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Europe and Africa: Decolonization or Dependency?

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Fifteen years after most of Africa received its independence, Europe is still present and influential in the continent. The European presence has, however, shifted from overt and direct to more subtle forms. While military occupation and sovereign control over African territories have all but been eliminated, political influence, economic preponderance, and cultural conditioning remain. Britain and France, and with them the rest of the European Community, maintain a relatively high level of aid and investment, trade dominance, and a sizable flow of teachers, businessmen, statesmen, tourists and technical assistants. Perhaps most symbolically significant of all, the long-nurtured dream of an institutionalized Eur-African community was finally inaugurated on February 28, 1975, when the convention of trade and cooperation was signed at Lomé between the European Nine and the then-37 independent Black African states (plus nine islands and enclaves in the Caribbean and the Pacific).

Thus, Eur-African relations are a matter of continuity and change, but judgments of them vary considerably, according to the importance given to one or the other of these two elements. To some, the successor of colonialism is neocolonialism and dependency; for others, what is taking place is gradual disengagement, and the multilateralization of ties to the developed nations. The first look askance at the continuing presence, comparing it with an ideal of total mastery of one's destiny; to them the change seems trivial, or worse, insidious. The second emphasize actual changes, the moves toward independence, and see them as part of a continuing process. The best perspective obviously is the one that can encompass and provide an explanation for the largest number of facts.

The dependency approach is now widely used in analyzing Third World developmental problems. According to this school of thought the attainment of political sovereignty masks the reality of continued dependence on world economic structures, and calculations of power and interest within this dependency relationship explain underdevelopment. Impatient with the slow progress of African states toward development and the real difficulty for new nations in narrowing the gap that separates them from the industrial states, dependency analysts locate the source of the new nations' developmental problems not in these nations' own incapacities but in the constraints of international politics and economics. Basically, the metropolitan countries block African development by co-opting African leaders into an international social structure that serves the world capitalist economy. By training and conditioning the upper layer of African society into Western habits of consumption, reading, vacation, style, and other European values, the dominant politico-economic system removes the need for direct intervention and indirect colonial rule; the more the new elites "develop," the more their expectations rise, the more they become programmed to look North, to think Western, and to alienate themselves from their national society, which is locked into its underdevelopment. Since mass development is such a monumental task in the best of conditions, and since it is even more difficult against the wishes and interests of the dominant capitalists, these alienated, Westernized elites are motivated to repress the spread of development in their society and thus to maintain themselves in power as a political class. The end result is that national development is impossible: European predominance is maintained by the co-opted elites, a neocolonial pact as firm as its colonial predecessor was in its time.

According to the decolonization theory, on the other hand, Eur-African (and other North-South) relationships are caught up in an evolutionary process, as various forms of bilateral, metropolitan influence are replaced with multilateral relations. In the process, political independence is only the first step, and the "last" step of complete independence is probably never attainable in an increasingly interdependent world. In this view, each layer of colonial influence is supported by the others, and as each is removed, it uncovers and exposes the next underlying one, rendering it vulnerable, untenable, and unnecessary. Thus, there is a natural progression to the removal of colonial influence: its speed can be varied by policy and effort, but the direction and evolution are inherent in the process and become extremely difficult to reverse. The specific order of the layers of influence to be peeled off may vary from country to country, depending on local conditions, but the most common is political (sovereignty), military, foreign population, economic and cultural. In this pattern, the transfer of sovereignty removes the need and justification for the stationing of metropolitan military forces; the elimination of military bases removes the security for metropolitan settler and technical populations; the reduction of the foreign population reduces the possibility of effective economic control; and the diversification of economic relations brings in new cultural influences. Thus, decolonialization has its own logic, wherein each step creates pressures for the next and reduces the possibility of counteraction by retreating postcolonial forces.

This is not to say that colonial withdrawal is immediate, however, or that the former colonial powers are powerless in their retreat. As decolonization moves forward, it moves onto less certain ground, where the rights of the new nation are less clearly related to the simple equality of sovereignty and where its ability to replace former metropolitan sources is less sure. It must therefore pave its way with newly established prerogatives. It must also build up its own capabilities, for a state cannot thrive on rights alone; as decolonization proceeds, the new state may eliminate elements that are actually useful to it in the short run in order to get rid of debilitating habits of reliance. For the progression to operate most efficiently, decolonizing states use the remaining elements of European presence to create the capabilities needed to replace that very presence, just as colonial rule was used by new nationalist elites to provide the training and resources that would enable them to remove it. The pace of that replacement depends on individual capabilities. Some types of European presence and influence may take longer to remove than others: evacuation of foreign troops is more rapidly attainable after independence than is the elimination of foreign technical assistants, and the takeover of foreign business is easier to achieve than the eradication of foreign culture. But deceleration in decolonization should not be confused with a frozen dependence. The pressure of other decolonizing states, as well as the logic of the process itself, works to keep up the momentum.


