As American President Barack Obama comes calling hot on the heels of his Chinese counterpart Xi Jingping, insular Kenyans have chosen to view the visit through a narrow prism.

Commentators have only focused on why Kenya went missing from the itinerary, and concluded that it can only be due to the pending ICC trials.

As American President Barack Obama comes calling hot on the heels of his Chinese counterpart Xi Jingping, insular Kenyans have chosen to view the visit through a narrow prism.

Commentators have only focused on why Kenya went missing from the itinerary, and concluded that it can only be due to the pending ICC trials.

However, these cases are probably Mr Obama’s least worry. His visit comes barely three months after Mr Xi’s highly-publicised African tour.

It is no coincidence that while Mr Xi visited Congo Brazzaville, Tanzania and South Africa, Mr Obama will tour Senegal, Tanzania and South Africa.

The growing China-Africa relations have caused jitters in the West. The neo-liberal Western model is suffering identity, financial and governance crises, the complete opposite of China’s.

China is assuming an increasingly important global role and aims to become a superpower. For all its weaknesses, it has forced the West to re-examine its attitude towards Africa.

As a result, the West has woven an elaborate narrative that portrays China as a malignant partner, a bogeyman only thirsty for Africa’s precious resources.

This narrative has been echoed by a number of Western-leaning African elite, who have not interrogated the merits or demerits of the Sino-African relations beyond parroting Western clichés.

At home, Western countries treat China with cautious optimism, welcoming it as a serious economic partner likely to resuscitate flagging European economies.

Yet, the same West has resorted to portraying China’s influence in Africa as pernicious. But the African narrative is missing in this whole geopolitical and geostrategic issue.

Chinua Achebe once declared that “until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter”.

Our formidable intellectuals and scholars have largely left the Sino-African narrative to Western scholars, commentators and diplomats who are not objective.

For once, Europeans and Americans have woken from their complacency, the smug guarantee that Africa’s markets were safe and theirs for years to come.

Senegalese Adama Gaye is one of Africa’s intellectuals, who have attempted to address Sino-African relations.

A scholar and analyst, his book, China-Africa, the Dragon and the Ostrich, has resonated with Western voices, eager to find a “friendly” African voice.

Mr Gaye has castigated Africa’s ruling elite for turning a blind eye to the Chinese way of doing things. He views our elite as driven by selfish interests and not those of the masses.

China’s relations with Africa largely involve State-to-State operatives. Western governments operate through governments (hard power) and the civil society (soft power).

China’s exclusive reliance on governments excludes the civil society from its financial orbit, which explains why it does not portray China positively.

Africa’s ruling elite and civil society are largely the product of Western education, and therefore view Sino-African relations differently.

Generally pragmatic, free from complexes, the power elite are confident about working with a less vexing and nosy China.

The rise of China may have provided a safety valve, albeit temporarily, for our ruling elite, as a means of escaping Western pressure.

Civil society organisations also hold their own power, which, in the absence of a benefactor, may leave them exposed.

Being beneficiaries of Western largesse, it is only expected they will parrot a euro-centric discourse, eschewing informed debate on Sino-Africa relations.

Africa’s intellectuals need to intensify the debate and pull it away from euro-centrism.

Adama Gaye, Sanou Mbaye (both of Senegal) and Sanusi Lamido (Nigeria) have already paved the way.

More African scholars need to join the debate. And the debate should not be restricted to economic-structural issues; rather it should delve into international relations and even culture.

On its side, China should cultivate closer links and open up its heart to African opinion-shapers who will then tell the story to Africans and help coin our own informed narrative. Let our griots tell us the story.

 随着中国主席习近平的脚步,美国总统奥巴马也来到了非洲。肯尼亚人选择以一个狭窄的视角看待此次访问。有评论者只专注于为什么肯尼亚的行程取消了, 他们得出的结论是因为等待国际刑事法院的审判结果。然而,这些案件应该是奥巴马最不费心的事情。他在习近平高调访问非洲仅三个月后就来到了非洲。

习近平访问了刚果(布),坦桑尼亚和南非,而奥巴马访问了塞内加尔,坦桑尼亚和南非,这并非巧合。

日益增长的中非关系已引起西方的恐慌。西方新自由主义正在遭遇身份、财务和管治危机。中国则完全相反,承担着越来越重要的国际角色,以期成为一个超 级大国。虽然中国现在存在许多缺陷,但是中国对非的态度使西方不得不重新考虑对待非洲的问题。因此,西方编造了一个复杂的说法,把中国描述成一个可怕的伙 伴,窥视非洲的珍贵资源。这种说法在一些倾向西方的非洲精英中流传开了。但这些人只是听了美国的一面之词,而并没有看到中非关系所带来的好处。

在国内,西方国家对中国持谨慎乐观的态度,希望中国与自己合作共同使欧洲经济转好。然而另一方面,西方非常努力地把中国在非洲的影响描述得相当恶劣。而非洲本身的看法,却在整个地缘政治和地理战略事件中集体缺失。

Chinua Achebe曾说过,除非狮子能描述自己的历史,狩猎的历史将永远是猎人的荣耀。

我们可敬的知识分子和学者已经将对中非关系的评论交给了西方不客观的学者,评论家和外交官。

这一次,欧洲人和美国人从他们的自满,自鸣得意中醒来,发现非洲市场对于他们来说已经不是一个安全,属于自己的市场了。

阿达马·盖伊塞内加尔是试图解决中非关系的非洲知识分子中的一位。他的书《中国-非洲,龙与鸵鸟》在西方获得共鸣,现在他希望能听到相似的来自非洲的声音。盖伊先生痛骂非洲的统治精英对中国的所作所为视而不见,只为一己私利而不考虑非洲大众。

中国与非洲的关系在很大程度上涉及到国家与国家之间的往来。西方国家政府的工作(硬实力)通过政府与民间社会来实施(软实力)。中国在财政上排除了民间社会,完全依靠政府,所以造成对中国不好的看法。

大多接受过西方教育的非洲精英和民间社会,对中非关系有着截然不同的看法。

与一个不那么让人恼火的中国一起合作,实用主义的非洲掌权者对此充满信心。中国的崛起暂时给了非洲领导阶层另一条出路,避开了西方带来的压力。

民间社会组织也有在发挥自己的影响力,没有资助人的情况下,可能会使他们暴露。收到西方的慷慨资助,他们肯定会像鹦鹉学舌一样批判中非关系。

非洲的知识分子需要开展更多的讨论,避免欧洲中心论的观点。阿达马·盖伊,萨努·姆巴耶(塞内加尔)和萨努斯·拉米多(尼日利亚)已经为此铺平了道路。

更多的非洲学者需要加入讨论,不仅仅是从经济方面,也包括国际关系和文化方面。

在中国方面,中国应该发展和非洲更紧密的关系,向非洲的意见领袖坦诚心意。只有这样他们才会把真实情况传达给自己的国人,塑造中国的形象,非洲人才可以做出明智的选择。

Author: Weru Macharia Source: Daily Nation Source Date:06/06/2013 Translator: Rebecca Hu Photo: Thomas Lekfeldt / Moment / Redux

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