Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Mino: An All Female Army

The blood flows, You are dead, The blood flows, We have won, The blood flows, The enemy is no more. This is the victory song of the Mino an all-female Army of the Dahomey Kingdom now known as Benin. From the 18th to the early 20th century, they were a brave and terrifying all-female militia they protected and expanded the Dahomey Kingdom. The word Mino means mother in Fon, They were the mothers of the Kingdom. In the late 1600’s King King Wegbaja choose a group of women to become elephant hunters, then in the 18th century his son and successor King Ajaga found himself impressed by their skill and strength decided to make them palace guards. Initially as guards it was a group of 800 women, it soon grew to 4000 female soldiers, so their responsibility grew from just guarding the king to Guarding a Kingdom and growing the kingdom, in other words mothering the Kingdom. In the 1850’s under King Gezo the army consisted of 6000 soldiers. The female soldiers usually included those who were fleeing from marriage or those seeking glory on the battle field, disobedient and impetuous daughters or if they show fighting talent. The Mino’s trained vigorously in completion with other male troops but their determination to become the strongest saw them show traits of stamina and courage far greater than their male counterparts. Famously in their training they would scale a wall covered in thorn hedges without showing any pain. Again African women proved to the world that women are as capable as man and are true warriors. Queen Manthatisi, Queen Nzhinga. They show an outstanding amount of courage and determination. Let not the myth be believed that women cannot fight and defeat an oppressor, They are very much capable. The Fon’s Women army had three main wings, the left and right wings and the elite centre wing or Fanti. Each of these wings had five sub groups: The elephant huntress, the musket bearing frontline group, the razor women, the Artillery women, and the archers. But the Mino’s biggest strength was their teamwork and unity. These brave Great women never met just to gossip, they never met just to laugh at a sister’s misfortunes, they supported and had each others backs at all times. They certainly never fought amongst each other for a man. Women, let no man divide you, let not jealousy cause divisions amongst you, Your struggles today are similar, let those struggles unite you, for women united are the greatest army in the world. The Mino’s conquered the Kingdom of Savi in 1727, later that same year they conquered the Whydah people, they crushed Allada. They conqured the great Oyo empire. In one of the battles when they captured Egbado town of Okeadon, they snuck over the walls during the night, unlocked the gate from inside, the sisters flooded into the city with a wave of murderous fury. The 20th century was the scramble for Africa and the Mino found themselves in this scramble, The female spirit in them knew that, whether the French had Morden weaponry or not they would either “Conquer or Die” which was their motto. They were not going to give up their land without a fight. When one of the Chiefs in of the Dahomey Kingdom was bought by the colonial Imperialists the same way they bought Jacob Zuma and Ian Khama, but the General of the Mino’s saw through the lies of the coward and ordered for his head, one Mino then decapitated his head, wrapped in the flag back to the Dahomey King of that time, King Behazin. The Dahomey-Franco war, which in 1890, resulted in two major battles, one which took place in heavy rain at dawn outside Contonou in Benin. Behazin’s Army, which included female units, assaulted a French stockade but was driven back in hand-to-hand fighting. Nanisca, one of the Mino’s decapitated the French chief gunner and only the sheer firepower of their modern riffles won the day for the French. The second war was a seven week war which was fought even more fiercely than the first, there were 23 separate battles, and once again female troops were in the vanguard of Behanzin’s forces. The women were the last to surrender. The survivors took their revenge on the French by covertly substituting themselves for Dahomey women who were taken into the enemy stockade, each allowed themselves to be seduced by French officer, waited for him to fall asleep and then cut his throat with his own burgonet. Warrior Nawi was the last of the Great Mino’s to die and was well over the age of 100 in 1979. Women, Africa faces neo-colonism, you cannot just sit on your couch and watch reality T.V, You cannot just sit and start gossip wars when our continent, our people are getting raped each day by imperialists. Together in 1956 you ensured that amendments to the pass laws were not adopted, together as an army you conquered states, Today together you will defeat Neo-colonism. You are mothers or you will be mothers one day and your children must want own land, must be free, own Africa, the land of their ancestors, their home, own mines and benefit from resources of their land, you do not want them to be slaves. Women get up and fight for your power is immense, Your wisdom and intellect can truly liberate the Continent and Race. Their last enemies were full of praise for their courage. A French Foreign Legionnaire named Bern lauded them as “warrioresses… [Who] fight with extreme valor, always ahead of the other troops. They are outstandingly brave … well trained for combat and very disciplined.” A French Marine, Henri Morienval, thought them “remarkable for their courage and their ferocity… [they] flung themselves on our bayonets with prodigious bravery.

Why Afrika Must Acquire Nuclear Weapons

Munya Mardoch of the Israeli Institute for the Development of Weaponry is quoted as saying in 1994: “The moral and political meaning of nuclear weapons is that states which renounce their use are acquiescing to the status of vassal states. All those states which feel satisfied with possessing conventional weapons alone are fated to become vassal states.” Chilling words from the man of war by any account. It might sound like beating the drums of war, but when such words come from an important person in a country like Israel, they must be taken seriously. Israel is an “unofficial” nuclear power, alongside confirmed nuclear powers like the US, Britain, France, Russia, China, India and Pakistan. We all — unless you are from the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Schultz school of “permanent war” — want a world with peace. But the reality of the world we live in is that peace is an ideal, something miasmic and probably never achievable. Those who have plenty will always want more, and those who have nothing will always want something. That reality makes war inevitable. It is either you are on the defensive or you are the aggressor, there is no in-between, no sitting on the fence. We have seen it in Libya and in many other places, and it is only going to get worse. And while we are seeing these things happening around us, as the drums of war beat ever louder and ever closer, what are we doing? Iran is developing nuclear capability. It says it is for civilian purposes, but the step to militarisation of the programme is not a huge one. So they are safe. America will not dare attack Iran as long as it suspects that Tehran has nuclear capabilities. The same goes for North Korea. Not much is known about that country’s capabilities, but America is sufficiently spooked not to have tried to launch a military campaign against Pyongyang. So they are still safe. It is what they call, in military studies, a deterrent. No nuclear power has ever or is ever likely to in the near future attack a fellow nuclear power. To do so would be to guarantee our Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). On the other hand, Muammar Gaddafi opened up his military to Western inspection. In trying to be a “good boy” with the West, he gave up his WMD programme. He dismantled his capabilities and opened himself up to the horrible death he faced just a few years ago and the rape and subjugation of Libya. The British, French, Americans and Italians exerted themselves to establish what Gaddafi had and did not have. They pushed him into essentially castrating himself and he obliged. As predicted by Munya Murdoch 17 years earlier, Libya acquiesced to becoming a vassal state. There was never going to be any other end for Gaddafi and Libya once the West was assured that Tripoli had no nuclear or general WMD capacity. You can also look at the case of South Africa. From the 1960s to the 1980s, South Africa is known to have pursued a WMD programme that included nuclear capabilities. The White apartheid regime is understood to have assembled at least six nuclear weapons. Not surprisingly, South Africa was assisted in this programme by Israel (is it of any significance that White apartheid was institutionalised in 1948, the same year that Israel’s first borders were created?) However, as it became inevitable that White apartheid should and would fall, South Africa’s authorities gave up on their WMD programme “voluntarily” and allegedly dismantled all its nuclear weapons. Several issues arise. Yes, White apartheid South Africa’s economy benefited the West a great deal but besides the money motivator, no outsider dared confront that regime militarily because they knew of its capabilities. Secondly, the masters of White apartheid did not want an African government to have control of nuclear weapons and so they got rid of them. (Some readers may remember how some years ago, I forget exactly when, the New African magazine carried an article in which Nelson Mandela ruefully conceded that he did not know what really happened to South Africa’s nuclear weapons.) Why were so many people so eager to ensure that African majority-ruled South Africa should not be a nuclear power? Would the West have humiliated Africa the way it did over the invasion of Libya if South Africa had nuclear capacity? The DRC had Africa’s first nuclear reactor. A mine in the Congo’s Katanga Province provided the uranium used to make the atomic bombs that decimated Hiroshima in 1945 and it seems a reactor was built as a thank you for that country in 1958. I hear that it is lying idle, not even generating electricity. Some may not know it because it was not highly publicised, but there were more than a few worried people in the West when Zimbabwe sent its troops into the DRC in 1998. They feared what would happen should that reactor fall in Zimbabwe’s hands, especially in light of the fact that the country had already shown it was not afraid of military confrontations — and also because it is on very good terms with Iran. There are 10 nuclear reactors on the continent (Algeria two, South Africa two, and one each for the DRC, Egypt, Ghana, Libya, Morocco and Nigeria). When are we going to realise that not fully exploiting them means we will always be vassal states?

South Africa Land Debate Heats Up

South Africa needs a bolder approach to the land reform issue to prevent the alarmingly frequent murders related to land conflict arising out of inequality and a historically antagonistic relationship between White settler commercial farmers, African labourers and local communities, an official of the National African Farmers Union of South Africa said yesterday. Nafu president Motsepe Matlala told participants at a regional conference on agriculture, environment, science and technology innovations that many people were being killed in land-related conflicts because of the slow progress of land redistribution and high cost of land restitution under the “willing seller, willing buyer” principle. “The ownership and re-allocation of agricultural land is possibly the most emotive and controversial topics in the agricultural arena,” he said. “In South Africa many people are being murdered because of land conflicts. Our farmers are being killed over struggles of ownership and re-allocation of land. “What should we do so that our people are not killed? We need land re-allocation to avert this. We should change everything, let’s de-politicise agricultural land and convert all farming entities into a 99-year leasehold with options to renew if farms are highly productive.” Mr Matlala said more than 52 governments in Africa were not selling land and his country should move to re-allocate land without paying to prevent deaths arising out of land conflict. The land issue which is heating up in South Africa shows that Zimbabwe was right in carrying out its land reform programme which sent an unequivocal message to the world on the importance of land in tackling poverty and enhancing social equity. Land reform has been a song Zimbabwe has sung for the past three decades, but few countries in Africa and other bilateral and multilateral institutions ever danced to it. Scientists and development experts at an international conference organised by the Regional Agricultural and Environmental Innovations Network – Africa (RAEIN-Africa) say securing access to land is critical for millions of poor people in Africa. They say modern, efficient, and innovative strategies on land rights are vital to reducing poverty and promoting growth, agriculture production, better nutrition and sustainable development among poor communities. Veteran Zimbabwe agronomist and chairman of the RAEIN-Africa board, Mr Andrew Mushita, expressed concern that significant investments in science and technology, research and development had failed to reduce poverty and food insecurity in Africa. “Despite these investments Africa continues to be plagued by poverty and food insecurity especially for resource constrained communities,” he said. “Most countries will not be able to achieve their MDG targets particularly that of eradicating poverty and hunger by 2015.” In 1996, two years after the end of White apartheid, some 60,000 White commercial farmers owned almost 70 percent of south Africa’s land classified as agricultural and leased a further 19 percent.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Israel's Most Liberal City Introduces Racially Segregated Kindergartens

