EVENT | Africa – a new frontier for Canadian mineral plunder?



This event will take place at SFU Harbour Centre, in room 2270, this Thursday from 7-9pm.

With Dr. Ama Biney, author of The Political and Social Thought of Kwame Nkrumah, and the current Editor in Chief of the Pan-African weekly online newsletter, Pambazuka.

There will also be two respondents speaking after Dr. Ama Biney. We’ll hear from Binega Markos, from the Eritrean-Canadian Human Rights Group, and Harjap Grewal, an anti-capitalist and anti-colonialist organizer with No One is Illegal – Vancouver Coast Salish Territories.

Event description

The UK and France are commonly perceived as the former dominant colonial powers in Africa, retaining commercial interests in their former colonial territories. The operations of corporations like Shell and Areva in Africa are well-known. In the last few years an emerging discourse has emerged in the West about China’s involvement in Africa. This discourse reflects the common Western logic that the West knows what is good for Africa, and more importantly that the West continues to consider Africa its exclusive preserve. But the reality is the West behaves “like a vulture scaring off other vultures from its perch,” to quote Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem.

Much is made of the Chinese dragon’s insatiable lust for Africa’s mineral wealth. Yet the reality is that Canadian mining corporations continue to dominate mining activities in Africa. According to the National Resources of Canada, as of 2011, 155 Canadian corporations had operations on the African continent and their total assets amounted to $30.8 billion. These operations are leaving profound ecological and socio-economic consequences of devastation, despite the fact that most Canadians (and Westerners) perceive Canada to be a benign international donor, and a supporter of human rights and good governance around the world. The grim reality is that the legal and moral obligations that apply to mining companies in Canada are not applicable to African countries.

This talk will examine the dominant ethos and practices of the extractive sector in Africa, operating within a global neo-liberal policy framework. This framework is underpinned by the ongoing collaboration of a neo-colonial African elite acting as a “transmission line between the nation and capitalism,” in partnership with a transnational ruling class represented by some of the most lucrative Canadian companies. Such mining agreements in Africa are often framed and packaged in the language of “a win-win situation” and in terms of a development discourse put forward by the international community, according to which Foreign Direct Investment is the panacea to development in Africa.  There is a need to interrogate the contradictions at the heart of such discourse.

In the last few years the narrative of “Africa Rising” has emerged. The truth is that the African countries that are alleged to be rising i.e. Ghana, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya with economic growth rates of around 5% per annum, are largely dependent on the extractive sector, that is largely mining, led by foreign interests, such as Canada. Such economies have failed to create mass employment and alleviate poverty for the vast majority. Put differently, the invisible hand of the market has failed to trickle down growth in mining profits to local communities, who have instead been harmed by Canadian corporations.

A central question posed by this talk is how to build anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist solidarity with the people and movements of Africa, who are struggling against corporate exploitation, alongside progressive organisations in Canada and the rest of the Western world who believe another world is possible.

Dr. Biney has over 20 years teaching experience in the UK. She has taught courses in African history and politics; as well as Caribbean History; the history of Pan-Africanism and the history of black people in Britain and post independent African politics. Her recent publications include: The Political and Social Thought of Kwame Nkrumah (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011); “The Intellectual and Political Legacies of Kwame Nkrumah” in From Colonization to Globalization The Intellectual and Political Legacies of Kwame Nkrumah and Africa’s Future edited by C. Quist-Adade and C. Frances (Dayspring, 2011); Speaking Truth to Power: Selected Pan-African Postcards of Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem compiled by A. Biney & A. Olukoshi (Pambazuka Press, African Women’s Development Fund, CODESIRA, 2010) and “The Development of Kwame Nkrumah’s Political Thought in Exile” in Journal of African History, 50 (2009), pp.81-100 (Cambridge University Press). She has written for the electronic newsletter, Pambazuka news on current affairs of which she is presently Editor-in-Chief.

This event is Co-sponsored by African Great Lakes Networking Foundation and The Mainlander and will be moderated by Daniel Tseghay, a co-editor of The Mainlander

The Facebook event page can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1458122697787903/