In a seminal article on September 1 in the NZZ[1], Senegalese writer Ken Bugul (real name Marietou Mbaye Bileoma) accuses the African elites of many evils resulting in her asking for a reduction in development aid. Young generations are disoriented, she says, growing up in the midst of corruption and mal-governance in an increasingly materialistic society for which young people are ill-prepared and in which they do not have the means to participate. In many countries, they represent half of the African population and have neither formal education nor a job. She explains that in her childhood, which was not easy, she went to school and if she was hungry at times, she had the ability to simply read a poem or looked at a beautiful landscape for food. But, she says, today’s young people no longer have that ability and they no longer have that skill or the chance to bring bread to the table. If these problems are not taken seriously now, “the black continent will destabilize the world, the waves of migrants will increase and no one will be able to hold them back. ”

In addition to this destabilization, the fall and loss of identity of African societies and the lack of prospects for youth leads to inter-African conflicts as we increasingly see. This situation is further exacerbated by climate change which particularly affects poor countries. Besides, Ken Bugul insists, we have the Chinese, Hindus, Russians and Turks. “At least the Europeans were trying to do their job well, even if it did not always work. But the Chinese do not care; they do not care if dictators kill their people. This is not their problem. They have introduced corruption on a massive scale because they always put money on the table. They have built stadiums, roads and infrastructure, but what they really want is our natural wealth and our soil. ”

According to her, Africa is selling off its land. Half of Madagascar is sold. And what about the domain of banking, energy, telecommunications? They are all in foreign hands, she complains as she cries from her heart: Yes, Africa is for sale! In the village where she grew up, people practised subsistence farming, they had enough to eat and were not hungry; they were healthy. But this agriculture is threatened by the agribusiness multinationals. Let us mention here that the bishops of Mozambique wrote back in May a pastoral letter denouncing the same scourges. They recall that 56 million hectares of African land were sold or leased by foreigners between 2000 and 2013 in Mozambique by Brazil or Brazilian companies. Yet Mozambican law prohibits the sale or transfer of land to foreign companies or states … but corruption and the need for money win out. They denounce land grabbing with its social repercussions. Whole families are dispossessed and inflate the number of poor in the slums.

Ken Bugul believes that as long as Europeans do not really care about what is happening in Africa, development aid is just like thrusting a sword in water and the migratory flows will continue. When she walks in the streets of Dakar, she sees hundreds of children from the Koranic schools begging for money and food, and hundreds of others sleeping in the streets. “Where is the State?” she indignantly asks, “Here we are in the midst of a tragedy!” She can no longer tolerate the way things are.

This Senegalese woman is pleading for credit in place of donations because we have to make people help themselves and be responsible. A government that has to finance projects with tax money has the right to know how it works and to control them, a control which the Europeans, given their colonial past, do not like to do – out of respect for the sovereignty of the state, she admits. She calls for investment mainly in education and vocational training, which Swiss development cooperation does. She believes that microcredit is a good solution in rural communities and slums. She can no longer bear all of these injustices, seeing hungry young Africans rubbing shoulders with other Africans who are fat, wear gold and have pockets full of money. “Europeans are no longer our problem, it is the Africans who are …”

Christine von Garnier, sociologist and journalist, 4 Sept.2017

[1] NZZ is A Swiss German newspaper – NEUE  ZÜRCHER ZEITUNG)