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Discourses on development and the realities of exploitation

Horace Campbell charts Africa’s exploitative history of ‘aid’ and the struggle to establish a new global system rooted in dignity, equality and genuine social justice.

January 2011 marked 50 years since Patrice Lumumba of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was assassinated. This assassination represented one of the many examples of efforts to destroy the African self-determination project. In his book on The Assassination of Patrice Lumumba, Ludo de Witte noted that,

“The murder has affected the history of Africa. The overthrow of Congo’s first government, the elimination of Lumumba, the bloody repression of the second resistance to the neocolonial regime of Joseph Kasavubu, Mobutu and Moise Tshombe and finally the creation of the Second Republic in this vast strategic country: the repercussions of all these events had disastrous consequences throughout Africa as a whole. If Africa was a revolver and the Congo its trigger, to borrow Frantz Fanon’s analogy, the assassination of Lumumba and tens of thousands of other Congolese nationalists, from 1960-1965, was the West’s ultimate attempt to destroy the continent’s authentic independent development.”

Fanon had written on the continued efforts to destroy transformations from colonialism and in June 2011, fifty years after this assassination and the murder of numerous genuine freedom fighters in Africa, it is now possible to fully chronicle all of the efforts to pre-empt Africa’s reconstruction. Ludo de Witte used the metaphor of the revolver with the trigger to connect the militarism that is linked to the plunder that has been going on for the past fifty years with the massive propaganda on “development” and “progress” to cover up the role of the international mining houses and pharmaceuticals in Africa. As a scholar, I have been very cautious in using the formulations of progress and development. I am conscious of the genocidal activities that have been carried out in the name of progress and am always aware of the extermination of the First Nation peoples of the Americas in the name of progress. When writers and those who suffered from slavery and genocide draw attention to this history, then we are told that such events as the genocide of Native Americans and the enslavement of Africans are unfortunate by products of progress and development.

Throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America the forces of international capitalism plundered the resources of the planet as the imperial reach of capital covered the globe. Today, these international plunderers work with local African allies and in the particular case of the DRC, they work in collaboration with the government of Rwanda in looting the DRC. Rwanda is presented as a serious development partner for Western companies, while the role of the Rwandese leadership in looting the DRC is overlooked.

Since that assassination of Lumumba, there have been numerous wars and peoples of Africa have had to contend the centrality of the role of force in production. In many respects the unique history of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) formerly known as Zaire is a microcosm of the historical and contemporary political, economic and social forces that relate to exploitation on a world scale. It is most apt that this conference on Development carries the theme of Africa: Exploitation and Resistance. Pambazuka News has been involved in a major effort to expose the new forms of exploitation, and the challenge for activists will be to grasp the need for transformation of the past models of exploitation in Africa. The forms of economic organization that have been imposed on African societies since the partitioning of Africa in 1885 reproduce iterations of plunder, war, militarism and genocidal violence. The DRC country in the heart of Africa is one with seemingly endless natural resources yet the forms of economic management that were established by Belgium perpetuated militarism as a mode of politics and economic conditions that are conducive to warfare. Liberal ideas of modernization, development and capital accumulation have consistently been deployed to legitimize forms of wealth extraction that impoverished the African peoples.

Africa as a whole has long been the epitome of the wealth-poverty dilemma in economic development policy circles. The literature on the politics of plunder and looting is quite extensive even though this material is dominated by the view that the Western capitalist states intervened in the period of the cold war to prevent chaos and communism. Numerous writers from the West provided books and tracts on Mobutu or Chaos.[1] After this period, development experts then compare the DRC to Malaysia and Ghana to South Korea to indicate the inability of Africans to initiate development

Hence, the support for the militarization and destruction in Africa from 1960 till date is glossed over when an understanding of the past engagement with Mobutu Sese Seko and the apartheid government by the Western governments marked one of the key aspects of international politics in the period 1965-1996. Military support for Mobutu and the numerous dictators in the networks supported by imperial overlords were always based on models of development, with the promises of globalized liberalism. The same supporters of Mobutu that financed his repression and brutality are the ones now promoting the orthodoxy of stabilization, privatization and liberalization. This current push for neo-liberal capitalism comes against the background of the voluminous writings by African scholars who have documented the reality that the continent of Africa has been one of the areas of the world where the impact of the structural adjustment policies of the international financial institutions have been most devastating. After decades of structural adjustment, insiders from the bank are now joining the forces that pointed to the reality that the policies of the World Bank and the IMF condemned the poor to early death.

