themselves against their internal rivalries.
The era of construction and settling was born with the mastery of fire and iron. People no longer lived in the open air. They began to develop a taste for occupying spaces. Three concerns, however, have remained constant throughout all successive evolutions: food supply, the preservation of life, and the ability to reproduce.
With the discovery and the development of writing and the first astronomical, geographic and other sciences, we moved on to the era of constructing means of transportation – first on rivers, then roads and carts. Above all, this was an era of curiosity that led to important discoveries, ever further afield. This was the era of the development of trade and instruments of exchange such as currency.
Our planet has evolved according to a logic of the survival of the strongest. The vanquished and the weakest have always had to move away in order not to disappear. Accordingly, a part of the world called Europe gave itself the permission to discover the rest of the world without seeking the approval of an institution, which didn’t exist then in any event. In this spirit Europeans arrived in lands inhabited by others, initially out of pure curiosity. Then they developed strategies for appropriating the spaces they had discovered as well as their contents. Finally, they assigned themselves property rights as in the case of Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, which became the property of King Leopold II.
Since they were people dedicated to writing, they bequeathed to us historical manuscripts in which they confirmed that they had discovered “soulless” people. They gathered up everything they found and sold it off as they pleased. The occupiers created rules among themselves to manage the occupied. They developed their culture by negating the cultures that existed before their arrival. They taught the occupied the languages of the occupiers. When World War I intervened the Europeans mobilized the occupied to defend the liberty that they themselves had endangered by declaring war. The same scenario was repeated with World War II. When the war ended they adopted the United Nations Charter, which is nothing other than the Charter of the occupiers of the world along with so-called international rules for governing circulation.
As an ignorant citizen, I can say that all of this does not concern me since I was not involved. I maintain that everything that is not done with my free consent is imposed on me.
From the publication of the UN Charter up to the independence of African countries, apartheid in South Africa was tolerated in international law and was never recognized as an occupation of spaces and resources by other peoples.
For three decades now the issue has cropped up again. It’s like taking hold of a dragon in the middle of its body, far from the head and the tail. Everyone starts off from the piece of the animal they are touching, develops their analyses and formulates their propositions.
Returning to our analysis, it is true that colonization has been officially stopped. The newly independent countries are politically sovereign. The signature of each of them is equal to that of the United States, France, Germany, etc. But alongside of the UN General Assembly there are four countries that make up the Security Council! The World Trade Organization (WTO), which was negotiated among the European States following the Uruguay Round, is the only international institution to have an international court!
The towns and citizens that constitute the vast majority of the troops that are candidates for emigration come from continents that have been violated, humiliated, plundered by force and now by international agreements. The resources of these states continue to be diverted towards banks and financial institutions in countries that protest against illegal immigration. The Obama Administration, for example, threatened sanctions against any country that refused to provide information on bank accounts in its country! Which African countries could apply for reciprocity to the United States?
The monopoly of extractive industries, the definition of the standards and the management of destructive weapons are located somewhere in the world dominated and managed by who knows who. This so-called “democracy” takes the form of a chameleon which constantly blends to match the color of its environment. The pride of the conquerors of the past is to defend globalization. It is real and is managed by everyone in every part of the world.
In all of this, what are our responsibilities, decisions-makers, leaders and officials at all levels, knowledgeable citizens, experts, executives of institutions, intellectuals? It’s time to face reality. Development is the responsibility of every country, of every region, and of every continent. It depends on a few essential factors: capacities for analysis, definition and orientation of policies; mechanisms for inclusive involvement of all concerned parties; mobilization of internal funding; rigorous laws for control, monitoring and evaluating, etc. What about all of this today, in Africa, in our home?
The African Union Commission in charge of monitoring corruption informed us in 2015 that $50 billion dollars leaves our continent every year, outside of the normal circuits. 70% of our experts and officials do not come home to us and, better still, are the mainstay of institutions outside our continent that manage our resources for the benefit of their own development.
If these findings do not change, we will always depend on the will of others who legally exploit the resources that we have illegally exported to their countries. This is how we create and perpetuate the desperation that forces our young people to take the perilous path of migration. One and the other, let us be calm and humble, but above all co-responsible, avoiding the illusion that legal or military measures will prevent this human disaster.
Let us work together for the distribution of wealth and well-being everywhere for everyone, in the world. The strength of poor people is that they lose nothing because they have nothing to lose!
An African story teaches us that having created the world, before giving the starting signal, God called all the animals of the Earth together to explain that he intended to split up the responsibilities for the good functioning of the whole. He then proceeded to attribute the management of water, of the wind, of the sun and many other resources. After a long list he reached the point of assigning responsibility for movement (walking and fleeing). The hyena opposed a net refusal, arguing that this responsibility should be left to the free choice of all. Only in certain circumstances would it be exercised and then there should be no question of asking authorization since it is a matter of survival. After a long discussion God conceded that he was right and decided not to give this responsibility to anyone and to let everyone be free to exercise it !
That which God himself did not seek to manage, let us not seek to manage in his place!
I wish all of you who have taken a moment to read this paper a good and happy 2018.
Instead of arms, let us take solidarity!
by Mamadou Cissokho,
Honorary President of ROPPA and CNCR
Cover Image: Umut Vedat/La Via Campesina