Friday, July 17, 2009

Obama and Zimbabwe

I WISH to respectfully disagree with President Barack Obama of the United States on the true cause of the Zimbabwean economic and political crisis. During his recent state visit to Ghana, he was of the opinion that the economic crisis in Zimbabwe was not caused by colonialism but by bad leadership. While I agree with him that President Robert Mugabe has become an embarrassment to the liberation struggle and an impediment to the emergence of true democratic culture in the Southern African country, we all recall that at the heart of this crisis is the land question?

For many years the white minority that ruled Zimbabwe cannibalised and appropriated to themselves the productive agricultural landscape in the whole of Zimbabwe leaving the black majority to become slaves in their own fatherland. As if this is not an evil policy, enough to cause disenchantment, the British Government agreed to finance the land re-distribution policy as part of the negotiation in the advent of the historic independence in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

It is an open knowledge that for the umpteenth time, the British Government reneged on this agreement to the consternation of the African Union and particularly the Zimbabwean Government and its people. In the process, there arose a serious internal insurrection although tacitly supported by the Zimbabwean Government against the white minority holders of the land and in its wake severe sanctions were meted out against the Government amidst violence.

It is very unfortunate and a revisionism of history that the whole world supported by the powerful Western media and new broadcasting technology, rather than condemn the British Government for reneging turned against Robert Mugabe who rightly was fighting for his people. Again whether the strategy is right is another issue entirely.

Against this background, it came to me as a rude shock for President Obama who is an apostle of transparency and equanimity of purpose to outrightly condemn African leaders in our soil and left the oppressor Europe to enjoy their loot from Africa amidst poverty, perpetual economic down-turn and fake boundaries in West Africa, Rwanda, Burundi and Morrocco.

Today in Africa, millions of people are living together against their wishes, this accounts partly for the ethnic clashes all over the continent and this was manifested in the genocidal war in Rwanda, the perpetual religious crisis in Nigeria and the contradictions in Cameroon where one part of the country speaks French the other half speaks English. To Europe and America, the African continent is a commodity that must be shared amongst them for full exploitation- Where is the United Nations?

Because ignorance is not an excuse for breaking the law, like President Bill Clinton, Obama should settle down and read the works of Walter Rodney on "How Europe Underdeveloped Africa" Claude Ake's Democracy and the Crisis of Underdevelopment in Africa and of course compare the situation with Singapore as captured in the work of Lee Kuan Yew " Singapore: From Third World to the First". I am sure these will give him an idea of the difference between what it takes for a people to control their destiny and for a people's destiny to be controlled by others.

For me the African situation is beyond rhetoric and Presidential gallivanting and speaking from an Olympian height amidst claps and cheers from a listening political class who in the words of Claude Ake have no development in their agenda in the first place.

In unmistaken terms, it must be stated that most African leaders have messed up severally post-colonial rule and squandered the opportunities that clearly came to us as a continent to develop and liberate our people from poverty, disease and illiteracy and others too numerous to mention. In Nigeria we have experienced "strong man" rule as noted by President Obama who attempted to change the constitution rather than strengthen institutions. In Gabon and Zaire, Presidents have died in power trying to equate the destiny of the countries to their own existence and in North Africa, gerontocracy still reigns supreme.

However, the Zimbabwean situation is a classic case of the battle of a people to take over their God- given land. What they do with it is another page for history to foretell. And for America, I hope the analysis of Mahomoud Mandani in his book "Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism or Francis Fukuyuma's treatise on the End of History and the last man is not manifesting already?