Professor Adebayo Adedeji, (former head of the UN Economic Commission For Africa) noted that all of the home grown plans of the Africans from the period of the Lagos Plan of Action in 1980, through to the Africa’s Priority Programme for Economic Recovery 1986-1990, African Alternative Framework For Structural Adjustment (1989) to the African Charter for Participation and Development to the African Union had been opposed and sabotaged by the International Financial Institutions and the leaders of the USA and the European Union. Adedeji drew attention to the fact that “all of the plans for self-reliant development in Africa had been opposed, undermined, and dismissed by the Breton Woods Institutions and Africans were thus impeded from exercising the basic and fundamental right to making decisions about their future.”

After the Lagos Plan of Action, Elliot Berg, one of the Principal functionaries of the World Bank authored the famous report on Accelerated Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Agenda for Action. In the period after apartheid and in the face of the devastation unleashed by structural adjustment, Africans came together to form the African Union. International capital has responded by creating a military command, the US Africa Command to divert African energies from economic integration and structural transformation. This new military command has been justified on the grounds of fighting terrorism, safeguarding African resources, protect civilians and provide security for Africans. From time to time the less sophisticated will expose the real objective of the US Africa Command in relationship to the strategic importance of African petroleum resources and the long term plans to challenge Chinese influence in Africa. Behind and beside this remilitarization of Africa are the conservative Christian fundamentalists who want to embark on a new Crusade against Islam. I am gratified that this conference on Exploitation and Resistance is taking place in a space where there are Christians who are not party to this fundamentalism and conservatism.

As we speak today, NATO and the US Africa Command are involved in the bombing of the people of Libya. The leaders of Britain, France and the United States are so cynical that they do not expect decent citizens to challenge their military attacks on Libya, especially in the face of the reality that these same countries support the government of Algeria while the very same government of Algeria is supporting the Gaddafi leadership. This cynicism of the very same leaders who supported the Gaddafi family and held billions of dollars in foreign accounts is reinforced by a new and intensified racist campaign against Africans in Europe. Decent citizens who followed the close relationship between the Gaddafi family and leaders such as Nicholas Sarkozy and Tony Blair marvel at their crude advocacy on behalf of oil companies. The same Sarkozy who is the cheerleader of the bombing campaign was supported financially by Gaddafi. We are seeing a desperate attempt by a French politician Nicholas Sarkozy to regain his own glory and the glory of France by military interventions that will prop up France as a key player in the changed world economy. French writers will justify these actions in the name of development.

Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of Britain, is another politician from Europe who sought to present himself as a friend of the African people. His Commission for Africa had been trumpeted with a lot of fanfare about increased aid to Africa. It is important for activists from the World Development Movement to make an assessment of this Commission as with the numerous plans to “make poverty history” in Africa. Today, this same Tony Blair is now calling for a more united Europe with a European President to meet the challenges of a changed global system. Blair specifically mentioned the rise of China, India and Brazil and the need for Europeans to unite in the face of these emerging powers. It is noteworthy that Blair called on the EU to forge closer links to “make us more powerful as a unit” included tax policy, creating a single market, better energy and defence policies, and a single immigration and organised crime policy. Africans are paying close attention to the debates on immigration in Europe and intensified climate of racial hatred that is being stoked by European leaders. In the USA, politicians used the code of “organized crime” to send racist messages to voters.

Thus far, the leaders of Africa who have been compromised by their “development partners” have been silent in the face of intensified racism. Many of these leaders hold millions of dollars in bank accounts in Switzerland, Britain, France and the USA while travelling constantly to seek aid. Yash Tandon has written extensively on fifteen ways to draw surpluses from Africa through Foreign Direct Investment and he will speak to this conference on the themes of his book on Ending Aid Dependence. Other scholars such as Professor Patricia Daley of Oxford University have written on Humanitarian Bondage. Scholars such as Samir Amin, Patrick Bond, Patricia Daley, Yash Tandon and numerous others have documented the ways in which the poverty and humanitarian discourses conceal real relations of exploitation.

