Pambazuka News 818: Undoing the legacies of imperialism

The deliberate destruction of Libya was a war crime by all standards of international law. That country was just one victim of the American plan to eliminate secular governments in the Middle East. Under the guise of a phony ‘responsibility to protect’, American propaganda gave an atrocity the appearance of a humanitarian act.

A major claim of the purveyors of the ‘Africa rising’ narrative is the expansion of the African middle classes. Africanist scholarship has built upon this narrative, placing heavy emphasis upon such key issues as definition, consumption and the fragility of the ‘new’ middle classes across the continent. This book, the latest such offering amidst a burgeoning literature, confirms this trend, and is set to become a standard work of reference.

Lesotho goes into yet another costly and unnecessary election in June – unnecessary because there was no reason to dissolve parliament after the current prime minister lost a vote of no confidence. He should simply have been replaced. But, sadly, a weak king and subservient judiciary that pander to the self-preservation antics of the executive could not protect the constitution and the public interest.

For Ngũgĩ, in the struggle against capitalist colonialism there is no home left to return to. Whether within one’s own country or outside, home is the place and space of struggle. Like for Frantz Fanon, for Ngũgĩ the struggle against colonialism is linked to the struggle against capitalism. It is a struggle against the bourgeoisie, both national and international.

Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction” did not exist. Assad’s “use of chemical weapons” is an obvious, blatant lie. “Iranian nukes,” another blatant lie. The lies about Gaddafi in Libya are so absurd that it is pointless to repeat them. What is the reason for all the death and destruction and the flooding of the West with refugees from the West’s naked violence around the world? Violence for its own sake. That’s what America has become.

Two Honduran cultural workers, feminists, and close friends of Berta Cáceres will tour 20 US cities between April 20 and May 23, 2017 to “sow the seeds of Berta.” Singer-songwriter Karla Lara and writer Melissa Cardoza will use music, writing, story, and discussion to grow the international movement for justice and grassroots feminism. Their tour’s goal is not to impart answers, but to spark collective ideas and engagement through creativity and dialogue.

Prof. Postol says that there should be two investigations, one conducted by UN experts to determine what actually happened in Khan Shaykhun, Syria, on April 4, the date of the alleged Syrian attack, and another to determine who fabricated the so-called intelligence.

Some arguments made today on why Africa cannot catch up with the West were also made 100 years ago when Africa was under European colonization, with the colonizers blaming everything but imperialism as the root cause of underdevelopment. The world economic structure has not changed, no matter the rhetoric of globalization. Africa remains semi-colonial: increasingly dependent on developed countries for overvalued manufactured goods while exporting raw materials at prices determined by commodity markets in the West.

People working on peacebuilding and accountability in Burundi, Central African Republic and South Sudan should look to the experiences of neighboring countries in the region. Some approaches have worked, but others have contributed to delays and political backlashes. There are also successes to learn from, like efforts by local groups in the DRC to document abuses and in Uganda to empower women victims.

Commercial interests in South Africa continue to view rural people as problems to be removed to the peripheries while their plight remains invisible in the public eye.

The common narrative is that the number of deadbeat daddies in South Africa is frighteningly on the rise. In communities everywhere, there are numerous single mothers battling to raise children with little or no support from fathers. This is the scenario being painted luridly in the media and word on the streets. But, perhaps, it is possible to play the devil’s advocate, turn the prevailing narrative on its head and send it into a tailspin, and become, as it were, politically contentious?

The Moors invaded Spain in 711 AD and African Muslims literally civilized the wild, white tribes. Recent scholarship now sheds new light on how Moorish advances in mathematics, astronomy, art, and philosophy helped propel Europe out of the Dark Ages and into the Renaissance.

Jemna is a beacon of hope for a Tunisia where its people have sovereignty over their land and resources. Jemna needs to be supported, celebrated and emulated for the sake of its people and for our sake.

Pambazuka News 817: State terror as security

Elections in Kenya have become a ritual performed periodically to legitimise the control of power by a few, while the majority remain silent, but enraged, waiting for the opportunity to vent their frustrations. Just a few months before the August 8 poll, all indications are that the type of leadership the country needs to end corruption and tribalism has no chance of rising. Kenya has a long way to go.

