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Boris Johnson’s Win and His Africa of ‘Flag-Waving Picaninnies and Tribal Warriors with Watermelon Smiles’

July 24, 2019 at 04:29 pm | Opinions & Features

Mark Lekan Lalude

Mark Lekan Lalude

July 24, 2019 at 04:29 pm | Opinions & Features

Photo Credit: AP

There is a picture of the man who is set to take over residence at No. 10 Downing Street, it features a gray-eyed man with a mop of blonde hair, an uncharismatic gait, fast-paced speech and bumbling imperialistic manners.

Boris Johnson is the new prime minister of the United Kingdom, the eyes and ears of the Tory, as they prepare for a hasty negotiation of Brexit.

He is a reminder of how being stuck in the glory of a hegemonic past could bring about a generation of leaders who profess and demonstrate racial entitlement.

Having come from a privileged background, a younger Boris would have cast the archetype of white British indulgence, the blonde-haired boy with reticent eyes and a petulant mouth, educated in an aristocratic public school, and protected from the biting harsh realities of an alternate world.

Like many British boys, whose history classes told of the glorious conquests of the British Empire, and who thought of the world just like that, he had in times past, expressed an uncomplicated sentiment in his dismissive remarks especially about Africa and racial minorities.

The wind of populism blowing across the West has proven to be nothing more than a simplistic solution offered for the failing global influence that it had earlier enjoyed at a time when Western civilization towered in its social, cultural and economic magnificence over much of the world.

Many leaders of African countries, and much of the developing world, played puppet to the economic machinations of the Western monetary institutions, and revolutionaries were assassinated across the developing world to stop a renaissance that would bring about an awakening. Cultures and social values were under attack, so that as the rest of the world took on Western culture and values, the conquest would have been complete, since both mind and soul would have been subdued.

Today, the world has greatly changed, it is no longer easy to play superpower, and so there is need to ‘Make America Great Again’ and to preserve the exclusive whiteness of Western culture, as according to the old Nazi vision, the preservation of cultural purity should be at the core of attempts to make the nation state great. 

Many far right wingers believe that the first and most serious problem that their countries could have is immigration. They trust that if they could get leaders who think like them, and is weak enough to seek their validation by going to the extremes to the point where it becomes quite impossible to be sane, then such people would be immensely useful in the fight against the madness of liberalism.

Newly elected leader of the Conservative party Boris Johnson arrives at Conservative party HQ in London, Tuesday, July 23, 2019. (Aaron Chown/PA via AP)

Unfortunately, in today’s world, that is the extent of depth to expect in politics, as the present political realities produce accidental leaders. Many of the people who support the agenda of a protectionist country, a country equipped to resist the slightest signs of diversity that could result from allowing immigration, rarely know much about the benefits and the consequences of immigration.   

Boris Johnson’s win presents Africa with some political expectations. From the references he has made to Africa in the past, it is evident Boris Johnson has a high-handed conception of the region.  He had earlier expressed that Africa should still be under colonialist control- that would say a lot about the foreign policy that might be formed to deal with a region less regarded for most of its problems.

He has seen or heard about the political instability and the failures of states across Africa, and his conclusion is premised on ignorant assumptions of the causes.

He has overtly mocked Africa in insensitive jokes, appreciated the land from an imperialistic high horse and viewed the people from the eyes of the first messengers of the Queen, who, when they arrived on the shores of the continent did not see people, but natives, a significantly inferior specie of hominids.

If there is going to be a British foreign policy for African states under a UK government administration led by Boris Johnson, it would be one that would assume rights and superiority in ways that would undermine Africa’s role in trade and political partnerships with the UK. It is not new that the UK has always dealt with Africa like one would deal with a sniffling, impertinent beggar, like the continent were a vassalage, maybe sometimes in a manner that showed it didn’t want to bother with the region’s problems. 

Africa and Africans might despair about what the West is becoming under  populist leaders like Trump, and now Johnson. A populist, immigration-despising West would be a corruption of the dream of a snow-covered paradise where high-value money grows on trees, a dream sullied by white extremism and racial hostility against colored skin.

Boris Johnson’s illusion of the great British Empire controlling a commonwealth of nations, many of them, developing countries with wealth that is largely not common for their people, but common for Britain, is one, long crumbled to the rise of new hegemonies and their less damning foreign policies.

This is not the time for Western leaders to think that Africa cannot do without their negligible goodwill. It is a time to think of a future where Africa would be a region with fantastic investment opportunities. It is a time to view the region as a place that contributes to the global technological and artistic revolution by the talented people that it loses to the West.

It is better to think that regardless of Boris Johnson’s view of the region, the region would remain resilient in spite of its many troubles with political instability and bare-faced corruption.   

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