The World Bank and the IMF as development partners in Africa have been complicit in the chain of exploitation and plunder in Africa. In the example of the DRC, the record of the ways in which the so called leaders were able to manipulate the IMF to plunder the country should have been the basis for a fundamental departure from the policies and the ideas of the IMF and the World Bank, yet in the aftermath of the international financial crisis, the functionaries of the World Bank are busy seeking new ways to provide legitimacy for the Bank and Fund. Jimi Adesina and Bayo Olukoshi have been writing on the impoverishment of Africans in the period of structural adjustment. These authors have exposed with empirical work on the experience of Africa with social development in the period between 1981 and 2005 to point to increased impoverishment. The record has been grim. Using the World Bank line for severe poverty (US $1.25 in 2005 PPP prices) Adesina pointed out that an additional 176.1 million people fell into severe poverty, even as the proportion of the population fell from 53.4% to 50.9%. In the wake of the global crisis, we are confronted with even more grim predictions. In its 2009 World Development Indicators, the World Bank (2009) estimated that an additional 46 million people will fall into severe poverty, and an additional 53 million people will fall into poverty as a result of the economic crisis. It estimated that between 200 000 and 400 000 children will die annually if the crisis persists; that is anything between 1.4 million to 2.8 million new cases of child mortality between 2009 and 2015 (World Bank 2009: 11).

African scholars are also opposing the entire discourse of poverty alleviation and poverty reduction exercises. These scholars have drawn attention to the reality that no society has been able to transform social relations on the basis of fighting poverty. Transformation involves building up resources for wealth creation including the transformation of the knowledge, skills and well-being of human beings in society. Adesina rightly observed in his analysis of the Social Protection strategies: “The poverty discourse seeks to reproduce old imagery of poverty; ignorance and disease in Africa without bringing out the active relations of exploitation. The dominant discourse results in a problematic treatment of the poor as a demographic category: largely unproductive, destitute, and in need of handouts; it inadvertently sets the poorest against the poor. It is a vision of society that is far from the successful ‘encompassing’ vision of mainstream society which builds on altruism, social cohesion, and equality. Further, in much of Africa, and South Asia, for instance, the proportion of the working poor within the total employment remains quite high.”

The opposition in Africa to this denigration of humans demand new actions by those who want to stand in solidarity with the people of Africa. Recent articles in Pambazuka have pointed to the February launch of the World Bank's ten-year Strategy document, "Africa's Future and the World Bank's Support.” Patrick Bond who has written an important book on Looting Africa has drawn attention to the energetic efforts to dominate spaces of development with the International Monetary Fund's Regional Economic Outlook for SubSaharan Africa, the Economic Commission on Africa's upbeat study, the African World Economic Forum's Competitiveness Report, and the African Development Bank's discovery of a vast new "middle class."

Bond’s clear critique draws from decades of writings by Africans in CODESRIA and other fora in Africa who have delegitimized and exposed the World Bank Development strategies of “poverty reduction and alleviation." Today, many of the speakers in this conference on “exploitation and resistance” will expose the intensified exploitation in the era of financialisation where international capitalists are converging on Africa like vultures. Elsewhere I have called for the abolition of the IMF and the establishment of the International Bank for Reparations and Reconstruction. While we campaign against the Bank and Fund, it is our task to motivate young scholars who do not want to be accomplices of the plunder of Africa under the guise of development.

How can an exploration of the conceptualisations, theories and models of the political economy of economic development and their subsequent policy applications in Africa, be a source of new thinking about the relationships between conflict and development? Can there be a self-reliant strategy of economic transformation that breaks the traditions of brute force and imperial militarism as we are now witnessing in Libya? Are Africans considered human beings or simply a mass of inert energy similar to rocks? What is the nature of the continued colonial economic relations of extraction of raw materials and minerals? Do qualitative differences exist between the past and present approaches to development and the presence of war and imperial intervention? Does the current era of imperial nervousness offer new opportunities or challenges? Could such an exploration be valuable in creating an alternative socio-economic paradigm that would be superior in fostering the necessary conditions in society conducive for sustainable peace and transformation in the Africa?

