James Delingpole

Imperialism is back – and this time it’s politically correct

There are now more western aid workers in Africa than there were colonial administrators

5 July 2014

9:00 AM

5 July 2014

9:00 AM

‘Why did you leave us?’ said the old Sudanese man in Omdurman market. ‘Things were so much better when you were here.’ He was talking about the British empire, of course, and apologies if I’ve told the story before, as I know I have. It’s just that it’s such a fantastically satisfying way of winding up all those guilt-ridden post-colonial types who find it a source of shame and embarrassment that the world’s atlas was once half-covered pink.

I don’t though. Not at all. What shames me far more are the mistakes we’re now making as a response to that guilt. We’re still treating the Africans like children; and we’re still ripping them off. But where before we at least gave them a functioning administration and justice system and a passable transport infrastructure, now all we’re offering them is a bunch of Ruperts with Soas degrees in sustainability, zooming around in Land Cruisers in search of hot French doctors from Médicins San Frontières to shag, while helping the local economy barely one jot.

There are now 100,000 aid workers in sub-Saharan Africa. As Jonathan Foreman notes in his superb Civitas pamphlet Aiding and Abetting, this ‘greatly exceeds the number of foreign administrators engaged by the former colonial powers at the height of the imperial era.’ And to what end? Since 1960, western governments have pumped more than $1 trillion in aid into the region, with the remarkable result that GDP per capita has declined.

A few months back, Foreman and I appeared at the Durham University Union, proposing the motion ‘This house would put Britain before Bangladesh’. We lost, as I knew we would. (Because I’d already lost debating a similar motion at Oxford last year.) You can lay out the evidence as clearly as you like: that aid props up corrupt politicians; filches the best local talent; kills entrepreneurship; misdirects resources. But no audience — least of all a bunch of right-on undergraduates with their frontal lobes as yet unformed — is going to be seduced by such unpalatably brutal truths. Far better to succumb to your feelings, and what your feelings say is: ‘Aid must be right because it’s caring; and caring is nice!’


The Chinese and the Saudis, the West’s two main neo-imperial rivals in the region, are far more clear-headed and ruthless about the purpose of their African presence. For the Saudis, it’s religious imperialism: they build mosques and medical centres and in return get converts to Wahhabism. For the Chinese, it’s economic imperialism: they build the infrastructure; in return they get the mining rights — and woe betide any locals that stand in their way: they just get shot, as happened to 11 workers in Zambia four years ago.

Could we do something similar, only more sympathetically? Of course we could. But look at what happens when we try. You’ll no doubt have seen the story a few months ago about a FTSE 250 company called Soco exploring for oil in the Democratic Republic  of Congo. It ought, by rights, to have been presented as a great British success story: UK firm brings much-needed revenue to a basket-case economy ravaged by civil war.

Instead, what we got was a horror yarn about rapacious Big Oil violating ‘Africa’s oldest national park’, the Virunga, and threatening the mountain gorillas made famous by David Attenborough. Never mind that the designated drilling area was nearly a hundred miles from the nearest gorilla — the WWF-sponsored campaign got into all the newspapers, a) because it enabled them to run free gorilla photos and b) because it was fronted by the actress Anna Friel, photographed in Uganda looking caringly across the border through a pair of binoculars.

At the height of the campaign, I met Soco’s American-born CEO, Roger Cagle, who was in despair. Nothing in his past — not even a stint with the US Marine Corps in Vietnam — had prepared him for the horror of dealing with a green NGO. He’d tried presenting the facts as he saw them, but the WWF just weren’t interested. ‘They told me that that campaign was the most successful fundraiser in their history, so they weren’t in any mood to climb down.’ Nor did they. Humiliatingly, Soco decided to bow out by signing an agreement promising not to drill for oil in the area. Leaving the door wide open, presumably, for the lovely, nurturing, eco-friendly Chinese to move in instead.

What I found particularly depressing about the episode wasn’t so much the WWF’s behaviour — just greenies doing what greenies do — as the way the political and media establishment ganged up to join them. The newspapers ran the WWF’s propaganda virtually straight off the press release; their City pages couldn’t get enough of those sexy Anna Friel photos; the trendy Frontline Club screened a documentary ‘proving’ how totally evil Soco were; even the Foreign Office joined in to say the drilling didn’t have its support.

And I’m sure everyone involved felt as good and fluffy inside as they do when they donate to Oxfam or when David Cameron ringfences 0.7 per cent of our GDP for vital projects like building wind farms in Uganda. But I wonder if there isn’t something grotesquely self-indulgent about this kind of moral grandstanding — especially given that it does so remarkably little for those Africans it’s supposed to be helping.

