It seems President William Ruto has the spirit of Kwame Nkrumah of Muammar Ghaddafi, Nelson Mandela, Julius Nyerere and Robert Mugabe, envisioning an Africa where political and economic independence are coupled.
Among the nerves of Western domination in Africa that president Dr Ruto is rattling is the privileged US dollar. Can he crack the skull, this time around?
The global north’s powers have unquenchable interests in Africa? Sitting on over 40 per cent of the world’s gold, 65 per cent of world’s arable land and over 90 per cent of chromium and platinum, with the largest reserves of diamonds, cobalt, and uranium globally, Africa occupies a special place in the hearts of the global powers.
That’s why the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the emerging economies like China can sell all what they have to access Africa.
Dr Ruto has been breaking the ceiling—boldly addressing Africa and the West. His voice has particularly awakened Africa’s dream to free itself from the domination of the United States’ dollar.
Without the dollar, the United States will step down from the throne of world superpower. But the million-dollar question is, how far can the United States entertain such line of thought? What does history say about those who treaded the same path?
Lessons from past African statesmen shows that whoever walked this path found themselves at loggerheads with the global powers. The greatest of them all, Ghana’s Nkrumah, the father of pan-Africanism died a deposed president at 62 in Guinea after three failed assassinations and a military coup in his motherland. His efforts made sense to his people and African continent posthumously.
How far can President Ruto push towards that direction? In his few months in office, Dr Ruto has largely been leaning towards the West in his foreign economic interests and policy. Could his initial steps cripple his vision? If he is serious with this mission, it will.
Dethroning the dollar of its privilege in the global money market is not a walk in the park. The dollar, the global primary reserve currency has granted the United States an “exorbitant privilege” in the economic scene above the rest of the world. Courtesy of the dollar, the US Wall Street banks hold over $6.7 trillion in foreign reserves.
Moreover, there are trails that touching the backbone of the US global economic dominance is touching the very nerve of the world superpower, and it comes with consequences.
For example, one of African leaders who pushed for the continent to collectively have an African bank to tame the US dollar was Gadhafi of Libya. His tragic ending in the hands of NATO in 2011 alongside similar precedencies indicated that conflicting the interests of the West comes at a cost. More visible are the labels that the culprits earn including being termed terrorists, tyrants, and dictators, among others.
The celebrated South Africa’s Nelson Mandela remained in the United States’ terrorist watch list until 2008. Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugambe died a dictator, after attracting world sanctions that left his country dilapidated economically. His cry that “Zimbabwe is for Zimbabweans” earned him the tag of a dictator and he is an example to those who think that they can challenge the privileges of former colonial masters.
Nyerere and his African socialism (Ujamaa) died crying for African unity. He left Tanzania a poor country—detached from the rest of the world. His mistake was to think that Africans can unite and forge their Africanness to spur development.
Against this background, I ask, is President Ruto serious? These Africans were seriously committed in their vision and missions. Is he ready to irritate the West and the US? Can that happen when he is still leaning on their bosom? The vision is cast, but the path is dotted with bones of fallen trailblazers.
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Dr Ndonye is a senior lecturer, School of Music and Media at Kabarak University