Kelechi Okoronkwo is a Nigerian, writer, journalist and Public Relations Executive

Kelechi Okoronkwo is a Nigerian, writer, journalist and Public Relations Executive


Piteous Reality of the ‘Second Scramble’ for Partition of Africa

By Kelechi Okoronkwo

One of the most disheartening parts of the Africa history is the story of the Berlin Conference of 1884 where we are always reminded that we were commodities in the hands of seven Western European countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom. With the discovery of Africa earlier, those countries flexed muscles on who to reap the lion’s share from where they did not sow. The struggle, referred to as scramble for Africa got so messy that the white decided on their own to have a roundtable to amicably apportion Africa among themselves. That was the period of New Imperialism that lasted up to 1914.

On July 26th 1847, Liberia became independent from the American Colonization Society, becoming one of the foremost African countries to be independent from any form of foreign rule. A number of African countries like Ethiopia in the East and Morocco in the North have no known history of foreign rule.  Then from Liberia, other African countries achieved self-rule, such as Egypt, on February 28, 1922 (from Britain); Ghana (formerly the Gold Coast), on March 6th, 1957 (Britain); Ivory Coast, on August 7, 1958 (from France); Nigeria, on October 1st, 1960 (from Britain) etcetera.

However, about 173 years down the line, Africa is still in a bad shape, with appalling stories on all facets of development indices. As at 2019, last year, African governments celebrated their ability to secure international loans as monumental achievements; thereby sticking out their heads again for re-colonization.

Second Scramble for Partition of Africa 

There is currently a great deal of interest in Africa by China, the US and Russia. The reason is largely because Africa has not been able to organize itself and harness its resources. Despite being home to largest mineral deposits in the world, Africa still depends on foreign aid for survival.

The US has accused China of having undue interest in Africa. China on the other hand accused the US of wanting the whole world for itself, describing its plans for Africa as “fairly simple and transparent,”; Russia is also making inroad in Africa.

The world powers are using different forms of ‘aid’ to woo and dominate Africa. To fight COVID-19, China has offered 1 billion does to Africa ‘free of charge to assist Africa close vaccination gap”. Out of the one billion, 600 million doses will come from China directly while 400 million will come from other sources like funded production sites.

China is courageously expanding its business strongholds in parts of Africa, often or challenging or displacing the United States who are in Africa for similar interest.

Shortly before embarking on his first official visit to Africa, former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in 2019 said the U.S. was committed to building on a “strong foundation of U.S.-Africa relations” and accused China of “encouraging dependency” in its approach to Africa.

The current US Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken has visited a number of African countries, including Nigeria, making partnership promises and proposals

The VoA quoted Blinken to have said that the U.S. was “eager” to lower barriers to trade and investment in Africa, whose largest trading partner by far is China. In the same vein, Tillerson had said that the U.S. approach of “incentivizing good governance” contrasts sharply to China’s, “which encourages dependency, using opaque contracts, predatory loan practices and corrupt deals that mire nations in debt and undercut their sovereignty.”

According to a researcher, Ejeviome Eloho Otobo, the trio of US, China and Russia are deploying the traditional tools of statecraft and diplomacy. These include economic cooperation; military assistance; and technological support.

The share of each of the big powers’ arms export to Africa during the period 2013-2017, Otobo said, was China 21%; Russia 13%; and US 2.2%. Conversely, he stated, the share of arms imports by African countries from the big powers during the same period were Russia 39%; China 17%; and US 11%.

“In terms of military foot print, during 2017-2018, the United States has military bases or Lily Pads in 17 African countries; offered training assistance for 22 countries; military exercises in 12 countries; combat operations in nine countries; and air drone strikes in two countries.

By contrast, China has a military base in one country; and offered anti-piracy drilling exercises in four countries; and medical team visits to four countries. Russia also has a military facility in one country and offered in-country training to two African countries”, he noted.

What is the problem with Africa?

Several authors on the problem with Africa have pointed at leadership challenge. Everything revolves around politics and power. Like Sam Adeyemi noted, the cultivation of leaders with exceptional character and skills is critical to Africa’s development.

In addition to their inordinate ambition to remain in office forever, there is this prevailing incompetence in leadership in most African countries. This is also a reflection of the leadership culture. In the same vein, Adeyemi noted: “We’ve had different leaders with the same results for decades. The power distance that exists between leaders in government and citizens is also reflected in organizations and families. In such a structure, leaders don’t serve; they are served, because occupying leadership positions make leaders superior and unaccountable to the people they lead. Africa needs leadership development systems, and it is incumbent on development partners and global leaders to understand how cultural differences affect these”

True Democracy is the solution

Africa must emphasize democracy as the form of government that could quicken development. At several fora, Africans have yelped for a change. When they travel to Europe and America, Africans desire a change. This is expressed during elections. But in most cases, the will of the people is not midwifed in the electoral process. The biggest virtue of Democracy is that it is government by the people for the people. The government represents the views of the people who elect them and can throw them out if the government does things that the people do not like. Unlike other forms of government democracy is about the little man, everyone rather than the elite that are often disconnected from how everyone else lives their lives.

Kelechi Okoronkwo is a Nigerian, writer, journalist and Public Relations Executive

Editorial Chief, Nigerian Bureau

Kings UBA is a Nigerian journalist and writer. I have reported for major local and international news organisations. I write satire. In 2017, I started contributing stories primarily to Discover Africa News Network. I can be reached on I currently manage Discover Africa News social media handles