Nor for us. Last week, the Mail ran a big story on the appalling plight of the tens of thousands of Africans who flee the continent every year in their hideously overcrowded boats. We think of it as an immigration problem. But for them, it’s an economic problem. An economic problem which we in the West — despite all our good intentions — have done much to help create.

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  • Cymrugel

    I have no patience with those who try to make out that the British Empire was the worst thing ever to be inflicted upon the world; it wasn’t by a long chalk, but the reaction of the old man you mention has more to do with the failure of the successor states than with how bloody marvellous it was to be one of the subject people’s of the empire.
    Your argument is blinkered, dishonest and misleading. Its also very jingoistic and a bit racist with its “look how things have declined now that jolly old England no longer rules the roost”.
    The British were not as bad as many but they committed plenty of evil acts ; the extermination of the Tasmanians; the reduction of the Australian aborigines to sub-human status right into the modern period; the tolerance of the disgusting apartheid regime right under their very noses in S Africa and much more.
    The main crime of the British Empire was that it did not do what it said on the tin ; namely spread British culture, values and civilisation. A few local leaders were co-opted into the imperial state and allowed to send their children to private schools in England, but this was skin deep. They maintained their tribal and medieval outlook unchanged. Social progress in the colonies was stopped and cultural and social systems that would have most likely have been replaced – forcibly in some cases- remained propped up by the British well past their sell-by date..
    Inevitably upon independence these reasserted themselves and the hard work of social change must now be gone through after a 200 year hiatus. The aspects of modern British approaches to government and infrastructure that were implemented were only used to make the places easier to strip of their resources or to govern. Any benefits to the populations were incidental.
    Aid is largely given to keep corrupt governments favourable to the west in place. Its not a free gift from our generosity. A democratic world would be far more injurious to many western interests – or at least those of the current fat cats in western countries – than one riddled with corruption and run by strong men and religious fanatics who have little interest in progress and thus are always going to be in a weaker position . .
    Like many right wingers you are at heart a racial supremacist who sees other races as natural subject peoples who would be better off under the benign rule of English speaking white men (i.e. people like you).
    Well bugger that!
    The world does not need empires; dictators; tribal traditions or religious maniacs. It needs democracy, education and progress base on enlightenment ideas of equality, tolerance and scientific enquiry.
    Your preferred option would be little better than the current state of affairs for most people. your attitudes are backward and self serving to put it mildly.

    • Mc

      Is this an extract from your book, or the entire book?

    • QED

      “The main crime of the British Empire was that it did not do what it said on the tin ; namely spread British culture, values and civilisation.” That was not on the original colonialist’s tin; that was the label stuck on the tin by leftists after WWII, in order to pander to their naïve idealism which took over western politics after the war. The original label said that the British Empire was established for the benefit of Britain. That’s the only true label on any empire-builder’s tin, why else would you foot the bill and tolerate the bother?

      Spreading British culture, values and civilisation was done, as far as possible, to make the colonies easier to govern. This included a few inconsequential colonial trifles which greatly improved the lot of the common man: schools, roads, railways, electricity, telephones, postal services, medical care, and the rule of law. It was, of course, British law, but what else should it have been? Tribal law in Africa was, and generally still is, that the Big Man owns everyone and everything and can do what he likes with them, up to and including murder and cannibalism.

      “Social progress in the colonies was stopped…” Examples needed, I know of none. Also needed, in order to fit your historical fantasy, is an explanation of why, after the colonial power had been pushed out, the colonies reverted to pre-colonial tribal law, aka barbarity.

      • rtj1211

        It’s always easy to have 3 or more generations having no experience of self-governance and then suddenly, magically, they know how to do it just like that. Isn’t it?

        It was the same when the slaves were emancipated, they had no experience of living as free men and as a result, many struggled terribly.

        I’d like you to live on the wrong end of an Empire and see how you like it.

        You’d hate it. I’m sure you hate the EU, after all.

      • RobertC

        “The original label said that the British Empire was established for the benefit of Britain. That’s the only true label on any empire-builder’s tin, why else would you foot the bill and tolerate the bother?”

        And nobody in the EU has told the Germans! 🙂
        Or anyone else, for that matter. ::)

    • Gregory Mason

      ‘I have no patience with those who try to make out that the British
      Empire was the worst thing ever to be inflicted upon the world’

      Irony much?

    • Colonel Mustard

      “Social change”, eh? Promulgated by who? No, don’t tell me, socialists like you of course, who know best what is good for everyone. What you do is certainly what it says on the tin, apart from the cloaked Marxist bit that creeps in everywhere. Just a pity the consequences so seldom match the intentions.