Somaliland is not only a pioneer as a cashless country but as one of the leading markets in mobile banking platforms in Africa. The phenomenon is not only revolutionising the people’s concept of money but also the way urgently needed assistance is provided to affected people in emergency situations.

Recent statistics show that for a population of over 70 million, only 4% of the inhabitants are connected to the Internet due to limited infrastructure and high access costs. Government actions such as shutdowns, alongside surveillance and censorship practices, undermine the development of inclusive Internet society in the central African country.

Kenya’s military has been inside Somalia ostensibly pursuing al-Shabaab militants since 2011 as part of the US-led ‘war on terror’. No one knows when the mission will end or its cost. There is little discussion about the war among Kenyans. Government updates are impossible to verify. The public is generally assumed to be in support of the invasion – even when in reality they are so ignorant of what is going on to really care.

From chattel slavery to the current period of neocolonial flag independence, the Caribbean labouring classes have yet to exercise substantive power over the political institutions that govern their lives. A system of popular assemblies with the capacity to challenge the authoritarian liberal capitalist democracies for power would be one of the best expressions of reparatory justice in the Caribbean.

The developments in Syria demand attention as many countries face the threat of imperialist intervention. There is no reason to imagine that any country is immune to imperialist intervention. Markets, resources to be plundered, geographical location, relations with the world bosses are all factors favouring imperialist intervention. Is the rest of the world going to simply sit by and watch?

Nothing could be more hypocritical than Trump's claim to have bombed Syria because of the suffering of Syrian children. Deployment of weapons of mass destruction against civilians is a hallmark of America’s wars. Moreover, how can a man who ordered that not a single refugee be accepted from Syria, even keeping out children scheduled to undergo life-saving medical procedures, claim to act in the name of Syrian children?

Militarism for the purpose of destabilization remains a way of life for US foreign policy. America insists on projecting the image that it has a morally, politically, and ideologically superior position to accord itself the role of patron imperialist delivering the wretched of the earth to Western capitalist civilization – a 21st century version of the 19th century “White man’s burden”.

Stiff-necked apartheid high priests had their problems but none of them contemplated the type of weird political culture the ANC and Mr. Zuma are foisting on post-apartheid South Africa. Where is that country headed?

With perhaps 100,000 people detained in the six months of the State of Emergency declared by the Ethiopian government, it boggles the mind how Prime Minister Desalegn came up with the figure of 82 per cent of Ethiopians who want the Emergency extended. No amount of repression will permanently suppress the peaceful struggle of all Ethiopians for freedom, human rights and majority rule.

Common sense, historical facts and circumstantial evidence suggest that it’s unlikely that Assad gassed his own people.  In fact, it’s much more likely that the chemical weapons were from al-Qaeda, ISIS and/or other anti-Assad factions. Indeed, a case can be made that the attack was coordinated by the White Helmets, with US neoconservatives providing the script.

Theory and practice have been butting heads at Makerere University’s Institute of Social Research, resulting in graduate students decrying the “authoritarian” leadership style of its director, public intellectual and crusader for the decolonisation of higher education, Mahmood Mamdani. Bwesigye Bwa Mwesigire chronicles the machinations of a protracted struggle against perceived creeping neoliberalism.

With America’s unilateral attack on Syria, a Russian ally, there are reasonable fears that the worsening relations between Washington and Moscow could escalate. Africans should not imagine that these events are too far away to affect them. The US and Russia are nuclear powers. War between them endangers the whole world. Africans should explore creative ways of putting the issue of nuclear disarmament firmly back on the global agenda.

South African communist leader Chris Hani was assassinated by white racists 27 years ago, removing him from the scene during the nation’s transition to Black rule. Hani fought careerism and corruption in the revolutionary movement. Today, the tradition of internal debate that Hani promoted has become eroded, and criticism keeps being silenced as sowing disunity.

The security context in Europe today doesn’t make everybody unhappy, especially among firms that have specialised in security and surveillance, among them the British G4S, to which many governments subcontract their dirty work, ranging from prison management to the deportation of migrants. Will it be able to regain financial health in the new "Trumpian" world in which we live, after being tarnished by so many scandals?

Kenya’s Independent Policing Oversight Authority has launched investigations into the killings of the two victims who are allegedly suspected of being members of a gang. A video that went viral on the Internet showed an alleged police officer shooting several times at a man who apparently was unarmed and represented no imminent threat to anyone’s life.

