The purpose of this written piece is to address, define, and breakdown neo-colonialism in Gambia. I know that Pan-Africanists, especially the revolutionary Pan-Africanists within the All African People's Revolutionary Party (A-APRP), always use the term neo-colonialism in speaking about the political conditions throughout Africa. And, although I think we do as good a job as anyone in clarifying what that vicious system is and how it operates, I'm hoping this piece can serve as a reference point for those who want to learn the A, B, C's, of neo-colonialism because trying to understand Africa's political situation without understanding neo-colonialism is like trying to understand where most babies come from without talking about sex.
Gambia is one of Africa and the world's poorest countries. The primary product produced, and the main export of the country, is peanuts. One of the central problems that keeps African countries poor is that most of what they are able to produce under their current structures, like Gambian peanuts, is something that can be bought by consumer countries in any number of markets and countries. This makes it impossible for Gambia to ever have any say in setting market prices for the product(s) they produce. Since you are a consumer within capitalism, I'm sure you understand that when there is more of a product than there are consumers to buy it, then the consumer determines the pricing. Well, on the imperialist level of governments, the rich countries like the U.S. and European countries (either in Europe or the settler colonies like Australia and zionist israel), determine prices for everything because they price based on what they are willing to pay while holding the world hostage to the technologies and resources they control to back up their price robberies. So Gambia, having just peanuts to negotiate with, is doomed to remain a poor country forever under the current system.
The capitalist countries, intent on keeping the majority of the world under their political and economic thumb, established neo-colonialism as the dominant system in Africa once they recognized that it would impossible for them to maintain the colonial system. So, in the 50s and 60s, every territory in Africa - except Southern Africa - gained "political independence", but what this actually meant is that the Europeans who lived and ran these countries from within, simply left, but not before establishing and instituting a system that would ensure their interests - the interests of international bourgeois capitalism - were maintained. The way they did this was by controlling and instituting the educational systems in the countries to make sure Africans were taught to view Europe, European culture, and most importantly, the methods in which Europeans governed e.g. capitalism, as dominant and absolutely necessary. Then they continued to instigate conflict as a method of divide and conquer. That's why the supposed conflicts between Eritreans and Ethiopians has existed for decades although there has always been extensive mixing between the two ethnic groups in many ways in spite of the fact the two countries had a 30 year war. That's why the Hutus and Tutsis, having similar connections between the ethnic groups, were instigated so badly against each other by Belgium and France that millions were killed. The movie "Hotel Rwanda" showed you that, but it didn't show you these reasons why. I can go on and on with examples, but the point is the system is designed to keep Africans from gaining independence from imperialism. And to guarantee that this system would stay in place, the capitalist countries set up an economic system of strangulation that punished countries that tried to go independent with wicked tariffs (excessive taxes on products). Many of these vicious taxes take the form of continued forced payments Europe demands from her former colonial colonies, 50 years after colonialism supposedly ended as ransom for technical, military, and other forms of knowledge and skills. This economic extortion keeps Africa poor. And, in instances where the masses of people decide to stand up, as in the case of the Congo in 1960, when imperialism cannot stop it by these methods, they move to out and out murder (of Patrice Lumumba, the democratically elected Prime Minister of the Congo) and vicious campaigns to destroy even the basic ability of country's like the Congo to function on a rudimentary level without imperialism. Meanwhile, because this system of control and exploitation is so dominant, the only people who are permitted by Western imperialism to govern in these former colonies are people who will manage their interests for them. That's why a man like Yahya Jammeh can be president in Gambia for almost a quarter of a century, do absolutely nothing for the masses in Gambia, and then refuse to leave office even after the people democratically vote to have him replaced. After this happened in Jammeh in January, he was not successfully removed from office until recently and this probably only happened when it did because of intervention by a military coalition of West African countries under the banner of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). In other words, despite the clear illegalities of Jammeh's initial refusal to leave office, he could conceivably still be in the way in Gambia if ECOWAS hadn't interceded.
This type of corruption is not the exception in Africa, but the rule of the day because people like Jammeh, Paul Biya in Cameroon, the late Lasana Conte in Guinea, Museveni in Uganda, and that Central Intelligence Agency (or criminals in action as we prefer to call them - CIA) man - Paul Kagame in Rwanda, all of them and many others on the continent, answer only to their European masters, not to the masses of the suffering people in Africa. And, this is the foundation from which neo-colonialism functions in Africa. The political leadership is there not to serve the people, but to exploit them in the interests of imperialism. In fact, that's the definition of imperialism you should remember - a system where the resources, human and material, of a country are exploited by another country at the expense of the people in the exploited country.
Overall, this system that subjugates Gambia serves imperialism at the highest level by ensuring that the people of Gambia are kept from deciding that they want to do away with imperialism. This is where entities like the U.S. dominated African Command, or Afrocom, come into play where the U.S. has installed approximately 75 military bases throughout Africa under the Bush and Obama regimes. The stated objective of this military presence is to eliminate the allegedly ISIS based Boko Haram and al Shabad from operating in Africa, but no one can point to any effective efforts these U.S. military personnel are making in those areas because such work doesn't exist. For those who are having trouble following along, that means the U.S. military isn't setting up these bases for anything besides ensuring the masses of Africans, like those in Gambia, or Senegal, or Zimbabwe, Guinea, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Somalia, Sudan, Chad, etc., don't decide they are sick of the Biyas, Jammehs, etc. That in the case of Gambia, there isn't a force that organizes the people of Gambia to decide to not play the waiting game for new president Adama Barrow to implement the same system of neo-colonialism that has been traumatizing them since they supposedly became independent in 1965.
One clear positive we see in Gambia and other places is that Africa already has the capacity to come together on regional levels like with ECOWAS to help resolve conflicts in West Africa and other structures can be built and utilized to do the same throughout all of Africa. Kwame Nkrumah and Sekou Ture, two great sons of Africa who had a vision for African liberation, were instrumental in launching ECOWAS. Now its up to us to make sure those entities are operating in a way that can help us build stability and not continued domination by imperialism. Of course, regional cooperation is just a stepping stone to continental cooperation which we know is our only real solution. Gambia cannot and will not ever become an independent actor with just peanuts to work with. And, as we discussed with agreeable community folks in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, last December, Tanzania could not become socialist under Julius Nyerere's "Ujaama" in the 70s and 80s, because no one country can expect to be successful at independence in Africa on any level because none of the existing countries were created for success. They were created to serve the interests of European capitalism. Just like Africans in any of the countries outside of Africa, including the united snakes of amerikkka, cannot expect to find collective success just in those countries. We were not kidnapped and brought here to become successful and the longer we continue to buy into that lying narrative they tell every naive person who comes here, we will continue to be confused about our reality. This system continues to breath from keeping us down. It will never deliver collective success opportunities for us. Only token opportunities to benefit from the oppression of the masses of our people. The people of Gambia and everywhere else around the African world are sick of that lie. It isn't working out for us because it cannot work. Only our unity will save us, whether we are in Banjul (Gambia) or Baltimore, this remains as true today as it was the day the first African was stolen and forced to board a slave ship hundreds of years ago.