The two schools of thought are not, of course, without points of contact. The decolonization approach draws on dependency theory in analyzing how certain postcolonial relationships actually operate at present. But in interpreting the current interplay between Africa and Europe, dependency theory would seem to leave out too much, and to minimize rather important events.

To evaluate these perspectives one must examine the evolution of present conditions out of the past-before moving on toward the future. The development of economic relations is of central importance. It has been marked by a series of four major agreements on Africa made by the European Economic Community (EEC) at six-year intervals since 1957. The first, Part IV of the Treaty of Rome which instituted the EEC itself, was a reflection of then-existing colonial relations. By this instrument, African (and other) colonies of European states were joined in a free trade area with the entire six-state European region, so that African and European products found unimpeded access to each other's market. At the same time, European states without colonies of their own were involved in sharing a small part of France's (and Belgium's and Italy's) colonial burden by subscribing to a European Overseas Development Fund (FEDOM) providing $581 million in aid per year for the African colonies, although projects financed by this aid tended to be awarded to metropolitan contractors in the colonies.

Part IV of the Treaty of Rome was designed to share among the European Six, at least to some small extent, the burdens and benefits of the colonial pact, and to provide some limited benefits for the African colonies. Rather than an act of decolonization, it was a means of protecting colonial markets and assuring supplies of primary products for the Six instead of for the metropole alone, and of opening the colonies to greater trade and investment (with increased quantity presumably reinforced by higher quality born of somewhat increased competition). Economically, even if not politically or culturally, the arrangement began in a small way to dilute bilateral colonial ties through multilateralization.

Before the Treaty of Rome was three years old, all the French and Italian territories plus the Belgian Congo were granted independence. They felt it improper to remain subject to the provisions of an instrument negotiated by the metropole on their behalf, but they also felt that there were benefits to be gained by continuing what the Rome Treaty delicately called "special relationships." The European states shared these beliefs, but from two different perspectives. The French, Belgians, and to some extent the Italians, who all had interests in former colonies to protect, felt that these special relationships should be maintained; young, fragile economies should not be thrown immediately into open competition in the world market. The Germans and Dutch, on the other hand, felt that such special relationships should be phased out; not only should special economic ties with the extended metropole be terminated as rapidly as possible, but equal status should be accorded to other-hence competitive-African states with which the two countries, coincidentally, had much greater trade than with the Africans covered by the Treaty of Rome.

The next phase was a compromise, which maintained the special relationship but at a lower level of exclusive privilege than before. The first Yaoundé Convention, signed on July 20, 1963, converted the unilateral provisions of the Rome Treaty into a negotiated Association between the European Community and 18 individual African states, but a Declaration of Intentions, put forward by the Netherlands as an explicit quid pro quo for its signature, declared the Association or any other form of economic tie admissible under GATT (the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) to be open to any competing African state. At $730 million, the new European Development Fund (FED I) was 25 percent larger than the FEDOM, but it was almost 25 percent smaller than the combined total of the FEDOM and the now-abolished French price supports, and 60 percent smaller than the African original demand of $1.77 billion. Joint institutions notwithstanding, administration and execution of the FED was still largely in the hands of Europeans. Reciprocal preferences were granted by the two sets of partners but the Africans' demand for some sort of stabilization mechanism for tropical products' markets was denied; meanwhile, the emphasis of the aid was shifted from infrastructure to production and diversification.

The years during which Yaoundé I was being negotiated were crucial to Africa. The continent was absorbed in redefining its post-colonial relations with its former metropole and also in establishing new relations among its component members. The two were related. On the African level, the debate was between those who sought a rigorous definition of Africanity including codes of foreign policy conduct and a tight Pan-African institutional framework, and those who advocated a good deal of ideological and institutional freedom for individual states. On the international level, the debate was between those who sought rapid diversification of relations (and to whom the Yaoundé Association was anathema) and those who wanted to continue to enjoy, within the greatest autonomy possible, the benefits of some special relationship with the former metropole. The Pan-African and laissez-faire points of view came together in 1963, in the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), which provided an institution and a code of principles but left interpretation and implementation to the member-states. Along with this settlement, the same year, came the first steps to join together those favoring distant and close relationships with Europe.