  • will91

    The British Empire, was without any doubt, the greatest vehicle for the advancement of core liberal values and wealth distribution the world has ever seen. Democracy, universal suffrage, seperation of church and state. The legacy of the empire is neatly summed up by the fact that just about every regional power on the globe – from the USA and Canada, to South Africa and India, to Australia and Singapore derived their core values from Britain.

    • rtj1211

      Values aren’t very liberal if Africans had no Parliament, no vote and no control over their own economy.

      There was a lot of unacceptable collateral damage involved and because you didn’t have to live through that time, you can gloss over it.

      Don’t scream at anyone if you suffer from ‘acceptable collateral damage’. You’ve made it quite clear what your views are: experience the other end of it and see what you think then.

      • Bertibus

        “Values aren’t very liberal if Africans had no Parliament, no vote and no control over their own economy.”
        Perhaps the key and overlooked issue is the assumption of the situation at the starting point.
        And thus, “…experience the other end etc….” I have many friends (I live in NYC) whose parents long for the days when the Brits were running the show. Not because it was perfect (it wasn’t), or because they even liked it (they didn’t). But compared with what they have now, it was liveable and workable, and reasonably safe; none of which has been true for the past three or four decades.

      • charlie williams

        You can experience it right now: try being not in the elite in any african country. Actually live their life.See what you think.

  • greggf

    “…. is a bunch of Ruperts with Soas degrees in
    sustainability, zooming around in Land Cruisers in search of hot French
    doctors from Médicins San Frontières to shag, while helping the local
    economy barely one jot.”

    Are they still there James?
    I came across those individuals, or people remarkably similar, in 1985 in Khartoum under the guise of Save-the-Children. They’ve probably reproduced a few times since then and become part of the local infrastructure but definitely answerable to no-one.
    Oh and yes the Sudanese said the same to us – ‘Things were so much better when you were here’!

    • Mc

      Please don’t believe anyone who tells you that they preferred to be ruled by the British Empire. Yes, they know life was better under the British. But if by the swish of a magic wand we were able to re-introduce the Empire, those self same “natives” would be wanting to slit the throat of every Brit they could lay their hands. Rather like the Iraqis and Aghans who loved the US liberators for the first week and then couldn’t find a large enough supply of IEDs to send the US off with a bang.

      • greggf

        No I don’t Mc.
        However I have noticed that the French seem to make a better fist of handling their colonies, ex-colonies and Francophone dependencies. They have countries pleading to be taken back into the fold; Mayotte, in the Indian ocean (next to Madagascar), small that it is nevetheless has just voted to renounce Sharia Law, adopt the French Civil Code and become a DOM-TOM.
        The French tend to keep the NGOs out of places they have an interest in because, as our host says, they are the problem.

        • global city

          They get vast amounts of EU money to look after their overseas territories and dependencies.

          • Ken Westmoreland

            No, they don’t, it’s French taxpayers who subsidise them. And if they’re integral parts of an EU member state, why shouldn’t they benefit as much as some run-down banlieue in Marseille, which is probably less culturally French than Guadeloupe or Réunion? Perhaps it’s just as well that Dom Mintoff in Malta didn’t get integration with the UK, which would have involved the MoD keeping the naval base open for far longer than needed, but British ‘overseas territories’ like St Helena are nothing to be proud of. Until 2002, its people didn’t have the right of abode in the UK because they were the wrong colour despite there only being 4000 of them, and only now is it going to get an airport. And it was a Labour International Development Secretary, Clare Short, who dismissed the people of Montserrat after a volcanic eruption destroyed their homes by accusing them of wanting gold elephants.

          • global city

            Le Fuke off!

            France rips the system, massively, we pay the price, probably accrued from taking money from our own overseas dependencies

          • Ken Westmoreland

            “Le Fuke off”? Sounds like something a twelve year-old would say to his French teacher.

            Probably accrued from taking money from our own overseas dependencies.

            Bizarre conspiracy theory – yes, France wants to shut down offshore finance centres in the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Anguilla so it can pay welfare benefits to people in Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guiana.

          • global city

            as I thought…. a pofaced, humourless francophile/statist/EUnut.

      • lucillalin

        My father in law was born in British-ruled Penang and now lives in Malay-ruled Malaysia. As an ethnic Chinese he says that he prefers the colonial times. To quote: “Of course it was better under the British rule, we all had the same opportunities”. Even my husband who was born in independent Malaysia in late 1970’s says that during the WWII and Japanese occupation “the British abandoned us”. They’ve all gone trough British-copied education system, their first language is English etc.

        I guess they would feel different if independent Malaysia would have started with Western-style constitution and rule of law and treated all religions and ethnicities the same. Rampant tribalism makes the minorities nostalgic of the past.

