American and western European countries are typical examples of what are commonly known as First World countries. Most African, Latin American and South Asian countries are commonly known as Third World countries. By what definition? By neoliberalist capitalist standards, perhaps. By whose definition? By the wealthy countries AKA the victors of past and ongoing conquests AKA the past and current oppressors.
I, as a citizen of Kenya, for one, do not accept that label for my country. We have rich cultures, heritage, traditions, attitudes, music, history, and a vibrant modern generation that I cannot agree with being classified as third world. Yes, economically, we are much poorer that those “first world” classified countries – but why? Due to colonialist and imperialist stealing of our natural resources, due to financial conditions imposed on us by international finance organizations and wealthier countries that do not have our best interests at heart, and due to the proportion of wealth flowing out of our country (e.g. to international companies) being far greater than that flowing in (e.g. through aid and investment). Can those guilty of these crimes fairly hold their self-crowned title of “first world”? Is it right to honour rich thieves over the plundered?
No, I do not accept that derogatory label of “third world” given to us by oppressors and thieves. I would like to assert that WE are actually a “first world” country. We have resiliently survived oppressive foreign regimes. We fought for our independence and won it. Our citizens have not yet fully fallen into the chains of individualist economic, political, and mental slavery (though admittedly we are close) as have some selfish blind robots of several “developed” nations. We continue to struggle against undeserved international debt, unfair economic policies, and a disadvantaged position in the global economy due to what happened in the past. We, however, retain a strong, resilient and entrepreneurial spirit. We retain much of our various cultures, while adapting to a rapidly changing world. We question every occurrence and ideology that is thrust upon us. We challenge global oppressors, whether they appear in the form of dishonest multinationals, corrupt politicians or two-faced international financial institutions. We have many vibrant social movements that may just turn the global tables entirely.
Not only Kenya, but many African, Latin American and other “third world” countries should consider shedding that label. Enjoy your self-crowned title, so-called “first world countries.” Enjoy the superiority while you can. Africa is rising, and soon we will turn the tables of oppression that you have stifled us with against you.