Africa’s ‘clientelist’ leadership and the West’s ‘merchant of Venice’ attitude

The Merchant of Venice is one of my best works of Shakespeare. In a typical Shakespearean plot, it carries multiple themes of which the most dominant are socio-cultural ethics and religious morality and an attempt to universalize the two.

It is said to have been based on Christopher Marlowe’s 1565 work titled “The Jew of Malta”. But we do not intend to engage our readers with Marlowe’s Maltese Jew. It offers a seemingly simple thematic selection if read as a story; and it is easy to disentangle nuggets of the moral and socio-cultural attitudes of Shakespeare’s Europe. “The Merchant of Venice” offers an unethical projection of power onto a client.

If one read Christopher Marlowe’s “The Jew of Malta” alongside Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice, one would find the Jews (perceptually usurious and their isolationist socio-cultural attitudes in Europe) to be the most common denominator. How surprising that a crazed European once said that he had found “a definitive solution…” to the problem of the Jewish threat?

Unfortunately, Shakespeare’s Europe does not seem to have changed much. Europeans (and the West in general) still hold negative attitudes towards other races or communities. In a typical Merchant of Venice attitude, a European power cleverly demands a pound of flesh from a small African country with which it is supposed to maintain a friendship in the service of mutual interests.

Dear reader, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (what name?) has requested the Republic of Rwanda to host a camp for asylum seekers in the said United Kingdom of Great Britain and ‘North Ireland. And the Republic of Rwanda, despite its pan-African pride and posture, seems willing to agree to play the customer of the unethical and immoral attitude of His Majesty’s government towards human persons in need of refuge from the wars and other problems.

In a recent interview with The Economist, Tony Blair (former British Prime Minister) made a disturbing remark. He exclaimed: A war at the gates of Europe in this century!? Obviously, these people think that war can only happen in places other than Europe; and with that, perhaps they should be forgiven for bullying Vladmir Putin of Russia for waging war (not love) at the gates of Europe. In his bubble of Eurocentric attitudes, Putin has shamed Europe.

As we said earlier, we can let Europeans live with their Europe. But how do African leaders relate to Europeans na hiyo yawo yote (and all their arrogance)? Is it through partnership or clientelism? Because the main essence of the state in Africa is the survival of the regime, the government will do everything to achieve this objective (the survival of the regime).

I still remember the struggle of the Americans for an African country to host their Africom (African Command). I was told that no African country had offered to host the so-called Africom (and it is currently headquartered in a European country).

And so, we asked on our facebook timeline: what’s in it for Rwanda? Is this the path of diplomacy and the projection of Rwanda’s foreign policy? Is it the money? Is it based on the need to be in the good big boy books?

Western diplomats in Africa wonder why African leaders were not quick to condemn the RWA (Russian War of Aggression) in Ukraine? With colonization and slavery inflicted on Africans by the West, the African leader is still skeptical of the West’s stance on democracy.

African leaders must put an end to this vassal or client tendency in their relationship with the West. And we implore Rwanda to refuse unethical overtures from the UK.

The Merchant of Venice is one of my best works of Shakespeare. In a typical Shakespearean plot, it carries multiple themes of which the most dominant are socio-cultural ethics and religious morality and an attempt to universalize the two.

It is said to have been based on Christopher Marlowe’s 1565 work titled “The Jew of Malta”. But we do not intend to engage our readers with Marlowe’s Maltese Jew. It offers a seemingly simple thematic selection if read as a story; and it is easy to disentangle nuggets of the moral and socio-cultural attitudes of Shakespeare’s Europe. “The Merchant of Venice” offers an unethical projection of power onto a client.

If one read Christopher Marlowe’s “The Jew of Malta” alongside Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice,” one would find the Jews (perceptually usurious and their isolationist socio-cultural attitudes in Europe) to be the most common denominator. How surprising that a crazed European once said that he had found “a definitive solution…” to the problem of the Jewish threat?

Unfortunately, Shakespeare’s Europe does not seem to have changed much. Europeans (and the West in general) still hold negative attitudes towards other races or communities. In a typical Merchant of Venice attitude, a European power cleverly demands a pound of flesh from a small African country with which it is supposed to maintain a friendship in the service of mutual interests.

Dear reader, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (what name?) has requested the Republic of Rwanda to host a camp for asylum seekers in the said United Kingdom of Great Britain and ‘North Ireland. And the Republic of Rwanda, despite its pan-African pride and posture, seems willing to agree to play the customer of the unethical and immoral attitude of His Majesty’s government towards human persons in need of refuge from the wars and other problems.

In a recent interview with The Economist, Tony Blair (former British Prime Minister) made a disturbing remark. He exclaimed: A war at the gates of Europe in this century!? Obviously, these people think that war can only happen in places other than Europe; and with that, perhaps they should be forgiven for bullying Vladmir Putin of Russia for waging war (not love) at the gates of Europe. In his bubble of Eurocentric attitudes, Putin has shamed Europe.

As we said earlier, we can let Europeans live with their Europe. But how do African leaders relate to Europeans na hiyo yawo yote (and all their arrogance)? Is it through partnership or clientelism? Because the main essence of the state in Africa is the survival of the regime, the government will do everything to achieve this objective (the survival of the regime).

I still remember the struggle of the Americans for an African country to host their Africom (African Command). I was told that no African country had offered to host the so-called Africom (and it is currently headquartered in a European country).

And so, we asked on our facebook timeline: what’s in it for Rwanda? Is this the path of diplomacy and the projection of Rwanda’s foreign policy? Is it the money? Is it based on the need to be in the good big boy books?

Western diplomats in Africa wonder why African leaders were not quick to condemn the RWA (Russian War of Aggression) in Ukraine? With colonization and slavery inflicted on Africans by the West, the African leader is still skeptical of the West’s stance on democracy.

African leaders must put an end to this vassal or client tendency in their relationship with the West. And we implore Rwanda to refuse unethical overtures from the UK.

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