Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Thanks For Ending Colonialism

A Touch of Nokoko by Kofi Akumanyi

It was Mr Harold Macmillan who vividly spoke about the "wind of change blowing across the African continent" in reference to the tumbling of colonial enclaves right from the south of the Sahara, beginning with Ghana in 1957 to Kenya in East Africa.

The wind of change did slow down somewhat in the late sixties and seventies but the search for independence continued as those countries which could not find it through peaceful negotiations picked up arms and fought hard for it. Now, South Africa and Namibia are the last vestiges of colonial rule that remain to be liberated.

However, in the Far East, the British government has just negotiated with China for the return of Hong Kong. Sir Geoffrey Howe, the British Foreign Secretary recently concluded the agreement with his Chinese counterpart, Mr Wu Xueguin over the future of Hong Kong after the British had handed over the territory in 1997. In a meeting later the elder Statesman Mr Deng Xiao Pin, thanked Mrs Margaret Thatcher for ending colonialism in the Far East.

The chief points of the agreement are these: Hong Kong will retain its legal system with the rights of appeal vested in Hong Kong (not Peking, but not London either), Hong Kong will be free to choose its own economic and trade policies, take part on its own international trade agreements, have its own currency and run its financial affairs.

So far, so good. Left out of the agreement and still to be resolved are three crucial questions: the title to land, the rights at Hong Kong's Kaitak airport and nationality. These have been at the centre of the protracted discussions.

All the same I was quite happy to see Sir Geoffrey Howe and Mr Xiao Pin flanked by interpreters exchanging pleasantries on television the other day - until I received the original transcript of the discussions they had. I would only reveal that the transcript was sent to me by a contact who knows someone in the newly formed association appropriately called MOLES INCORPORATED with its headquarters in London. This report has been edited for security reasons.

"I'm happy that we've finally come to some sort of an agreement, Mr Pin", said Sir Geoffrey. "We've all along known and seen the political writing on the wall for Hong Kong.

The situation here is very different from any of the colonial situations we've faced. The Hong Kong people are Chinese and must go back to the mainland China... However, as we did for the people (minorities) in all our former colonies, we want guarantees that the liberties and rights of the people of Hong Kong would be protected after the handing over..."

"Hang on a minute", cut in the Chinese interpreter after Mr Pin had waved frantically. "You mean after handing over you want to still maintain a foothold...?"

"You mean a foot-in-the-door policy? Not at all. With all due respect we would like to uphold the principle of 'Hong Kong for the Chinese' but all we are saying is that the people would be terribly upset if after 1997 they are to lose their capitalist life-style and be rushed into a socialist straight-jacket", explained Sir Howe.

"I still don't understand what you British are on about."

"What we are on about is the fate of 2.5 million who have British dependant status."

"It is a question of interpretation. Anyway the point at stake is that we, Chinese, have the right to manage our own affairs as we think fit. What we cannot allow is to leave room for the perpetuation of colonial rule as happened in Africa..." the oldman said.

"There is no need to be so excited about this issue. . . after all if it's the maintenance of the capitalist system you're worried about then think about the role of Pepsi in China.

"We know how the Africans feel about colonialism, we shall never allow that to happen here."

"Has anybody thought about the feelings of the people of Hong Kong? What they really want? Are they ready to be part of China? Are they ready to lose their liberties?" asked Sir Geoffrey Howe.

"Feelings... Feelings… That's the trouble with the Western World," said the old man Pin. He then whispered into the ear of the pretty Chinese interpreter who giggled. Sir Geoffrey immediately stood up.

"What did he say about the Falklands?" he demanded. "I heard him alright. He said something about the Falklands. Why do people have to drag Falklands into every issue... The situation here is different... very different."

"Mr Pin made a joke that whatever you do, the Chinese won't be forced into a Falklands situation," the pretty interpreter said.

"Well, the Argentinians learnt their lesson, didn't they? Yet the matter could have been settled in a more civilized way. That's why we hope that our new Exorcet type missiles we've developed won't be deployed in any conflict in the near future..”

"Do I detect a faint trace of threat somewhere?"

"Good Gracious, no. The Chinese are our friends, going to war with China over Hong Kong would be utterly unacceptable to the British people…”

"Especially with your miners on strike," said the old man.

"That's an internal problem!"

"Thanks for reminding me, the Hong Kong issue after handing over will be an internal problem and we would deal with it as best as we can. Both countries agree that the Falklands war was a bad dream and must not be allowed to be repeated. It was far too costly and unnecessary. That's why British colonialism must end in the Far East without preconditions."

At this point the pressmen were ushered in to film and record Sir Geoffrey Howe and Deng Xiao Pin smiling and shaking hands over the issue.

"I would like to live in 1997 to see Hong Kong handed over to China," Mr Pin told the pressmen.

"You bet" said Sir Howe.

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