        • Gregory Mason

          It was either abandon them or lose the war in the East.

        • MC73

          Of course as an ethnic Chinese Malaysian he will have had, what. 40 years of institutionalised racism.

          Mind you Malaysia is not a bad place all things considered. Better than UK will be post-Miliband’s 2015 victory…

      • Picquet

        I wouldn’t be too sure about that. In every African country where I’ve worked, mostly formerly British-administered, and including a couple of Caribbean nations, a significant segment of the generation which was brought up after the War hankers for the stability, administrastive maturity and relative prosperity of the British days. Mostly influenced, I think, because the populations were vastly less than they are now, but also because it was actually possible to trust the administration to govern rather than steal or merely pick it’s nose.
        Edit: I except Botswana, as although they are tremendously grateful to Britain for many reasons, they’re sufficiently mature themselves (in contrast to some others) to carry on without regrets.

      • Picquet

        I wouldn’t be too sure about that. In every African country where I’ve worked, mostly formerly British-administered, and including a couple of Caribbean nations, a significant segment of the generation which was brought up after the War hankers for the stability, administrastive maturity and relative prosperity of the British days. Mostly influenced, I think, because the populations were vastly less than they are now, but also because it was actually possible to trust the administration to govern rather than steal or merely pick it’s nose.
        Edit: I except Botswana, as although they are tremendously grateful to Britain for many reasons, they’re sufficiently mature themselves (in contrast to some others) to carry on without regrets.

      • cremaster

        No, you mean their POLITICIANS would want to slit the throat of every Brit they could get hold of. Terrorists become politicians; it is the nature of the beast. In Northern Ireland during the Troubles, anyone setting up a shop or business could expect to have it firebombed. Economies and wealth creation are a direct threat to these parasites.

        If they don’t want to bomb you, they want to tax you. TERRORIST = POLITICIAN /= CITIZEN.

        • charlie williams

          Excellently put. EG that tosser head of the shining path in Peru, Guzman

      • cremaster

        No, you mean their POLITICIANS would want to slit the throat of every Brit they could get hold of. Terrorists become politicians; it is the nature of the beast. In Northern Ireland during the Troubles, anyone setting up a shop or business could expect to have it firebombed. Economies and wealth creation are a direct threat to these parasites.

        If they don’t want to bomb you, they want to tax you. TERRORIST = POLITICIAN /= CITIZEN.

  • BarkingAtTreehuggers

    Guilt-ridden? Oh please.
    You never had a PETA girlfriend – you have no idea what drives us.

    • JB_1966

      Conceit?

      • BarkingAtTreehuggers

        Animal instinct, d’oh!

    • Doowangle

      That glowing feeling of self righteousness?

      • BarkingAtTreehuggers

        Unlike some I never claimed to be right about everything.
        Do you think I should?

  • global city

    The fact that the Commonwealth also still exists because the countries voluntarily still value their links with the UK, as well as with EACH OTHER really infuriates lefty idiots.

    Far from being a massively beneficial group on which to build a new and equal future, the left just wish that the Commonwealth would go away, but we can’t let that happen. A restored Commonwealth group/alliance goes against ALL of their NWO dreams.

    Oh yeh… the NGO and stupid charities are terribly racist and imperialistic, believing that they can dictate the future development of every country with the misfortune enough to currently need a little help!

    • rtj1211

      I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who hates the concept of the Commonwealth. The question is always whether Britain gets any benefit out of it or not.

      The issue with it now going forward would more likely be the potential overbearing dominance of India, in much the way that the USA dominates in a high-handed manner. A grouping with broadly similar sized entities is usually better than one behemoth and a set of untouchables with begging bowls, after all.

      The question to me is whether nations like Australia and Canada really want the Commonwealth any more. Canada has NAFTA and Australia is far more tied into the Far East than in days gone by. India is increasingly in bed with America.

      Not saying it can’t work, but I don’t think you can just resurrect something like that overnight.

      I’d be very open to allowing new countries to apply for membership though.

      • global city

        I’d insist though that it is not a case of either/or. Nor is it a case of what the Commonwealth is now, but more about what it could become if we worked together properly. All of the countries have that added added advantage, in that they have lots of shared aspects. It is not just a commonality of being once colonies or territories of Britain’s Empire.

        Despite the regional or ‘pan’ associations most of the countries of the Commonwealth now associate with they could additionally work as Commonwealth members too. I bet however that despite the Commonwealth, as an institution being not very active or dynamic all of those countries still find it easier to deal with each other than their near neighbours…a la the UK and ‘Europe’.

        As you say, there are lots of links and points of association and commonality with absolutely no negatives.