These questions arise in the context of the search for reconstruction in the period when there are social movements in all parts of the global South seeking a new social project away from the priorities of the hegemons of international capital. The present revolutionary outpourings across North Africa and the Middle East call for new forms of solidarity and support for those resisting imperial exploitation in the name of development. In societies such as Greece, Portugal and Spain, the working peoples and the youth have been mobilized to defend their basic rights. The centralization and concentration of capital has reached a point where even the limited gains of social democracy for European workers are being challenged. At the same time racist images and a psychological war against European and US “white workers” is being waged to mobilize support for militarism and continuous warfare. To further this psychological and information warfare, the high priests of development from the institutions of higher learning reproduce continuous reams of papers on the relationships between conflict and resources. What is most revealing from the analysis of the development pundits is absence of an analysis of the relationship between primary commodity extraction and warfare is the extent to which questions of democratic participation on the one hand and the global armaments culture on the other are excluded from the policy alternatives offered for peace. More than ten years ago Paul Collier, then, the Director of the Research Group of the World Bank argued that, “the most powerful risk factor is that countries which have a substantial share of their income (GDP) coming from the export of primary commodities are radically more at risk of conflict. The most dangerous level of primary commodity dependence is 26 % of GDP. At this level the otherwise ordinary country has a risk of conflict of 23 %. By contrast, if it has no primary commodity exports (but was otherwise the same) its risk would fall to one half of one per cent. Thus, without primary commodity exports, ordinary countries are pretty safe from internal conflict, while when such exports are substantial the society is highly dangerous. Primary commodities are thus a major part of the conflict story.”[2]

The conflict paradigm without historical reference to the experiences of the Western mining companies and the role of foreign corporations under Mobutu was represented with the full authority of the name of the World Bank to argue that countries “with Congo like geography” and reliance on primary exports are prone to “Civil Conflict.” What was also missing was clarity on the differences between wars of liberation and just struggles against domination as opposed to the militarism of Mobutu and elements such as Jonas Savimbi. In the World Bank development model there is no room for the explanation of the anti-apartheid struggles in Africa and the wars against genocide and genocidal violence. Without this kind of interrogation of the role of the World Bank the West can continue to think of the World Bank as an institution that can formulate development plans for the reconstruction of Africa for a new era. I do not support the Afro-pessimists who wax in theories of “failed states” in Africa while writing as consultants for governments who are in the service of the banks and the oil companies.


The continued plunder of resources by oil companies and others have intensified in this period and the more perceptive persons from the West have pointed to the constant interconnections between wars, violence and economics. This is one of the enduring aspects of Africa’s integration into the global economy but the past discussions on development have obscured this reality. Similarly, as Africans move into the twenty first century there is increased interest in the genetic resources and fresh water of Africa, especially the water resources of the Congo River and its tributaries. These resources are all important in the context of what is now called the biotech century. Jeremy Rifkin devoted a great deal of his study of the Biotech Century to outlining how the patenting of life forms and the impressive new tools being developed by scientists for manipulating the biological world will impact of life in general. Thus far there is not enough work on how this century will impact the lives of Africans, especially in the context of the eugenic thinking that is manifest in the international response to AIDS pandemic.

Genetic engineering is the application of engineering standards to the manipulation of genes. In many ways we are still in the embryonic stages of grasping the implications of these new technologies for the emerging bio-economy. The long-term impact of the new biotechnologies will be to profoundly transform the relations between humans and nature. These changes at the technological level are taking place in a period when the consciousness of scientists is still governed by the mechanical notions of the scientific method that were elaborated by Isaac Newton, Francis Bacon, Rene Descartes, and numerous scientists in the tradition of the European enlightenment. The enlightenment also embraced the idea of triumphant liberal ideology that reduced society to a collection of individuals, and through this reduction, asserted that the equilibrium produced by the market constitutes the social optimum and guarantees, by the same token stability and democracy.

This reductionism was elaborated by Adam Smith and the promises of the liberal free market became the standard recipe for all societies. In this rendition of social reality, Africans were poor because they were not rational and were in reality from a lower breed of the human species. It is not by chance that the ideas of the Wealth of Nations were written at the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Numerous European scholars internalized the view that the trans-Atlantic slave trade was necessary to lift Africans from savagery. It is a consciousness that renders Africans as second-class human beings. This belief in Africans as second class human beings continues to be the basic orientation of those who work on development and progress.

The history of the treatment of Africans as second class citizens is long and linked to the ideas of inferiority and superiority of humans. Adam Smith as a major thinker of the Western economic paradigm of markets continues to be the reference point for the thinking of economic development and one of the arguments of this presentation is that the economics of warfare is inextricably linked to the Western paradigms of economic development, especially the paradigm of neo-liberalism. The social project of neo-liberalism is predicated on the requirements of the short term profits of the dominant segments of transnational capital. At the level of the planet earth, the inequalities between nations and regions are intensified by geometric proportions as the monopolies from the capitalist centers organize forms of economic, social and political exploitation to ensure the plunder of the natural resources of the planet. It is this same neo-liberalism that justified plunder and war as pacification and bringing civilization to Africans.

