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    An Introduction to Neocolonialism- The Re-colonisation of Africa

    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
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    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 Africas 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.

    AIDS Baby, Cabo Delgado Province,

    Mozambique 2007

    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
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    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).

    Reference List

    Blood Diamond2006, Motion Picture, Warner Brothers, United States.

    The Constant Gardener2005, 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.

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    Gold In the Dominican Republic of Congo

    Gold Mining

    When it comes to the enormous wealth in natural resources found in Africa, as

    with the rest of the continent, the DRC is not lacking. The following case study

    examines the less than honourable role of one of the largest gold producers,

    AngloGold Ashanti. The company forms part of leading mining conglomerate

    Anglo American, along with Anglo Platinum, and De Beers leading diamond

    producer, and others all of who attract tireless amounts of global

    condemnation for the grave consequences of their compromises that impede

    upon the poorest of the poor. This is a study of how the DR Congo is one such

    place, where the capitalist driven corporation is extracting the gold that the

    ex-colonizers once did, and once again, it is to the detriment of the local

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    5/21 2009

    The neo-colonial ties to the gold mining industry are a problem that the world

    would probably prefer to ignore. The truth of the matter challenges the statusquo in a modern world, where to some, being fashionable is a sign of success.

    Many a consumer will subconsciously seek to achieve this feat, which may be

    inescapably attached to obtaining that expensive watch or ring. The gold

    industry is fuelled by consumerist ideologies. The achievement of wealth or the

    ideological symbolism attached to finding the person with whom one wants to

    spend their lives with, among many other notions, are lovely; however if we

    shoppers understood the human rights violations and exploitation behind our

    purchases, would we continue to support such a dirty industry?

    Google Map Image

    One area of concern in the DRC is the small town of Mongbwalu, where ethnic

    fighting in recent years has claimed the lives of some 2000 civilians (Davies

    2005). Since war ended in 2003, the Government has been unable

    to secure the area, which has lead to the rebel group, Nationalist and

    Integrationist Front (FNI) controlling the gold hotspot (HRW Summary 2005).

    The Journal of African Business together with the UN argue that the FNI is

    responsible for mass crimes against humanity in the forms of violence, murder

    and rape of women and children whilst recourse profiteering is taking place

    (Congo: Tragic History 2009).
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    This is where gold producer, AngloGold Ashanti, comes into the picture. They

    produce what is commonly called blood gold or dirty gold, similarly to

    blood diamonds, which contributes to the amassing negative attention from

    non-profit organisations, human rights groups and other activists (No Dirty Gold


    New York based Human Rights Watch (HRW) published an article in 2005 titled

    The Curse of Gold, which states that AngloGold had been involved entering

    into financial arrangements with the FNI, the armed rebel group that controls

    the Mongbwalu area where AngloGold Ashanti operates (HRW 2005). This rebel

    group is accused of committing ongoing and serious human rights violations in

    the forms that have been mentioned. Through AngloGolds financial

    arrangements, it could be argued the mining conglomerate essentially has

    blood on its hands because of their aid that is assisting this rebel faction in

    payment for gold. They are not just moving dirty gold, but they are funding a

    rebel group to obtain it. Eventually this was admitted by the company, who

    stated, there was a breach [of] principle in this instance, in that company

    employees yielded to the militia group FNI however, this was after publicly

    denying the initial allegations and after HRW released a report on them (Davies


    AngloGold also publicly declares they follow the voluntary principle of

    Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), which some argue, is principle that is

    used to prevent mandatory external investigations of their company (Curtis

    2007, p. 12). Given the willingness to pay off rebels to gain access to the

    golden area, it is little wonder that these allegations are made. This is a clear

    example of using the weaknesses of Africas people to keep the well-off

    shareholders happy on their yachts and in their dream houses. Therefore it

    legitimises the argument that corporations like these, are the new colonisers of

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    today. The argument can be strengthened by the voices of the local people

    who do not reap the benefits that DRCs gold has to offer.

    "We are cursed because of our gold. All we do is suffer. There is no benefit to


    -Congolese gold miner (HRW Summary 2005).

