Youma Jamila Nana of Africans for Britain: Why should Africans back Brexit?
Jack Mason, 15 March 2016
By Youma Jamila Nana
On the 23rd of June 2016, British people will have an opportunity to decide whether or not they should stay in the European Union. The remain side argues that outside of the EU, Britain would face an uncertain economic future. This argument is completely oblivious to the many trading opportunities opened to Britain, not least those on offer in the Commonwealth. This is exactly the case put forward by Brexit (British Exit) backers who believe that it is time for Britain to reconnect with her historical partners in the Commonwealth, whose economies are outperforming those of the European Union. Brexit will also be an opportunity for the British and their African fellow farmers to finally become prosperous. They will escape the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which has mainly favoured continental farmers, and contributed greatly to keeping the African continent in poverty. If the pledge made by Zimbabwean business leader Strive Masiyiwa of Africa feeding the world in 20 years, is ever to come to fruition, surely her own dealings with the EU should be renegotiated, as the current terms would only strengthen the status quo. This is probably the main reason why Africans should back Britain’s exit from the economically declining EU.
Of the 53 Commonwealth Nations, 19 are on the African continent. Those countries operate according to legal systems inherited from the British colonial era. They also have a business culture which can be linked to the Anglosphere. They tend to perform better on key performance indicators such as doing business, the Mo Ibrahim index, Transparency International corruption ranking etc. This is a common thread running through the Anglosphere. Therefore, Britain should be reinforcing her trading connection with these longstanding partners, and why not widen her horizons to the other countries on the continent. This could only help foster the much needed intra African rapprochement which would unlock the continent’s economic potential. Inside the EU, Britain cannot sign trade deals with those nations. At the moment, it is China and lately the USA which have seemed to want to engage with the trading potential on the continent, through the establishment of the FOCAC (Forum For China Africa Cooperation), and the USA-Africa summit. Lately, India has started reviving her own trading connections with Africa, and organising India-Africa summits. Considering those three countries inherited their business culture from Britain, it is bewildering that Britain is a bystander of those lucrative opportunities. There is increasing talk of industrialisation on the continent and Britain, of all nations, should help write those glorious letters of African history, having operated herself the most successful industrial revolution the world ever knew. Can Britain and Africa afford to miss out on this win win partnership?
Another area which should concern Africans, especially the citizens of the Commonwealth whether they hold British citizenships or not is immigration. So long as Britain remains in the EU, and continues to be a signatory of her free movement of people agreements, Commonwealth partners are discriminated against. They continue to face insurmountable hurdles in order to qualify to come and settle or to join their loved ones living in Britain. Moreover, Britain is deprived of the talent of skilled workers from Commonwealth Nations, many of whom get their qualifications from British institutions. On the other hand, any EU citizen, whether they hold qualifications needed in Britain or not can move to Britain freely. This could in the long run affect the choices made by Commonwealth students, when picking Universities where to study in the world. This would be a severe loss to the continent, considering how well British universities perform on world rankings. It would also be a loss of revenue to Britain, as those students tend to pay their fees upfront, and many university cities benefit from the revenue gained by having overseas students who tend to come from the upper echelons of their countries, and have therefore high purchasing powers.
There is currently a revival of the Panafricanist movement, and it is beaming with optimism. Therefore, it might be difficult for many Africans to understand why they should support Britain’s decision to come out of the EU. To many, the EU embodies the pan European project of fraternity between nations coming together in order to recover from the wars they had waged against one another, and to create mutual prosperity. Unfortunately, long gone are the ideals of working for the empowerment of common people. In Brussels and Strasbourg, big corporations call the shots, and in the words of British Member of the European Parliament Daniel Hannan, the EU is quite simply a corporatist racket. Policies such as the CAP hinder farmers in Britain, just as much as they affect African farmers, as was brilliantly illustrated in a piece by Kenyan Harvard Professor Calestous Juma. It is unfathomable that once being made aware of the consequences of the CAP, any patriotic African would consider that staying in the EU is the best course of action for Britain.
If any doubts were to linger in any African’s mind, Britain’s loss of political sovereignty because of the ideologically driven federalist project which she does not subscribe to, should have them concerned. The EU may have initially strengthened the bonds between European nations, as London’s Mayor Boris Johnson recognised in his article aimed at explaining why he backs Brexit. Last summer’s events in Greece should help put in perspective the illusion of an EU committed to the common good. The language in the Greek press was extremely incendiary. There were accusations of colonisation, and German imperialism. This is not very fraternal language, and to many, there is a steady slippery slope on which the EU has now engaged, which might threaten the European entente. This situation is likely to be worsened should another Euro crisis occur, or should the migration crisis worsen. Britain who is neither a member of the Eurozone, nor a signatory of the Schengen agreement, does not deserve to be dragged into this impeding chaos. Global trading is Britain’s vocation and outside the EU, she will regain this status for her prosperity and that of the Commonwealth. After reading all these arguments, I cannot think of any reason why any British African would decide to vote to Remain in the EU, and I see every reason why they would back Brexit and Vote Leave.
This blog was originally published here: https://jamilatherebel.wordpress.com/2016/02/24/why-should-africans-back-brexit/