When the children of south Tel Aviv head back to school on Tuesday, kindergarteners will attend facilities that are segregated by race. The children of asylum seekers from sub-Saharan Africa will go to their kindergartens and all the other kids will go to their own. As of this year, the municipality of Israel's most liberal city decided that separate-but-equal for three-to-six year olds was the way to go—in 2013. According to a report published by Ynet (Hebrew edition), the city built the new preschools for black children after Jewish-Israeli residents of the inner city area threatened to keep their children at home rather than allow them to learn how to count, fingerpaint and play on the swings alongside their peers from Eritrea and Sudan. The south Tel Aviv neighborhoods of Shapira and Hatikvah have for decades been one of the city's two most deprived areas (the other is southern Jaffa). Home to a population of mostly low income Mizrahi Jews (a.k.a. Oriental Jews), it suffers from the problems that plague most low-income areas—overcrowding, poor-quality housing and inadequate infrastructure. In recent years newcomers settled there, most notably foreign workers from the Philippines. More recently, asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea found their way to the economically depressed neighborhood. Tension between the veteran Jewish residents and the African asylum seekers has been high for quite some time, thanks partly to incitement from certain right-wing Members of Knesset and some rabbis, with the latter discouraging their followers from renting apartments to non-Jews. Last year the growing tension exploded in race riots. Mobs of angry Jewish residents smashed cars and shops belonging to blacks, beating and terrorizing them. There are about 65,000 African asylum seekers spread around Israel, with a significant number concentrated in south Tel Aviv. The Jewish residents of south Tel Aviv reject angrily the accusation that they are racists. They point out that the infrastructure and amenities in their impoverished neighborhoods are already overburdened. If the residents of the wealthy, liberal parts of the city had to share their apartment buildings and schools with impoverished asylum seekers from Africa, say the Jews of south Tel Aviv, they too would be resistant. They might have a point there. Last year, some parents in the prosperous and fashionable Sheinkin area of central Tel Aviv opposed a visit from 35 black children for a joint Hanukkah at a local kindergarten. According to a Ynet (English) report, a group of parents started a chain of racist emails, with one claiming they needed to know if the African children had been immunized in order to “protect” their own children. And so we have officials representing the city that markets itself as a paradise for gays and liberals of all types embracing the concept of segregated kindergartens, presenting it as a win-win for the African newcomers and the veteran residents. “We understand what is happening in the southern part of the city,” one unidentified municipal official tells Ynet. “And thus we had no choice but to take this step. The residents are not interested in studying with the foreigners, so this is the only option left to us.” According to the report, the segregated schools are for the children of black sub-Saharan asylum seekers only. The non-Jewish children from other regions, like Southeast Asia and Europe, will continue to attend the “Jewish” municipal kindergartens. Presumably Ethiopian Jewish children have been attending the mixed schools all along, and will continue to do so. One Israeli activist who works on behalf of the asylum seekers' children suggests that the municipality set up the segregated kindergarten in order to provide them with extra tutoring, helping to prepare them for elementary school. Then she adds dubiously that she hopes this was indeed the motivation. But residents quoted in the article seem pretty certain the municipality is responding to their demands by separating the African children from theirs. Yoav Goldring, a city council member from the liberal City for All party, told Ynet that he is puzzled by the municipality's decision to build segregated kindergartens, rather than simply more kindergartens for everyone. “Instead of resolving the neighborhood's existing problems of overcrowding and lack of infrastructure, the municipality catered to the prevailing atmosphere of racial segregation.” Goldring added that he intended to request the ministry of education to look into this matter. Segregation is actually illegal in Israel, but the law won't be enforced unless someone takes the municipality of Tel Aviv and the ministry of education to court. Given the climate of crude racism directed against the Africans, with even radio presenters casually using the term “infiltrators” rather than refugees or asylum seekers, it is quite possible that no-one will think this outrageous incident is worth pursuing.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

The scourge of Slavery

We forgive but we shall never forget. Brief accounts of the treatment of Africans during the TransAtlantic Slave Trade by the British in the Caribbean i.e #Antigua #Jamaica #Barbados #Grenada White women punish their slaves for being found pregnant, for not bringing home the full wages of prostitution, and others without even the allegation of a fault - ***An overseer on the estate where Mr. J. Turry was, in Granada, threw a slave into the boiling cane juice, who died in four days. , Captain Cook relates, that he saw a women named, Rachel Lauder, beat a slave most ummercifully, and would have murdered her, had she not been prevented ; the girl’s crime was, the not bringing money enough from on board of a ship, whither she had been sent by her mistress, for the purpose of prostitution.*** All the facts that have been now adduced are of unquestionable authority having been extracted from the evidence laid before the house of commons by eye-witnesses of the facts. Let now every honest man lay his hand on his breast, and seriously reflect, whether he is justifiable in countenancing such barbarities; or whether he ought not to reject, with horror, the smallest participation in such infernal transactions. To the weaker sex, whose amiable characteristic it is, to be ”tremblingly alive” to every tale of wo, the friends of the abolition return their warmest acknowledgments, for the zeal with which many of them have espoused the cause of humanity, and for the noble example they have shewn, in rejecting the produce of slavery and misery. , ,(Gilder Lehrman Collection) Source: Injured Humanity; Being A Representation of What the Unhappy Children of Africa Endure from Those Who Call Themselves Christians, Published by Samuel Wood. New York, New York, 1805

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

How Africa Is Making Others Rich

Viewers of CNN on the weekend of July 27-28, 2013, might have been stunned at the gigantic amount of wealth Africa possesses. Not only that; but also how much of the gadgets of everyday life depend on resources from Africa.The CNN broadcast was titled “How Africa’s minerals fuel your world” and it sourced its data from British Geological Survey, America’s CIA, and the World Bank among others. Naturally, the documentary generated many comments: with the general theme being if Africa is so rich in resources, why are millions of its people living in poverty? Others delved into how Africa can better harness its wealth to benefit its own people. Michael Ian Wright was stunned: “Wow, with all those fantastic resources, one would expect that folks living there would have outrun Europe in progress a thousand years ago at least. They should have colonised Mars by the time we had the Renaissance.” Timothy44 remarked, “Indeed, Africa is full of resources and should not be a destitute continent. The problem is, Africa’s resources are in the hands of foreign companies and corrupt African leaders. The benefit of these resources never go to Africa’s people. Furthermore, the root cause of most of the continent’s problems — wars and corrupt governments — is arbitrarily drawn colonial boundaries that divide a people in some areas, and group together competing ethnic groups in other countries. “In such instances, all you get is constant ethnic competition, nepotism, corruption, hatred and war. The underlying problems of Africa cannot be addressed without resolving its politics. Africa has enough resources and can grow enough food to feed everybody.” Michael Blackmoon: “Everything the West used was stolen . . . ask China, India, Africa, South America, among others . . . lucky the black plague didn’t finish us off. Remember the dark ages?” Fungal Spawl weighed in: “West/East stealing from Africa. End of Story,” while Mr Robert said, “Africa: the richest and poorest continent. Rich in terms of natural resources, poor in terms of life standards. But from laptops to cellular phones, cars to airplanes, all kinds of everyday items are made using minerals that come from Africa.” It is no exaggeration to say that the world depends on Africa. How Africa Fuels the World Catalytic converters are fitted to cars to reduce pollution, and platinum and rhodium are key components. Africa produces most of the world’s platinum and rhodium for this purpose. In 2012, South Africa produced 128 tonnes of platinum, 170 tonnes of gold, 8.2 million carats of diamonds (2011), and 255 million tonnes of coal (2011). As well as platinum and rhodium, South Africa is a major producer of gold, diamonds, coal and iron ore. Over the past 10 years, the mining industry has contributed around US$200 billion to the country’s GDP and export earnings, in real terms. In all, 513 000 people were employed in extractive industries in 2011 and the sector contributed US$408 billion to South Africa’s total national GDP that year. Cellular phones, laptops and other small electronic devices use parts made from tantalum. It is a key export of several African countries — but has been implicated in funding conflict in the DRC. Mozambique produces 24 percent of the world’s tantalum, followed by Rwanda (20 percent), the DRC (11 percent) and Ethiopia (nine percent). Other African countries account for seven percent of global production combined. The market price for tantalite ore in July 2013 was US$262/kg. Mozambique produced as much as 260 tonnes of tantalum in 2011, in addition to 500kg of gold. Despite increases in tantalum output, agriculture is currently far more important than mining for Mozambique. The country also has huge coal reserves and a large field was discovered off its northern coast in 2011. They have brought significant foreign investment that could have a huge effect on Mozambique’s economy. It is estimated that 60,000 artisanal miners were employed in gold mining in Mozambique in 2011, and that mining contributed US$12,8b to GDP. Bling Bling In 2011, Africa produced more than half of the world’s diamonds, nearly three-quarters of its platinum and a fifth of its gold. The major producers of gemstones and precious metals were Botswana, Zimbabwe, the DRC, South Africa and Angola. Away from the glam of gem production, Africa is also vital to production of the mundane but extremely necessary item called a battery. Rechargeable batteries often use cobalt in their electrodes and demand for portable electronic devices has created a huge market for the mineral. Africa accounts for 58 percent of the world’s cobalt; with the DRC shipping off 48 percent of global requirements in 2011, followed by Zimbabwe (five percent), Botswana (two percent), South Africa (two percent) and other African countries accounting one percent. As at July 2013, cobalt was selling for US$13.50 per pound. The mining and minerals processing sector accounted for 15 percent of the DRC’s GDP in 2010, with mining exports valued at an estimated US$8.48b – nearly half of that coming from cobalt. And while Africa complains about the poor state of its air transport industry, it is providing the resources used by other countries to make airplanes. Jet engines use super alloys that often contain cobalt and chromium. Any aircrafts parts are made from aluminium alloys, which can account for up to 80 percent of a passenger jet’s weight. Of the global production of chromite, South Africa accounted for 47 percent

Monday, 19 August 2013

African Nations Call For End to Illegal Western Sanctions On Zimbabwe

Malawian president and SADC chairperson Mrs Joyce Banda has called on Western nations to review the illegal sanctions they imposed on Zimbabwe after the country held free, fair and credible harmonised elections. Zimbabweans went to polls on July 31 this year using SADC approved principles and guidelines used to conduct democratic elections and Zanu-PF won resoundingly. Said President Banda; “I want the West to review its position on the sanctions in Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans deserve better and Zimbabweans have suffered enough.” President Banda made the remarks while closing the SADC Summit meeting held in her country’s capital, Lilongwe at the weekend. Illegal Western sanctions against Zimbabweans including President Mugabe were imposed in 2003 by Unites States president George W. Bush, a Republican and were continued under his Democratic successor, Mr Barack Obama, backed by the Zimbabwe Transition to Democracy and Economic Recovery Act. In spite of the Western countries’ machinations, President Mugabe and Zanu-PF proceeded to trounce the MDC-T in polls endorsed by the bloc’s members. Zec chairperson Justice Rita Makarau on August 4 this year, declared President Mugabe as duly elected President of Zimbabwe. President Mugabe won 61,09 percent of the valid votes cast while Mr Tsvangirai got 33,94 percent of the votes. Zanu-PF also won a two-thirds majority to dominate the forthcoming House of Assembly which gives it the power to amend laws without consulting other parties

