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Daily Maverick

With 18 earned and honorary degrees, Robert Mugabe was the most educated African president. His leadership of Zimbabwe was messed up by neocolonial terrorists who wanted its resources. Zimbabwe is a wake up call for Africa. Western imperialism is not dead. Africa will be destroyed unless its leaders strengthen its sovereignty.

The colonial destruction of Zimbabwe began in 1895. That was after that arch-agent of British imperialism, Cecil Rhodes had said:

“The clearing of the land of savages could now be achieved in two to three years with the aid of a certain amount of machine guns. I contend that we are the first race in the world, that the more world we inhabit, the better it is for the human race.”

After Zimbabwe was seized through colonial terrorism and renamed Rhodesia, Britain offered to release its criminals in its prisons if they agreed to go to “Rhodesia” where they could have free land and gold mines for themselves and for the British Empire.

When that venerated patriotic woman, that heroic daughter of Africa “Ambuye” Nehanda organised the African resistance against British colonial terrorism, the imperialist invaders killed and hanged her. This was to demonstrate what happens to those Africans who opposed colonial terrorism.

In the 1960s following the outlawing of their earlier liberation movements against British colonialism, Africans in Zimbabwe formed ZAPU and ZANU to intensify their liberation struggle. As it became stronger and included guerrilla warfare, the colonialists under Ian Smith, a colonial prime minister, declared their “independence.” This was a rebellion against the British Crown. But Britain never crushed that rebellion of its European colonial settlers.

Thousands of Zimbabweans died in many battle fields until they won their liberation in 1979 through negotiations with Britain in which Robert Mugabe emerged as prime minister and later as president. There was also the Lancaster House Agreement through which Britain would buy land from its colonial farmers. The liberation movements were not prepared to buy their own land of ancestors. It was taken from the Zimbabweans through the barrel of colonial guns.

Later Britain refused to pay money to buy land colonially seized from the Zimbabweans and to be returned to its African owners. This was in violation of the terms of the Lancaster House Agreement. ZANU’s government under President Robert Mugabe seized their land that had been taken away from their people through colonial terrorism.

This is what later led Britain and its European Union partners to impose economic sanctions on Zimbabwe. This was under the cover of “violation of human rights” by ZANU PF. But at the same time the European Union arrogantly wanted to observe Zimbabwe elections and decide if they were “democratic” or not. The European countries were by no stretch of imagination impartial in these elections. They wanted a government that would serve their own economic interests.

Their economic sanctions have, of course, damaged the African country badly. They impoverished the people. There was also a time when the cholera disease broke out. Many Zimbabweans died because of inaccessible immunisation vaccine that could not be imported.

The whole world was told by Britain and its EU partners that the purpose of economic sanctions was to punish officials of ZANU PF Government. This was not true. It is the ordinary people who suffered and even died as a result of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by these Western countries including America.

It must be remembered that when sanctions were proposed against Ian Smith’s Rhodesia as well as against the apartheid colonialist regime in South Africa (Azania), Western countries were the first to oppose these sanctions vehemently. Their excuse was that the sanctions would harm “ordinary people.” But in Zimbabwe the “ordinary people” who were Africans became a non-issue.

China and Russia opposed sanctions against Zimbabwe. According to Global Policy Forum, it is the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Boutros Ghali, who in 1996 called on the United Nations General Assembly to reconsider how it uses sanctions.

An American President Woodrow Wilson had in 1919 already said, “A nation that is boycotted is a nation that is in sight of surrender.” So the purpose of economic sanctions is meant for a nation to surrender and be dominated and economically destroyed. It is indeed shameful to impose sanctions on a developing country that was under-developed by rapacious colonial European countries in the first place.

Gross injustice and racism is still practised by many Western countries in Africa. In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI spoke the indisputable truth that has been hidden for centuries. He declared, “Our Western way of life has stripped Africa’s people of their riches and continues to strip them.”

Corroborating this fact, a member of the Scottish Parliament Mark Ballard affirmed, “Our relationship with Africa is an exploitative one. The West no longer needs to send standing armies in Africa to strip its resources because it can do it more effectively with multi-national companies.”

This is one of the reasons why African leaders who demand genuine liberation for Africa are dubbed “radicals,” “militants,” “extremists”, etc. While those who continue to manage the country and its economic resources to the disadvantage of their own African people are called “moderates,” or “reasonable.”