The Commonwealth states were generally of an independent frame of mind. They rejected inclusion in the enlarged European Community that Britain was negotiating with the EEC, but when Yaoundé I was signed three months after the French veto of the British application, they found the provisions of the new Association less offensively binding than they had feared.1 Negotiations with the East African Community did not, however, result in an effective agreement until 1968, when an accord limited to the question of reciprocal trade preferences was signed at Arusha.

In the following year the third round in the series of agreements was also signed at Yaoundé. This still included only the 18 Associates, although it was accompanied shortly thereafter by a second Arusha Convention with the three East African countries. There was little basic difference between Yaoundé I and II. The same signatories were involved, tied together in 18 overlapping free trade zones all with the same European Community. The second FED, of $900 million, was again over 25 percent larger than its predecessor, and there was an additional loan supplement. The one new element, an emergency reserve fund up to $80 million to cushion against a drop in world prices for tropical products or a natural calamity, was conceptually new but practically only a replacement for Yaoundé I aid to production. In everything including its name, Yaoundé II provided continuity until there could be agreement on innovation.

The solutions in the Accords reflected the transitional and contradictory nature of the pressures that produced them. On the level of preferences, the special treatment extended to the privileged Eighteen was not producing notable trade expansion, nor was it any protection against the caprices of the market for tropical products. Despite guaranteed access to the European market, the Associates had failed to expand their penetration of it. However, these same preferences were gradually being diluted by their partial extension to competing sources of tropical products, both within Africa and in the developing world in general.

On the level of protection, Europe was gradually building self-sufficiency through a number of measures, notably its common external tariff (CET) wall and behind that, its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). However, African states were also trying to build up their currency earnings through exports, often of the very industrial and agricultural products protected by European policies, while also trying to develop their own efforts at self-sufficiency in competition with the European products which they were supposed to admit duty-free (although all the agreements contained a safeguard clause permitting African tariffs for industrial and development purposes). On the level of international relations, the Africans (by their own choice) were still involved in individual trade zones between each African country and the European community, and although they negotiated jointly with the EEC, decision-making was in the hands of the Six, with only slight possibilities for adjustment left to the Eighteen. All these contradictions were part of the transition from purely colonial toward totally independent status.

A number of events gave concrete expression to these contradictions and also offered means of resolving them. In 1969, the same year as Yaoundé II, negotiations began for the enlargement of the European Community, and hence for the inclusion of Commonwealth and sterling-area states of Africa in some arrangement comparable to the Yaoundé Convention. After the British negotiations were successfully completed in January 1972, the Yaoundé Associates (now Nineteen with the accession of Mauritius) decided to join Commonwealth Africa in negotiating a Pan-African successor to the Convention. A year later, in May 1973, African trade ministers met in Abidjan to agree to the notion of bloc-to-bloc negotiations and to draw up a charter of eight principles to guide them, which African foreign ministers ratified in the OAU.

In addition to measures favoring inter-African cooperation, the Africans demanded the elimination of reverse preferences and of special personnel status for Europeans-and hence of reciprocity pure and simple. They also called for total unrestricted access to European markets for all including agricultural (i.e., CAP) products, the creation of effective stabilization mechanisms for fluctuating prices, the enhancement of African monetary independence, and the creation of an $8-billion development fund independent of any formal Association. These were not simply escalated demands, inflated versions of Yaoundé provisions. Each was a derogation of a Yaoundé principle that was part of the European position. But the metropolitan Nine also put forth their own resolution of the contradictions of Yaoundé: that Europe was no longer responsible for the state of the African economies when a matter of its own Community development conflicted with their interests.

The Lomé Convention, which went into effect on June 24, 1975 and terminates on March 1, 1980, institutionalizes a single multilateral relationship looser than the Associates' previous status but closer than that of the previous non-Associates. It provides for 37 one-way free trade zones between individual African states and the Community (and 9 others between Caribbean and Pacific states and Europe), with duty- and quota-free access to Europe and only nondiscriminatory most-favored-nation treatment for European goods entering Africa. The only exceptions to the free entry of African goods concern a small number of agricultural products-less than one percent of the signatories' exports to Europe-covered by the Common Agricultural Policy, which will get preferential although not duty-free entry, and sugar (accounting for about three percent of African, Pacific and Caribbean [ACP] exports to Europe) which is covered by specific import guarantees for an indefinite period. In addition to the sugar agreement, new and significant machinery for the stabilization of export earnings (STABEX), similar in many ways to the Common Market's own price stabilization machinery, covers 29 other basic tropical products, first-stage transformation products, and iron ore.