Saturday, 17 August 2013


MALI Mali /ˈmɑːli/, officially the Republic of Mali (french: République du Mali, French pronunciation: [maˈli]), is a landlocked country in West Africa. Mali is bordered by Algeria to the north, Niger to the east, Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire to the south, Guinea to the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania to the west. Its size is just over 1,240,000 square kilometres (480,000 sq mi) with a population of 14.5 million. Its capital is Bamako. Mali consists of eight regions and its borders on the north reach deep into the middle of the Sahara, while the country's southern part, where the majority of inhabitants live, features the Niger and Sénégal rivers. The country's economic structure centers on agriculture and fishing. Some of Mali's prominent natural resources include gold, being the third largest producer of gold in the African continent, and salt. About half the population lives below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day. Present-day Mali was once part of three West African empires that controlled trans-Saharan trade: the Ghana Empire, the Mali Empire (for which Mali is named), and the Songhai Empire. During its golden age, there was a flourishing of mathematics, astronomy, literature, and art. At its peak in 1300, Mali covered an area about twice the size of modern-day France, and stretched to the west coast of Africa. In the late 19th century, during the Scramble for Africa, france seized control of Mali, making it a part of french Sudan. french Sudan (then known as the Sudanese Republic) joined with Senegal in 1959, achieving independence in 1960 as the Mali Federation. Shortly thereafter, following Senegal's withdrawal from the federation, the Sudanese Republic declared itself the independent Republic of Mali. After a long period of one-party rule, a 1991 coup led to the writing of a new constitution and the establishment of Mali as a democratic, multi-party state. In January 2012, an armed conflict broke out in northern Mali, which Tuareg rebels took control by April and declared the secession of a new state, Azawad. The conflict was complicated by a military coup that took place in March and later fighting between Tuareg and Islamist rebels. In response to Islamist territorial gains, the french military launched Opération Serval in January 2013. A month later, Malian and french forces recaptured most of the north. Presidential elections have been scheduled for 7 July and legislative elections for 21 July. The People: The major peoples in size order are Bambara 31.4%, Fula Macina 9.6%, Soninke 7.4%, Sanghai 6.3%, Dogon 5% The largest tribe is the Bambara, who occupy many of the civil servant positions. It is the Dogons and the Tuareg who practice a more traditional way of life. Dogon People The Dogon are an ethnic group located mainly in the administrative districts of Bandiagara and Douentza. Within these regions the Dogon population is most heavily concentrated along a 200 kilometer (125 mile) stretch of escarpment called the Cliffs of Bandiagara near Timbuktu, South of the Sahara Desert in West Africa. The cliffs provide a spectacular physical setting for Dogon villages built on the sides of the escarpment. There are approximately 700 Dogon villages. The Dogons are incredibly industrious farmers, their homeland, the Pays Dogon, has been designated a World Heritage site because of its cultural significance. The Dogon are also famous for their artistic designs in woodcarvings and elaborate masks. Their dances include over 80 varieties of masks, each depending on the type of celebration. Fulani Tribe The Fulani of Mali are also known as the Fulfulde or Peul. Most estimates of their number in Mali range between 850,000 to 1,000,000 people. The majority of the Fulani are from a sub-group known as the Futa Jalon. The Fulani people comprise the largest nomadic society in the world covering at least six nations in West Africa. Fourteen million Fulani are spread throughout Northwest and Central Africa. The major concentration of Mali's Fulani population is located within a 150 kilometer radius of the city of Mopti. Most urban Fulani tend to be sedentary, commercial people, whereas the rural Fulani tend to be migratory herdsmen. Tuareg Tribe The Tuareg, or 'blue men of the desert' (named for their indigo robes and turbans) are an ancient nomadic tribe still eking out a desert existence. They are a proud race of people, famous for their fighting abilities and artwork, now staring urbanisation and resettlement in the face. Drought and government policy are threatening their traditional way of life but Tuaregs and their camel-caravans still appear unexpectedly on the horizon before melting into the desert again. Bambara (Bambara: Bamanankan), a Manding language (in the Mande family) is said to be spoken by 80% of the population as a first or second language. It is spoken mainly in central and Southern Mali. Bambara and two other very closely related Manding languages Malinke or Maninkakan in the southwest and Kassonke (in the region of Kayes in the west), are among the 13 national languages. Bambara is used as a trade language in Mali between language groups. (Bambara is also very close to the Dyula language (Dyula: Jula or Julakan; French: Dioula), spoken mainly in Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso. The name "Jula" is actually a Manding word meaning "trader.") Other Mande languages (not in the Manding group) include Soninke (in the region of Kayes in western Mali), Dogon languages (of Pays Dogon or Dogon country in central Mali), the Bozo languages (along the middle Niger). Other languages include Senufo in the Sikasso region (south), Fula (Fula: Fulfulde; French: Peul) as a widespread trade language in the Mopti region and beyond, the Songhay languages along the Niger, Tamasheq in the eastern part of Mali's Sahara and Arabic in its western part. Thirteen of the most widely spoken indigenous languages are considered "national languages." Most formal education for the deaf in Mali uses American Sign Language, introduced to West Africa by the deaf American missionary Andrew Foster. There are two other sign languages in Mali. One, Tebul Sign Language, is found in a village with a high incidence of congenital deafness. Another, Bamako Sign Language, developed in the after-work tea circles of the cities; it is threatened by the educational use of ASL. Most of the languages of Mali are part of the Mande language family, which is generally accepted as part of Niger–Congo, Africa's largest phylum. Other languages include the Dogon languages, perhaps another Niger–Congo branch, and the Senufo languages, which are unquestionably part of that family. Mande, Senufo, and Dogon stand out among Niger–Congo because of their deviant SOV basic word order. The Gur languages are represented by Bomu on the Bani River of Mali and Burkina Faso. Fulfulde, spoken throughout West Africa, is a member of the Senegambian branch. Other language families include Afro-Asiatic, represented by the Berber language Tamasheq and by Arabic, and the Songhay languages, which have traditionally been classified as Nilo-Saharan but may constitute an independent language family.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

NObama in Afrika

Barack Obama, the first black President of the United States of America (USA), visited Afrika in July 2013. According to the White House one of the key objectives of the Obama visit was to: ’extend the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) for another 10 years from 2015’. The African National Congress (ANC)-the ruling party in South Africa- argued that the Obama visit was to facilitate the signing of another round of the AGOA agreement and this will improve trade relations between African countries such as South Africa and the US. Obama seen as an Uncle Tom by Protesters in Johannesburg On the other hand, activists see AGOA as another US imperialist tool seeking to recolonize Africa. Way back in 2002, Mauritian activists Ram Seegobin and Lindsey Collen, said: ‘We must continue to expose AGOA for what it really is: a tool of US imperialism. At the same time we must expose the role of African ruling classes in using AGOA to dispossess peoples in Africa of our collective property, of our economic, social, civil and political rights, and of our sovereignty’. Obama visited Afrika and South Africa in particular in a context of a generalised scramble for Afrika which is viewed by commentators as a ‘growing economy’. According to Standard Bank, trade between China and Afrika has ‘doubled since 2007 to more than $200 billion (R2 trillion) and Chinese investment stands at $20bn’. China, the second largest economy in the world, has also committed, and is involved in a number of manufacturing and infrastructure projects on the continent. Another significant and recent global development is that Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa formed Brics which seeks to position developing countries as an economic and a political power bloc. Other critics of Brics have argued that South Africa has been included in Brics as a proxy for the rest of Africa. Elis Mnyandu, an economics journalist, states: ‘South Africa’s Brics membership is helpful in one obvious respect – and that is with regards to legitimising the Brics as a forum that also consists of a key player on the African continent’. We also have to remember that George W. Bush established Africom, military command structures, which claim ‘to be protecting the national security of the United States by boosting the capacity of African states to defend themselves against transnational threats’. In other words, the US has an economic and military presence on the Afrikan continent. Therefore Obama’s visit was meant to consolidate and extend the US imperialist interests on the continent in a context of a global power balance that really seeks to threaten the US dominance economically and politically. The US economy is also in a deep crisis and one of the indicators is that this year alone, the US national debt stands at about $16.5 trillion. Protester showing his disdain for Barack Obama in Pretoria, SA The South African activists in Cape Town and Johannesburg formed coalitions which sought to highlight the fact that the visit was part of strengthening the US imperialism on Afrika. More student formations in Gauteng have joined students of the University of Johannesburg (UJ) in opposition to UJ’s plan to confer an honorary degree on US President Barack Obama. The ‘No, UJ you can’t honour Obama’ Coalition said: ‘The report (The Stanford University) estimates drones have killed between 474 and 881 civilians, including 176 children. The drone strikes are assassinations without trial in a court of law, even when they strike the people targeted’. To highlight the demands and issues of ‘NOBAMA’ coalitions protest actions were held at the University of Johannesburg campuses and Cape Town. In fact, Obama’s foreign policy is consistent with his domestic policy. Those who opposed Obama visit to Afrika also amplified the fact that Obama has not transformed ’race’ relations in the US and, in fact, ‘racial’ profiling continues to be used as a tool for discriminating against black people. Writing in the ‘American Prospect’, Sophia Kerby argues: ‘ While people of color make up about 30 percent of the United States’ population, they account for 60 percent of those imprisoned. The prison population grew by 700 percent from 1970 to 2005, a rate that is outpacing crime and population rates. The incarceration rates disproportionately impact men of color: 1 in every 15 African American men and 1 in every 36 Hispanic men are incarcerated in comparison to 1 in every 106 white men’. The Bureau of Justice Statistics also claims: ‘one in three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime’. But the self-certainty that black is negative is not confined to ‘white’ perception of ‘black’. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o Ngugi reflects on generalised ‘racial’ profiling and ‘self-certainty’: ‘I once took a Japanese lady, a family friend, to TM machine to get some money in’Newark. I was standing right behind her when a black lady walked past me and nudged the Japanese lady to be mindful about me. It could have been an act of female solidarity but I often wondered if she could have been so sure about my evil intentions had I been another color’. trayvon parentsThe Trayvon Martin case also highlighted ‘racial’ profiling and the unresolved national question in the US. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP): ‘We call immediately for the Justice Department to conduct an investigation into the civil rights violations committed against Trayvon Martin. This case has re-energized the movement to end racial profiling in the United States’. In progressive terms Zimmerman would be regarded as being black and part of the oppressed and an historical victims of colonialism. It was revealed that George Zimmerman’s historical origin is in Peru, a former colony of Spain. As Ngũgĩ pointed out that even the ‘oppressed’ can also act in manners that perpetuate ‘racial’ profiling. Cornel West, a renowned public intellectuals, had this to say about Obama: ‘a Rockefeller Republican in blackface and not someone who is actually looking out for the best interests of the impoverished’. West’s statement is consistent with the views of the coalitions opposed to the Obama visits. The coalitions criticised Obama for not fulfilling his elections promises. They stated: ’Obama promised to shut down Guantanamo Bay but it remains open, along with other secret prisons or ‘black sites’ on African soil, which continue the unlawful detention and torture of prisoners’. On the Palestinian question, the coalition at the University of Johannesburg said: ‘Although Obama has reprimanded the apartheid state of Israel, his administration continues to finance the oppression of Palestinians’. One of the demands of the protest actions in Soweto was that Obama’s regime should stop persecuting and victimising whistle-blowers such as Edward Snowden and Bradely Manning. In conclusion, the Obama visit to Afrika and South Africa acted as a reminder for those opposed to imperialism and US imperialism in particular about a need to consistently foreground international solidarity in daily struggles. While many academics, commentators and the some in the public were ‘pleased’ to have Obama as a visitor, the coalitions opposed to the visit basically argued that being the first black President of the US and the President whose origins are in Africa does not grant Obama and his regime a license to violate the rights of the working people and the poor in America and the world. The challenge that faces the coalitions will be the ‘mainstreaming’ of international solidarity in daily struggle of the working people and the poor.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Mugabe’s Election Victory a Mandate for More Black Empowerment