It is from this perspective where I am presenting the argument that the aid, development and humanitarian industries are components of the armaments culture. Western Non-Governmental Organizations and private military corporations are as important to Western warfare in Africa as the guns wielded by NATO or their African clients. Sustainable peace in Africa will require radical departures from the concepts of peace of the 19th century that required the pacification of the African continent for the purposes of allowing the free movement of capital. The DRC was at the epicentre of this conceptualisation of the peoples of Africa. The plunder of this society and the destructive modes of economics unleashed by King Leopold are now legendary. Many of those attending this conference will have read the important book by Adam Hochschild, King Leopold’s Ghost on the massacre of 10 million Congolese in the name of civilizing Africans. Others will have read the book by Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa.

One of the major challenges for the activists and scholars of the twenty first century is to be able to think through concepts of economic planning in a period that is now driven by the knowledge economy. This is an economy where knowledge and scientific inquiry will be a major basis for wealth creation.

I am starting from the premise that Africa as a region is not mere geography. It is above all, people who are human beings who live in the continent of Africa with a long history and an ideation system that protected the biological resources that are presently coveted by bio-prospectors. Recent scholarship on the knowledge systems of Africa has shed light on the relationship to the ideas that preserved the natural environment. It is the same knowledge that was considered backward by those who believed in the dominance of humans over nature that is now the platform for appropriation by transnationals who believe in privatizing nature as intellectual property.[3]

It is the argument of this presentation that reconstruction and renewal in Africa will not be possible without a fundamental break with the economics of warfare and the reductionist ideas of neo-liberalism. These two forces, the economics of war and the mechanical thinking of the enlightenment have led to genocide and massacres and numerous wars since independence. This presentation is linked to the following propositions:

(a) Western concepts of peace, development and pacification generated wars, genocide, militarism and violence in the Africa.
(b) Liberal ideas of the primacy of the short term demands of profit perpetuated conditions favorable to plunder. It was a model of economics that separated people from their natural environment and a model of crude resource extraction that required very little infrastructural investment.
(c) Models of economic management since the assassination of Lumumba in 1960 deepened the traditions of warfare and violence. The World Bank and the IMF were active partners in this model of resource extraction and rent seeking forms of economics.
(d) The failure of the African educated to create an alternative social project deepened the traditions of warfare and culminated in massive deaths of genocidal proportions.
(e) The alternative for economic reconstruction lay in new modes of thinking and new modes of economic planning that centers Africans as human beings.

The elementary basis of the ideas for reconstruction in Africa for reclaiming the independence of Africa were spelt out by Cheik Anta Diop in the book, Black Africa: the Basis for a Federated State. In 2002 the African Union took a major legal step towards the project of African independence. In the short run, the African Union has been organized as a Union of states and governments but there are numerous social movements in Africa that conceptualize African unity on the basis of health, dignity, prosperity and decency. These social movements exist at all levels and seek to repair the history of plunder by setting in motion institutions of transitional justice to the point where an alternative can be crystallized away from the predatory forms of economics that are dominant. It is this new direction that calls for solidarity from those who want to break with the ideas of development, white supremacy and the logic of the capitalist mode of production.

An alternative socioeconomic paradigm could produce transformation models based on the empowerment of Africans to acquire and accumulate skills, knowledge and the capacity to innovate such knowledge in relationships with their environments to improve their standards of life in a sustainable manner. African music and art have been known for centuries for their richness and its depth. How can this spiritual and creative energy be mobilized for peace and reconstruction? It is this creativity that has kept the peoples alive and can be the foundation for the right of African peoples to live as human beings with dignity. It is this same creative and spiritual energy that could be catalysts for the development of African human capital and knowledge based competitive factor advantages to support wealth creation, growth and development in the 21st century.