Even with 22,000 western-trained and funded AMISOM troops stationed in Somalia, the country still has not been stabilized. Trump’s directive will only create more death and destruction.

Pambazuka News 816: South Africa: Death of a dream

Does the gradual increase in the number of offensive strikes starting in 2007, the occurrence of the Marikana Massacre and the farm workers’ revolt of 2012, the five-month platinum strike and the one-month metalworkers’ strike in 2014 indicate that a new wave of offensive strikes has begun? Or is this just a short-lived revival? A key question is: has South Africa reached a turning point?

Since 1994 South Africa has been unable to seriously change the national socio-economic direction in the interest of the majority of the people. The end of apartheid has helped to increase SA’s integration into global capitalism. The benefits and misfortunes of capitalism and racism are mass poverty for the majority and wealth and privileges for the powerful minority, which includes a few blacks.

Monopoly capitalists and their allies in the ANC have corrupted something very precious in South Africa’s history – the proud and militant tradition of struggle for social justice. They have corrupted the dream of a free and egalitarian nation. For over two decades, the ANC has presided over entrenched corruption, which must now be resisted. But that struggle will constitute a whole new historical epoch.

Supporters of austerity are happy because South Africa’s junk rating is a good stick with which to whip President Zuma. But his immediate concern is survival, not the economy. Could the current crisis generate a long-overdue era of redistribution, racial justice and radical economic transformation? This was the promise of new Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba last Saturday, April Fool’s Day.

Given the corruption and exploitation by the top dogs within the factions of the ruling ANC, it is clear that none of the factions has anything to offer the working people of South Africa. Instead of backing one faction over the other, the working class (and the black section in particular) rather needs to fight against class rule, capitalism and the state. That is the system that is rotten to the core.

The youth have  great potential to advance gender equality in Africa, given the fact that they are not overburdened by gender stereotypes and patriarchy. The greatest value of enlightenment and education of young men and women to promote gender equality is to create a new generation of gender activists that can shift minds and hearts to redress historical and present injustices against women.

The formation of states that cut across clan lines may help Somalia achieve the elusive unity that it has been seeking for more than two decades. With fine tuning, Somalia may finally come up with a solution to end its prolonged mistrust and clan bickering to the satisfaction of all sides.

The Convergence of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) has defied all efforts over the past year, by the Honduran government and the DESA dam company, to destroy it. On Monday, 27 March, 24 years after Berta Cáceres cofounded the Lenca indigenous organization, COPINH hosted an anniversary celebration of rebellion and recommitment.

Created in 2011 by the International Women’s Network for Democracy and Peace, the prize is awarded to any person or association promoting peace and reconciliation in the African Great Lakes region and educates its populations on non-violent strategies of resistance and achieving change. Two of this year’s winners have featured in recent interviews published by Pambazuka News.

This year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) celebration may have come and gone, however, its theme continues to reverberate around the world. The #BeBoldforChange mantra challenges everyone to help create a more gender inclusive world beginning in their spheres of influence. I think this is a very apt disposition.

The Igbo expect that a post-Brexit Britain will have to sit down with a free Biafra and discuss the entire history of the Igbo genocide, the enslavement of the people of Biafra and the subsequent conquest and occupation of Biafra, forced into the genocidist Nigeria “federation”. 

Britain will surely accept full responsibility for the crimes against humanity, apologise to Biafrans and pay full reparations.

Black America needs a peace movement to confront militarism and the global structures of white supremacy. “We are calling for a new alliance to help revive the black anti-war and peace movement in the black community as an essential component of a revived broader anti-war and pro-peace movement,” says human rights activist and former Green Party VP candidate Ajamu Baraka.

Pambazuka News 815: Africa's heroes and Empire's darlings

Not only did the ANC consciously choose (before 1994) to turn its ideological and strategic back on the possibilities of organising a massive wellspring of popular power to pursue much more thoroughgoing systemic change, but it also made a conscious choice after 1994 to exercise its unparalleled political position and power (mostly through the state) in partnership with and in service to capital.

The editors have brought together a vast compendium of knowledge that challenges the Eurocentric epistemic colonisation of Africa. The book should be on the reading list for courses on the Political Economy of Africa, Development Economics, and International Relations at universities. It would also do well in the library of journalists and other analysts.