        The only people who try to do it and it’s potential down are mad lefties who cannot escape their obsession with ‘anti-imperialism’ and their desperate need to parade their credentials constantly, or eurofreaks who see it as distracting us from our ‘future destiny’… everyone else should just see it is yet one more global hook upon which to pursue the UK’s international perspective, a habit it happens to share with most Commonwealth countries.

        • Ken Westmoreland

          The other members value their links with each other? Come off it! When I lived in Singapore, I remember coverage of the Prime Minister going to Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings in places like Lusaka, Nassau or Harare where no Singaporean, or Southeast Asian, would dream of going. Truly a case of nothing in common and no wealth – the acronym ‘CHOGM’ was said to stand for ‘Compulsory Hand Outs to Greedy Mendicants’, or ‘Coons Holidaying On Government Money’.

          The only thing that these countries really have in common is a shared hatred of the West, and the only advantage that the Commonwealth has over the even more fatuous Non-Aligned Movement is that these countries can abuse us in the same language. (Except for Mozambique, whose accession so worried Portugal that Lisbon frantically set up a rival club called the CPLP.)

          Hong Kong’s links with the Commonwealth were severed after 1997, but it still has judges with wigs from common law jurisdictions – more importantly, however, it is a place we want to do business with. As indeed is mainland China. But the Solomon Islands? Or Sierra Leone? How many people in the UK know or care that they were British?

      • Ken Westmoreland

        “I’d be very open to allowing new countries to apply for membership though.”

        Why? It’s a ridiculous talking shop as it is without having even more countries which weren’t former British colonies. Mozambique and Rwanda are bad enough. One guy from East Timor was saying that Commonwealth membership would help raise public awareness of his country internationally – I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. That country has suffered enough from aid workers who use the moronic term ‘capacity building’ and regard it as just a chance to go scuba diving, and from its own deluded leadership which does enough jet setting as it is without going to a CHOGM. Will Dili host one in future?

  • zoid

    i’ve always thought that holding other peoples to a different standard to our own liberal one, was a bit on the ra*ist side.

    it smacks too much of ‘ah bless…the poor benighted heathens don’t know any better…’

    there’s a shipload of people in the mideast who need aid workers right now…and the aid money machine should realise that those people are not in palestine…but where’s the grandstanding to be had in that?

    iraq’s in turmoil and there’s nothing for the displaced…but unrwa and countless others are pouring money into a government whose policies they’d decry were a western govt to have them.

    • Part of the problem

      I recall this piece of celebrity fluff from the Mirror on this subject. The case against the oil firm amounted to one sentence:

      “The wildlife charity [WWF] says oil exploration by a British company poses a serious risk to the magnificent apes”

      The rest of the two-page spread was all about caring eco-conscious Anna and her daughter.

      http://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/anna-friel-daughter-gracie-star-2452564#ixzz36dhnwYyB

      Edit: sorry Zoid, this isn’t a direct reply to your post. I clicked the wrong “Reply”

      • MC73

        Did you have to post that link? Now i have to scrape vomit from my keyboard.

  • Sean L

    I’ve been told that many times in Kenya. In his book, The Zanzibar Chest, Aidan Hartley quotes his father as saying that we should never have come, meaning the British colonists, but since we did, we should never have left when we did. Meaning that they disrupted one form of order but didn’t have time to properly establish a successor.

    But there’s no shortage of wealth in parts of Africa, even amid the direst poverty. Property prices in Nairobi, for instance, were rising at a higher rate than anywhere in the world a couple of years ago, and Kampala wasn’t far behind. But the slums are dire. I spent a day in the vast Kibera slum on the outskirts of Nairobi a few years ago and the stench from the open sewers was stomach-turning, but you soon get used to it, like anything.

    Otherwise, if you have means, you can have a far higher standard of living in many parts of Africa than here. That’s largely because there are no labour laws, or none that are enforced, and no welfare. So everyone with property, even a small apartment, has houseboys and/or maids. That’s the occupation of a large proportion of slum-dwellers, domestic service.

    But yeah Aid has acquired sacred cow status akin to the NHS, another form of institutionalised pity; and for its defenders a means of advertising one’s moral credentials at no personal cost. And of course their immunity from criticism amounts to an absence of accountability that breeds corruption. Which means their employees are bound to help themselves and do more or less as they please, so long as they make the right noises and cover their a*ses politically. .

    But it’s not a question of state ownership as such. After all, the people filmed abusing elderly people here the other week were employed in private care homes. But such abuse would be unthinkable in Africa. Not just because older people are revered as such but because your carer would also be your direct employee. That’s the critical relationship. Not ownership, “private” or “public”, in and of itself. Ditto other services, education comes to mind.