Time will not permit for me to draw lessons of transformation in other societies but I want to reinforce the argument of the linkages between war and development by citing the experiences of the peoples of Asia and Latin America. I want us to draw lessons from the peoples of Vietnam. These peoples opposed US development strategies that were based on destruction. Robert McNamara epitomized the intellectual modernizer who supervised the Pentagon during the war against the Vietnamese people. McNamara went on from the military war against the Vietnamese to supervise the intellectual war when he became head of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) or World Bank. This institution had been created in 1944 as one of the sister arms of the international financial institutions to support US military and financial dominance. At the intellectual level, the ideas of economic planners who believed in the superiority of the capitalist mode of production supported the US military campaigns. In the present era, conservative scholars such as Andrew J. Bacevitch are writing on the failures of the US military project and what he has described as The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism. Writers such as Bacevitch do not link the limits of power to the failed strategies to derail economic transformation and self-determination in societies such as Malaysia and Vietnam.

The development propagated by the World Bank emanated from the ideas of political scientists such as Walt Rostow who later graduated from the academy to become the Special Assistant on National Security Adviser for to President Lyndon Johnson. US cold war warriors were advocates for war and development. Rostow had written two anti-communist tracts on development, The Process of Economic Growth (1952) and The Stages of Economic Growth (1960). These books elaborated a vision of development rooted in American history and national interest. In fact the subtitle of the Stages of Economic Growth was a non-communist manifesto. The book was written to oppose the kind of socialist ideas that had inspired the Vietnamese to oppose French and US imperialism.

Rostow and a bevy of modernization theorists supplied the working concepts through which the United States understood its obligations to combat the self-determination project of the Vietnamese people. Clothed in the language of development, modernization became the anti-communist doctrine to motivate the US troops. Described as both an ideology and a discourse, modernization comprised a changeable set of ideas and strategies that legitimized imperial policies disguised as foreign aid, and trade but revealing its core element in the doctrines of counterinsurgency in Asia. Among the core precepts was the idea that the state of economic and political relations enjoyed by the United States and the other former colonial powers in Western Europe was normative, and that it was in the U.S. national interest, as well as the general interest of all people, that steps be taken to bring the other two-thirds of humanity up to a comparable level. Social science theories explained the causes of Asian, Latin American, and African “backwardness” and suggested appropriate remedies. Technocrats and theoreticians such as Rostow and McNamara redefined the Cold War as a contest fought on the terrain of development with military, ideological and economic components.

Guided by the ideas of modernization and development the US military mobilized the Western forces to crush the independence of Vietnam. By 1975 the Vietnamese had successfully resisted modernization and the US bombs that came with development theory. Since the consolidation of independence and attempt to build a new society, the Vietnamese nationalists have transformed the society from a poor underdeveloped state to an integrated, self-reliant economy whose rapid transformation points to the positive possibilities from socialist planning. The relevant point for the African people was the fact that the development discourse was based on the attempts to depoliticize the Vietnamese and if they could not be depoliticized, then they should be bombed back to the Stone Age.


This presentation is drawing attention to the need for solidarity by those in Europe, Africa and other parts of the world who grasp the full implications of the drain of resources from Africa. Pambazuka News, one of the co-sponsors of this conference has been bringing attention to this reality. Third World repayments of $340 billion each year flow northwards to service a $2.2 trillion debt, more than five times the G8's development aid budget. At more than $10 billion/year since the early 1970s, collectively, the citizens of Nigeria, the Ivory Coast, the DRC, Angola and Zambia have been especially vulnerable to the overseas drain of their national wealth. As Brussels-based debt campaigner Eric Toussaint concludes, “Since 1980, over 50 Marshall Plans worth over $4.6 trillion have been sent by the peoples of the Periphery to their creditors in the Centre.”

Research by the Tax Justice Network estimated that a staggering $11.5 trillion has been siphoned “offshore” by wealthy individuals, held in tax havens where they are shielded from contributing to government revenues. “Around 30% of sub-Saharan Africa's GDP is moved offshore.” “As several studies have suggested, this rate of capital flight means that Africa - a continent we are continually told is irrevocably indebted - may actually be a net creditor to the rest of the world.”

It is this reality that Africa is a net creditor that inspires us to call for collective actions in Africa and in Europe to Repatriate stolen wealth. There are very few in the development agencies that support the UN Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative. Western non-governmental organizations and the sub-contracting institutions of development studies and overseas aid work actively to divert attention from this Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative so that Western banks continue to work to create new ways for African predators and their external allies to drain resources from Africa.