    This suffering this gold miner mentions likely refers to the fighting in the

    area by rebel groups over past years, and it likely includes the foreign

    companies like AngloGold, who are the real beneficiaries, disregarding the

    poverty stricken locals who were born on the land. This miner understands that

    the want for gold, among the many other resources fought over in Africa, is a

    curse to the people who live there. Someone else who understands this, is

    another local man from the area, Salvatore Bulamuzi, who reportedly lost his

    two wives, parents, and five children because of the resource war that has

    gone on in the DRCs north eastern region.

    I am convinced nowthat the lives of Congolese people no longer mean

    anything to anybody. Not to those who kill us like flies, our brothers who help

    kill us or those you call the international communityEven God does not listen

    to our prayers any more and abandons us.

    -Salvatore Bulamuzi (Amnesty 2003, p. 3).

    Furthermore, the company tries to reassure those involved or concerned with a

    public statement that says: We strive to form partnerships with host

    communities, sharing their environments, traditions and values. We want

    communities to be better off for AngloGold Ashanti having been there

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    (AngloGold Ashanti 2006). However, somehow in this war torn region, where

    payouts funding the local militia are the preferred method for winning mining

    concessions, this principle is hard to believe. The first quarter of 2009 saw

    AngloGolds earnings, despite global recession, soar to US$150 million, and the

    company, admits this is due to the increase of value (the weakening of local

    currencies probably because of the economic crisis) (AAP Finance 2009, p.

    1).The gold commoditys value today in a capitalist market, in conjunction

    with its widespread availability to the average Westerner, as uncovered by this

    case study, highlights a new scramble for Africa through a corporate means in

    the DRC.

    On top of this issue of company credibility, are also the issues of environmental

    damage, which are also debilitating lives of poor Africans through things such

    as cyanide poisoning, which is an area that goes beyond the scope of this study

    (Earthworks 2009).

    The story of gold is an interesting one that somehow continues to make its

    huge profits for a few, giving them the power to continue exploitation.

    Nonetheless, it has caught the attention of the UN and human rights groups for

    violating human rights breeches. As many others agree, one can only hope for

    more international pressure to be administered so that the company will be

    forced to instigate heavy corporate reforms and submit to mandatory external


    Analysts suggest the resource wars in the DRC are partially fuelled by the

    fact that Western multi-nationals with the help of host governments are

    able to invade an underdeveloped nation, and take its wealth right out from

    under the feet of the general population...any Western mining project in the

    DRC should be looked upon with caution and scepticism.

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    -John Laska Towards Freedom (2009).

    Reference List

    AAP Finance 2009, AngloGold Ashanti earns $US150m in first quarter, AAP

    Finance News Wire, 15 May 2009, p. 1, Retrieved May 22, 2009, (ProQuest).

    Amnesty 2003, Document - Democratic Republic of Congo: "Our brothers who

    help kill us": Economic exploitation and human rights abuses in the east,

    Amnesty International website, viewed 22 May 2009, PDF p. 3.

    AngloGold Ashanti 2006, Report to Society, AngloGold Ashanti website,

    viewed May 15, 2009.

    CONGO: Tragic History (n.a), Journal of African Business, February 1, 2009,

    Iss. 350, pp 56-58, Accessed May 15, 2009 (ProQuest).

    Curtis, M 2007, Anglo American: The Alternative Report, War On Want website,

    Viewed 15 May, 2009.

    Davies, E 2005, Curse ofGold has fuelled slaughter and rape in Congo, The

    Independent, London: Jun 2, 2005, p. 19, Accessed 19 May 2009, (ProQuest).

    Earthworks 2009, Press Release, viewed, May 22, 2009 .

    HRW 2005, The Curse of Gold, Human Rights Watch website, viewed 15 May


    Laska, J 2009, Of Blood and Gold: How Canadian Mining Companies Loot the

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    Congo, Towards Freedom website, viewed May14, 2009.

    No Dirty Gold 2004, Campaign Allies, No Dirty Gold website, viewed 15 May,



    Cocoa Trade and Corporate Compromises.