Politics, its ultimate expression that is winning the will of the people to be governed, is after all a game of thrones. In this game the contenders must navigate between hope and fear, upon which the electorate will decide which contender’s policies and manifesto shall be placed in government. On July 31, 2013 the question posed to millions of Zimbabweans standing before the ballot box was “Who?”, between Zanu-PF’s President Robert Mugabe or MDC-T’s Morgan Tsvangirai, offered hope to their economic future and who caused them to fear for it. July 31, 2013 has proved that it is Robert Gabriel Mugabe, whose mind the MDC-T called “old” and whose party’s experience it declared “tired”, in whom the people reposed hope for the future. Zanu-PF has known, since their days in the liberation struggle, that the people’s aspirations have primarily been economic emancipation. At the heart of Zimbabwe’s struggles since the First Chimurenga to date has been our struggle to claim back and control our national economy. Our indigenous majority was forced far from our stolen economic pot and cramped in the dark shadow of the economic fire, while in the brightly lit space closer to our simmering pot remained minority White and foreign gate crushers laying siege to the national economy. Within our economic struggle Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF aligned with our previously deprived indigenous majority, while Tsvangirai and his MDC-T where birthed to safeguard White minority and foreign economic appetites. It is upon this reality that the electoral stage of July 31was laid out. The prize for the political contenders was the mandate to constitute a new Government of Zimbabwe with control over Zimbabwe’s economic pot, from which the Zimbabwean people must be guaranteed an equitable share, with the ever lurking threat from foreign scavengers. In its nationalist wisdom, long before the political expression of July 31, Zanu-PF had pursued in government the economic empowerment of the previously discriminated and disadvantaged indigenous majority, to distribute equitably among us the sustenance within Zimbabwe’s economic pot. From as early as 2000 a land reform programme was embarked on, which on the eve of Zimbabweans casting their vote on July31, 2013, had ensured that an estimated 245 000 of our previously dispossessed indigenous households had been restored their land. Not surprising then that on July 31, 2013 these new land owners, the individual bread-winners holding offer letters, rallied their children now of voting age, their spouses, siblings, cousins and parents. They rallied this extended Zimbabwean family set-up to whom the benefits of land reform, including $598 million in tobaccos sales alone, have begun to trickle down to. Land reform bore results in Nyanga, part of the Manicaland in which Dr. Ibbo Mandaza and Tsvangirai believed the MDC-T had a stronghold and cannot now understand how Zanu-PF swept to victory there. In Nyanga district a new breed of young potato farmers has emerged over the past five years, identifiable by the new 4×4 vehicles speeding down rugged dusty mountain terrain. Then comes indigenisation and economic empowerment. Again, this policy has been founded upon broad-based economic empowerment despite the MDC-T empty rhetoric of elitism. While they were crying elitism, Zanu-PF was reaching out and filling the Zimbabwean majority’s economic stomachs. Robert Gabriel Mugabe knew that if the MDC-T had used stomachs emptied by sanctions, screaming from hunger, to vote against him and his Zanu-PF party since 2002, surely the same stomachs well fed by indigenisation a decade later would quietly cast their vote for the hand that feeds. By July 31, broad based empowerment had caused the establishment of 59 community share ownership trusts. Seventeen community trusts were already implementing socio-economic development programmes using the $ 27,209,000,00 of seed capital already paid from the $111,250,000 pledged. In districts such as Zvishavane with a population of 70,047, Bindura with 124,160, Mhondoro-Ngezi with 104,061, Zvimba with 245,489, Chegutu with 149,025, Shurugwi with 77,460 the residents there were witnessing the building schools, dams, electrification, clinics, boreholes by their community trusts. Meanwhile the MDC-T’s Secretary General gave sermons alleging the illegality of such community trusts. He was supported by his party leader, Tsvangirai, who was on record ridiculing rural folk as not being sophisticated enough to own shares in companies exploiting their local resources. Yet because of Zanu PF 116,357 of these rural folk in Gwanda district have secured 10 percent in Blanket Mine through their Gwanda Community Trust. In March 2013 the Gwanda Trust earned a $400,000 in dividends from their 10 percent shares in Blanket Mine. It is in Gwanda, an MDC-T 2008 stronghold that Zanu PF was given by the rural folk a clean sweep in the House of Assembly. Yet still the MDC-T, echoed by Dr Mandaza, cries rigging. Economic empowerment made significant inroads with the youth constituency, those between 18 – 35 years constituting an estimated 42 percent of the electorate. By July 31, the CABS fund alone had benefitted 3569 youth projects across so called MDC-T strongholds. A total of 547 projects worth $851 883 in Manicaland, 202 projects amounting to $206 975 in Masvingo with Harare getting $709 250 for 422 projects. How much money did the MDC-T’s outgoing Finance Minister, Tendai Biti, ensure was availed to the youth? In fact the MDC-T emotionally barred its youth from applying for the youth empowerment funds, yet record will show those within the high ranks of its National Youth Assembly secretly applying for and receiving these loans for entrepreneurial projects.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

The Western reaction to the Zimbabwe election

There is a great deal more to the Western objections to the evaluation by the African Union and SADC verdict that the recent elections in Zimbabwe were ‘free and fair’ than just a disquiet that the elections did not produce the result that some sections of the West wanted. These objections tell the world that these Western powers who object so strongly to the victory of Mugabe and ZANU-PF are humiliated by the fact that they are increasingly irrelevant to political developments in Africa and largely impotent in controlling the political and economic ties among African nations and the international community. There is a growing, if reluctant, realisation by the United Kingdom that Zimbabwe doesn’t need them; want them or rely on them for political, military or economic interactions. The British are, to an ever-increasing state, irrelevant to Zimbabwe; and indeed to Africa as a whole. The electoral victory of ZANU-PF exposes the irrelevance of the West to political developments in Zimbabwe and Africa. When US voting rights are being ripped away from Constitutional structures established in the 1960s in several US states it is rather rich for the US to complain about unfair elections in Zimbabwe The electoral victory of ZANU-PF exposes the irrelevance of the West to political developments in Zimbabwe and Africa. When US voting rights are being ripped away from Constitutional structures established in the 1960s in several US states it is rather rich for the US to complain about unfair elections in Zimbabwe BESIEGED BY A HOSTILE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY British rule over Zimbabwe ended in 1965 with the Unilateral Declaration of Independence by Ian Smith’s Rhodesian Front. Other than the few months at the end of the Rhodesian War when Abel Muzorewa’s Government reverted to British colonial control to negotiate the Peace Accords establishing Zimbabwe in 1979, Britain’s control over Rhodesia/Zimbabwe effectively ended in 1965. There is, in reality, no one in Zimbabwe under the age of fifty who ever lived under British colonial rule. In fact, the median age in Zimbabwe is less than twenty years. That means that the largest sector of people in Zimbabwe not only never lived under British rule, they also didn’t live under Rhodesian Front rule. Independence was around thirty-five years ago and the bulk of Zimbabweans were not even alive at the time. Theirs is not the politics of colonialism or anti-colonialism; it is the politics of a nation beset by a concerted campaign by the international community against it. BRITISH RENEGE ON CONSTITUTIONAL PROMISES In addition, during the post-independence period most of the ‘kith and kin’ that the British saw as a group whose rights they had to defend, have left the country. One would be hard-pressed to find more than a few thousand kith and kin left in Zimbabwe. The British bought some time for these kith and kin by insisting on the several entrenched clauses in the Zimbabwe Constitution at independence which protected the land rights and tenure of the white farmers for ten years after independence, but reneged on the promises to the new state that at the end of the ten years they would assist financially with the cost of transition from white-ruled farms to a wider participation in land ownership. The conflict this engendered led to the seizure of white farms and the expropriation of some of their lands. The British, whose refusal to conduct its policy towards Zimbabwe according to its obligations, used these seizures as evidence of the supposed failure of ZANU to act fairly. BRITISH VENGEANCE IN SANCTIONS In response, the British undertook a policy of almost two decades of political and economic subversion against the Zimbabwe government and encouraged its international partners in Europe and North America to follow its lead in combatting Mugabe and sanctioning the country and its political leadership. It created the MDC political party and promoted its leaders in Parliament, the European Union and NATO in their efforts to oust Mugabe and the ZANU-PF. The efforts of the MDC to take power in the last election precipitated a period of violence and mayhem which led to the doomed coalition of Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutumbara. The coalition was doomed because it was accompanied by a unique and epic failure of the Zimbabwe dollar to retain its value. Spiralling inflation finally drove the country to abandon the Zimbabwe dollar (which had traded at one Zimbabwe dollar equalling one US dollar and sixty cents at independence). The US dollar and sterling were accepted as the currencies for Zimbabwe’s accounts. This destruction of the currency and the impact of the international sanctions imposed by Britain, the European Union and the United States had a devastating effect on the Zimbabwe economy and political structures. It has taken over six years to recover from that crisis. The Zimbabwe economy has almost recovered from that crisis despite the sanctions and the imposition of foreign currencies as the reserve currency. US SUPPORT THEIR BRITISH COUSINS IN DESTABILISING THE REGION The role of the US in undermining Zimbabwe and its economy was no better than the British. The US has always viewed the African nationalists of Southern Africa as their enemy based on the relentless Cold War policies of combatting the Soviet Union in every theatre. The nationalists of the ANC and, PAC in South Africa; ZANU and ZAPU in Rhodesia; MPLA in Angola; FRELIMO and COREMO in Mozambique; and the several governments of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (starting with Lumumba) were all viewed as ‘too close to the Soviet Union’ and thus the enemies of the US America has been fighting wars in Africa since the 1950s – in Angola, the DRC, Somalia, the Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Morocco, Libya, Djibouti among others. In some countries they used US troops, but in most cases the US financed, armed and supervised the support of indigenous forces. In its support of the anti- MPLA forces in Angola it sent arms and equipment to the UNITA opposition. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Larry Devlin of the CIA was an unofficial branch of Mobutu’s government; the US ran its own air force at WIGMO. US airmen supported the South African forces in the Caprivi from WIGMO. The hostility and opposition of the US to African nationalism took many forms. The US cast its first veto in the United Nations Security Council in 1970 when Ambassador Charles Yost vetoed against a resolution on interdicting the international sale of Rhodesian chromite ore. The US argued that the beneficiary of the sanction against Smith’s Rhodesia would be the Soviet Union which was also selling chromite ore. [I was challenged by Congressman Brad Morse at a Congressional Hearing on Rhodesia at which I was testifying when I suggested that the use of the US veto on this issue was shameful because the British had already used its veto and the US veto was gratuitous.] It has been a unique feature of US African diplomacy that the Cold War legacy of opposition to African nationalism continues to shape US policy; especially under the guidance of such neo-cons as Susan Rice. The US sanctions against Zimbabwe were established by the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 (ZDERA) and continue to today. The US has threatened to continue these sanctions because of its ‘uncertainty’ about the re-election of Mugabe and ZANU-PF. AMIDST ISOLATION ZIMBABWE LOOKS EAST So, at one time, the combined censure against Zimbabwe by the UK and the US might have had a profound impact. Today, these sanctions are an irritant, not an insoluble problem. The world has changed since 2001 and the UK and the US are increasingly irrelevant to the progress of Zimbabwe. In the late 1990s President Mugabe saw the handwriting on the wall as he offered his military support to Kabila’s DRC which was being attacked and invaded by the US surrogate armies of Uganda and Rwanda It was clear that the US and the ‘International community’ didn’t want Kabila to win or for Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe to emerge as saviours of the DRC’s national integrity. Mugabe pointed out that the future lay in the East; the expansion of African ties with Asia, particularly China and Malaysia. ZANU-PF has had a long and close relationship with the Peoples’ Republic of China. It was China which sustained the ZANU army in its garrisons in Mozambique during its long military campaign against the Rhodesian Front. The Russians supported Nkomo’s ZAPU in Lusaka, Zambia but the ZANU developed ties to China. This relationship has continued to grow after independence. The Chinese continue to be the main economic partners of Zimbabwe. As the West abandoned and sanctioned the vast mineral resources of Zimbabwe their mines, ore sources and processing plants were taken over by Chinese investors. Chinese banks and financial institutions stood behind these investments and channelled lots of money into Zimbabwe. The Chinese military-industrial corporations armed the Zimbabwe army with the latest equipment. In short, while the ‘international community’ was lecturing Zimbabwe and ‘teaching it lessons’ in the IMF, World Bank and other Bretton Woods agencies the Chinese sent money and investment and took goods despite the sanctions. SOME EU COUNTRIES SEEK BUSINESS WITH PARIAH ZIMS It is not that the Chinese are Zimbabwe’s only customers. Despite the rantings of the British about the election, ambassadors from Norway, Sweden and Denmark have already staked out an expanded path of economic relations with Zimbabwe. It wasn’t two days after the election that German bankers contacted the country with offers to help set up internationally accepted letters of credit confirmed by German banks. There are now serious discussions in Zimbabwe (as well as Angola and some others) about adopting the Chinese Yuan as an official currency. The farms have largely recovered and are producing ever-increasing levels of food production for Africa and for exports to the East. Public spending is expanding, according to a study by the Cato Institute by a factor of ten. The economy is recovering from its catastrophic state despite the West and the direction of growth is firmly to the East. The election of Mugabe and ZANU was not a tribute to the political system for its sketchy improvement in the lives of Zimbabweans or its support for the grasping of wealth by well-connected politicians and military leaders. Unfortunately that accompanied the imposition of sanctions. The people of Zimbabwe don’t really care much for the existing politicians but they knew that the addition of the MDC to the equation only made things worse. With stability they hope that there will be more wealth tricking down and an absence of civil strife. It is a bit rich for the US to complain about unfair elections in Zimbabwe at a time when US voting rights are being ripped away from the Constitutional structures established in the 1960s in several states and impediments for the registration of voters are cutting away millions of Americans from the voting rolls. When they say that political satire reached its apogee with the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Henry Kissinger, electoral satire reached its apogee in the 2000 election of George Bush. Zimbabwe will get on and thrive in the next years under Mugabe and ZANU’s leadership with or without the continuation of sanctions. The West has moved itself away from relevance and influence in Africa. Impotence and irrelevance are not solved by removing sanctions and no complaints by the UK or the US about elections is likely to change this.

