Sunday, 22 December 2013

The things we do to Africa...

We used to rape the continent, for gold and slaves, and we still keep kicking Africa around like a football. We dump our worst products on it. We charge it more in loan interest than we give in aid. And every now and then we send in troops to various bits, usually from the former colonial power, to make sure the locals know they’re not really in charge.

Why, we even use it from time to time as a source of photo ops for our failing politicians. Did you see David Cameron, at the Mandela funeral, trying to get in on the Danish PM’s selfie with Barack Obama? The man’s shameless.

Is that Cameron trying to muscle in on Helle Thorning Schmidt's 
selfie with an actual world leader?
Now it’s emerged that ‘Boris Bikes’ are beginning to turn up in the Gambia. For the uninitiated, ‘Boris Bikes’ are bicycles available for hire in various places in London, which can be ridden to other places and dropped off again. They’re called ‘Boris Bikes’ in honour of the modest and self-effacing Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

You get what honour you can, I suppose.

It seems they’re now being stolen in large numbers and shipped off to the Gambia where they’re being spotted in villages. Perhaps we should be grateful that Britain is at last making a little restitution for all the exploitation of the past, even if only unofficially and as a result of criminal action.

Photo from the Daily Telegraph of a Boris bike in the Gambia
My only regret is that they’ve only taken Boris’s bikes, and not Boris himself. Still, the Gambia is run by an unhinged egomaniac convinced he’s God’s gift to mankind, so they really don't have a need for Boris, unlike his bikes.

Someone who does seem to be invading Africa in the near future is former Barclays Bank Chief Executive, Bob Diamond. You may remember that he had to leave Barclays under a bit of a shadow: the bank had just been caught fiddling the rates at which banks lend money to each other.

Diamond provided a striking demonstration of the principle by which senior executives only receive their astronomical remuneration because they take responsibility for what happens in the organisations they lead. On his watch, the bank lost about half its share value, and he claimed not to have known anything about the rate rigging. So he suffered the penalty of giving up some £20 million of bonus, meaning he left with only about £3 million. Practically destitute.

And now he’s back. He and a mate have launched a new company, Atlas Mara Co-Nvest, which is designed to go looking for exciting new prospects in Africa.

Aaah. Doesn't Bob Diamond look like an amiable rogue?
But I'm not sure of the amiability
Things don’t look promising. I mean, the company’s an investment vehicle and they can’t even spell ‘invest’. And it’s likely to focus on Financial Services, the field in which Diamond has won such a reputation. Or do I mean notoriety?

We blessed Africa with the trans-Atlantic slave trade, constant colonial wars, borders that don’t correspond to ethnicity, a white regime in South Africa that gave the world apartheid. 

And now we’re sending them Bob Diamond. Haven’t they suffered enough?


Anonymous said...

The poor man has been much maligned. When he plans a "CON" he declares it first, viz:
Atlas Mara CON-Vest.


David Beeson said...

Much maligned, indeed. But that doesn't necessarily mean undeservedly.