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Third lecture completes James Robinson Johnston Distinguished Lecture Series

Dr. Hakim Adi: The White Man's Burden? The New Scramble for Africa

by Scott Barber

Dr. Hakim Adi, Halifax, March 20, 2012
Dr. Hakim Adi, Halifax, March 20, 2012

Halifax - The third and final lecture in the James Robinson Johnston (JRJ) Distinguished Lecture Series took place Tuesday, March 20th before a large audience at Dalhousie University in Halifax with “White Man's Burden? The New Scramble for Africa,” a talk by Dr. Hakim Adi. Dr. Adi teaches at the University of Chichester in the UK and is known internationally for his scholarship on Africa and the African Diaspora. Also a commentator on BBC, he is the author of several important books on African Studies including several books for children.

Dr. Adi joins previous lecturers in the JRJ Chair Series, Dr. Burnley “Rocky” Jones and Isaac Saney, in sharing with Halifax audiences their unique perspectives on the African experience with Western Civilization. Dr. Jones, in the premiere lecture of the series, illuminated the connections between African Nova Scotia and Canadian experience with the rise of the Black Power and Civil Rights movements in North America. Saney's lecture addressed the struggle against racism in regional terms by examining the relationship of the Cuban state to issues of race in history and policy. Dr. Hakim, in this final lecture, takes us home to Africa, past and present, to consider the method and means of the imperialist programs continuing to seek control of African peoples and resources.

Master of Ceremonies for the final lecture in the series, Isaac Saney introduced the 150 plus audience to members of the JRJ advisory committee and other important academic figures in attendance. He then called on Alia Saied of the Nova Scotia Public Interest Research Group – NSPIRG , who co-hosted the evening's talk by Dr. Adi.

In his lecture, current Western interventionist policy is located by Dr. Adi in the racist 19th century narrative of “the white man's burden” which justified the first scramble for Africa. In today's scramble, a racist and patronizing narrative continues to justify foreign business and military intervention on the continent. According to Dr. Adi, “military intervention in Africa under the guise of humanitarianism , this taking up the white man's burden, peace keeping, etc., etc. It's all been raised to a new level which has significance to Africa and other parts of the world.”

Despite the continuing exploitation of the African continent enabled by state intervention and multinational investment, enforced by institutions such as the World Bank and AFRICOM, and spun in the media as development, humanitarianism, and security partnership, Hakim Adi feels:

“Action can be taken, that in this new scramble for Africa, the people of Africa also have a say, it's not just a question of what the big powers and big multinationals want - that people aren't confused by the propaganda, by the sweet words and so on, that people , people are prepared to take action, and I think then, that is also a message to us...

...Do we agree that this scramble should go on, should take place in the way it is taking place? Or do we think the governments of Canada, the big monopolies of Canada, of Britain, of the U.S. And of France and of Belgium should act in a different way? Or shouldn't act at all? So we also have to consider what our role is in dealing with these particular problems.”

You can listen to a full recording of both the talk, and the question & answer period, by checking out the audio link above.


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