Libya Sentences Pan-African Educator to Death by Firing Squad

– The U.S.-NATO installed regime in Libya sentenced the respected academic and political philosopher Dr. Ahmed Ibrahim to death by firing squad. Dr. Ibrahim was once Libya’s secretary for education and is a Gaddafi loyalist. He has written extensively on the Jamahiriyan ideology or what is known as the Third Universal Theory. Ahmed Ibrahim is a staunch Pan-Africanist and a courageous freedom fighter who, rather than fleeing the Libyan Jamahiriya during the brutal and barbaric assault on his country, stood his ground in the heroic defense of Sirte alongside the revolutionary forces and people and was later captured by an Al Qaeda-linked militia. The Western-backed terrorists of this militia tortured and taunted him while he was being held in one of the prisons that they control, and now, after a mock, illegal trial, they have sentenced him to death by firing squad. The African Revolutionary Movement (ARM), an Afrocentric, Pan-African organization, is calling on all genuine Pan-Africanist organizations and parties, as well as human rights activists, to openly and loudly condemn this gross violation of justice and human decency and to demand the immediate release of Dr. Ahmed Ibrahim. Also, we must demand that the African Union take the initiative and necessary measures to secure his release. ARM will do what must be done to expose the reactionary and racist character of the Al Qaeda-linked and Arab-supremacist cabal in Libya, which is propped up by U.S.-NATO thugs. African Revolutionary Movement (ARM) ARM is an international, Pan-African revolutionary organization committed to the unification and total liberation of Africa and the scattered African nation. Our members are active throughout the African motherland and the African Diaspora. We come in the tradition of all those Africans, known and unknown, who dedicated their lives to the struggle for the redemption, upliftment and liberation of all Africans. Our objectives are: To demolish all political, legal and economic structures and systems promoting and maintaining the exploitation of Africans, including capitalism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, imperialism, neo-liberalism and Zionism. To work toward ending White supremacy in all areas of human activity. To promote ideologies and philosophies indigenous to Africa, emerging out of our own African historical experience and cultures. To promote an Afrocentric worldview, with the implicit understanding that in order to bring about an African renaissance we must return to our source. To promote Black/African liberation theologies, recognizing that all monotheistic religions have their origin in Africa, and to finally wipe out the reactionary theologies thrust upon our people as part of the colonial agenda in Africa and throughout the Diaspora. To realize the call for reparations as a vital component of the necessary redress for centuries of genocide and exploitation of African people and the shameless plunder of African resources. To build revolutionary political and economic relationships between Africans in the Diaspora and the Motherland in order to improve the material conditions of Africans everywhere. To promote Black Power Economics, enhancing African people’s potential to create wealth for the advancement and dignity of our people, and in order to achieve true independence.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

British Museum and Archaeologist Confirm Identity of Stolen Egyptian Artefact

With 1 stolen Egyptian artefact identified and saved from a Christie’s auction, officials continue to investigate 5 more in the largest-known theft since the January 2011 revolution Archaeologist Hourig Sourouzian and the British Museum have identified the exact provenance of one of six artefacts allegedly looted from Egypt and meant to be auctioned through Christie’s in London on 2 May. British Museum Assistant Keeper of Ancient Egypt and Sudan Department Marcel Marée recounts to Ahram Online that he and his colleagues spotted the stolen ancient Egyptian objects from Christie’s latest catalogue listing antiquities up for sale, among which were the six artefacts that are claimed to have been in a private UK collection since the 1940s. “But I had reason to doubt this,” he reveals. The British Museum relies on an extensive network of Egyptologists who are helping trace the provenance of the possible stolen antiquities, including Hourig Sourouzian, who used to work for the German Archaeological Institute and has been conducting excavations at the Amenhotep III mortuary temple on Luxor’s west bank for many years now. Marée contacted Sourouzian, who immediately recognised the red granite relief fragment depicting a Nubian captive – a motif found typically at the bases of colossal royal statues. The same day she sent him a screen shot from her database search, confirming that the fragment was discovered in King Amenhotep III temple in 2000. “We are now researching the possible origins of the other five,” Marée said. All six pieces – which include ancient Egyptian reliefs and statue fragments – are now in the possession of Christie’s Auction Hall until British police investigations identify the owner. “The department is playing a crucial role in tracing the stolen antiquities and exerting all efforts to monitor which artefacts are passing through London dealers and auction houses,” he said. The buyer who commissioned Christie’s to sell the objects claims he inherited it from his grandfather, who bought it in 1940s. When Christie’s and UK police contacted the British Museum Marée says “We have no reason to trust the ’1940s’ collection history claimed for the other pieces consigned to Christie’s by the same individual,” and adds: “Stopping the looting and smuggling of Egyptian antiquities is not an easy job.” Marée praises the Egyptian antiquities authorities for their protective measures, such as blocking access to tombs and employing guards to stop further looting, but he calls on authorities to do more. “One important measure that would help bring criminals to justice is the systematic photography of every piece that is kept in storerooms, and these photos should be stored somewhere central,” added Marée. Some Egyptian officials have been quoted as saying that they are considering the idea, but it requires a huge budget. “Such photographic documentation may take a few years, but it must and can be done; a growing photo database will have numerous additional benefits,” Marée explains. Once photographic documentation exists, continued Marée, any theft can be easily detected and reported, most notably to the London-based international database Art Loss Register (ALR) as well as among the Egyptologists’ community. In 2011, the British Museum identified four relief fragments as stolen. These came from the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III, but that theft had occurred back in the 1980s. Except these six objects, no other stolen objects have come to the attention of themuseum experts since the 2011 revolution. “I have little doubt, though, that more stolen pieces are circulating, but they simply cannot be detected if no one reported them as missing – and no report is complete without photographs,” Marée concludes. He and his colleagues advise the Egyptian authorities to notify the ALR and the Egyptology community all over the world of any stolen objects. “If, in Egypt, those charged with the protection of monuments and storerooms fail to notice and report a theft, it is usually impossible for auctioneers and Egyptologists to know if some piece on the market was stolen, especially since so much of Egypt’s heritage has yet to be published.”

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Zimbabwe to Open ‘Blacks Only’ Stock Exchange

As Zimbabwe’s liquidity declines and its stock market slumps, President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party says it will soon launch a racially exclusive stock exchange in which only black people will be able to trade shares in foreign-owned companies it plans to seize. The plan to indigenise mining companies – of which the major ones are White South African-owned – without compensation follows President Mugabe’s landslide victory in elections last week which the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party is crying foul. Saviour Kasukuwere, Zanu-PF’s Indigenisation Minister in the former government, announced the party’s plan on Tuesday. He said the incoming Zanu-PF government or Black Zimbabweans would seize a majority stake in all major foreign-owned companies, estimated to be worth a total of about R100 billion, without compensation. Zanu-PF especially wants to indegenise mining companies and in particular Zimplats (Pvt) Ltd, a major platinum producer largely owned by South Africa’s Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. Other firms operating in the country include Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) and banks include Standard Chartered and Barclays. On Tuesday on the JSE, Implats fell 2.65% and Amplats lost 1.1 %. Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe lost 20% on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, whose industrial index dipped 2.2% after plunging 11% on Monday. Kasukuwere said mining companies that did not “cede” 51% shares to Zimbabweans or the government would lose their operating licences. He said the natural resources or underground metals were sufficient to pay for majority shareholdings in mining companies. “When it comes to natural resources, Zimbabwe will not pay for her resources,” Kasukuwere said in an interview with Bloomberg. Zanu-PF spokesman, Psychology Maziwisa, confirmed that Kasukuwere’s remarks about reclaiming mining companies and creating a Blacks-only Harare Stock Exchange before year end were Zanu-PF policy. “All of this is correct. It’s what we told voters we will do,” he said. The legislation allowing indigenisation of all companies valued at more than R5 million says shares should be sold, not ceded, but President Mugabe mocked this regularly in the last few years. Zimplats does not have a refinery and it sends its ore to South Africa for refining and export. It would take a few years and about R1bn to build a refinery in Zimbabwe. Zimplats imports its electricity directly from Mozambique because it cannot rely on Zimbabwe’s faltering power output. Economist John Robertson said there was no logic to Zanu-PF’s plan. “He (Kasukuwere) is in danger of introducing economic apartheid, which is absurd. The assets he says he wants do not add up to cash and the value of those assets will obviously decline. Metals and minerals, including platinum and gold, accounted for 71%, or US$791 million of Zimbabwe’s exports last year.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Tracing the Arab/Muslim Trade of Enslaved Africans in the Indian Ocean

David Livingston, the English explorer, is unjustly given a lot of credit for halting or ending the slave trade in East Africa, but according to my guide, the abolition of the trade was an added benefit for Africans, similar to the bonus prize when the Confederacy refused to join the Union, and Africans were released from bondage Jan. 1, 1863. He said Livingston’s maps made it easier for the Arabs to penetrate the “interior” and that after the British abolished slavery, the Arabs continued at the Mangapwani Caves located about “20km north of Zanzibar Town along the coast.” There are two spots, one a contested natural cave which has stairs carved into it so one can descend into the large open space where there is a source of fresh clear water. So even though the enslaved Africans marched into the cave from the beach after the dhows (sailing ships used by Arabs on the east African, Arabian and Indian coasts) dropped them at its mouth, a mile from where we stood, the water kept them from starving as sales were made. The men or women were hoisted up through the hole by rope and auctioned off. Any rebellious Africans were chained to the natural coral walls of the cave. When asked about the potential for escape, the guide said that most of the captives had never been to sea prior to their enslavement, so the idea of going back through the tunnel to the ocean and trying to swim or run away was met with despair. This cave held the less expensive Africans; up the road, a bit further north, was another place, a cave dug from the ground – out of the coral limestone deposits – where in two separate underground rooms enslaved Africans were placed on tiers chained facing one another and sold. The Arab, Indian and European buyers could walk between the rooms and tiers and see the “product,” which unlike the other Africans held in the natural cave, were washed and fed and treated a bit better given their higher market value. This particular cave was designated a UNESCO Heritage site in October 2009, 400 years after the Arab atrocity. The larger cave would be covered with leaves, so no one would know anyone was there. Without a road, in the middle of the forest, it was unlikely that the Arab traders would be caught and they were not. It seems as if everyone – I am speaking of the Indian traders who had been present in Zanzibar for many centuries amassing wealth – turned a blind eye to this trafficking until Britain saw Arab wealth as a disadvantage and ended the trade and with other Western nations divided up Africa and began another sort of captivity and exploitation known as colonialism. We drove through Bububu to get to the caves, and what’s interesting about this town is its name, which is taken from the sound the stream engine made while pulling trains carrying goods up and down the coast. The old train depot is now a police station, yet buses headed in this direction sputter this title. The second cave is in Chuini, just north of Bububu. We passed the Maruhubi Palace and grounds on our way there. Here Sultan Barghash in 1882 built this place, 4km north of Zanzibar Town, to house his 98-99-member harem. All gifts, as he was known to like his women, the concubines would bathe in a pool and he’d point to the ones he wanted that night to sleep with. If they became pregnant, they were killed. The sultan could not afford to have heirs loose. He built his wife a lovely sauna, floors out of marble. The palace was burned and many if not most of its treasures looted up to recently. My guide saw tourists carrying away pieces of marble tiles from the floor. It’s quite majestic and the scientific design of the aqueduct and reservoirs, where the fresh water flowed and still does, is amazing. The inner chambers where the concubines had their indoor pool with toilets and the different types of toilet and their maintenance were also interesting. Another palace, Sultan Seyyid Said’s Mtoni Palace, is just north of Maruhubi. It is described in Emily Said-Reute’s “Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar photo” I didn’t get by it. I am still trying to register my response to the slave caves. They were just something outside of my imagination. We walked in reverse the trek these African ancestors made from the beach after the voyage. They were washed on the beach and it is said, they dried themselves in the sun sitting on the huge rocks below the cliff where we stood. Coral could be seen in the shallow waters. This rocky bed gave the Arab/Muslim slave traders an advantage against the British, whose ships would not be able to navigate the terrain without getting stuck. Mangapwani slave dungeons, which was built by the Arabs/Muslims to hold enslaved Africans If it is not too expensive, I am going to walk from the beach to the caves, follow the route. This is so much more interesting than just seeing the dungeons and hearing the philosophical cries of our ancestors. I want to stay at St. Monica’s hostel, where the slave prisons were too at the Anglican Cathedral on Creek Road, built on the largest slave marketplace in Zanzibar. It is the first Anglican cathedral in East Africa, built in the 1870s by the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa (UMCA). Read more at Wikipedia. I didn’t get to church there, but maybe when I return. It’s an interesting history. They were called by David Livingston and at the heart of their beliefs is abolition of slavery. As I was reading more literature, I ran across this contested story of the “natural cave.” “Mangapwani Slave Cave is not natural, but cut out of the coral limestone. It is a sort of cellar, more or less a square-shaped cell. It was built for storing enslaved Africans by Mohammed Bin Nassor Al-Alawi, a prominent slave trader. Boats from Africa (Tanzania) landed at the nearby beach and unloaded their human ‘cargo.’ The enslaved Africans were kept here until they were taken to Zanzibar Town or to Oman. “In 1873 Sultan Barghash signed the Anglo-Zanzibari treaty which officially abolished the slave trade. Some time after, the cave was still used as a place to hide enslaved Africans, as an illicit trade continued for many years. Today, the cave itself remains, although the wooden roof under which the Africans were hidden has now gone. There are steps which lead down onto the cavern floor (” I find it hard to believe that this cave is not natural. It continues on to the beach where the enslaved Africans were dropped off. There is another chamber a bit further through the narrow passage that opens into a larger room. I am more of the belief that it is natural rather than not. The other slave caves, further north, fit the description here.

