Africa, World

Open Letter to Angela Merkel: Thanks – and more please

By Babatunde Fagbayibo 16 October 2016

Academic BABATUNDE FAGBAYIBO offers thanks – and a number of apologies – to the German chancellor, and fantasises about the kind of building that would really work for Africans. Donated, of course.

Dear Madame Chancellor,

I sincerely hope that this letter finds you well.

I have written this letter for one main reason: expression of gratitude. I am a firm believer in the saying of our forebears, which goes thus: “The one that shows gratitude for the gifts received today is surely in line to receive more gifts in the future.”

I am sure that by now you will be wondering why an unknown African is thanking you for a “gift” received. Don’t wonder too much, Madame. This is an expression of gratitude for the building your government just donated to the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa: Julius Nyerere Peace and Security Building.

Madame Chancellor, I am sure that you are aware of the fact that China, in 2012, also built and donated to the AU a gigantic, $200-million edifice. Very few Africans thanked the Chinese for this gesture. In fact, some Africans became very critical and suspicious of China’s motive. Some have even said that the Chinese may have planted listening devices in strategic rooms within the building. But the Chinese pay little attention to speculations and bear no grudges, as they have built, and continue to build, several structures in many African countries since then.

Madame Merkel, you are a blessing to our AU, and I really want to thank you for that. You see, Madame Chancellor, our leaders have for decades been talking about financing the AU but nothing concrete has come out from this. You and your colleagues in the western hemisphere have always come to the rescue of the AU by financing at least 75% of its annual budget.

Allow me at this point to make a few apologies. I would like to apologise on behalf of many of African leaders who label your people as imperialists by day, and run cap in hand to beg for money from you at night. Please overlook this hypocrisy. It is a mere performance, designed to show that they have the best interest of the citizens at heart.

Madame Merkel, I want to apologise on behalf of those leaders that stash billions of dollars in your neck of the wood but always plead the fifth once the issue of unpaid membership dues to the AU is raised.

Madame Chancellor, I sincerely apologise on behalf of those that divert the monies your government gives in aid to personal accounts.

Madame Merkel, at this point, I want to thank you for not insisting that this building must be named after Otto von Bismarck. Since he who pays the piper dictates the tune, your government was well within its right to insist that the building carried a German name. Vielen dank for not openly embarrassing us.

Madame Chancellor, I am not sure if you have observed a pattern here. First it was the Chinese, now it is your government donating something to our AU. This essentially makes Africa the pledgee in this relationship. As such, Madame Merkel, I want to unashamedly state that we need more gifts. If it is not too much to ask, could you kindly raise this with your colleagues in the EU. We would appreciate any gesture from them.

As the cliché goes, beggars cannot be choosers, so any structure will do. However, since these building will be built in our name, kindly indulge us with the opportunity of giving you some specifications.

Madame Chancellor, we like big, modern buildings. The bigger the building, the easier it is for us to forget all our sorrows. Big buildings also ensure that the “Africa is rising” tale remains relevant. Madame Chancellor, please tell your colleagues that any building they want to donate to us must have big, state-of-the-art auditoriums as we love having endless meetings and dialogues. The podiums must also be magisterially elevated so as to give our life presidents a befitting presence to pontificate about their non-culpability in Africa’s woes.

Madame Merkel, the buildings must also have big parking spaces for the cars of our political elites. I am sure that you have seen the convoys of our leaders.

Madame Merkel, I hope I have not asked you for too much. If I have, please forgive me. It is the result of my uncontrollable joy about this new building and the thoughts of more contributions to come.

Madame Chancellor, please permit me to ask for one last favour. I want to remind you gently not to forget to donate to the 2017/18 AU budget. As you are well aware, our paltry 25% contribution cannot sustain the organisation. Please remind your colleagues in the EU as well.

In closing, Madame Chancellor, I want to assure you that with this contribution, I am prepared to personally lead the crusade to remove your country’s name from the list of “imperialists”. If your country wishes to become a member of the AU, I promise, at my own cost, to rigorously lobby for this (I will also do the same for the Chinese so as to ensure the equality of recognition). Madame Chancellor, in case you want German to be added to the list of the official languages of the AU, please do not hesitate to consider me as the man for the job.

Danke Kanzler Madame.

I remain loyal,

Kind regards,

Babatunde wa Afrika,
Province of Azania, United States of Africa. DM

Babatunde Fagbayibo is an associate professor of law at the University of South Africa. Twitter @babsfagbayibo. He blogs at: https://afrothoughts.wordpress.com/

Photo: German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) speaks at the Federation of German Industry’s (BDI) Day of German Industry 2016 in Berlin, Germany, 06 October 2016. EPA/BERND VON JUTRCZENKA

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