    My other beef with the subject of African immigration is that no one talks about the demorallsing effects on the countries people are emigrating from: it’s all about us. When we were talking about moving from London to Kenya people there thought we were mad because they’ve got this image of Europe and America as lands of limitless bounty: as if you’ve only got to turn-up to have made it. But how can it be other than deleterious for any place if the highest ambition of its most enterprising people is to up sticks and leave?

    • Bonkim

      Social organisation is the key which regrettably is non-existent in most of the third world.

      • Sean L

        Yes but in some respects Africans are *socially* stronger as a function of their *institutional* weaknesss, the absence of government and therefore law. Their primary social unit is the extended family, where you’re expectied to chip-in for your cousin’s school fees, your great-Aunt’s hospital bills. Whereas we expect that to be taken care of by the state. In effect the extended family is their social security system: if you don’t pay your dues when your Aunt’s ill no one’ll look after you when it’s your turn. But the political stabilty, the institutional strength we take for granted is the product of centuries of tribal and sectarian conflict, whose last gasps are being played out in Ulster and Glasgow. It’s not realistic to expect Africans, whose “nations” are more or less aprbitrary lines on the map, to transfer their age-old allegiances to “Kenya” say, in a matter of decades. Though one can see that national allegiance developing slowly even in the few years I’ve been staying there. Perhaps the 2007 trouble was a wotershed. Just to finish with a concrete example of that absence of governemnent: where I was staying in Nairobi a while ago there was a stretch of road being resurfaced, the chippings were down ready to be tarmaced over. When I returned a few months later, it was still waiting to be done. I asked my neighbour how it could possibly take so long? She said that the men who were doing the work wanted to be paid up front. But the man who was paying them didn’t trust them and feared they’d run off iwth the money. Equally they didn’t trust him to pay them if they did the work without being paid upfront! Wtihout government, effective authority, there can be no trust between strangers and things just don’t get done. We take it for granted to the extent that we righthly complain of too much government. But the kind of trust we take for granted and the institutional framework at its foundation was hard won. It’s unrealistic and unhistorical to expect it to happen overnight, relatively speaking, elsewhere in nations whose histories can be meassured in decades.

        • Bonkim

          African tribal societies have been in existence for centuries/millennia. Regarding extended family – that leads to overpopulation, dependency and backward social habits to conform. Lack of social organisation main reason most African societies are backward and corrupt – selfish.

          • Sean L

            Yes that’s why it’s not realistic to expect them to transfer or renounce those ancient allegiances to or for the new nation states instituted only a few decades ago. As for extended family, yes of course it imposes conformity. That’s presupposed in the very idea of a family. I know we’re supposed to celebrate diversity but that shouldn’t blind us to the value of conformity. Conformity to what though? The creed of diversity seems to me itself remarkably conformist, as well as indulging those who already possess a powerful collective identity and who advocate extreme conformity to their own creed. Paradoxes abound, as ever. But yes I agree, the extended family is a very conservative force, not at all progressive.

          • Bonkim

            Extended family is good for tribal wars though. Pity the world has progressed beyond tribes and clans and blood-feuds have gone out of fashion except in Africa, Middle-East, Italy, and some other parts of the world.

          • Sean L

            Yeah, like Bradford, Birmingham, Blackburn . . .

          • rtj1211

            20 years ago Sectarianism was still alive and kicking in Glasgow, Lanarkshire and the like. Absolutely appalling it was.

            Manchester and Liverpool still have tribal rivalries which extend far beyond the football pitch. The same between Leeds and Sheffield.

            I was chided in many places for being above all that pettiness, it being implied that I ‘lacked identity’ or ‘commitment’. Quite why I had to be committed to tribal nonsense was beyond me. If a Centre of Materials Science Excellence was to be set up in Liverpool, great. If York wanted a national centre of excellence in plant biotechnology, who was I to complain? If Manchester wanted a Core Technology Facility for Biomedical Sciences, great. I just couldn’t give a stuff which Uni wanted what, only whether what they wanted was worth spending money on. Yes, there shouldn’t be duplication unnecessarily, but I wasn’t going to block good proposals because ‘the other lot wanted it’.

            Trust me, there is still plenty of tribalism all over Britain, it just doesn’t mostly involve guns and violence any more.

          • Picquet

            You’re confusing tribalism with sectarianism. Very different indeed.

          • Bonkim

            Birds of a feather flock together – that works at different levels and you are not going to eliminate human nature. As long as it is at a low level and not open warfare – O.K I suppose. It is then called politics.

    • rtj1211

      Everything is possible everywhere. When I grew up in the 1970s, you could trust your local garage to service your car honestly. IN the 1990s, they were con artists of the worst order.

