I moved to Europe believing in European values – tolerance, openness, diversity

I took seriously the words:
Social Justice
Equal Opportunity
Individual Freedom
Living with dignity

The first shock came when I read Immanuel Kant, the darling of the Western Enlightenment with his categorical Imperative, celebrated as the “father of democracy.”

Which is a joke since Kant considered only white males to be human.

Immanuel Kant, invented the racial hierarchy that still exists today, with white males on top and then, magically the lower you go on that hierarchy the darker the skin colour, the more violent and dangerous life becomes.

In the 1830s the German philosopher G. H. F. Hegel remarked that Africa “is no historical part of the world; it has no movement or development to exhibit.”

Professor Hugh Trevor Roper, eminent historian from Oxford, who in 1959 declared Africans to be “a people without history”

“there is only the history of Europeans in Africa. The rest is darkness, and darkness is not the subject of history.” There is a continuity in Western thought.

These men snap their fingers and poof, Africa disappears. After that slavery and colonisation are a way for Europeans to save Africa, civilise Africans. Now we have development “aid.” It’s a continuation of patriarchal, colonial thought and a way to conceal hyper exploitation of Africans. Aid is a top-down hierarchichal relationship, as it always is when there is a complete power imbalance. When I worked in managing aid projects we tried to increase participation but without ever mentioning the clear power asymmetry between ourselves as representatives of the donors and the communities in Africa and Asia, of course we kept the power. The communities had to do what we said or they didn’t get any money. Very simple.

Africa in the white imagination has been held in a space outside time. Africans dehumanised in order for their lives and their labour to be simply taken by European states. Past and present.

In the white imagination, very little has shifted. People from wealthy countries want things from poor countries. They want land, minerals, holidays, photos, organs, sexual services. But they don’t want the people.

The system of global white supremacy can only work with a racial hierarchy, racist migration policy, criminalisation of migrants and deportation.

All in a context of colour “blindness” and “Blindness” to European history in the colonies which produce the migrants they don’t want.

Frontex, Development Aid to third countries to turn borders into prison walls and the Atlantic into the grave it has been for the last 500 years. This has to end.

By Clementine Ewokolo Burnley


Clementine will be moderating a panel at our conference ALS ICH NACH DEUTSCHLAND KAM | WHEN I CAME TO GERMANY on 29th October.