    Fairtrade 2009

    The discourse surrounding West Africas cocoa production raises another

    pertinent issue relating to neocolonialism. Similarly to gold in the DRC, theanalysis of cocoa is from a critical perspective of powerful companies who

    maintain significant corporate control of the global market. The argument

    continues to be, that their economically driven policies lead to unfair trade,

    which in turn, contributes to further marginalization of the poorest of the

    poor. When conveying this insight to the cocoa trade, one can see that as fast

    as the disparities of the north-south divide grow, so too, do the giant chocolate

    producing conglomerates. Like gold, the biggest concern of the cocoa trade

    stems from the commoditys high demand in the West, and of course, it canonly remain in that high demand, if the prices are what middle c lass

    consumers are willing to pay.
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    Image from Sky News

    Although not alone, The United States consumes over three billion pounds

    (almost 1.4 billion kilograms), or US$13 billion worth of cocoa per year, and is

    by far the largest importer in the world (Lobe 2002). Whether it is hot

    chocolate, chocolate treats at Christmas, on Valentines Day, for Easter, at the

    movies -or for other celebratory days. It is little wonder this demand keeps this

    multibillion dollar industry thriving. 2009

    As major corporations continue to carry on their names as traditional household

    favorites on one side of the world, on the other, hundreds of thousands of West

    African farmers work hard under the pressure to supply the demand for cheap

    cocoa, keeping busy around 12 500 child laborers who present signs they have

    trafficked (Global Exchange 2007).'s.jpg's.jpg
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    The root cause of this human rights issue is poverty, and what causes it. It is

    argued that the farmers of West Africa do not get fair prices for their cocoa,

    and the problem is, that they do not know what the fair prices should be (Off

    2006, p. 116; Price 2007; Heim 2009). Rural farms dont have access or

    understanding of reading the global market prices for their produce, which

    arguably, often leads to them selling their cocoa far below the fair price, thus

    giving food conglomerates the upper-hand bargains, as they later can sell their

    products to consumers at prices that are attractive and cheap. This is where

    supporting fair trade initiatives can play an important role. Often, the

    chocolate found on supermarket shelves is a result of these unfair trade prices,

    which keep cocoa famers poor and needing to cut costs, and this has left some

    of them resorting to buying children and forcing them to work to keep up with

    Western demand (Heim 2009). Human Rights Watch reports that children as

    young as three years old [have been] exploited as domestic and agricultural

    workers... Traffickers lure children from their homes with promises of high-

    quality schooling and vocational training abroad. Many of the children are

    orphans, forced to become breadwinners following the death of a parent from

    AIDS or other causes (HRW 2003). The organization further reports that in

    recent years this issue caused an enormous shock when it was found out that

    almost 50 percent of the chocolate in the US could be traced back to child

    harvesters in Cte dIvoire, and many of [the] children had been trafficked

    from neighboring countries(HRW 2003).

    Child trafficking in the cocoa trade is a subject of serious concern. As Amnesty

    International reports (2007), an effort to instigate change led to an initiative in

    2001, in which US Congress publicly recognized what was happening, launched

    an international agreement to put an end to child labour, which became known

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    as the Cocoa Protocol. However, just like the issue of Corporate Social

    Responsibility (CSR) in the case of mining companies, the protocol is voluntary

    and therefore there is no way to regulate it. Corporations have been against it

    from the beginning, and because of this, critics argue that it has not stopped

    the buying and selling of children on the continent (Amnesty 2007).

    Pirylis 2009

    It appears, as with many other commodities, that the desire for growing

    corporate wealth seems to be more important than the livelihoods of the

    developing world. Products of dominating companies like Mars/M&M,

    Hersheys, Nestle and Cadbury are in constant demand and this has led to

    cocoa farmers needing to lower production costs in order to produce more, not

    only having their own children work for them on the farms, but also buying and

    selling children to a life of farm forced labour (Global Exchange 2007; Taylor

    2007; Qureshi 2008;).

