Scholar says reparation for slavery is not enough

Paris- France (PANA) -- In the run up to the Durban conference on racism, an African sociologist has asserted that even if pecuniary reparations were paid to African by the West for slavery and colonisation, these might not necessarily be the ultimate solution to the continent's developmental problems.
Professor Assani Fassassi a political sociologist and author of a new book on African development told PANA in Paris, France, that reparation would serve no useful purpose unless it was accompanied by a complete restructuring of continent's development models and thinking mode.
"European development models introduced and imposed on Africans during colonialism and maintained till today will continue to be the main logjam to continent's development effort," he stressed.
The Benin-born author attributes the present state of Africa's negative development to what he calls "the loss of real power by African states during the slave trade and later on colonisation.
" Fassassi contends that Africans and African countries have never really succeeded to come out of the two calamities and hence have never been able to determine a development model which best suits their own needs.
Fassassi's book asserts that Africa's development could become possible only if there was what he calls, "an intelligent but complete break with the European cultural, economic, monetary and administrative systems.
" He cites the current insistence by the European Union on "a cultural specificity," in the current context of globalisation prompted by a desire to protect European cultural industry from being swamped by "Americanisation", as an example African countries too could borrow to insist on certain aspects of development best suited to their needs.
"Just as the Europeans are insisting on cultural diversity and specificity, African countries can insist on economic specificity, cultural, social and monetary specificity if such specificity would be in their best interest," he contends.
Fassassi's book expresses frustration with Africa's economic decline, recalling that, up until 1450, Africa's economic level was comparable to that of Europe at that time when the African continent possessed its own revenues derived from manufactured products.
"The manufactured products literally signified products manufactured by hand such as the Ife, Nok, Igbo sculptures," he says.
Fassassi is opposed to a so-called "Marshall Plan for Africa", saying African heads of state and the elite who clamour for this in order to attract foreign investments must realise that they are, in fact, calling for the "re-colonisation of their children and themselves.
" "That re-colonisation will be more cruel and more devastating than the last one whose effects we still suffer till today," he warns in his book.
Fassassi's 410- page book finally calls for "a reversion to history in order to correctly analyse the reasons why Africa which was wealthy and developed until the 15th century became extremely poor and under developed a few centuries later.

21 august 2001 10:37:00

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