The ISIL phenomenon poses profound lessons and challenges for maintenance of international law and order. Although recent, ISIL has its roots in the deep anomalies and double standards of the global system itself. The policies of Western governments have contributed lavishly to this lawless dynamic. Without discernable effort to repair those fatal policy flaws, more ISILs may be in the offing.

The World Bank has for decades left a trail of human misery. Destruction of the environment, massive human rights abuses and mass displacement have been ignored in the name of “development” that works to intensify neoliberal inequality. In response to legal attempts to hold it to account, the World Bank has declared itself above the law.

Donald Trump is by far the most controversial president the US has ever offered the world. But behind the headline churning, attention grabbing façade, is there any difference between him and the 44 US presidents that have come before?

A university in Finland plans to confer an honorary doctoral degree on Ethiopian ruler Hailemariam Desalegn in May. In doing so, Tampere University of Technology will have been an unwitting partner in a sophisticated public relations campaign to legitimize, glamourize, mythologize and romanticize a ruthless and brutal dictator and his regime.

Pascuala Vásquez is the spiritual leader of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). Known affectionately to all as Doña Pascualita, she is also head of COPINH’s Lenca Cultural Committee, and is on the Council of Elders.

The same people who did everything they could to vilify both Biko and Sobukwe while they lived – and have taken part in attempted erasure of their legacies – pretend to honour these anti-apartheid icons. Today, those who paid a painful price for associating with Biko and Sobukwe watch how others gobble up the fruit of their sacrifices, as they and their families continue to suffer in silence.

In May, Paul Kagame will be feted for his outstanding friendship with the Jewish people. That friendship chiefly entails cynical use of the Rwandan genocide to advance U.S. and Israeli interests in Africa and the Arab world. Kagame was the only African head of state to support the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He has totally thrown his lot in with U.S.-led imperialism.

Africa is a vast continent with diversity of cultures. Rather than see this as an impediment to development, the continent should take advantage of this rich cultural diversity in its quest for economic development and should change the attitudes of its people towards work, interpersonal trust, time, youth and women.

Will the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) bloc ever really challenge the world financial order? The BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) leadership is meeting in New Delhi from 31 March to 2 April with a degree of fanfare unmatched by accomplishments. It is a good moment to assess progress since the BRICS Summit in 2013 when rumour had it that the then host city of Durban would also be the NDB’s home base. (It ended up in Shanghai, launched in 2015.)

South Africa’s democracy is in trouble. The present situation is, in objective terms, a house divided; a house that is tottering on rotten foundations. Despite the more general advances that have been made under the ANC’s rule since 1994, power has not only remained in the hands of a small minority but has increasingly been exercised in service to capital. 

“Kathy”, as he was popularly known, was elected to parliament in 1994  but declined to seek re-election five years later. He wrote an open letter to President Jacob Zuma, suggesting that perhaps he should step down due to widespread corruption in government. Zuma did not attend Kathrada’s memorial, citing the wishes of the family of the veteran freedom fighter.

People in every country must oppose the terror campaign the US is leading in Iraq and Syria. America seeks to maintain its intolerable political and economic domination of the region, which created the conditions for the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the first place. The lives of the people of Iraq and Syria mean nothing.

Is there really no explanation for Khalid Masood’s lone attack on Westminster Palace, as Scotland Yard sleuths say? Masood could not change his “blackness”, nor the reality of racism in England. He could not get over his schoolmates calling him “Black Ade”. He laughed about it, and even as he grew up into manhood he behaved convivially, behaving like a “good boy”, so as not to appear rude.

Pambazuka News 814: Israel's apartheid crimes

Popular former President Aristide survived an assassination attempt this week against the backdrop of increased violence in the world’s first black republic. The mandate of the deeply resented UN occupying force MINUSTAH ends in April and is set to be renewed. The violence is orchestrated to justify continued imperialist intervention that benefits foreigners and their local henchmen.

Rima Khalaf resigned as executive secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia(ESCWA) after the agency was forced to retract a report stating that Israel is an “apartheid regime.” Khalaf’s letter of resignation to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was translated and posted by poet Lena Khalaf Tuffaha on her Facebook page. Here is that translation:

World Poetry Day was marked on Tuesday, March 21. Throughout Africa, spoken word art is taking firm roots, especially when it explores social issues. Spoken Word artist Valentine Onyeka Ogunaka aka Brainbox from Nigeria shares his experience.

