Wednesday, July 10, 2013

USA-China Competition Plays Out in Tanzania

In Summary
  • A Trojan Horse is anything that looks good on the surface but may pose great danger for whoever accepts it as a gift.
  • Anyone could have observed the enthusiasm with which many people from abroad, including heads of state, ministers and corporate executives have been trooping to our shores, carrying gifts and promising
    more, signing agreement after agreement, vying with each other for our attentions.
  • We all know that all these nations and the economic interests they represent are after the resources they can access here at minimal cost.

Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes, runs the Latin adage. Liberally translated, it means, I fear the Greeks even when
they come bearing gifts.

Unpacked, it means that bad people are bad people, and you should be wary when they come to you, even if they bring you gifts and presents.
The phrase traces its origin in the so-called Trojan Horse affair, which we talk so much of today.

In fact, the thing was not a horse and it was not Trojan either. It was just a huge wooden structure in the shape of a horse the size of a village that the Greeks left at the gates of their arch rivals in Troy, with whom they had fought a bitter, long and bloody war.

They made the gullible Trojans believe that this was a genuine gift from former enemies who were now offering a hand of friendship.

The Trojans were warned by their prophets and sorcerers not to accept this outlandishly large horse of timber, but to no avail. The Trojans wheeled the thing into their town and went to drink and make merry to celebrate their good fortunes. The war was over.

But, with the Trojans drunk and in pursuit of the pleasures of the flesh, the Greeks, who had all the time sat patiently in the belly of the monster “horse” got out, opened the city gates and let in thousands of their colleagues who proceeded to systematically kill, ransack, burn, rape, as well as other courtesies of war.

Thus a Trojan Horse is anything that looks good on the surface but may pose great danger for whoever accepts it as a gift.

Now, anyone could have observed the enthusiasm with which many people from abroad, including heads of state, ministers and corporate executives have been trooping to our shores, carrying gifts and promising more, signing agreement after agreement, vying with each other for our attentions.

I smell a huge Trojan Horse carrying hidden soldiers.

We all know that all these nations and the economic interests they represent are after the resources they can access here at minimal cost, and they know that our negotiators are often either dumb or corruptible, or both, and that they think nothing of signing away whole districts for a bar of candy.

Of course, each suitor comes offering sweetheart deals that appear irresistible, and at the same time he will be badmouthing his competitor and telling us how the other crowd are only bent on exploiting us.

The Americans will tell us how the Chinese are taking our resources to feed their factories, which manufacture cheap products, which they then sell to us, or something to that effect.
The Chinese will tell us how they have always been the friends of Africa, which is easy, since they did not send slave ships and they were not in Berlin in 1884.

But the crux of the issue is for Africans to know what they want from all these “partners” and to know how to squeeze maximum benefit for themselves from every resource that is exploited.

One way is to refuse investments that are really outvestments, in which we outvest our resources to other countries, which create jobs for their youths and expand their skills bases while our youth vegetate in helplessness and self-derision.

So, I look at the visit by Xi Jiping and I look at the one just ended by Barack Obama, and I ask myself one very primary question: Did we invite him or did he say, Hey, please prepare to receive me because you are on my itinerary.

If we invited them, then we probably know what we want from our interface, and we probably worked to secure our advantage. If we were just part of their itinerary, then they know what they want from us while have no a clue as to what our interest could be.

Meanwhile, I hear Tanzanian officials talk about their “economic diplomacy,” but when I see the ambassadors they send out to serve that diplomacy, I realise I do not understand a thing in this world

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