Proof South Africa’s Apartheid Government Developed Germs to Kill Blacks Only

A White South African scientist has told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that the White apartheid government considered trying to develop a bacteria which would kill only Africans. The former head of a military research laboratory, Daan Goosen, told the commission that the project had the backing of South Africa’s then Surgeon General, who described it as “the most important project in the country.” Although the substance was “officially” never developed, Mr Goosen said that an unknown European scientist claimed to have developed a strain of bacteria in the early 1980s “capable of killing pigmented people”. “It could have been used as a negotiation back-up,” Mr Goosen told the Commission. “A thing like this could have been used to maintain peace. It was a case of being the strongest.” Plans to travel to Europe for a meeting were abandoned because of fears that it could be a trap, but the witness said South African scientists continued their own work on the project, and also looked into methods of making Blacks selectively infertile. Goosen also said he and his immediate supervisor, Wouter Basson, had discussed the possibility of killing Nelson Madela and Oliver Tambo – then President of the ANC – through the use of carcinogens, as well as arranging the supply of snake venom “to eliminate an enemy of the state.” In other testimony, the former head of the police forensics laboratory, General Lothar Neethling, told the Commission that he had been instructed to supply Basson with confiscated supplies of narcotic drugs such as marijuana, LSD and Mandrax. The intention, he said, was to extract the active ingredients for insertion into crowd-control grenades. It was alleged that officials plotted to mentally disable Nelson Mandela with poison during the final years of his imprisonment Mr Goosen told the commission he now realised that he was wrong to work on the projects, but said he had not been thinking rationally at the time. “It was a time of conflict” he said. “Communism was coming. It was total onslaught. ”

Monday, 5 August 2013

Anton Wilhelm Amo

In 1734, Anton Wilhelm Amo, a West African student and former chamber slave of Duke Anton Ulrich of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel, defended a philosophy dissertation at the University of Halle in Saxony, written in Latin and entitled “On the Impassivity of the Human Mind.” A dedicatory letter was appended from the rector of the University of Wittenberg, Johannes Gottfried Kraus, who praised “the natural genius” of Africa, its “appreciation for learning,” and its “inestimable contribution to the knowledge of human affairs” and of “divine things.” Kraus placed Amo in a lineage that includes many North African Latin authors of antiquity, such as Terence, Tertullian and St. Augustine. Why have we chosen to go with Hume and Kant, rather than with the pre-racial conception of humanity? In the following decade, the Scottish philosopher David Hume would write: “I am apt to suspect the Negroes, and in general all other species of men to be naturally inferior to the whites. There never was any civilized nation of any other complection than white, nor even any individual eminent in action or speculation.” Hume had not heard of Amo, that much is clear. But we can also detect a tremendous difference between Hume’s understanding of human capacities and that of Kraus: the author of Amo’s dedicatory letter doesn’t even consider the possibility of anchoring what individual human beings are capable of doing to something as arbitrary as “complection.” For Kraus, Amo represents a continent and its long and distinguished history; he does not represent a “race.” Another two decades on, Immanuel Kant, considered by many to be the greatest philosopher of the modern period, would manage to let slip what is surely the greatest non-sequitur in the history of philosophy: describing a report of something seemingly intelligent that had once been said by an African, Kant dismisses it on the grounds that “this fellow was quite black from head to toe, a clear proof that what he said was stupid.” Leif Parsons Kraus, the rector of Wittenberg, had been expressing an understanding of the nature of human diversity that was, in 1734, already in decline, soon to be thoroughly drowned out by the fundamentally racist view of human populations as dividing into a fixed set of supposedly natural, species-like kinds. This is the view lazily echoed by Hume, Kant, and so many of their contemporaries. In his lifetime, Amo was principally known as a legal theorist. His first publication, in 1729, which has since been lost (or, one might suspect, intentionally purged), was a jurisprudential treatise, “On the Right of Moors in Europe.” Here he argues, on the basis of a reading of Roman history and law, that in antiquity “the kings of the Moors were enfeoffed by the Roman Emperor” Justinian, and that “every one of them had to obtain a royal patent from him.” This meant, in Amo’s view, that African kingdoms were all recognized under Roman law, and therefore all Africans in Europe have the status of visiting royal subjects with a legal protection that precludes their enslavement. Historically, this is highly implausible, since much of the continent of Africa was unknown to Europeans at the time of Justinian. Still, Amo’s understanding is remarkably different from, say, Kant’s account of global history, on which black Africans stood, from the very beginning and as if by definition, beyond the pale of history, and therefore led lives of no intrinsic value, lives that could only be given value through absorption into a global system dominated by Europe. Scholars have been aware for a long time of the curious paradox of Enlightenment thought, that the supposedly universal aspiration to liberty, equality and fraternity in fact only operated within a very circumscribed universe. Equality was only ever conceived as equality among people presumed in advance to be equal, and if some person or group fell by definition outside of the circle of equality, then it was no failure to live up to this political ideal to treat them as unequal. It would take explicitly counter-Enlightenment thinkers in the 18th century, such as Johann Gottfried Herder, to formulate anti-racist views of human diversity. In response to Kant and other contemporaries who were positively obsessed with finding a scientific explanation for the causes of black skin, Herder pointed out that there is nothing inherently more in need of explanation here than in the case of white skin: it is an analytic mistake to presume that whiteness amounts to the default setting, so to speak, of the human species. The category of race continues to be deployed, not just by racists, but by anti-racists as well. The question for us today is why we have chosen to stick with categories inherited from the 18th century, the century of the so-called Enlightenment, which witnessed the development of the slave trade into the very foundation of the global economy, and at the same time saw racial classifications congeal into pseudo-biological kinds, piggy-backing on the divisions folk science had always made across the natural world of plants and animals. Why, that is, have we chosen to go with Hume and Kant, rather than with the pre-racial conception of humanity espoused by Kraus, or the anti-racial picture that Herder offered in opposition to his contemporaries? Many who are fully prepared to acknowledge that there are no significant natural differences between races nonetheless argue that there are certain respects in which it is worth retaining the concept of race: for instance in talking about issues like social inequality or access to health care. There is, they argue, a certain pragmatic utility in retaining it, even if they acknowledge that racial categories result from social and historical legacies, rather than being dictated by nature. In this respect “race” has turned out to be a very different sort of social construction than, say, “witch” or “lunatic.” While generally there is a presumption that to catch out some entity or category as socially constructed is at the same time to condemn it, many thinkers are prepared to simultaneously acknowledge both the non-naturalness of race as well as a certain pragmatic utility in retaining it. Since the mid-20th century no mainstream scientist has considered race a biologically significant category; no scientist believes any longer that “negroid,” “caucasoid” and so on represent real natural kinds or categories. [1] For several decades it has been well established that there is as much genetic variation between two members of any supposed race, as between two members of supposedly distinct races. This is not to say that there are no real differences, some of which are externally observable, between different human populations. It is only to say, as Lawrence Hirschfeld wrote in his 1996 book, “Race in the Making: Cognition, Culture, and the Child’s Construction of Human Kinds,” that “races as socially defined do not (even loosely) capture interesting clusters of these differences.” Yet the category of race continues to be deployed in a vast number of contexts, and certainly not just by racists, but by ardent anti-racists as well, and by everyone in between. The history of race, then, is not like the history of, say, witches: a group that is shown not to exist and that accordingly proceeds to go away. Why is this? Philosophers disagree. Anthony Appiah identifies himself as a racial skeptic to the extent that the biological categories to which racial terms refer have been shown not to exist. Yet at the same time he acknowledges that the adoption of “racial identities” may often be socially expedient, and even unavoidable, for members of perceived racial minorities. Ron Mallon has in turn distinguished between metaphysical views of race on the one hand, which make it out to describe really existent kinds, and normative views on the other, which take race to be useful in some way or other, but not real. Mallon divides the latter into “eliminativist” and “conservationist” camps, supposing, variously, that the concept can only be put to bad uses, and must be got rid of, or that some of its uses are worth holding onto. On his scheme, one may very well coherently remain metaphysically anti-realist about race but still defend the conservation of the concept on normative grounds. But given that we now know that the identity groups in modern multicultural states are plainly constituted on ethno-linguistic and cultural grounds, rather than on biological-essential grounds, it remains unclear why we should not allow a concept such as “culture” or “ethnie” to do the semantic work for us that until now we have allowed the historically tainted and misleading concept of “race” to do. We have alternative ways of speaking of human diversity available to us, some of which are on vivid display in Amo’s early life and work, and which focus on rather more interesting features of different human groups than their superficial phenotypic traits. It is American culture that is principally responsible for the perpetuation of the concept of race well after its loss of scientific respectability by the mid-20th century. Even the most well-meaning attempts to grapple with the persistence of inequality between “blacks” and “whites” in American society take it for granted at the outset that racial categories adequately capture the relevant differences under investigation (see, for example: Thomas B. Edsall’s recent column, “The Persistence of Racial Resentment“) . This may have something to do with the fact that the two broad cultural-historical groupings of people in this country, which we call “white” and “black” and which have been constituted through the complicated histories of slavery, immigration, assimilation, and exclusion, tend at their extremes to correlate with noticeably different phenotypic traits. An African-American is likely to look more different from an American of exclusively European descent than, say, an Orthodox Serb is likely to look from a Bosnian Muslim. This creates the illusion that it is the phenotypic difference that is causing the perception of cultural-historical distinctness, along with the injustice and inequality that has gone along with this distinctness. This also creates the illusion of American uniqueness: that our history of ethnic conflict cannot be understood comparatively or in a global context, because it, unlike conflict between Serbs and Bosnian Muslims or between Tutsi and Hutu, is supposedly based on “race” rather than history, politics, and culture. But where people are living with a different historical legacy, as in much of European history prior to the high modern period hailed in by Hume and Kant, the supposedly manifest phenotypic differences between “blacks” and “whites” can easily recede into the background as irrelevant. Amo did not meet a happy end in Germany. His original manumission and education appear to have been a strategy on the part of Duke Anton Ulrich to impress Tsar Peter the Great of Russia, who had recently adopted his own chamber slave, Abram Petrovich Gannibal, as his own son. Gannibal would go on to a career as a brilliant engineer, military strategist, and politician; Amo, for his part, would be largely abandoned by his sponsors when the geopolitical winds shifted, and Russia fell off the duke’s list of priorities. For a while the African philosopher eked out a living as a tutor in Jena and Wittenberg, and in 1747, after being made the butt of a libelous broadside accusing him of falling in love with a woman beyond his station, he returned to West Africa in disgrace. A French seafarer, David-Henri Gallandat, finds him there a few years later, and writes of meeting a man who “was very learned in astrology and astronomy, and was a great philosopher. At that time he was around 50 years old… He had a brother who was a slave in the colony of Suriname.” The hopefulness of the 1734 dissertation was now long behind him. It is not known when Amo died, or under what circumstances. What we can say for certain is that he would not spend his final years as a successor to Augustine and Terence, but rather in the degraded position where someone like Kant supposed he belonged: outside of history, philosophically disenfranchised and entirely defined by something as trivial as skin color. As long as we go on speaking as if racial categories captured something real about human diversity, we are allowing the 18th-century legacy of Kant and Hume, which was never really anything more than an ad hoc rationalization of slavery, to define our terms for us. We are turning our back on the legacy of Anton Wilhelm Amo, and of his European contemporaries who were prepared to judge him on his merits.