      In the 1950s, it was accepted by all teachers that they would take a school sports team on Saturday mornings, effectively working the best part of a 6 day week. That’s unthinkable now.

      Abuse won’t be possible in Africa now or maybe for a few decades. But anything is possible anywhere, given time. Hutus and Tutsis lived in peace for decades. Until they didn’t……

      • Sean L

        Yes of course. When I was a boy single mothers were taboo, amongst other things that are now commonplace. But the fact that anything *can* happen, and probably will at some unpecified point in the future, which one can more or less take as given, doesn’t invalidate observations about the world as it actually is. I dare say there will come a point when youth culture and welfarism triumph in Africa and old people are no longer revered in virtue of their age alone. But that in no way contradicts the fact that that’s how it is there right now.

    • Picquet

      Quite. The only ‘aid’ which should be sent to countries such as Kenya should be experts in civil service, governance, policing and tax collection.

  • Bonkim

    Aid destroys any incentive for the locals find their own solutions, destroys local economy, breeds dependency, and corruption, and increases populations at locations that were previously inhospitable to life.

  • emptyend

    “I wonder if there isn’t something grotesquely self-indulgent about this
    kind of moral grandstanding — especially given that it does so
    remarkably little for those Africans it’s supposed to be helping.”

    100% correct. This particular case is a stunning abuse of the power of lobbyists and the studied PC – and wrong! – ignorance of people who are supposed to be investigative journalists (my arse). “Uncritical” of the WWF press releases would be putting it mildly – no doubt grateful for cheap populist copy, irrespective of the actual facts.

    Wherever you look there are now NGO lobby groups, poncing off the public with mendacious campaigns and paying their Chief Execs (and many many others) very handsomely – and yet they ALSO seem to get charitable status despite their apparent disinterest in resolving the very issues that their charitable status demands they should be addressing. It is all about campaigning, spinning, fund-raising…..and repeating ad infinitum. The TRUTH really doesn’t matter to these folks!

    If they really cared about Africa, Africans and the indigenous wildlife, they would be following a completely different course of action. I’ve pointed that out to them in person, many times, including to their CEO. But they can’t see beyond their paycheques. Blind, pointless and should have their taxbreaks stopped immediately!

  • Blindsideflanker

    Last night there was a program investigating our Aid program. They found an arm of Dfid, CDC, was giving money to a US private equity firm, which was investing in companies owned by a crooked Nigerian politician, who was using these companies to launder money.

    Isn’t it great to have so much money we are helping crooked politicians in the third world.?

    Sub Saharan Africa has received $1trillion in Aid, during this period of largesse they have got poorer.

    Of course Aid was never supposed to make the lot of Africans any better, If it had been they would have stopped the Aid program as an utter failure decades ago. The Aid policy is only there to employ aid agencies and to make the metropolitan classes feel really good about themselves in their politically correct dinner parties, and to show the political classes have bleeding hearts.
    .

  • Gwangi

    Trade not aid is the way.
    China gives no aid at all – it pays in kind for getting control of mineral wealth and land to grow food.
    It seems to me the more aid Britain gives the more certain third worlders hate us anyway.

    And is there anything so absurd as the well-off white middle class worthy type who lives in a London pad worth £2 million traveling to Africa to hand out bowls of rice to the poor little smiling natives (and promote religion to them at the same time usually). Maybe they should focus on poor little black boys in London eh? These people really are the epitome of sanctimony.

    The thing is, Africa’s problems are all self-inflicted – populations have quadrupled since independence 50 years ago. Then we are surprised they can’t feed themselves?

    And it may seem callous, but if every woman has 5 or 6 babies, then if half of them starve, that creates a balanced population. Helping them all to survive is creating disaster for the future, and the extinction of most large animals in Africa.

    • Gregory Mason

      A lot of Africa is struggling to escape the Malthusian trap whereas prior to independence this wasn’t necessarily the case. For that alone it was worth having us there. It’s not callous to point out the realities of life. By giving aid we create an artificially large population whose resources cannot support the population without outside aid making them permanently reliable upon countries outside the West. A plague might do them some good in the long run.

      • OldBoris

        More alarming, at least for us, is that populations that grow rapidly and without the infrastructure and food to sustain them will look for those things abroad. That’s why there are hundreds of thousands of young men from the countries that receive the most aid coming to Europe every year.

        They’re excess population, and specifically men, considered expendable by their own families and considered a way to expand their own influence by their religious and political leaders.

      • global city

        The French model is appropriate here…as a lesson in how NOT to do things. What they did provide, Aid instead of market development, left their colonies with poor services, but ones still too expensive for the country to maintain, as they have poor markets from which to tap wealth creating initiatives. The worst of both worlds.

