An African proverb says you do not shave a man’s hair in his absence, but by excluding the African Union (AU), that is what the European meetings on Libya and the Sahel are trying to achieve.


This week a number of countries, including Turkey and Russia, tried to put out the flames engulfing Libya by convening a peace meeting in Moscow, with the likelihood of another in Germany on Sunday. In France, President Emmanuel Macron, like a headmaster, summoned the presidents of Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania to Pau, Southern France, to explain why there are rising anti-French sentiments in Africa. He threatened to pull out the 4,500 French troops allegedly fighting terrorists in Africa.

In all these, Africa, as a continent, or the African Union (AU), as the body representing the continent, was excluded. The only theatre we are present in is the peace move involving Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt over the building of a dam by the Ethiopians on the River Nile. This Tuesday, Ethiopian prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, turned his back on the United States of America (U.S.A) as the mediator on the Nile issue and asked South African to mediate.

Powerful U.S.A is not part of the firefighters trying to put out the raging flames in Libya; this is logical because you do not expect an arsonist to help put out the fires he has set off. One of the lows of the Obama administration was the destruction of Libya and murder of President Mouamar Ghadaffi, an elderly man who at the 2009 United Nations General Assembly fondly called Obama “our son”, in recognition of the fact that Obama’s father, Barack Hussein Obama Snr., was an African from Kenya.

President Ghadaffi was murdered, not because he was supporting alleged terrorists, building a nuclear bomb or was a threat to world peace. In fact, he had become a darling of the West, providing money to countries in that hemisphere for a sundry of things, including paying them off over the frame up of Libya for the December 21, 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 crash in Lockerbie, United Kingdom.

Macron cannot understand why Africans have become quite weary of France and its so-called assistance to the continent. First, there is the issue of trust, as for over a century France has brutally exploited Africa, murdered its patriots like Sylvanus Olympio in Togo, Felix Moumie of Chad, and massacred some two million Algerians for daring to demand independence.


The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) led by the U.S.A, coupled gangsters, terrorists, Islamic fundamentalists, renegades and soldiers of fortune into an invading army in Libya for four primary reasons. First, Libya has huge oil reserves which the West, particularly the U.S.A, eyes for themselves. Second, Ghadaffi was toying with the idea of an alternative world reserve currency to the dollar. Third, he was rallying Africa to build a true, independent union. Fourth, over the decades, the West had portrayed Ghadaffi as man on the fringes of lunacy and Libya as the leading sponsor of state terrorism. These they could not forget or get over, even after Ghadaffi had lowered his guards and befriended the them.

I cannot forget the glee, excitement and uncontrolled laughter of then U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton in 2011, when she was told a pistol had been put to Ghadaffi’s head in the streets of Libya and that he had been summarily executed. Like an excited school girl, she exclaimed: “We came, we saw, he died.” Except that it was not Ghadaffi alone who died in that proxy war, which began on March 2, 2011; over 20,000 Libyans were also killed in its first six months. In the last eight years, more have been killed in the sectarian wars that followed, including in the endless bombings of Tripoli. Libya itself has, at least, three governments or what can be so called; there is one in disputed Tripoli, led by Fayez al-Serraj; another in Tobruk, led by Aguila Saleh; and General Khalifa Haftar’s own in Benghazi, which is nesting a lot of the Libyan oil for which the country has been destroyed.

Macron cannot understand why Africans have become quite weary of France and its so-called assistance to the continent. First, there is the issue of trust, as for over a century France has brutally exploited Africa, murdered its patriots like Sylvanus Olympio in Togo, Felix Moumie of Chad, and massacred some two million Algerians for daring to demand independence. We can in fact start with Macron himself; if millions of French people, including the ‘Yellow Vests’ and those who have been on strike for months over pension and sundry matters do not trust him, why should the exploited African people?

Macron had in December threatened to withdraw French troops from the countries saying: “I can’t have French troops on the ground in the Sahel when there is ambiguity toward (France, and) anti-French movements and sometimes comments made by politicians and ministers.” Rather than make such empty threats, Macron needed to ask himself what triggered the terrorist movements and attacks in countries like Mali and Burkina Faso? It was the direct action of France and NATO in Libya, which destroyed that country and released a tidal wave of militants and terrorists sweeping across those countries. In other words, had France and NATO not established, trained, armed, funded and backed the terrorists in Libya to destroy that country, the movement of armed persons and ceaseless flow of arms from Libya might not have occurred.

If French troops leave, it will in the immediate term affect those African countries, but in the long run, an Africa without French meddlesomeness, theft and exploitation, will be a far better place. In any case, if the wars in those French speaking countries do not go well, France, as it did in Rwanda, will withdraw its troops and leave we Africans to sort ourselves out.


Second, had France not turned those African countries into Banana republics, including imposing unpopular leaders like its Man Friday, Alassane Ouattara in Cote d’Voire, those countries might have been able to take care of their internal security challenges and defend their territorial integrity. After all, with all his noise this week about increasing military support, all Macron did at Pau was a promise to increase French troops in Africa by 2022!

Third, part of the uprising, including the rise of militias in those African countries, stem from hunger, poverty and mass unemployment. Had France not been stealing $500 billion annually from its former colonies in Africa, those countries might have had funds to address the challenges of want and mass deprivation. Macron wonders why many Africans despise France; why won’t they when they know that France’s development and its continued economic prosperity is based on its theft of African funds and the exploitation of Africans and their natural resources. Why will they not be weary of France when they know it shores up unpopular leaders and regimes, while ensuring that patriots like former President Lauren Gbagbo of Cote d’Voire do not return home to help build their countries?

If French troops leave, it will in the immediate term affect those African countries, but in the long run, an Africa without French meddlesomeness, theft and exploitation, will be a far better place. In any case, if the wars in those French speaking countries do not go well, France, as it did in Rwanda, will withdraw its troops and leave we Africans to sort ourselves out.

An African proverb says you do not shave a man’s hair in his absence, but by excluding the African Union (AU), that is what the European meetings on Libya and the Sahel are trying to achieve.

Owei Lakemfa, a former secretary general of African workers, is a human rights activist, journalist and author.

Picture credit: Guillaume Horcajuelo/Pool via Reuters.