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Understanding Western Involvement
by Adrian Swanston, Vancouver BC

“I would like to raise awareness of the continent’s plight, as scant coverage is given for what takes place. As always the resources are key to any interest shown by colonial powers. France’s most recent show of concern for the sake of ‘humanity’ is the same tried and true means used to cover their true intent.”  – Adrian Swanston


By Adrian Swanston, Vancouver BC

Africa covers not less than 11,668,545 mi(2), and is as big as western Europe, India, China and the United States combined. Africa has a land mass that is 1/5 the entire land surface of the earth. Africa rises out of the Atlantic, the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Antarctic. With a population of 890,000,000 people, in 61 territories (as of 2005), it accounts for 14% of the world's human population.

Africa is considered the oldest territory on earth. Anthropologists discovered fossils along with evidence of human occupation perhaps as early as 7 mil1ion years ago.

Africa is important for its natural resources, it produces 98% of gold, 22% of the world's copper, large quantities of minerals such as manganese, chromium and uranium. Manganese is used in agriculture for animal feed, and plant fertilizers. Used in industry for making steel, used in medicine for health concerns. Chromium is used industrially to impart corrosion resistance, shiny finish to metals, used for dyes, and paints, as well as medicine. Uranium is used in dyes, and glass making, used to fuel nuclear power plants, and submarines. Uranium was used in the first atomic bomb. (Yellow cake is uranium in its purest form. You will remember, Powell presented this to the U.N. General Assembly as evidence in claims for the production of weapons of mass destruction.) These are just some of Africa's numerous natural resources.

Africa's early civilization opens with the rise of literacy in Ancient Egypt, which had varying levels of influence in Europe as well. Prominent civilizations at different times included Carthage! the Kingdom of Aksum, the Nubian kingdoms and many others.

So what happened? Why is this continent experiencing such unstable conditions today? I will get to that in a moment.

During research for this speech, someone suggested that I visit History is A Weapon,(1) website.  I’d like to read to you from its home page:

"History isn't what happened.  History is a story of what happened. And there are always different versions, different stories, about the same events. One version might revolve mainly around a specific set of facts, while another version might minimize them or not include them at all.

“Like stories, each of these different versions of history contains different lessons. Some histories tell us that our leaders, at least have always tried to do right for everyone. Others remark that the emperors don't have the slaves' best interests at heart. Some teach us that this is both what has always been and what always will be. Others counsel that we shouldn't mistake transient dominance for intrinsic superiority. Lastly, some histories paint a picture where only the elites have the power to change the world, while others point out that social change is rarely commended from the top down. In other words, it starts here, at the grassroots level. Regardless of the value of these many lessons, History isn't ‘what happened’ but the stories of what happened and the lessons these stories include.

“The very selection of which histories to teach in a society shapes our view of how & what came to be and, in turn, what we understand as possible. This choice of which history to teach can never be "neutral" or "objective." Those who choose, either following a set agenda or guided by hidden prejudices, serve their interest. Their interest could be to continue this world as it now stands or to make a new world.” (1)

Now I can personally relate to this, having been born of African descent, raised in Harlem, New York. The system I grew up in, the education I was indoctrinated with, turn out to be very different from the actual facts. When you think of Africa, what immediately comes to mind for some is its poverty, corruption, and the inability to govern – all negative. When you seek out the alternative facts, you find a different story, a different truth.

Many of you may have heard of Patrice Emery Lumumba, the first prime minister of the Congo. I watched a documentary concerning his time in office. Lumumba was elected democratically, wanting to serve his nation. Patrice implemented the means to
nationalize the nation’s natural resources. This did not serve the interests of the colonial rulers; ten weeks later, his government was deposed during the Congo Crisis coup, Patrice was tortured and killed, his body hacked to pieces and consumed by fire. This took place during the early '60's.

Thomas Sankara became the prime minister (1983-87) of Burkina Faso, formerly Upper Volta [a landlocked country in West Africa]. Thomas Sankara was a young soldier inspired by the Cuban and Ghanian revolutions. With a combination of personal charisma and Leninist social organization, his government undertook major initiatives to fight corruption, to improve education, agriculture and the status of women. Sankara’s program provoked strong opposition from tribal leaders, as well as the ruling elite (the colonizers). This led to his downfall; Sankara was assassinated in a bloody coup.

These are a few examples of attempts to bring about change regarding poverty, corruption, and the ability to govern – initiatives that were thwarted and destroyed by Western powers. [The destruction of Libya in 2011 is another example: “Libya’s economic and social achievements over the last 30 years, have been brutally reversed.” (2)]

Getting back to the question, ‘Why have
conditions in Africa not improved?’

Watching the documentary on Patrice Lumumba (mentioned earlier), the opening caption read: "At
the Berlin Conference in 1885, Europe divided up Africa. The Congo became the property of King
Leopold II.” 
This was a tremendous revelation to me, and circumstances began to have a fuller meaning.

Most recently, I came across this excerpt from The Papal bull, ROMANUS PONTIFEX, written January 8th, 1455: “... weighing all and singular the premises with due meditation, and noting that since we had formerly by other letter of ours granted among other things free and ample faculty to the aforesaid King Alfonso – to invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens [Muslims] and pagans whatsoever, and other enemies of Christ wheresoever placed, and the kingdoms, dukedoms, principalities, dominions, possessions, and all movable and immovable goods whatsoever held and possessed by them and to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery, and to apply and appropriate to himself and his successors the kingdoms, dukedoms, counties, principalities, dominions, possessions, and goods, and to convert them to his and their use and profit – by having secured the said faculty, the said King Alfonso, or, by his authority, the aforesaid infante, justly and lawfully has acquired and possessed, and doth possess, these islands, lands, harbors, and seas, and they do of right belong and pertain to the said King Alfonso and his successors." (3)  [This was a sweeping endorsement/ promotion of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.]

After reading this, everything was made crystal clear. What I realized was that, today, this is not so much a religious principal, as it is a political doctrine, using the guise of “HUMANITARIANISM” to mask naked imperialist, aggression. Present and past events will attest to such.

We cannot be passive. We must choose whose interests are best: - those who want to keep things going as they are or those who want to work to make a better world. If we choose the latter, we must seek out the tools we will need. History is just one tool to shape our understanding of our world. And every tool is a weapon if you hold it right.


Spain and Portugal were the two strongest of the Imperial Realm. Spain was granted all domains west of Spain, Portugal was granted all domains east of Spain; with one exception: Portugal having previously vanquished what we know as Brazil, was allowed to retain her colony (which is why Portugese is spoken in Brazil).

Footnotes: (1) From the website: “History Is A Weapon” –www.historyisaweapon.com

(2) “Destroying a Country’s Standard of Living: What Libya Had Achieved, What has been Destroyed,” by Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research 2011: http://tinyurl.com/CRG26686

(3) Website: www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romanus_Pontifex

Additional references: (a) Remembering a coup d’état, by Roger Annis, coordinator of the Canada Haiti Action Network and its local affiliate, Haiti Solidarity BC. LINK: www.straight.com/news/remembering-coup-detat-haiti

(b) The Elite, the ‘Great Game’ and World War III, by Prof. Mujahid Kamran, Global Research, June 7, 2011.
LINK: www.globalresearch.ca/the-elite-the-great-game-and-world-war-iii/25160

                            From Adrian Swanston, Vancouver

Adrian Swanston is a long-time resident of Vancouver, a social justice and antiwar activist, unionist, and a former member of the US armed forces. The following is the text of his speech, a few years ago, on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery, calling attention to the recent interventions of the United States and NATO in Africa. §

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