In 1884, the club of European gentlemen met in Berlin to partition Africa, donating Cameroon to Germany so France could exploit its French Equatorial Africa, while Britain ruined its West African booty.
Today, we are seeing the reverse, African leaders are gathering in Beijing to partition USS$60 billion of Chinese grants, loans, and credit lines.
The dusk of the shadow of Mao Zedong shove-off China, a vigorous and new generation of Chinese leaders were emerging from an era of “class struggle”.
These leaders decided to “talk less about politics and more about economics”, arguing the soul of the Chinese State rest on strong economic growth, faster technological innovation and scientific research.
Putting economics first, these readers introduced new economic reforms, dismantling part of the communist economy and replacing it with silver-lining market-oriented policies.
Partly due to these reforms, China has recorded an explosive level of growth over the past four decades. The middle country is now the world’s largest exporter of manufacturing products. And with that has come trillions of foreign exchange reserves.
Chinese capital is now the “cake in town” that every king and prince wants a pie. And African leaders are moving in quickly and awkwardly for a piece.
Biya and other African leaders thronged into Beijing last week with scissors in their mouths, begging China to allow them a slice of the “dragons’ cake”.
Kenyan President went with a chainsaw; he wants a bigger pie, roads, industries, and more funding on the railways.
And his Zambian counterpart went with a wood harvester. Zambia does not only want a piece in the pie, they want pieces from previous pies to be chopped off into bins of debt reduction, like Cameroon.
Edgar Lungu has possibly used every kwacha the country’s businesses are making to fund his unquenchable taste for foreign trips.
Africa’s scramble for China has four features we should all watch out. First, the use of Chinese capital to develop roads, bridges, schools, hospital and presidencies in Africa.
Second, the exchange of African resources with Chinese capital and third, the establishing of Chinese ideas as role-models for African States. The reckless use of these resources in some countries with little attention to the interest of the peoples.
We may be accustomed with the idea of the scramble as primarily the powerful dominating the weak. What Africa is doing to China should force us to rethink. The weak can also scramble to partition the strong.