It was not an exaggeration or misinformation when that British humanitarian Blackhouse, said: “Upon principles that cannot be too strongly reprobated, and which want radical reformation, Aborigines [indigenous Africans], have had wholesale robbery of territory committed upon them…and settlers have become the receivers of stolen goods.”

Seven Western European countries were part of the inhuman brutal Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and signatories to the Berlin General Act of 26 February 1885. They heard their Belgian chairman Leopold speak of Africa as “this marvellous cake to share.” Such countries have not a drop of legitimacy to lecture Africa about “democracy,” “human rights” and “rule of law.”

When Robert Mugabe’s government allowed 4000 British colonial farmers to keep over twelve million hectares of farm land Queen Elizabeth II honoured Mugabe with the title of Knighthood. Edinburgh University awarded him an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws in 1994. In 1986 Massachusetts University had given Mugabe an honorary degree of LL.D. But when Mugabe’s government later raised the land question, the source of economic power and prosperity for a nation, these universities revoked their honorary degrees on Mugabe.

On 25 June 2008 the Queen of England, too, revoked the Knight Grand Cross in order of Bath which she had in 1994 bestowed upon President Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe however, is reputed to be one of Africa’s most educated presidents. His knowledge is not depended on honorary degrees. He has seven earned academic degrees two of which he obtained while in the Rhodesian colonial prisons.

The people of Zimbabwe have made tremendous progress in education under the ZANU PF rule. Probably to inspire his people to seek and increase their knowledge President Robert Mugabe himself earned his Master of Science in economics (M.Sc. degree) while already head of Zimbabwe government. This was after independence. His record of earned degrees is as follows:

1. Bachelor of Arts - B.A. (majoring in history and English) Fort Hare University 1951

2. Bachelor of Administration - B. Admin.  University of South Africa

3. Bachelor of Education –B.Ed. University of South Africa

4. Bachelor of Science in Economics University of London (External Programme)

5. Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) University of London (External Programme)

6. Master of Laws (LL. M.) degree from the University of London (External Programme)

7. Master of Science in Economics (M.Sc.) University of London (External Programme).

Mugabe has 11 honorary university degrees from countries such as Nigeria, Tanzania, Russia and Mauritius. These countries have not revoked these degrees. In all, Mugabe has 18 university degrees excluding the three revoked by Western universities over ZANU’s policy on repossession of land by its Zimbabwean owners.

In conclusion it is important to remind that the present and future leaders of the African Union carry a big burden of responsibility for Africa’s people on their shoulders. They must wake up. How long will Africa be bullied by former colonial terrorists?

This may be a bitter pill to swallow. But whatever wrongs Robert Mugabe may have committed; they are far outweighed by those of the authors of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, colonial stealing of African countries, riches, artefacts and under-developing Africa through colonial terrorism and racism.

Robert Mugabe was right when he told the United Nations General Assembly recently, “Our small country is threatened daily by covetous and bigoted big powers whose hunger for domination and control of other nations and their resources knows no bounds.”

A good doctor does not diagnose a symptom as a disease. Africans, too, must not take colonial effects for the cause of Africa’s problems. If so much was never stolen and damaged in Africa, this continent would be far ahead today economically and technologically. Damage in Zimbabwe in whatever form has been more caused externally by desperate colonialists than internally. No African country has ever survived such inhuman and viciously sustained economic sanctions like Zimbabwe and for such a long time.

Western “democracy” has reduced the once stable Libya under Muammar Gaddafi to despicable national humiliation. It has killed Somalia. It unjustly got Saddam Hussein of Iraq hanged for his county’s oil. This was all under the falsehood of “democracy.” Western “democracy” caused the rise ISIS in Iraq and Syria. It has fermented terrorism throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world. This Western “democracy” has almost destroyed Syria.

Iran and North Korea are being distabilised for being not “democratic.” Zimbabwe is a wakeup call for Africa. Western imperialism is not dead. Africa will be destroyed if African leaders do not strengthen their sovereignties and become truly free independent nations with their own Pan African institutions and values. Eurocentricity is not democracy. The Africentric view of the world exists. It must be upheld and respected. Africa must not be again enslaved and colonised under a false disguise of “democracy.”

* DR. MOTSOKO PHEKO is a historian, political scientist, theologian, lawyer and author of several books. He is former Member of the South African Parliament and former Representative of the victims of apartheid and colonialism at the United Nations in New York at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva.



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