Why New Zealand should respect Africa


Africa is a continent that is as mysterious as it is brimming with potential. People go there from all over the world to look at its amazing wildlife in countries such as Kenya and South Africa, to see the natural features such as the Victoria Falls and Mount Kilimanjaro. Others go to see man made structure such as the Suez Canal and the Pyramids. But how many give thought to the development of the continent that is probably the least understood and least respected part of the world?

European and other western nations give Africa billions of dollars in aid each year in return for influence in how the recipient nations are run. The donors are a mixture of well intending countries, and ones with an agenda, such as the former European colonial powers who want to see their old colonies function in a style that they find acceptable. Some of the aid is financial, whilst others offer military, legal or social aid such as assisting with the establishment of hospitals, social welfare services and education systems.

During the period from the 1950s to the 1990s, New Zealand had a chequered record with nations because of the way it handled the apartheid regime in Africa. Whereas other nations were keen to put distance between them and Apartheid as a political force, New Zealand Governments preferred to let sporting ties with South Africa continue despite its selection of teams based on race. Aside from the riots that broke out when the infamous 1981 Springbok tour took place, other nations resented New Zealand’s sanctioning in effect of Apartheid rule. Thus when Auckland hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1990, numerous African nations boycotted in protest. The late South African President, Nelson Mandela remembered this in his book “Long Walk to Freedom”.

In defence of New Zealand though, it needs to be pointed out that along with the Czech Republic only New Zealand stood against the United Nations decision to extract its peace-keepers instead of reinforcing them during the Rwandan Genocide. New Zealand also to its credit booted Nigeria out in 1995 from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Auckland when it executed Nigerian activist Ken Saro Wiwa. The execution caused widespread international outrage.

New Zealand is well regarded around the world for its transparent Government, low levels of corruption and internal stability. It is also well regarded for its friendly unbiased approach to people from individual races, nationalities and other potentially discriminatory factors. Rather than using its economic clout to guide African nations in a direction that might not be altogether appropriate from their standpoint, New Zealand should focus on helping them build up the rule of law or provide social guidance. Where issues of national security or the break down of international law come into play, it should work through the United Nations and the African Union to help provide a suitable solution for problems of the day.

With luck New Zealand will restore its credibility with African nations. Hopefully it will become one of the Western countries that seeks to understand Africa instead of ivory tower researchers who are not based in Africa guiding Government policy. Neither the centre-left idea of aid, aid and more aid or the centre-right idea of resource exploitation via free trade deals and deregulation are helping Africa. New Zealand can help change that and in return gain the respect of Africa.

One thought on “Why New Zealand should respect Africa

  1. Nimefurahia urafiki kudumu na rafiki yangu Abdulkadir Omar ambaye anaishi katika Da es Salaam katika Tanzania.We alikutana kwenye mtandao katika miaka ya 1990 na maslahi ya pande zote katika Jogging kwa afya na urafiki

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