Michael Hudson, David Harvey, Samir Amin and numerous scholars have been writing on the forms of warfare against the entire planet by the lords of finance. While one understands the radical scholars and their critique, it is now so much clearer that mainstream writers such as Simon Johnson has been writing on the grab of power in what he called a “Quiet Coup.” He later elaborated on the crisis of financial capital in the book, 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown.

Today, the clarity that governments are in the service of the bankers and financiers has led to authorities such as the governor of the Bank of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury to call out the government and oppose the austerity measures that promise super exploitation of the working class. In the particular case of the Governor of the Bank of England, he is calling on the people to demonstrate and rise up against the banks.

Both the Governor of the Bank and England and the Archbishop have presented themselves to the left of the so-called development experts. Instead of dealing with looting we are lining up to be consultants for the looters. This intervention on the discourses on development is one more effort to move from pseudo humanitarianism to solidarity. During the Spanish Civil War against fascism 1936-1939 international brigades supported those fighting for social Justice. Similarly, during the struggles against apartheid, international solidarity isolated those supporting the mining houses and the racists. Today the revolutionary forces of North Africa and the Middle East is calling for solidarity to confront Western militarism and development experts.

I will conclude by calling on young people of the West to retreat from becoming cannon fodder for the militarists. At a moment when the global Pan African Movement was working to educate Western NGO’s on their role in the imperial chain of command, Tajudeen started a publication called the NGO Monitor. This was designed to educate those who did not want to be accomplices to imperial crimes. One of the efforts was to popularize a code of conduct for international non-governmental organizations. The following were some of the ideas that the Pan African movement have been mooting as a Code of Conduct.

1. Do they respect the laws of the host country that they work in?
2. Are they involved in Bribery and Corruption?
3. What percentage of their operating budget is spent on administration?
4. Do they submit annual reports to the host government and are they accountable?
5. How do they procure their goods?
6. At what exchange rate do they operate?
7. And, if they operate on the parallel market, do they report to Headquarters?
8. What is their attitude towards racism? Do they have a history of belonging to anti-racist organizations?
9. Are the workers sensitive to issues of the rights of women and young girls and the rights of persons of fluid sexualities?
10. Are they involved in Child prostitution or paedophilia?
11. What kind of training do they establish for local personnel?
12. Do they work to facilitate the deployment of foreign military mercenary organizations and private military corporations to undermine the sovereignty of African states and societies?
13. Do they undermine the health and welfare of the people?
14. Do they collect information that could be used for warfare and violence; specifically do they knowingly work for Western intelligence organizations?
15. Do they do essential work that could be carried out by local personnel?

I started this presentation with reference to the assassination of Patrice Lumumba and the sustained efforts to destroy and undermine efforts to transform the colonial relations in Africa. Western development agencies have supported the military and military dictators to roll back the self-determination project in Africa. African people fought against all forms of domination and called for a world development movement that recognized the dignity of Africans and recognized Africans as human beings. This resistance has now reached a point of revolutionary proportions where the youths in all parts of Africa are standing up for their rights. The youths of Egypt and Tunisia by their actions have inspired us to reflect on exploitation and resistance. They are calling on development organisations to move from charity and pseudo humanitarianism to solidarity in the worldwide fight for peace, social justice and transformation to build a new social system.

I want to thank you for your attention.


* This article was edited on 22 June from 'They are calling on the World Development Movement to move from charity and pseudo humanitarianism to solidarity in the worldwide fight for peace, social justice and transformation to build a new social system' to: 'They are calling on development organisations to move from charity and pseudo humanitarianism to solidarity in the worldwide fight for peace, social justice and transformation to build a new social system.'
* Horace Campbell is professor of African-American studies and political science at Syracuse University. He is the author of ‘Barack Obama and 21st Century Politics: A Revolutionary Moment in the USA’. See
* This article comprises remarks delivered to the World Development Movement and Pambazuka News ‘Africa: Exploitation and resistance’ conference on 11 June 2011 at Wesley Memorial Methodist Church, Oxford, UK.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.


[1] Michele Wrong, In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz: Living on the Brink of Disaster in Mobutu’s Congo, Harper Collins Publishers, New York 2001.
[2] Paul Collier, “Economic Causes of Civil Conflict and Their Implications for Policy,” page 7.
[3] Ron Eglash, African Fractals: Modern Computing and Indigenous Design, Rutgers University Press, 1999.