The future of European relations toward Africa is facing a severe strain as their former colonies turn away in disgust and irritation at European indifference and double standards toward the continent. Europe currently has bad press in Africa. Pressure exerted on Africa by the European Uniion to sign new trade agreements, the ongoing problem of illegal immigration to Europe from Africa and growing feeling among Africans that Europe looks down on the continent as backward and irrelevant to the modern world. For example, the EU wants new trade agreements which literally would open the entire African continent to their products without being subjected to duties and thus challenge the ability of beginning African entrepreneurs to compete with the goliath of Europe.
Migration is key issue as hundreds of thousands of Africans make the journey north in search of jobs and new lives. There is considerable outrage in Africa over the number of lives lost in the northward quest. Last year 1,861 migrants died trying to cross over to Europe. Fishermen from Italy have even been prosecuted for trying to rescue people.
Many Africans believe anti-African rhetoric resonates well in European election campaigns. They are insulted by the condescending tone used by European leaders in discussing Africa. During a recent visit to Africa, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the following: “Africa’s tragedy is that the African man has not entered into history sufficiently. The African peasant, who since time immemorial has lived according to the rhythm of the seasons and whose ideal is to be in harmony with nature…. he knows only the endless return of time structured by he endless repetition of the same gestures and the same words. In this mode of thought there is no place for the adventure of humanity or the idea of progress….That is Africa’s problem.”
Any nation that has endured the colonial experience is quite familiar with the Sarkozy lecture on life. Those under colonial bondage are always primitive in thought and in desperate need of education for the benevolent colonial ruler. Africans might well inquire of Sarkozy, does the “adventure of humanity or the idea of progress” also includes things like the Holocaust? Africa does not need lectures, it needs economic assistance to stimulate small business enterprises, it needs an end to corruption which removes benefits of oil wealth from being shared by people of societies in which oil is found. Aove all, it needs a partnership in which all sides are respected. Europeans might well consider there is another goliath looming on the economic horizon– China.