AFROCENTRICITY: AFRICAN GRANARIES AND FUTURE CENTRAL BANKS

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African Granaries

Although some writers claim that the history of granaries may have started in the Jordan valley around 9500BC, this may be subject to debate. After all it is important to note that Africans were the first to bring civilization to the world. Therefore, it is most probable that the oldest granaries started in the continent.

Putting the above contention aside, the structures of granaries wherever they may have been built seem  similar; and from an Afrocentric perspective, a number of observations need to be made.

First, the key purpose of African granaries was to store grains or essential foodstuffs. African granaries acted as physical structures to protect the homestead foodstuffs during actual and potential bad times such as periods of drought and related situations. Second, African granaries were built not only for families and villages, but also for larger communities and neighborhoods. To great extent, communal grannies acted like central banks in modern states. In other words, the building of African communal granaries could be contrasted with modern central banks of countries and states.Thirdly, the African granaries served communities, and not powerful political leaders. The granaries were built not to manipulate the strong against the weak; nor were they to enrich the few and elites.

If the purposes of the African granaries were to be compared to modern European central banks, then a lot need to be desired. In other words, to fully understand the future of Afrocentric central banks based on historic African granaries, there is a need to contrast this with a modern central bank such as the European Central bank (ECB).

The European Central Bank

To understand the impact, purpose and history of ECB, which is rather recent, you may wish to read an article by Peter Bondarenko. ECB was established in 1998 by the treaty of Amsterdam, is headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany. The bank is comprised of 19 European Union (EU) member states who have decided to adopt the euro as their common currency. The main purpose of ECB is to conduct monetary policy in the region, and it achieves this objective it controls the supply of euros in the region. For instance, if the euro zone starts to face price increases for whatever reason including an unexpected rise demand or a sudden reduction in supply, the bank responds to this by removing euros from the market to relieve the pressure on the prices.

On the other hand, if the euro-zone economies experience a recession, that is to say an economic slump, which may be as a result of declining output and economic activity, then the bank reacts by putting in more money into the market in order to fuel economic activity and revert the effects of a potential recession. In other words, the ECB may achieve this by printing more money and dump this into the economy as a stabilization measure. This could be done even if it may have no direct and immediate effect on the real increase of production, which could take time to be realized. In other words, it is a manipulative action by a few elites, not community of people, a sharp contrast to the Afrocentric ideology.

In a sense, looking at the opposing actions of the ECB, it becomes clear that the key objective of the bank is to manage the supply of euro so that price stability is maintained in the region.  In other words, ECB is there to manage inflationary or deflationary situations in a mechanical way. However, these actions by the ECB have not always been rosy. There have been occasions when the integrity of ECB been tested. A case in point was in 2009, when ECB responded to the euro-zone debt crisis following the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008 in Europe. Working with International Monetary Fund(IMF) , the bank loaned billions of dollars to several countries including Portugal, Ireland, and Greece to help them pay debts. One could be curious to ask, whose debts. However, these actions did not go well with some of these indebted countries! The dictatorial measures thrown by ECB to these countries led to serious political crises in the region. There were serious subsequent and widespread protests as well as public outrage in the recipient countries. To make things worse, with or without expectations, the economic objectives of ECB turned out to produce two key evils; the social and political tornados that swept some of these countries.

Looking at the above scenarios one may be tempted to ask several questions. Who controls ECB? What was it really established for? Was the establishment done for the European economic and political block? Was its establishment a community involvement, or only a few elites without consulting the masses? Whatever answers one may obtain, they are bound to be totally in direct contrast to Afrocentric ideology of a future central bank. An Afrocentric central bank needs to embrace community spirit, not individualistic paradigm. It can not continue with the current central banking framework which most African countries and leaders have adopted from the Europeans.

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Okumu p'Okech Luryan

Okumu p'Okech Luryan, Managing Partner, Noh-Vald Consultancy.
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