‘The era of globalisation’ is fast becoming the preferred term for describing the current times. Globalisation has brought many good things to the world, such as the ability to travel, the wider distribution of educational resources, HIV-AIDS awareness, the use of Internet and other technologies and international sporting competitions just to name a few. However, it also has brought with it some detrimental consequences that have significantly impacted upon the developing world. In the case studies that follow the term ‘neocolonialism’ (or ‘new-colonialism’) is used to describe the re-colonisation of Africa that is taking place through the ‘capitalist market controllers’ – namely, the corporations. Historically, when colonisation in Africa took place in the nineteenth century, the colonial powers extracted Africa’s precious resources to build up their own empires at the expense of African people through “direct colonial rule” and a “policy of divide-and-conquer” (Schraeder 2004, pp 57-59). Today similar atrocities continue as the continent is pillaged through the imposition of corporations, funded by the lifestyles of Western consumers (Hoogvelt, 2002). Generally today it is through corporate financial arrangements, or perhaps dare it be said - coercions and bribes (as opposed to the guns of colonial lords) who are extracting the wealth from the continent. Although the wealth of natural resources has the potential to help eradicate poverty, it does not take long to understand that this opportunity, presented by globalisation, has failed to materialize and instead has set in motion the gradual degeneration of the continent.
To illustrate this argument, there are a plethora of cases to examine. This website investigates the ‘neocolonial’ corporate controversies surrounding firstly, Gold in the Dominican Republic of Congo (DRC), secondly, the Cocoa Trade in West Africa, and finally, we investigate some facts about the dangerous trials of the Western made anti-HIV drug, Nevirapine. The three case studies discussed here, only touch the surface of what is really happening on the African continent. Thanks to films such as Blood Diamond (2007), which deals with human rights abuses behind mining companies, and the Constant Gardener (2005), which deals with human rights abuses within the pharmaceutical companies, knowledge of corporate corruption is getting out to those who have a degree of power to bring change. To introduce these case studies, the following is a quote from Academic scholar Ankie Hoogvelt who argues that we can instigate change to African lives.
“We are involved. We in the centre and the heartland of the global capitalist system are the cause, and the excuse, of much plunder, degradation and dereliction in the margins of the world. It is our own humanity that is at stake if we continue to profit from this trade, in much the same way that the Abolitionists argued 200 years ago when they boycotted the rum and sugar produced by slave labour” (Hoogvelt 2002, pp 25-26).
Blood Diamond 2006, Motion Picture, Warner Brothers, United States.
The Constant Gardener 2005, Motion Picture, Focus Features, United Kingdom.
Hoogvelt, A 2002, ‘Globalization, Imperialism, and Exclusion: The Case of Sub-Saharan Africa’, in T Zack-Williams, D Frost & A Thomson (eds), Africa in Crisis, Pluto Press, London, pp. 15-28.
Schraeder, P 2004, ‘African Politics and Society: A Mosaic in Transformation’ (2nd ed), Belmont, Chapter 3.