Home > Corruption, Human rights, Papua New Guinea > Papua New Guinea a Neo-colonial state

Papua New Guinea a Neo-colonial state

The prophetic words of Ghana’s first President , Kwame Nkrumah, written in 1965 captures Papua New Guinea’s reality today…

Kwame Nkrumah

Kwame Nkrumah

THE neo-colonialism of today represents imperialism in its final and perhaps its most dangerous stage. In the past it was possible to convert a country upon which a neo-colonial regime had been imposed — Egypt in the nineteenth century is an example — into a colonial territory. Today this process is no longer feasible. Old-fashioned colonialism is by no means entirely abolished. It still constitutes an African problem, but it is everywhere on the retreat. Once a territory has become nominally independent it is no longer possible, as it was in the last century, to reverse the process. Existing colonies may linger on, but no new colonies will be created. In place of colonialism as the main instrument of imperialism we have today neo-colonialism.

The essence of neo-colonialism is that the State which is subject to it is, in theory, independent and has all the outward trappings of international sovereignty. In reality its economic system and thus its political policy is directed from outside.

The methods and form of this direction can take various shapes. For example, in an extreme case the troops of the imperial power may garrison the territory of the neo-colonial State and control the government of it [ADF + AFP have frequently been garrisoned in PNG]. More often, however, neo-colonialist control is exercised through economic or monetary means [e.g. huge foreign owned resource extraction, boomerang aid, or concessional loans from ‘friends’ like China]. The neo-colonial State may be obliged to take the manufactured products of the imperialist power to the exclusion of competing products from elsewhere. Control over government policy in the neo-colonial State may be secured by payments towards the cost of running the State [AusAID], by the provision of civil servants in positions where they can dictate policy [e.g. seconded Australian civil servants and academics], and by monetary control over foreign exchange through the imposition of a banking system controlled by the imperial power [e.g. Westpac, ANZ + Bank of PNG, which is groomed by, and run in the economic style of, imperial powers].

Where neo-colonialism exists the power exercising control is often the State which formerly ruled the territory in question [e.g. Australia in PNG], but this is not necessarily so [e.g. China in PNG]. For example, in the case of South Vietnam the former imperial power was France, but neo-colonial control of the State has now gone to the United States. It is possible that neo-colonial control may be exercised by a consortium of financial interests which are not specifically identifiable with any particular State [eg Exxon-Mobil, Rio Tinto, BHP, MCC, Rimbunan Hijau]. The control of the Congo by great international financial concerns is a case in point [in PNG, how much control do foreign financiers wield, the big construction firms, the mining and logging companies, etc].

The result of neo-colonialism is that foreign capital is used for the exploitation rather than for the development of the less developed parts of the world. Investment under neo-colonialism increases rather than decreases the gap between the rich and the poor countries of the world [and also between the rich elite and the rest of the population within the country].

The struggle against neo-colonialism is not aimed at excluding the capital of the developed world from operating in less developed countries. It is aimed at preventing the financial power of the developed countries being used in such a way as to impoverish the less developed.

Neo-colonialism is also the worst form of imperialism. For those who practise it, it means power without responsibility and for those who suffer from it, it means exploitation without redress. In the days of old-fashioned colonialism, the imperial power had at least to explain and justify at home the actions it was taking abroad. In the colony those who served the ruling imperial power could at least look to its protection against any violent move by their opponents. With neo-colonialism neither is the case.

Above all, neo-colonialism, like colonialism before it, postpones the facing of the social issues which will have to be faced by the fully developed sector of the world before the danger of world war can be eliminated or the problem of world poverty resolved.

‘Africa’s Black Star’ is a documentary on Kwame Nkrumah, which plots his revolutionary efforts to free Ghana from dependency, establish an entirely independent economic base, provide free health and education as a human right, stimulate pan-African unity, and the subsequent US-UK conspiracy to bring down his government (who were bad for foreign business) through a military coup: 

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  1. Alex Amankwah
    August 6, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    I wish you and your dedicated team continued success in the task of re-educating your citizens in the intricacies of governance and its pitfalls especially the temptation of allowing yourselves to become victims of economic exploitation in the guise of neo-colonialism. Bravo and kudos. Best wishes. Alex. H. A. Amankwah (Dr) BA-LLB (UGhana); LLM (Cornell); JSD (NYU)

  2. Gabriel ramoi
    August 8, 2014 at 9:05 am

    Going through Law school at the University of PNG in 1979 I like many leaders in Cabinet & Parliament and in Business today had the privilege of attending Professor Akigalpa Sawyers lectures on Resource law & Neo Colonialism . Professor Aki Sawyers views on resource development reflects Nkrumah’s own view which is for Nations like our to enter into Contract Mining or production sharing arrangements in resource development so as to maximise returns to the state inorder for the state to provide free health, Education and Social Security for its People and that his worst fear is that if PNG took that path the State would be undermined by big foreign business interest and their local compradors who will always want to have a weak government in office. The case of Congo and the continous battle to control its rich resources by warring warlords funded by big minning interest attest to this sad fact.. Professors Saywers views have had a lasting impression in the minds of todays leaders in PNG. The take over of OK.Tedi mine is a testement to this fact and the attempt to undermine the O’Neill Government by Sir Makere and others bring to mind Professor Sawyers worst fear as to what can happen to our country as we try to take control over our resources. Professor Sawyer is a great Ghananian academic who was recalled from UPNG to serve as advisor to Jerry Rawlings when he took power in Ghana through a millitery coup and who later became vice chancellor of the University of Ghana. Those of my generation will forever be grateful to the many foreign third world academics that graced our universities in the 1970s and early 80’s

  3. Ex Nivani
    August 10, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    You are absolutely correct – just look at NIVANI LIMITED in Kokopo. This company belonged to Automatic Citizens of PNG but their rights were removed by David Stein and his brother Chris. The government has allowed this to happen and have no intention of trying to help these dispossessed Papua New Guineans. They are happy to see these two fat cat expatriates take whatever they like. We wonder how many more cases like this there are? When are the people of PNG going to have a government who cares about their own people? The politicians and public servants are so busy lining their own pockets to help these innocent get decent compensation for what has been stolen from them by these greedy foreigners.

  4. dzobe2958
    August 30, 2014 at 12:57 am

    It sadden me to reflect on how PNG has developed as a country since independence. There
    is so much foreign exploitation in terms of “land grabbing” etc due to weak governance. what PNG people need right now is consistency,honesty and reliable government system to protect its citizens and natural resources. Ordinary citizens are struggling and powerless to do anything to protect their land, sea etc because the decisions are already made for them by the government. It evokes the documentary on Kwame Nkrumah to free Ghana from dependency. It goes to show that, “the result of neo-colonialism is that foreign capital is used for the exploitation rather than for the development of the less developed parts of the world” . Hope and pray for PNG!!

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