Including the $375-million STABEX fund, the aid package comes to $3 billion plus an additional $390 million in loans from the European Investment Bank, the total more than thrice the size of FED II for only a little more than thrice the population of the Yaoundé Associates (values given in pre-devaluation dollars). There are also provisions for European assistance in preparing and promoting commercialization and industrialization within the African signatory states. The appellation "Associates" has been dropped; the 55 signatories are simply two groups of states seeking cooperation.

The African signatories can be divided into several categories. Nineteen were formerly Associates of the EEC; they include 15 former French colonies with a combined population of 52 million and GNP of $8,300 million and an average per capita GNP of $240; three former Belgian colonies with a population of 30 million and GNP of $2,200 million and an average per capita GNP of $80; and a former Italian colony with 3 million people and $210 million in GNP. Of the remaining states hitherto unassociated with the EEC, 12 are members of the Commonwealth with a combined population of 140 million and GNP of $17,700 and an average per capita GNP of $170, and six comprise the rest of independent Africa south of the Sahara at the time of signing, with 48 million people and a $4,710 million GNP. New African states may also join the treaty.

Internal developmental factors aside, these African states have clearly improved the terms of their relationship with Europe; over 15 years they have demanded and received more and more favorable provisions and the European signatories have received less and less in exchange. As in the case of the OAU, formal ties should not be confused with close ties. There can be a Eur-African convention in the postcolonial world precisely because it codifies such loose and imbalanced relations. The weaker of the two continents has the greater advantages-aid, preferences, supports, guarantees, protection-precisely because of its weakness and need. An all-African cooperation agreement with Europe lay at the crossroads of trends in European and African relations throughout the sixties and seventies. In outline, Britain's move to Europe started Commonwealth Africa moving toward the position of the non-Commonwealth Africans, where they met the Yaoundé Associates moving away from their past, close ties with the European Community members. A contractual relationship that was something less than Association was the result.

On the other side, Europe was no longer interested in separate African groups (since, in the worst interpretation, division no longer led to rule), so the Africans could no longer maintain separate status by themselves; put otherwise, Europe was no longer interested in granting privileges to a few when they could have better relations with the many. Finally, good relations were deemed necessary, in part because Europe still considers such relations a family affair, or looks at the former colonies as former students or apprentices now on their own, and in part because Europe is dependent on Africa for her supplies of copper, coffee, cocoa and uranium, among others.


In addition to their multilateral continent-to-continent ties, two other aspects of Eur-African relations need to be evaluated: the structure of bilateral relations between former metropole and former colony in Africa, and the nature of the African leadership.

Bilateral relationships are gradually being diluted by multilateralization. The change began with the granting of sovereignty, but there are no longer any illusions that formal political independence means the end of European presence and influence in Africa. The single exception is Guinea, set adrift from France by its own choice, which found a surrogate former-metropole first in the U.S.S.R. and then in the United States. The other newly independent states tended to retain unequal ties with their metropole in a number of activities: post-colonial community, monetary zone, business relations, defense agreements. In these, the practices of the two largest groups of former colonies-British and French-are often quite similar despite their traditional differences in form, the French preferring contractual relationships and the British being more informal.

The postcolonial communities have evolved to reflect the change in bilateral relations, rather than restraining that change. The French Community, established in 1958 as successor to the colonial French Union, was rejected by even the most Francophilic states of Africa at the time of their independence as a way of proving their autonomy, and has had no significance since 1960. Since then, the idea of Francophonia-a French language commonwealth-has been pursued actively by such leading African presidents as Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia, Leopold Sedar Senghor of Senegal, and Hamani Diori (now deposed) of Niger, but it too has continued to lose adherents. The Franco-African summit meeting of November 1973 in Paris was a formal and well-attended affair compared to the freewheeling series of overlapping visits which composed the next such event, at Bangui in March 1975. The French-speaking African and Malagasy Common Organization (OCAM) has lost six of its 16 members (including the Malagasy Republic itself) because, they preferred to avoid too close an association with the metropole. A larger notion of Latin Africa, to include former Portuguese as well as French and Belgian colonies, was raised by French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing while attending the Bangui summit. In the meantime, heads of French-speaking African states are frequent visitors in Paris. These various kinds of encounters, whether within an uninstitutionalized postcolonial community or on bilateral visits provide the occasion for an exchange of views, a continuity of contacts, a renewal of personal acquaintances, and for as much pressure on the French as on the Africans.