Zimbabwe:A new economic model for Afrika

A bloodless revolution is silently taking place in Zimbabwe. President Mugabe’s Indigenisation of the land and the economy will set a precedent for the creation of a forerunning, economic model for Africa. Consequently, a victory for Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe’s election is a resounding victory for the future of the African continent. Only ninety years ago, the British South Africa Company owned every square inch of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean land and natural resources were taken violently and divided amongst European settlers. All the while, indigenous Zimbabweans were considered subjects and assets, solely belonging to the British Crown. After decades of liberation struggle, Africans finally placed the crown on their own heads. But, in 2013, where are the jewels of this crown? The mining and extraction of precious resources, like oil, natural gas, gold, and platinum, enrich Western corporations. Here, we see the West’s current control over Africa’s “jewels”. Western economic control of Africa casts a shadow of poverty throughout the continent. Whether in the Niger Delta or the Democratic Republic of Congo, the majority of people experience lives of misery and receive very little benefit from the richness of their land. In fact, Africa’s natural resources, land, and forced labour have fueled the world’s economy for centuries. To this day, Africa is still the world’s engine-room for economic growth. In short, Africa fuels the global economy, while reaping little profits at home; this is the “black man’s burden.” Indigenisation is designed to allow Zimbabweans to free themselves of this centuries’ old burden. Lifting this crushing millstone is our generation’s greatest struggle. At President Mugabe’s last campaign rally, he proclaimed that, “we must re-write the economic books for our children. Those books were written to suite the West’s agenda of exploiting our resources. Our children must know that our resources are more significant, more precious than their capital.” Years from now, economic books will use Zimbabwe’s Indigenisation Program as a model for African decolonisation. African politicians will look to Zimbabwe as a point of reference. As with tobacco, diamonds, cocoa and oil, Africa exports its precious resources to the West, only to buy them back at a premium. This is Africa’s greatest problem and biggest opportunity. The solution to this problem is simple: Africa must not only control its raw materials but also build the capacity to make them into finished products. Indigenisation is the much needed bridge between poverty and industrialization, and therefore, transforming Africa into a first world power. No longer will Europeans take our natural resources; no longer will they control our industrial processes. We will not be burdened; we will not be stripped of our land, our pride, our Africa. If Africans indigenise our economies and resolutely build the capacity to refine our crude oil, gold and platinum, as well as the capability to cut and polish our diamonds, we will certainly turn this into an African century. Clearly, Africa is not under-developed; she is over-exploited. Western foreign investors are merely foreign exploiters. According to a recent UN Africa Progress Report, Africa loses 63 billion dollars, each year, through foreign multinational corporations’ illegal tax evasion and exploitative practices. This figure surpasses all the money coming into the continent through Western aid and investment. It is for this reason that Zimbabwe’s new Indigenisation model emphasizes local ownership and foreign partnership with emerging nations, such as Brazil, Russia, India and China. Zimbabwe’s Indigenisation Program is as much about looking inward as it is about looking east. Today, I say, with confidence, that Zimbabwe is the only economically liberated, black nation in Sub-Saharan Africa. Zimbabwe has proved to her African brothers and sisters that it is possible, and indeed desirable, to take back our land. Let us now look to our recent past for guidance into our new economic future. A few years ago, the international media houses and Western academics repeated the same, twisted narrative about the Indigenisation of Zimbabwe’s land, claiming it was an economic failure, which only benefited ‘Mugabe’s cronies.’ The West’s economic sanctions on Zimbabwe were designed to cripple our economy, in an attempt to dissuade other African nations from emulating our cause. Western sanctions sent a clear message to Africa’s landless and economically disempowered masses: “You can have your democracy, but keep the economic power in the hands of the white minority; otherwise, you’ll end up like Zimbabwe.” The World Bank still estimates that a staggering 65% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s best arable land is still controlled by white settlers or multinational corporations. The World Bank also estimates that as much as 70% of the net wealth in Sub-Saharan Africa is owned by non-indigenous Africans or foreigners. Clearly, the West is fine with other African nations adopting democratic governments, but any attempt to democratize the economy and the land is dealt with by NATO, the CIA, or economically destabilizing sanctions. Nowadays, those same Western media houses and academics are admitting that Zimbabwe’s land democratization program has not only benefited over a million people, but also pioneered a more economically productive way of farming. President Mugabe’s Indigenisation of land has created employment and support for the livelihood of over 1.7 million Zimbabweans. This year alone, Zimbabwe raked in over a half billion dollars from tobacco sales. Before land Indigenisation, a handful of rich, white farmers would have greedily divided these profits, moving the money away from African pockets and into Western bank accounts. In fact, the World Bank estimated that, “nearly 40 percent of Africa’s aggregate wealth has fled to foreign bank accounts.” Indigenisation will combat this outflow of wealth by creating more African corporate owners. These local shareholders are more likely to save their rent in local banks, spend their dividends on domestic goods, and invest their profits in local businesses. Today, 75,000 indigenous Zimbabweans benefit from the tobacco sales’ profits of a half billion dollars. Land reform is now possible in all African countries after Zimbabwe’s successful example. With a rapidly growing and indigenously owned economy, many African nations will increasingly seek to emulate Zimbabwe. Years from now, African states will strive to achieve Zimbabwe’s economic success. Say what you want to say about Mr. Mugabe, but today, Zimbabweans own Zimbabwe. By re-electing President Mugabe, the people of Zimbabwe are making history. ZANU-PF will now have five more years to finish implementing a revolutionary economic model that will inevitably spread across the continent.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

French Africa Policy Damages African and European Economies.

