They came bearing the Bible, a strange new faith we knew nothing of. They came with a new way of learning that perplexed our people, a completely different system from ours that actually added very little to what we already knew. They came with this interesting way of healing ailments that awed even our own traditional healers. We were captivated. We waited to see what more tricks they had tucked in their sleeves. At the time we didn’t see them as invaders, but visitors, and welcomed them with open arms — the African way.
So, when they humbly asked us for small pieces of land where they can set up their churches, schools, and hospitals, we gave it to them without second thought. We saw no reason to why we should deny their request. Why not if we had trucks and trucks of fertile land lying fallow, covered by jungles and roamed by wild animals.
Someone who comes with a different idea, an alternative to the conventional way of doing things, and does not put you in any sort of danger is always a welcome.
Then with time, after the brainwashing of a few locals; the ones who were curious enough to join their congregation, the ones who were brave enough to send their children in their classroom, the desperate sick who sort their medicine, they started soiling everything African. Almost everything that didn’t come aboard a ship was considered bad and evil: our skin color was disgusting, our culture obnoxious, our system of administration wanting, and our economic activities primitive.
We tolerated their insults, their sacrilegious acts for a while because we understood something about hospitality, but when we finally got it in our thick skulls that the visitors were actually up to no good, it was already too late. The leopard had shed off its sheep coat and there it stood, menacingly and ready to pounce on us.
The wazungus were increasing in numbers with each passing day, and many more were pouring in with every ship that docked at our coasts. This ones came not bearing the Bible like the first lot — missionaries — but carried metals that spit fire, deadlier than any weapon they had ever seen. This ones didn’t even bother asking for land where to set up their residences and offices. They didn’t ask for land — and only chose the fertile portions — from our chiefs where to cultivate their tobacco and other crops, and they paid the laborers with whips. They brutally beat and even killed the dissidents.
But eventually, after much spilling of blood, we got rid of the vermin, though some remained and integrated with the natives, though not fully. The Dalameres — people who still sneered at us, people who thought of us as less humans even on our own soil.
For decades now we’ve been doing okay, grappling with the whiteman’s way of living he had left us in the name of enlightenment, and it was such a burden but we’ve been managing. We would’ve succeeded by now if not for the constant interference of the same whiteman, pocking holes in everything we did. Always deciding for us what is good for us; from who rules over us to how we spend our natural resources, to who we can be friends with. We made peace with it, and it has been getting better, hoping to one day shake free of the whiteman’s ugly grip for good.
And then another colonizer, another equally evil master popped up at our shores. This one, short with tiny eyes and a language similar to that of monkeys. He came with dexterous hands and fascinating brain; and cheap. They wanted nothing more than creating jobs for their enormous population, so they said. All they wanted was contracts, to apply their genius, get paid and leave, and we believed them.
How could we refuse such “honest and cheap” trade partners? How could anyone in their right state of mind refuse such an offer! They were a better alternative to the exorbitantly expensive Americans and their European counterparts — even if their services and goods were of better quality. Who cared. They didn’t enforce anything on us like the others. They didn’t tell us their faith was better than ours — we still don’t know anything about their religion, and not like we care — or their system of education better than ours.
They were all for business, and not even play. You rarely passed them in the brothels in the wee hours of the the night. You hardly ran into them in tour vans touring the wonders of the Savannah, taking selfies with giraffes in the Masai Mara.
And they were modest. You hardly saw them booking in the Intercontinental, or Hilton. You rarely saw them wheezing around our roads — their roads — in Range Rovers and other fuel guzzlers. We liked them, even though their motive was sinister.
When they started offering “cheap” loans, we left IMF for them in numbers. We took loans for projects that never saw light of day. We took loans even for paying our employees, employees who worked in stalled and ghost projects. And we took loans; we took loans to pay existing loans, we took loans to fund the lavish lifestyle of our rulers.
And here we are, in debts we can’t pay. We might as well say we are colonized.
They’ve taken over our existence; they’ve taken over our streets, hawking eggs and peddling drugs, and have send local cobblers out of jobs, they’re everywhere you turn; in cities and towns, to the remotest of villages, still speaking in tongues and living on what still remains a mystery.
Their claws have come out eventually, just like the former colonial power. The loan-shark is here brothers and sisters. Pay back what you owe, or bent the knee.