On the British side, the Commonwealth is an established and accepted institution that produces communiqués as well as contacts; over a third of its 33 members are African. It is hard to say here too that influence is predominantly metropolitan; on the contrary, the biennial meeting of the Commonwealth has weathered a biennial crisis by coming to terms with African demands and threats of withdrawal. In sum, the postcolonial communities are clubs, important above all for keeping contacts and channels open among leaders with a common language and cultural tradition. But as new leaders with more varied backgrounds appear-a point discussed in greater detail below-the club becomes important as the beginning, not the result, of an acquaintance and training process, and the level of effective influence declines further.

A second type of postcolonial tie is the monetary zone. While colonies, the African territories all used a variant of the metropolitan currency, often of limited convertibility and deflated value. In a short period of time, all former British, Belgian, Italian, and Spanish territories now independent have established their own monetary units, issuing banks, and independent reserve status. To this list are gradually being added a number of former French territories which have established monetary independence, with or without special agreements with the franc zone: Tunisia in 1958, Morocco in 1959, Guinea in 1960, Mali in 1962, Algeria in 1964, Mauritania and Madagascar in 1973. Twelve states of West and Central Africa remain in the franc zone, with pooled reserves and pegged currency, and three states of southern African are similarly tied to South Africa.

Such arrangements may appear anomalous in times of independence, but the ease with which Mauritania (with Algerian, Libyan, and Zaïrois support) and Madagascar withdrew, and the open pressures for reform of the franc zone led by Dahomey, indicate the directions of change. Even for those which remain, the other alternative is to transform the monetary agreements from instruments of centralized control into agreements on coordination and development (as in the Dakar Treaty of December 1973 revising the statutes of the Central Bank of the States of West Africa [BCEAO] and the West African Monetary Union [UMOA] in favor of greater African autonomy and equality).

A third type of tie to the metropole is through capital flows and their accompanying controls. Before independence, public and private investment in all African colonies was almost exclusively the domain of metropolitan capital. Even after a decade of independence this is still true in most cases-at the beginning of the 1970s, according to OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development) figures, 26 of 32 independent Black African countries received the largest amount of their official development assistance from their former metropole. At the end of the 1960s (the latest figures available in detail), all but one African state-Guinea-received the largest amount of their foreign direct investment from their former metropole. But of those 26 countries with a predominantly metropolitan source of foreign aid, all received more than a quarter of their total official and private bilateral receipts from other sources; all but two (plus Liberia) received more than a third; and all but 11 more than a half.

In the field of investment, the picture is slightly different. Toward the end of the 1960s more than three-quarters of the direct foreign investment in seven of the 12 Commonwealth countries of Black Africa was British-owned, over three-quarters of the foreign investment in ten of the 15 former French colonies was French-owned, and the same proportion of investment in all three former Belgian territories was Belgian-owned. By the early 1970s foreign investment in Africa had increased by about 40 percent (somewhat less than the general world increase and amounting to less than five percent of global foreign investment). Much of that absolute increase was composed of a near-doubling of investment in Nigeria to nearly a quarter of all investment in Africa following the end of the Biafran War. This investment, of which the largest share but not the majority is British-owned, is now greater than total foreign investment in all former-French Black Africa, despite a large investment in Gabon.

More significantly, GNP is growing faster than foreign investment, even including the two unusual cases of Nigeria and Gabon, and not even taking into account the changes in capital ownership brought about by nationalization in a number of countries in the most recent years. The proportion of foreign investment to the GNPs of various African countries declined from less than a quarter at the end of the 1960s to nearly a fifth half a decade later-from 17 percent to 15 percent in former British Africa; and from 30 percent to 25 percent (from 22 percent to 20 percent if Gabon is excluded) in former French Africa.

A final measure of foreign capital penetration can be made by estimating the productive value of foreign investments on an average turnover factor (generally estimated at 2.0). On the basis of this figure, the proportion of foreign investment averaged more than a third of GNP in the late 1960s in only 13 African states, and more than half in the case of only six. In the ensuing decade, as noted, the trend has been toward a decreasing share.

All too frequently, accurate statistics can be carefully quoted to show that the pocket is half full rather than half empty, and most of the above figures have been cited by authors emphasizing the unfair preponderance of foreign capital in Africa. In a snapshot at any particular moment, preponderance shows up somewhere, to be sure. But when the continental picture is shown, and its evolution examined in the short time-much less than a generation-after the monopoly domination of colonial rule, the trends of diversification and domestic production (two goals of EEC Association) appear both strong and rapid. Further citation and explication of statistics does not change the basic picture over time, nor do details of the more dramatic but unique cases such as Nigeria and Gabon.


