Revelations by Le Monde with the help of The Intercept exposed Britain’s “top-secret surveillance” operations which are targeting top African political and business leaders. Le Monde, a French newspaper began exposing the British at the beginning of the month saying the reports were provided by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. The articles in Le Monde revealed the covert operations of the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) which has also spied on French figures like Pascal Lamy, Octave Klaba and Emmanual Glimet. Le Monde says, the covert operations “violated the political, economic and strategic sovereignty of twenty African countries, many of whose leaders were allies of Great Britain”. From this fiasco, the great take-away is that no African country can really be a respected ally to a Western country. There is always more happening behind the scenes.
The Great Violation of African Sovereignty
Le Monde exposed that the UK was not deterred by its “alliance” with Kenya back in 2009 from spying on the country’s President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga along with close advisers. The UK also spied on Angola to help the United States of America maintain its position of influence in the region when then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Luanda. The Democratic Republic of Congo under Joseph Kabila and Nigeria were not spared. Agents are said to have listened in on the Nigerian President’s phone calls along with those of his closest aides. The same shameful invasion of privacy by call interception was applied on Ghana’s John Kufuor and Sierra Leone’s Ernest Koroma. Kabine Komara of Guinea-Conakry along with close advisers and Togo’s Faure Gnassignbe were also deprived of privacy by the British. Apart from intercepting communication of sitting Head of States, the GCHQ went on to spy on former leaders like Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo and Sierra Leone’s Ahmed Tejan Kabbah. In addition, the GCHQ also targeted diplomatic departments in countries such as Zimbabwe, Kenya, Nigeria, Sudan and Libya. Embassies, foreign ministers and business leaders were targeted in the drive to gather intelligence. In some areas, the British use the all too old excuse of fighting terrorism but at this point, Africa cannot be fooled. They simply do not respect Africans enough.
A History of Western Disrespect and the Future of Colonialism
Western disrespect for Africa has become a culture. Leaders like Patrice Lumumba suffered worse at the hands of spies from the West (in that case the CIA). The CIA Chief under President Eisenhower of the USA, Allen Dulles is remembered for saying on the 21st of September in 1960, “…Lumumba is not yet disposed of and remains a grave danger.” The CIA ended up making sure the revolutionary leader was killed. When the current revelations are looked at from the angle of neo-colonialism, it becomes apparent what the West is trying to achieve: yesteryear’s hegemony in the affairs of Africa. Whereas in the colonial period African countries used to report to the West, now the West is making sure it still gets reports by spying and getting the information without African consent. The sense of entitlement to African classified information has its roots in colonialism and the interceptions have undoubtable colonial undertones. This is the new version of colonialism which is enabled by technology and not brute force. This is the new imperialism which substitutes sheer force for deceptive alliances, satellite surveillance and interceptions. It is still imperialism albeit achieved by different means.
The time has come for solid firewalls to resist the imperialists’ efforts to govern African affairs using computer programs. The West should not be empowered by African ignorance to keep controlling the continent yet it is common knowledge that colonialism (on paper) was achieved decades ago. What the Le Monde revelations should help all Africans realize is the fact that the oppressor will not get off his throne of privilege and control unless the victims usurp that baseless power from him. Now is the time to not only build technological firewalls but also mental barricades. Africa needs to be conscious of the West’s efforts to remain in control and start fighting them. Ignorance and delusions of “happy endings” will only serve as enablers for the colonialists. Britain has been named and shamed but what of the other countries doing a great job of covering their tracks?