De Klerk succeeded in shaping post-apartheid South Africa in deep and fundamental ways. Every policy he spelt out in his 1990 speech has been faithfully followed by successive administrations of the ANC. This is why so many black South Africans feel that their dreams are unrealised. It also explains why there is so much confidence among white racists that their positions of power are untouchable.

Rima Khalaf’s resignation, under pressure to suppress factual and legal findings unfavorable to Israel, will send a chilling message to other UN officials that they are better off serving those in power than in upholding any mandate to advance human rights and respect for international law.

Namibia marked its 27th independence anniversary on Tuesday. Despite the government’s populist rhetoric, Namibia remains a rich country with poor people. Redistribution of wealth is mainly limited to a new black elite. These are office bearers, party stalwarts and those with close ties to the state. They thrive through a policy of so-called affirmative action and black economic empowerment.

In the four years Uhuru Kenyatta has been in power, the country has accumulated huge debts that will take ages to settle. Official theft of public money stands at a third of the national budget. Kenyatta’s authoritarian tendencies have seen a shrinking of democratic space. Kenya is deeply divided along ethnic lines. As the August elections approach, it is increasingly clear that a new leadership is needed.

Black people are quickly labeled racist any time we raise our voice against white supremacy. It is racism fighting back. It is meant to silence us. We should not openly express what we feel and know. As Black people we should not own our experiences and history. No. We are instead supposed to become complicit in our oppression by attributing our suffering to everything else except white supremacy.

Two recommendations from the report stand out. First, it asks that the International Criminal Court to investigate Israel. Second, the report urges that UN member states allow criminal prosecutions of Israeli officials connected with the practices of apartheid against the Palestinian people. Since most of the world’s states have signed the Convention Against Apartheid, they are now obliged to act.

Hundreds of popular organizations, networks and movements of Latin America and the Caribbean launched a Week of Solidarity with Haiti, March 15-22, with a petition demanding the total withdrawal of the troops that occupy that country and closure of the UN Mission (MINUSTAH). They also want the UN to provide reparations for violations and crimes against the Haitian people.

March 21 is International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. A notable cultural icon in the struggle against racism is Jamaican reggae artiste Peter Tosh. He was an internationalist and linked the fight of Africans against racism, settler-colonialism and apartheid in Southern Africa with the struggle of the Palestinians against Zionism and Israeli apartheid.

If Steve Biko – the iconic leader of South Africa’s Black Consciousness Movement - were alive today, what would he make of the Afrophobia/xenophobia in South Africa? Would he stridently denounce it – unlike South Africa’s leaders – and seek to foster a new sense of self-love in the transformed slogan: “Black is Beautiful! Be Proud of your Blackness and the Blackness of other Africans!”?

Negotiations did not produce the state of Israel. From 1917 when the Jews procured the dubious Balfour Declaration right up to independence three decades later, the Jews conducted themselves in a manner that could have made the murderers of today’s ISIS and Boko Haram look like saints. So, why do some people encourage Palestinians to embrace negotiations as the way to their freedom?

The racist policies of Israel constitute the internationally recognized crime of apartheid against Palestinians. As was the case for South Africa under minority white supremacist rule, it is imperative to think seriously about the nature of Israel’s constitutional order and about how to deepen anti-racist alliances and solidarities across borders on behalf of the Palestinian people.

Historically, the state is a transient phenomenon. Where are the world’s once great empires? Europe, with just a third of Africa’s population, has produced 23 new states since the late 1980s. There is no point in insisting that the Igbo people, victims of Africa’s worst – and ongoing – genocide, who want their own state, must remain a part of Nigeria.

An American manufactured helicopter attacked a vessel carrying Somalis fleeing from the war-torn state of Yemen killing 42. Somalia supports the US-backed Yemeni regime against the Houthi forces. But it is well known that Yemeni forces and their allies continue to target civilians in the war and prevent the transport of essential goods and services from reaching millions of people inside the country.

Pambazuka News 813: Invasions, protests and fifth columnists 

In order for Africa to assume responsibility for its own transformation and elevation, and be able to undertake self-reliant development and create secure domestic prosperity, it must create its own specific ideology and strategy of self-development. To do this there are 5 irreducible components that have to be designed and put in place.

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