A similar picture of changing imbalance characterizes defense relations. The colonial system was a system of world order in which metropolitan powers policed colonial areas, substituting European interests and conflicts of interest-which supposedly were under better control-for African and other concerns and conflicts. There were no African bases in Europe and no African treaty rights to intervene to restore European security (although African troops were gratefully accepted in World War II on the Allied side). This imbalance was inherent in the colonial situation, and it continued in reduced form on a contractual or residual basis thereafter.

Today, although some foreign troops still remain on the African continent and treaty rights to intervene on request may still exist, the dominant fact is the foreign military evacuation of the continent. Africa today has fewer foreign troops on its soil than Europe or Asia. British troops have gone completely. French troops have been reduced to fewer than 3,000 at present, located in a few installations in Gabon, Ivory Coast, and Djibouti (France's remaining colony in Africa). All other Western armed forces have been removed. Compared with this record of evacuations, it is noteworthy that the only non-African troops to be added to the continent since 1960 are the Russians, who have stationed support personnel for regular naval or missile operations in Conakry (Guinea) and Berbera (Somalia).

A few "return engagements" also remain, in the form of mutual defense treaties, notably those signed with France. For all the publicity these agreements have received, however, they have been notably unreliable. The only instances when they have been invoked have been in support of the government of Léon Mba in Gabon against a coup in 1964, and in support of the government of Francois Tombalbaye in Chad against guerrillas in 1968-1971. Numerous other heads of state have fallen despite such treaties and in 1973-1974 most of their provisions were revised and new treaties negotiated. Again, as in other aspects of postcolonial ties, there are some differences between the French and the British records, particularly in regard to timetables, but the overwhelming characteristic of both is peaceful withdrawal.

In sum, like the content of continent-to-continent relations, the structure of bilateral relations between former colony and former metropole has changed rather rapidly but without major shocks or violence over a period of 15 years or less. Although cases of postcolonial community, monetary zone, business interests, and defense treaties still remain, with some characteristic imbalance in the relations between the two sides, both their numbers and the imbalance have been reduced in the intervening period. As these bilateral ties become looser the differences in policies among various groups of African states disappear and it becomes possible to present a united front and obtain maximum benefits in negotiating a loose agreement such as the Lomé Convention.


The other element of influence and change is a more subtle matter that concerns the nature of the African leadership itself. The independence generation is being replaced by a very different post-independence generation. Fundamental ingrained differences in their relations with the metropole are inevitable and now apparent.

Leaders of the independence generation were characterized by two traits: they were formed in the metropolitan culture as subjects of the metropole, and they devoted their lives to the goal of political independence from the metropole. They were conditioned to think both French and anti-French, English and anti-English, and so on. Their feelings were focused in a sort of love-hate relationship with the metropole. Furthermore, politically they tended to regard formal sovereignty as "the big problem," and thus have tended to look positively at the metropole for having granted independence, mingling feelings of gratitude and victoriousness. With independence, they achieved formal equality with their former colonial master. Admittedly, derogations of sovereignty and equality thereby become doubly irksome, and long years of practicing anticolonialism can well lead to an anticolonialist fixation once independence is granted. But these negative corollaries of the independence generation's positive feelings have been more frequently characteristic of opposition leaders in the independence generation than of officials of the new states.

Sixteen states of Black Africa today are governed by leaders of the independence generation (although four of these received independence after 1970-three of them by protracted guerrilla warfare-and are therefore in a somewhat different category). In 17 states (plus Ethiopia), however, the independence generation has been replaced by military rulers. They tend to be a decade and a half (nearly a generation) younger than their predecessors, with very different experience and thus with different attitudes formed by it. Their past careers have generally given rise to neither love nor hate toward the metropole. All of them went to military school in the metropole before independence, but late enough in the period of colonization so that they experienced no major obstacles to their advancement in the colonial army or the colonial preparation for the independence army. Thereafter they were regularly promoted in the independent military of their country. Their concerns can generally be characterized as "order" and "progress," and they tend to look at the role of the former metropole as having little effect on these concerns. If anything, they are much less metropolitanized than their predecessors and the number of them who have been strongly attached to policies of "authenticity," or return to local cultural traditions, is greater than the number who have improved their country's relations with the former metropole.

There are almost no representatives of the succeeding, truly post-independence, generation among the African heads of state as yet. But the opinions of this generation have been described in recent studies,2 and are already clear through the actions of younger ministers such as Abdou Diouf of Senegal or Mohammed Diawara of the Ivory Coast. The cultural symbolism of authenticity is less important to them than the realities of incomplete economic and political independence. Mere sovereignty is not enough as a goal, and the continued presence of European technical advisers and businessmen in the former colonies is a situation to be corrected, just as colonial rule itself was the challenge to the independence generation.

With this younger generation, metropolitan influences are still present but less immediate. Although additional Black African states-beyond Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia and Burundi-will declare an African language to be the national media of communication, the European colonial language still remains, and with it ingrained ways of doing things-legal systems, accounting systems, literary classics, educational systems. Gradually these systems will become "nationalized," adapted to national needs, as English-speaking states have been doing individually and as eight French-speaking states began to do in concert in May 1972. But it is still the inherited metropolitan way of doing things that is the starting point. Post-independence generation leaders are not accustomed to "thinking metropolitan" as were the independence generation; but the "deep structure" of their culture still has a metropolitan ingredient, just as Latin America still remains Latin (Spanish or Portuguese) and North America still carries traces of England. In a word, the post-independence generation may still think in French or English but it is thinking African. Like the Sabras of Israel or Andrew Jackson's generation of America, its attitudes toward the preceding generation's problems are basically different from theirs.


While European presence as a base for influence in Africa is being diminished and diluted, Africa is moving at a steady pace, without abrupt shocks, to gain complete control of its own affairs and to improve the terms of its relations with European states. Capitalizing on its increased independence, Africa is able to exact a higher and higher price for a lessened European presence. Thus it can be seen that the dependency approach at best describes a static moment, while the decolonization theory accounts for changing relations by showing the origins and ingredients of the present state of affairs. The strength of the decolonization theory lies in the fact that it draws its explanation of changing relations from the successive stages that make up that change, and that it is consistent with both the general trends and the majority of details in the evolution of recent African history. As foreign bases have been evacuated, foreign firms nationalized, foreign investments broadened, foreign landholdings taken over, foreign educational programs revised, foreign trade preferences rescinded and terms of trade reevaluated, and foreign currency separated from the national treasury, the striking characteristic is the relative speed and ease with which such policies have been effected.

Current views on international relations hold all of these actions to be legitimate, and retaliation illegitimate, and African states have been members of various international forums that have changed views on the thinkable and unthinkable in the postwar period. When particularly stringent measures-such as nationalizations-are undertaken, as in the case of Zaïre or Algeria, the metropole may react by demanding a major revision of the accords which define the relation between the two countries. But such reactions are never attempts to restore a status quo ante but rather accommodations in the direction of the decolonization act that triggered the reaction.

African states have shown themselves quite capable of shedding another layer of European presence or influence when they are ready, just as African polities-le pays réel, as they were referred to-were eminently able to seize the highest value of politics, self-governance, and to change some of the major norms of international politics along the way. To pretend the contrary is to doubt the capabilities of Africans against all evidence-dependency theory is not the first supposedly liberal view to be built on a particular notion of others' good and others' abilities. Hence the pace of actual decolonization depends on the availability of personnel and material resources to replace current European inputs into African polities and economies.

Felt needs often outrun capabilities, and usually act as a goad on policy-makers both to develop those capabilities and to act on the basis of them. Most states feel a need to have their own armies, investments, experts and schoolbooks, even though they may not be immediately of the quality or quantity of those that could be imported. In the perspective of decolonization, it is important to the stability and peaceful evolution of a polity to keep the process moving, lest frustration and anger build up at the blockage to the natural flow of events. Dependency theory seeks to accentuate this anger, identify a target for blame, and make the blockage appear to be that target even where it is not. Of course dependency theory has a role to play within the process, as a means of keeping up pressure and sensitizing participants. But it must not be confused with analysis, any more than a confrontation can be analyzed from the point of view of one of the parties in a dialectic.

Two other problems are apparent in the dependency approach. One is that the theory is static. It mistakes the unfolding of a logical argument for the comprehension of successive, changing events. It deals with fixed relations, not with ongoing process, and so it confuses today's events with tomorrow's possibilities. By arguing that things really have not changed since colonial times, it both denies past change and ignores the possibility of future change, in a world whose generally recognized nature is change par excellence. It is easy to see the source of this static quality, for dependency is a mirror-image idea: it responds to the equally static racist caricature of the colonialist perspective, which held that the African native was inherently incapable of civilization, by claiming that it is the Westerner who is inherently incapable of allowing development, since it is not in his "interest." Thus, dependency has a scapegoat function, comforting the slow developer by showing him that the fault is not his but rather that of the outside forces of evil, which, more insidiously than ever because of their very subtle mechanism, are keeping him down.

Second, the approach makes a number of crucial assumptions. It assumes that a common enculturation in a broad family of values gives rise to common interests and common decisions (e.g., that all Americans think and act alike). Moreover, it assumes that there is a broad family of values called, indistinguishably, "Western" and "modern," that is different and antithetical to another family, called "native" or "African" or "authentic" or "Third World," or simply true. It assumes that motivation is equivalent to unambiguous interest, that development is not in Western interest nor in the interest of African elites, and that repression is the only way of keeping power. It also assumes that bilateral postcolonial predominance correlates with underdevelopment, a relation that careful studies have shown to be the reverse of reality.3 It is sufficient to state such assumptions to show their unreality, a quality that is usually well hidden under the necessary moralizing of the argument.

From an evolutionary point of view, therefore, the Lomé Convention is a welcome development. Neither a neocolonial consolidation nor an institutionalization of dependency, it is a natural step in the process of decolonization, that at the same time strengthens the capabilities of the developing African economies and polities while diluting their bilateral ties with the metropole. Measures that increase Africans' ability to peel off successive postcolonial layers and-the qualification is important-to replace them with multilateral ties and with domestic capabilities are sound and useful, even or especially when carried out by the former metropole. Precipitous withdrawal-as in the case of Guinea-leaves vacuums, provides shock without stimulus to domestic growth, and creates unnecessary antagonisms. Delayed withdrawal-as in interwar Egypt-drains energies needed elsewhere for domestic growth, prevents the creation of national groups and forces, and gives rise to frustrations that lead to debilitating instability. Instead, a regular succession of decolonization stages provides spaced occasions for renegotiating relations between new nation and former metropole, an important aspect in the redefinition of rules and roles required in a world searching for new orders.


The United States has not been mentioned in the above review because it is not directly involved. But the evolution of Eur-African relations deserves the sympathetic concern of Americans. Two themes are dominant in the current debate on American foreign policy: a New Realism which warns America to be aware of the limits of its capabilities, and a New Morality which calls on the country to shoulder the greater responsibility for international welfare concerns rather than international security matters. The possibilities for contradiction between these two charges are as obvious as the wisdom in each of them; foreign policy-making consists of resolving such contradictions.

Africa has been so far from the center of the perceived priorities of recent American foreign policy that it would be utopian to call for a major reordering of goals. If America is unable to take on a major responsibility for developments in the continent, she can at least recognize and support the efforts of the European part of the Western world in conjunction with the Africans themselves. Colonial rule has ended in Africa (with the small exceptions of a French and a Spanish enclave on the east and west coasts), and much of the writing on American policy toward Africa concentrates on the importance of a greater awareness of the needs and demands of the Africans who still have no control over their destinies in the three minority-ruled territories of southern Africa. But it is also important that Americans be aware of the trends in cooperative decolonization and the development of greater welfare and negotiating capabilities in the greater part of the continent that has attained its independence. The removal of reverse preferences eliminates a major American objection to the previous Eur-African Association. The provision for advantages to African states in the Lomé agreement does not remove inequalities between the signatories but it helps reduce disparities among them. As the world experiments with détente as a sequel to East-West conflict, it is important that North-South inequalities in welfare not be treated in policy or analysis as the new dimensions of security conflicts. Rather, they should be the basis for negotiation, cooperation, and a common search for the optimum conditions of interdependence.


1 They did feel, however, that any arrangement negotiated under the 1963 Declaration of Intentions should not bind them to any reciprocity in preferences, since their own colonial arrangements in the Commonwealth Preference System gave them preferences on the metropolitan market without obligating them to grant reverse preferences for metropolitan goods. In September 1963, both Nigeria and the East African Community requested negotiations. Some prodigiously clever provisions were concocted to provide an agreement that contained reverse preferences without appearing to do so, but the Lagos Accord, signed on July 16, 1966 with Nigeria, never went into effect and finally died in the Biafran War. Talks with the three East African countries also broke down in mid-1965 over the reciprocity issue.

2 Cf., for example, Victor LeVine, Political Leadership in Africa, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1967.

3 Cf., for example, the forthcoming study by Patrick J. McGowan, Economic Dependence and Economic Performance in Black Africa.

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