Since the independence of the former French colonies in western Africa they are in spite of the richness of their natural resources and the productivity of their populations still catastrophically under-developed. In 2007 the French and European economies began deteriorating into a devastating recession. France seems to be like a man who is standing at the edge of a cliff, transfixed by the thought of falling into the abyss. In fear of losing the lucrative racket of controlling the western African economies he forgets that there is Terra firma and a possibility for both French, European and African prosperity behind him. Africans and leading European politicians expected that the administration of President Hollande would bring much-needed change with respect to French control over the economies of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, the Republic of Congo, Senegal and Togo. However, also Hollande´s administration seems to be so transfixed by the prospect of falling into the abyss that it does not fathom the possibility of taking one step back. Will France remain transfixed in fear and drag western Africa and Europe with it when it falls or does it dare to loosen up its grip on control over the good old CFA racket in its former colonies and discover the true potential and value of the African markets. As painful as it may be, the primary prerequisite for a progressive development and prosperity is the truth about the current state of affairs. The root causes for the lacking development of the western African economies are closely related to the fact that France, contrary to other former colonial powers, managed to install its commissars at the heart of its former colonies economic and monetary system and that it still maintains almost unchallenged control over them. The system was created by German National Socialists during the 1930s and 40s. It was used to usurp France and other German occupied nations. The Genesis of the CFA-System in Nazi Germany and the German Occupation of France. On 9 Maj 1941 Hemmen, the German Ambassador to France declared that he had signed a treaty with the French Admiral Darlan. The treaty would place German commissars within the French National Bank´s departments for foreign currencies and international commerce.(1) The treaty was negotiated under the auspices of German Minister of Finance Herman Göring, whose father, Heinrich Ernst Göring has been the German Governor of German West Africa, todays Namibia, from 1885 to 1890. Herman Göring was among other notorious for his plundering the occupied nations’ economies through operations accounts and for his special interest in treasures and art from the German occupied areas. At the end of world war two and the occupation of France, the French President Charles de Gaulle created the CFA Franc as a currency for the western African colonies. De Gaulle created a monetary union whose functions of control were based on the model Germany had used to usurp German occupied France. Even though the colonies have since gained independence, the system of almost absolute control over their economies by the installment of commissars with the Central Banks of the West African Monetary and Economic Unions, the B.E.A.C., the B.C.C., and the B.C.E.A.O. persists. Modo-Colonialism, the Veto Right by French Commissars over African Economies. Together, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, the Republic of Congo, Senegal and Togo, establish the Monetary and Economic Union of West Africa (U.M.O.A.). Their currency, the CFA-Franc is printed under supervision of the French National Bank in Charmaliéres, France. The Council of Presidents of the fifteen U.M.O.A. member states constitutes the highest authority of the union. Decisions of the Presidential Council are made unanimously. The Ministerial Council of the U.M.O.A. defines the monetary and credit policy of the union and it is responsible for the economic development of the region. According to the constitutions of all fifteen member states the creation of their currency, the regulation of its value as well as the regulation of parities and modalities is the exclusive privilege of the nation and its people and decisions about it are made by the parliament. The placement of French commissars within the heart of the nations and the union`s banking system however, creates an obvious dichotomy between the apparent sovereignty of the union, its constituents, and direct control from the previous colonial power. Three of the thirteen of the Directors of the B.E.A.C. are French and four of the eight Directors of the B.C.C. are French. The Board of Directors of the B.C.E.A.O. is constituted by sixteen Directors; two from each country plus two additional Directors from France who take part in the management of the bank under the same conditions and with the same privileges as the other Directors. The number and placement of the commissars gives them a Veto right at the board of each of the Central Banks. No decision can be made without their approval and France can enforce its policy by threatening to deadlock the economies unless decisions are made in compliance with French suggestions. The French Veto right also extends to the nomination of the Governor of the B.E.A.C.. The Governor is elected with the unanimous vote of the Board of Directors, on suggestion of the government of Gabon, and after the approval of the other member states as well as France.(2) The Central Bank does not only have the privilege to create the currency. It also has the privilege to grant credit for the current accounts of the national treasuries at its discount rate. The Board of Directors is making the decisions about the temporalities and about the total amount that is granted for financing the economies of each of the member states. Feeding France, Bleeding Africa – Current Accounts and the System of Usurpation. While the primary instrument of control is the installment of French commissars, the primary instrument for usurping the western African economies is their current accounts. The member states agree to deposit their foreign currency reserves in a shared reserve fond. The foreign currency reserves are subject to deposition in an operations account at the French National Bank. Between 1945 and 1973 one hundred per cent of the foreign currency reserves had to be deposited in the operations account, in 1973 it was reduced to sixty-five, and on 27. September 2005 to fifty percent. (3) Another fifteen percent is kept in a guaranty fund. In other words sixty-five per cent of all foreign currency reserves of the fifteen nations and all revenue generated outside of the unions territory is kept at the French National Bank. On 3 Mai 2010 the website of Jeune Afrique quotes the former French Minister of Finance and Commerce, Christine Lagarde: “The Bank of the States of Central Africa, for instance, places an almost 90 per cent of their reserves in the French National Bank”. (4) In 1960 Jean Boissonat, a member of the currency committee of the French National Bank wrote: “Almost all decisions were made in France .. The Franc Zone allowed France to deliver certain natural resources to itself without having to spend any foreign reserves. It was estimated that this represented two hundred and fifty million US-Dollar savings in terms of foreign reserves per year …” Boissonat continues by stating that approximately half a million Frenchmen in Paris receive their means of survival from the Franc Zone.(5) The French socialist Jean-Noël Jeanny wrote in 1963 that: “all that the African nations achieve by increasing their export is the generation of more foreign currency reserves for France”.(6) He could as well have added “and the creation of debt for themselves”. Beside profiting on African foreign currency reserves which are returned to the West African nations in the form of debt, France is also profiting from African gold. The gold reserves of the fifteen nations are kept in France, supposedly to guaranty for the value of the CFR Franc. In 2001 the West-African gold reserves at the French National Bank had an estimated value of 206,528 billion CFR Franc. In an interview for Le Liberation in 1996 the late President of Gabon, Omar Bongo said: “We are in the Franc Zone. Our operations accounts are managed by the French National Bank in Paris. Who profits from the interests that our money generates ? France.” (7) France is indebting and enslaving Africans by means of Africa’s own wealth; for example: 12.0000 billion invested at three per cent creates 360 billion in interests which France grants as credits to Africa at an interest rate of five to six per cent or more. The allegory of “Bleeding Africa and Feeding France” is no exaggeration, not alarmist, and not revolutionary. It it is a sobering fact of French modo-colonialism and the cost in terms of under-development and human suffering is staggering. The current accounts and the French usurpation are a humanitarian disaster that is induced by France and financed by those who are suffering from it. Coups, Crisis and French Finance-Nazism in Africa. In 1996 France devalued the CFR Franc in spite of the protest of most western African nations. Former French Prime Minister Eduard Balladour justified the French dictated devaluation of the CFR Franc because “ it was considered to be the best possibility for aiding the development of the western African countries” (8), even though another statement by Balladoure indicates that he was aware of that the regulation of a currency is a matter of national sovereignty(9). The late President of Togo, Etienne Gnassingbé said about the devaluation: “One uses to say that violence overrules justice. I was not the only one who issued the warning….. But France has decided otherwise. The African voices don´t count for much in this affair”.(10) The words of the late Etienne Gnassingbé indicate that the Bleeding of Africa can be taken literally. According to the statutes of the monetary and economic union every member state is free to leave it. So much to theory. In practice, France has left a trail of post-modern coup d´etats, violence, and murder in those nations who tried to get out from under what many West-Africans perceive as French Finance-Nazism in Africa. In January 1963 the President of Togo, the late Sylvanus Olympio was murdered three days before the issuing of a new currency. On 19. November 1968 the late President of Mali Modibo Kéita was ousted in a coup and arrested. In 1977 Modibo Kéita died in prison. Kéita was poisoned. On 27. January 1996 the President of Mali was ousted in a military coup d´etat. On 15. March 2003 the late President of the Central African Republic Angè Félix Patassé was ousted by the “rebel leader” Francois Bozizé. In all cases the monetary union and France have played a role. Ivory Coast´s President Laurent Gbagbo, France, the ICC and Modo-Colonialism. When Laurent Gbagbo became the President of Ivory Coast one of his first official initiatives was the erection of a concrete wall in the tunnel that connects the French Embassy with the Presidential Residence. Gbagbo wanted Ivory Coast to abandon the CFA and institute a new regional and if possible a Pan-African, gold-backed currency. The initiative toward the establishment of a gold-backed Pan-African currency enjoyed the sympathy of many African nations and enjoyed unequivocal support from Libya, which until the so-called Arab Spring in 2011 was the richest and most developed of all African nations. As if it was a conditioned reflex, France seemed transfixed by is fear of falling into the abyss, of losing the CFR racket that has kept the French economy afloat since it was conceived by de Gaulle in 1945. Rather than seeing a potential, France was biding its time until an opportunity for a post-modern coup d´etat. The 2010 Presidential elections in Ivory Coast. France sided with Alessanne Outtara. Libyan intelligence reports from 2009 and 2010 indicated that the French Intelligence Service D.G.S.E. had begun infiltrating, financing and arming a group of “rebels” in the northern region of Ivory Coast. The outcome of the Presidential election was apparently very close. The electoral commission declared Alessanne Outtara the winner but the election result was disputed by Laurent Gbagbo. There had been registered serious irregularities. In one particular village with a population of approximately ten thousand, Alessanne Outtara seemed to have received almost one hundred thousand votes. Western mainstream media began building a narrative: The electoral commission had declared Outtara to be the winner. The despotic Laurent Gbagbo refused to hand over the reins of power to the winner of the elections. Gbagbo is cracking down on peaceful protesters. Gbagbo is cornered in his bunker… What western media generally failed to report, underreported, or conveyed in a distorted and strongly biased fashion was that: Laurent Gabgbo and his party had brought the case to the Supreme Court; that the Supreme Court of Ivory Coast had recounted the votes; that the Supreme Court had taken notice of election fraud in favor of Outtara; and that the Supreme Court of Ivory Coast had declared Laurent Gbagbo to be the winner of the elections and the rightfully elected President of Ivory Coast. That French backed guerrilla began attacking predominantly pro-Gbagbo villages, committing massacres, and that French backed “rebels” were attacking the Presidential Residence. What was emphatically reported in French and western media like the BBC was that “security forces” clamped down on peaceful protesters, and that “Ouattara´s Army” is cornering “Gbagbo in his bunker”.(11) Nobody seemed to ask the important question. Where in the world had Outtara, who just claimed to have won the elections gotten an “army” from ? It is symptomatic for the high prevalence of racism and condescending modo-colonialist reasoning among European populations that only very few commentators and analysts said: “But the electoral commission is not the one who has the competence to approve of election results, it is the Supreme Court”. A comparison can illustrate the point: When George W. Bush and Al Gore had the closest of all elections that have been held in the United States of America; who certified the election ? The Supreme Court, of course. (12) Many Americans felt utterly disenfranchised but the population respected the Supreme Court. Could anyone have even thought about the remote possibility of “Al Gore´s Army cornering Bush in his Bunker” of “Gore neglecting the Supreme Court because the electoral commission had pronounced him to be the winner ?” And where in the world would Al Gore have gotten his army from Anyways ? And where did Alessanne Outtara get his army from ? The capture of Laurent Gbagbo cost the lives of approximately 1.600 young Ivorian soldiers. Young patriots who were willing to defend the President of Ivory Coast from the onslaught of a French-backed post-modern coup d´etat. The capture an arrest of President Laurent Gbagbo was possible only after French special forces violated international law by blasting a hole into the wall which Laurent Gbagbo had erected inside the tunnel that connects the French embassy with the Presidential residence. The sealed boxes with the ballots from the 2010 elections are kept at the United Nations. So far U.N. Secretary General Ban Kyi-moon has failed to order an independent re-count of the ballots. The fact that the United Nations has so far failed to re-count the ballots to determine the legitimacy of either Laurent Gbagbo´s or Alessanne Outtara´s claim for the Ivorian Presidency, combined with the selective and one-sided prosecution of Laurent Gbagbo at the ICC and of military officers who were loyal to him in 2010 is symptomatic for grave systemic and procedural problems at the United Nations and the International Criminal Court at The Haag. The case against Laurent Gbagbo ought to have been dismissed on the basis of selective prosecution from the very start. His prosecution at the ICC after French involvement in the aggravation of post-election violence in Ivory Coast and the arrest with the aid of French special forces is a blatant example for the abuse of the ICC as an instrument of modo-colonialist control. The most recent selectively prosecuted case is that against General Dogbo Ble in Ivory Coast. Also here western media are de-facto sentencing a political opponent of modo-colonialism before he is even heard in court.(13) A recent analysis of the systemic and political problems with the ICC, the United Nations, the Rome Statute and the explosion of international law at its very root by Dr. Hans Köchler (14) reads as if it was written to elicit the injustice that is being perpetrated against Laurent Gbagbo and the people of Ivory Coast. Missed Chances for African and European Economies and the Urgency of Change. A growing number of African and European leaders are becoming impatient about the paralysis of France. African leaders are impatient because the obvious usurpation of their nations is unbearable for the African economies and their populations. European leaders are mostly impatient because France prevents a European adaptation to the last decades geopolitical changes in Africa and because the crisis of the Euro requires initiative rather than stagnation. Failure to integrate the western African economies into the economic sphere of Europe is bound to have devastating long term consequences for both Africa and Europe. China has recognized the colossal market potential of a developing African middle class. The French and Trans-Atlantic model of usurpation and subjugation is not only criminal and unethical, it is also uncompetitive. Recent statements made by the French political heavyweight Jacques Chiraq, who said that France does not have to be a benefactor, it must merely stop usurping Africa, are indicating a potential for change. Chiraq stated that failure to change French-African relations can have catastrophic consequences. 2012 Presidential candidate Jean Luc Mélenon stated that the CFA represents the severe mistake not to tie the western African economies to the economies of the European Union. Mélenon demanded that France abandons its veto right at the Boards of the African Central Banks. The European Council stated that France is blocking for any project of the European Central Bank that attempts to change the nature or the bearing of the French involvement in the western African Central Banks. The French approach to managing French-African relations is not only bleeding Africa. It is increasingly bleeding both the French and European economies who are missing out on the market potential of an emerging African middle class. Some political analysts have suggested the establishment of an African-European Peace and Reconciliation Commission that is dealing with the crimes of the past, the building of trust, the review of highly politicized cases at the International Criminal Court, such as the prosecution of Ivoryan President Laurent Gbagbo to ease a transition toward new African-European relations. The question for this and the coming year is whether France will continue standing at the edge of the cliff and fall while dragging both western Africa and Europe into the abyss together with it, or if it dares to listen to the voices of reason from Africa and its European partners, turn its gaze away from the abyss and see that there is fertile land, right behind it. Notes: Pierre Arnold (1951), Les finances de la France et l´occupation Allemande. Artikel 3 de la BEAC. Article 2 of the Agreement about Operations Accounts between France and the African Nations within the Franc Zone (PAZF). Website of Jeune Afrique, 03. Mai 2010. Jean Boissonat. La Zone Franc: Survivance du Passé Ou Promesse d´Avenir. La Croix, 17 févenier 1960. Jean-Noël Jeanny. Rapport Jeanny; La politique de coopération avec les pays en vaie de dévelopment. Paris, documentation francaise 1963. Omar Bongo. Interwiew for Le Liberation, 18. September 1996, p.6. Jeune Afrique. Economie no 178, April 1994. E. Balladour in Le Monde, 09. February 1990. Lire aussie Géopolitique de printemps No 53, 1996, p.81 Jeune Afrique no 1841, 17 – 23 April 1996, p. 38. Cornered in Abidjan as fears grow. Andrew harding on Africa, BBC, 06. April 2011. Supreme Court of the United States. George W. Bush et al., Petitioners v. Albert Gore Jr., el al., 12. December 2001. Ivory Coast´s pro-Laurent Gbagbo general Dogbo Ble on Trial. BBC, 02. October 2012. Dr. Hans Köchler. World Court without a World State. Criminal Justice under the Dictates of Realpolitic. The US/UN/NATO Race for Global, Full Spectrum Dominance. Black, fetzer, Mezyaev and Lehmann, 15. August 2012. nsnbc. Share: