This article, , begins with an extremely inaccurate premise. Assuming that the author really has no background in any African liberation movement, nor in he politics of black liberation or class struggle, it makes me wonder what kind of analysis Pambazuka offers to the black community.
By “black” I mean those Africans involved in the class struggle as well as the movement for international African unity, because for those of us in the Western Hemisphere that is the context out of which the term black originally evolved. Not only is the premise of the article crooked, but the whole text degenerates into an attack on the African liberation movement in Southern Africa, and elsewhere.
One must ask if this article was written by a disillusioned Afrikaner with a monkey on his back. While Melber tries to come across as somebody trying to spark “a broad political debate”, that cannot honestly happen based on Melber’s half-baked assumptions, misrepresentations of current events, and a hidden agenda.
The military mindset in Africa did not arrive with the black liberation movements, which came late to the scene. Kwame Nkrumah documented the long list of coups d’etat up from 1957 up thru 1970 or so. In the states where coups occurred, not only were military regimes installed, the rulers also were staunchly pro-imperialist. Those who couped Nkrumah, Azikiwe, Lumumba, Obote and others were in the West’s pocket, in every instance.
While your author tries to introduce Frantz Fanon and Jean-Paul Sartre into the discussion, he is inept at presenting an argument which justifies the article’s title.
First, the hard fought victories won by FRELIMO, ZANU and MPLA to defeat colonialism cannot be compared to any other wars in modern history. Melber dismisses all this with a sweep of his word processor. However, for those of us who appreciate that period of struggle, we know the hawks of Imperialism have sworn eternal vengeance. They declared, thru out the US media on the eve of the Lancaster House Accords in 1980, that Africans were too stupid to build the stone buildings at Old Zimbabwe and had no business naming the country after ruins that either Arabs or Europeans had left.
Second, that these countries struggled to build democratic societies while facing extreme odds because of military attacks from South Africa, assisted by Israel and the US, it is miraculous that military regimes do not administer power in any of those countries. The grip some forces exercise on power reflects the history of repression which not only demanded their rise, but demanded emergency measures. The Southern Africa security question was never adequately addressed by the world bodies, and it emerged out of imperialist racism. So Melber is not only wrong on this point, but completely haphazard. He neglects to state how the SADF created an extensive ecological disaster thru out Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Angola. The warfare against peasants in Mozambique, carried out thru war criminals enlisted in Renamo, was a precursor to the violence demonstrated against the Tutsi by interhamwe machete murderers in Central Africa. Zimbabwe helped settle the security question during that period.
The security issues of Southern Africa have never been definitively articulated the way the US, by comparison, has defined its security issues. Minorities in Southern Africa have never been violently subdued and enslaved or gradually given rights, as a form of long-term policy. Political parties in Africa do not recognize any traditional path of development for African people. In terms of security issues, Renamo in Mozambique is a counterinsurgency party which the US would smash as a domestic terror organization. Same as for UNITA in Angola.
Finally, the fact that democracy is a stunted child in Africa does not mean it has to be paraded thru out the Southern African states as their particular embarrassment. No mention is made of supposedly democratic Malawi, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zambia, Equatorial Guinea, Uganda, elsewhere.
Melber’s article should have been more accurately named something along the lines of something like An ad hominem attack on Black liberation, and subtitled, “Niggers don’t deserve independence”.