    Fairtrade Foundation 2009

    However, there is hope. As the world has seen, with use of media and

    government campaigns, the world has become far more aware of the issue of
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    climate change. Therefore, there is every reason to hope that the more

    consumers are made aware of child labour that has produced their chocolate

    bar, cake or drink, the less they will want to buy the product, unless they know

    that it is clean. Fairtrade sales still represent less than 1 percent of all

    chocolate sales, however with more consumer support, it will have the

    opportunity to grow (Qureshi 2008).


    Amnesty 2007, West Africa: Chocolate - Amnesty International expresses alarm

    at continuing child labour in cocoa industry, Amnesty International website,

    viewed 22 May 2009.

    Global Exchange 2007, The Truth Behind M&M/Mars Claims About the Protocol

    and Fair Trade, Global exchange website .

    HWR 2003, West Africa: Stop Trafficking in Child Labor, Human Rights website,

    viewed 22 May 2009.

    Heim, K 2009, Gates Foundation grant for cocoa group raises a rights issue,

    McClatchy - Tribune Business News, 22 February 2009 , Retrieved June 7, 2009


    Lobe, J 2002, New Initiative to Combat Child Slave Labor, Global Policy

    Forum website, viewed May 24 2009.

    Off, C 2006, Bitter Chocolate:Investigating The Dark Side of he Worlds Most

    Seductive Sweet, Random House Canada.

    Sean Price. (2007, January). LOST Childhoods. Junior Scholastic, 109(11), 10-

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    12. Retrieved May 16, 2009, from Research Library database.

    Taylor, F 2007, M&M / Mars FacingBoycott, Sentinel, February 22, Vol.

    76, Iss. 29, p. A 21, Retrieved May 15, 2009, from (ProQuest).

    Qureshi 2008, Blood Chocolate Just a Desert, The Humanist website, viewed

    May 22, 2009.


    Niverapine Drug Trial in Africa

    Similarly to the colonialism Africa experienced historically, where the natural

    resources like gold and copper (among many others) were extracted, many

    argue that today, big pharmaceutical companies exploit the poor of Africa

    through the extraction of data from drug trials. As yet another example of re-

    colonization in Africa, this refers to the drug companies who are conductingtheir trials in various parts of the continent, in order to see the new drugs

    approved by the American based FDA (Food and Drug Administration) so they

    can be granted a licence to market them to the wider Western community.

    Companies often run their trials in poverty- stricken countries because of the

    usual outsourcing motives, it is cheaper (in comparison to what Westerns get
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    paid for participating in trials), and evidently from the following case study, it

    is easier to hide unfavourable evidence that might effect the drugs approval

    by the FDA or the National Institutes of Health (NIH). From the film, the

    Constant Gardener (2005), this form of neocolonialism can be described as

    one that carelessly expends the lives of innocent citizens in the Third World in

    the quest for billion-dollar medicines to sell to the first world (Independent

    2005). In this particular case study, the trial drug Niverapine is considered in

    reference to the neocolonial atrocities that taint the pharmaceutical


    Viramune (Nevirapine)

    NIH Image

    Niverapine is an anti-HIV drug, manufactured by the U.S. subsidiary of German-

    based Boehringer Ingelheim in the state of Connecticut. It has been trialed to

    decrease the spread of mother-to-child HIV (Burcher 2005). The U.S. funded

    trials of the drug in parts of Africa came under scrutiny when a whistleblower

    came forward to expose a cover up in relation to evidence of Nevirapine having

    toxic effects upon HIV positive African women and their newborns, who werepart of the trial. A published document written by South African lawyer and

    journalist Anthony Brink discloses the official dangers of the drug that was

    granted approval to be used and trialed on people in Africa -when it was had

    been denied approval for America. He argues that this [implies] an

    indefensible double standard, one for the First World and one for the Third
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    (Brink 2008, p xiv).

    Following this statement, Brinks report also identifies that the FDA requires

    that the drug manufacturers must provide doctors who will be prescribing the

    drug, any warnings that are attached. The information about the dangers of

    Nevirapine, are exactly as follows:













    AGENTS (Brink 2008, p 6).