  • Alistair Kerr

    This article should be widely read. “Aid” and NGOs have enjoyed uncritical support for far too long.

  • rtj1211

    There’s a very simple argument for you, Delingpole, about imperialism’s right vs wrong: what we did in Africa, the EU is now doing to us.

    You are one of the most voluble and shrill screamers about the iniquitous nature of the EU. And in some regards, but not all, I am in agreement with you on that.

    What you scream about is the lack of democracy for the UK, the lack of our Parliament to shape our own laws and the lack of accountability and democracy in Brussels.

    Well: what do you suppose you had in Africa when we ran it?? No Parliament for Africans run by Africans; no accountability of the British to the Africans in London and no control by Africans of which Brits were allowed to darken their doors by living in their country.

    You suitably choose Sudan as a country which hasn’t done so well since independence. I suggest you look at Tanzania/Zanzibar, where much can be learned by britain about the following:
    i. Parliamentary devolution (with Zanzibar being analagous to Scotland)
    ii. The successful integration of Muslim and Christian populations (which I think many would agree poses several challenges in this country).

    Of course, there is plenty of middle-eastern-style ‘commissions’ for Government officials on deals there (I have heard that one chappie is referred to jovially as ‘Mr 5 percent’ on account of his cut of plenty of deals passing through his office. That’s the way they do things out there for better or worse.

    My suggestion to you is this: if you want to reinvigorate economic ties in Africa/other parts of the old Commonwealth, then do it using a mixture of investment routes from FDI, to JVs to contracts to train locals to setting up branches of UK Universities over there. Make the deals win-win, so we do well if they do well. It makes things easier to do things well if you’re not constantly at each others’ throats you see.

    Here are some expertise which the Brits could usefully offer:
    i. Oil and gas expertise – plenty of places in Africa where potential exists, Tanzania to name but one.
    ii. Medical research (suggest JVs on African diseases – much already happens in basic research, but social entrepreneurs could take a long-term punt that Africa will become very prosperous over 2 – 3 generations and gain a strong footprint in African pharmaceuticals).
    iii. Risk capital funds – the UK has a strong track record and competitive advantage in that area, so JVs with host countries could be excellent means of building trade.
    iv. Manufacturing outsourcing – young companies in the UK might decide to start manfufacturing in Africa right from the start – obviously it would be on a case-by-case basis, but there may be unique advantages in certain situations.

    No doubt others will have far better ideas than me, but that’s what I would aim at: target countries with relatively stable government and stable economies, even if relatively low in GDP.

    It would work best if those whose children had grown up and hence were experienced but able to work for less cash could lead operations.

  • OldBoris

    The European aid model has been disastrous – not just for Africa, but for Europe. The most important effect it has had on Africa was a rapid and unsustainable population growth. Food aid and medical care have lowered death rates tremendously and raised birth rates even more, but those countries and their populations can’t sustain their current populations infinitely.

    Their infrastructure won’t do for their current populations, and their populations are still generally growing faster than the economies and agricultural projects that should sustain them. That means there’s a lot of excess population, and what we’re seeing now is that Europe is being invaded by the excess population from exactly those areas where we ‘avoided’ (read: postponed) a humanitarian disaster by sending food aid and medical aid between twenty and thirty years ago.

  • AZbyNM

    The new scramble for Africa for the 21st century, same as the old scramble in the 19th. 21-China=19-Germany, 21-USA=19-Great Britain, 21-EU= 19-France. Same game, different century.

  • missingalaska

    The data concerning development is an important consideration. Saudis and the Chinese are major investors, each pursuing their strategic priorities in Africa, for the long term. For the Saudis it most definitely is linked to their promotion of a sterner version of Sunnism and the proselytizing of Islam (yes, Africa is also fertile lands for Moslem converts as it is for Christian converts). For the Chinese, it is both global ambition and acquisition of resources. None of these should surprise anyone who has ever read a history book. I would recommend people pick up a copy of China’s Second Continent by Howard French (yes, he likely has a Western/white bias) to see how new Chinese immigrants are succeeding with their own style of development and cultural relations. If you are idealistic that only Western nations carry baggage, I hope you might readjust your perspectives and consider nuanced views.

  • charlie williams

    Fantastic to have those figures, thanks. When I win the lottery, I am going to set up a lobby group to carry out polling in former colonies on their populations’ desire for voluntary re colonisation, and hammer the results into the press. The deal: instead of aid and occasional military intervention, we will kill the need for either. Give us a deal on your natural resources and in return we will set up a fully functioning state- legislaure, police, private health insurance system, education, military, etc etc. 20 year minimum commitment. And then we bugger off. Unless you want us to stay. Wouldn’t it be great to actually do that campaign?

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