Do you not just love Luigi Di Maio, the Italian Deputy Prime Minister? Since a 34-year-old Martin Luther nailed a copy of his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church in Germany on 31 October 1517 challenging the Catholic orthodoxy, I think we have not had such European franc-parler as forthright as Di Maio's on 21 January 2019. He denounced France's continued political and economic stranglehold on its former African colonies in no uncertain manner.
Even better, he meant every word of it. "I think that France is one of those countries that by printing money for 14 African states prevents their economic development and [it] contributes to the fact that the refugees leave and then die in the sea or arrive on our coasts," the 32-year-old Maio, uninhibited by any diplomacy or European solidarity, said in a statement broadcast live on Facebook.
"We should stay at home," he continued, "and when I say 'we' I talk about those European states, like France, that during these years have had benefits from exports of raw materials by printing a currency for 14 African states. And, with these advantages, also their economy has had benefits. Then the problem is that migrants arrive on our coasts. So, until this problem is solved, we will ask Europe to face the issue of decolonisation of Africa that has never ended."
Hear, hear! For a long time denial by the Global North of the kind of wrongdoing that Maio talked about had created the impression that nothing such was happening or had happened in Africa. But the young Italian knew better.
What is more, when France pressed him to recant, Maio, like Martin Luther 499 years before him, was unmoving. Rather he repeated his view: "If today we have people who are leaving Africa, it's because certain European countries, France in particular, have never stopped colonising Africa," he said on Italian radio, his defiance even sharper.
Then he delivered the coup de grace: "If France didn't have its African colonies, because that's what they should be called, it would be the 15th largest world economy. Instead it's among the first, exactly because of what it is doing in Africa."
Wow! Did Maio not make your day? He cannot fathom how the French President, Emmanuel Macron (young himself) "first lectures us [on migrants], then continues to finance public debt with the money which he [gets from] exploiting Africa."
And listen to this one: "I have stopped being a hypocrite talking only about the effects of...