    Ironically, data revealing the negative outcomes of the Ugandan trials went

    missing and therefore, the FDA was unable to audit the American National

    Institutes of Healths (NIH) trial, which was necessary for a licence to market in

    America (ref). This information above, warning doctors of the negative side

    effects, strongly reveals the reason for the cover up. In 2004, seven years after

    the trials first began, government scientist and whistleblower, Dr. Jonathan

    Fishbein, took allegations to Congress reporting of poor government research

    practices and substandard patient protections within the NIH Uganda trials

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    (Hartford Courant 2004). Eventually the chief of the NIH AIDS division, Dr.

    Edmund Tramont, admitted that he deleted the information that negatively

    effected the trials and he had, in fact, changed the conclusions (Scheff, 2004;

    Hartford Courant 2004).

    The Ugandan trial results that were deleted contained evidence of thousands of

    toxic reactions, and in some cases death (ref). Sources reveal that thirty-eight

    babies died mostly in the Nevirapine group, however the drug gained

    administrational approval because the rate of viral infection measured [non-

    diagnostically] was 13.1 percent in newborns, which was some degree of

    success (Burcher 2005).

    Image from

    The Neveriapine tirals in Africa were not only conducted in Uganda, Brinks

    report also discusses, Professor Coovadia, from Mandela Medical School, South
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    Africa, and reports he was paid a foreign award of R50 million to trial

    Nevirapine. While the professor argued to the media in South Africa that it was

    something to do to help the poor, really was argued to be for the rich, like

    Professor Coovadia (Brink 2008, pp xvi-xvii). The drug was approved much to

    the dismay of many, and put to trial, which has led to further deaths and

    outrage. Former South African President Thabo Mbeki at the time, accused the

    U.S. of using Africans as guinea pigs (Scheff 2004), and he has lashed out

    against drug companies, accusing them of putting profits ahead of patients (UN

    Wire 2000).

    Unfortunately, this is not the first example of pharmaceutical exploitation in

    Africa. The high profile case surrounding Pfizer Ltd., another pharmaceutical

    giant, also contributes to Western corporate disgraces, when medical trials for

    children with meningitis were conducted without informed consent in Nigeria,

    also causing death from the drug Trovans toxicities (ADIGUN, n.d.). Therefore,

    after considering the discrepancies of Nevirapines trials in Africa, it is

    understood that this is another example of neo-colonialism, as it impedes upon

    the lives of African people, and in this case, newborn African babies, by putting

    their lives in jeopardy during drug trials when the same drug has been banned

    for use in America, all the while misleading some to believe that it is charity

    for the poor. Clearly, there is something very questionable about this. Perhaps

    it is best described again, as the expenditure of African lives in the quest for

    billion-dollar medicines to sell to the first world (Independent 2005).

    Image from
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    Reference List

    Adigun, B (n.d), Nigeria files new lawsuit against Pfizer, Loyola University of

    Chicago website, viewed 5 June 2009, .

    Brink, A. 2008, The Trouble with Nevirapine, (Treatment Information Group)

    viewed 5 June 2009, .

    Burcher, S 2005, NIH-Sponsored AIDS Drugs Tests on Mothers and Babies,

    Institute of Science in Society website, viewed 5 June 2009, .

    Hartford Courant 2004 (n.a), An AIDS Coverup at NIH, Hartford Courant

    Editorial, Dec. 27 2004, p. A10, Retrieved June 5, 2009, (Hartford Courant


    Scheff, L. 2004, The Truth About Nevirapine, (Guerrilla News Network),

    viewed 25 May, 2009, .

    The Constant Gardener 2005, Motion Picture, Focus Features, United Kingdom.

    The Independent 2005, The true story of how multinational drug companies

    took liberties with African lives, The Independent website, 26 September

    2005, viewed 18 May 2009, .

    UN Wire 2000, South Africa Says Drug Testing Caused Deaths, United Nations

    Wire website, viewed 5 June, 2009, .

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    2009(4)o June(4) An Introduction to Neocolonialism- The Re-coloni... Gold In the Dominican Republic of Congo

    Cocoa Trade and Corporate Compromises. Niverapine Drug Trial in Africa

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