Black Africa’s duty to help Zimbabwe defeat sanctions

Black Africa’s duty to help Zimbabwe defeat sanctions


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



Given their decision to drive ZANU-PF from power for daring to take back the land stolen

by whites, these are all ways of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it. It’s all part

of the faked story to justify regime change.



Black Africa’s duty to help Zimbabwe defeat sanctions

 By Chinweizu


Greetings, Pan African comrades!!

I am here to remind us all of our Pan-Africanist duty to stand in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe in their present trials and tribulations.

May I remind you of Pan-Africanism’s Black Solidarity principle that, in Nyerere’s words, “as long as black people anywhere continue to be oppressed on the grounds of their color, black people everywhere must stand together in opposition to that oppression”.

In Zimbabwe for the last 8 years, the Black population has been under severe attack by the imperialist white power enemies of Black Africa, namely the UK, the USA and the EU. The people of Zimbabwe need our Pan-African help and solidarity against an economic war inflicted on them through sanctions allegedly targeted at only their leaders.

Sanctions have crippled the Zimbabwean economy. Markets for Zimbabwean exports are closed because Blacks now own the land stolen by Rhodesian colonizers. Foreign tourism has also plummeted, costing tens of millions of dollars a year in lost revenue. Basic imports are unavailable; currently (as of March 2008), Zimbabwe suffers from widespread food shortages, the world’s highest inflation rate at over 100,000%. A sizeable part of the population has been forced to seek economic refuge abroad. This is all happening according to the white power plan. We should recall that former US Assistant Secretary of State on African Affairs, Chester Crocker said in a 2005 testimony to the US Senate for the Zimbabwe Democracy Act [i.e. sanctions and regime change legislation]:

To separate the Zimbabwean people from ZANU-PF we are going to have to make their economy scream, and I hope you senators have the stomach for what you have to do.” (Democracy Now!, April 1st, 2005).

And that is precisely what is happening. The economy is indeed screaming, by enemy design. The enemy intended to so torture the Zimbabwean people that they would reject ZANU-PF at the polls. Of course, enemy propaganda claims that the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy is simply the result of land reforms and mismanagement by the ZANU-PF regime. My friends, if you believe that you can believe anything. You can even believe that all the weapons of mass destruction in the world are stockpiled in Saddam Hussein’s shoes!

So we come to the question: Why are the white powers torturing the black people of Zimbabwe?

They call Zimbabwe an “outpost of tyranny” and claim they want to remove ZANU-PF from power and bring to the Zimbabweans the pleasures and benefits of democracy. But that is a bloody big lie.  In actual fact, they want to reverse the land reforms of the last 10 years, and engineer a situation where the whites, at less than 1%of the population can go back to owning more than 70% of the arable land, including most of the best land. That is why they are, through sanctions, which is an act of economic warfare, torturing the black people of Zimbabwe.

But how did whites ever come to own land in Zimbabwe, and so much land at that?

The answer lies in what happened during the so-called Scramble for Africa in the closing decades of the 19th century. Following the notorious Berlin Conference of 1884-85, the European powers set out on their scramble to conquer and seize the lands of Black Africans.

In 1889 Cecil Rhodes’ British South Africa Company (BSA) gained a British mandate to colonize what would become Southern Rhodesia. In 1890 – a pioneer column of white settlers arrived from South Africa at the site of the future capital Harare, and started grabbing land. The Black owners of the land opposed the white land stealers. But by 1893 the Ndebele uprising against BSA rule was crushed.

But that statement does not convey how it was done. For a flavor of the genocidal war and sustained terrorism the British inflicted on the Blacks who resisted their land grab, consider the case of the Amandebele (Matabele) of what became Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe. By the trickery of treaties and the terrors of war, the Amandabele were dispossessed of their land, stripped of their cattle, reduced to the status of bondsmen, scattered, barred from moving about from place to place except under a system of permit or pass, and made to do forced labour on the farms and mines of Whites.  The net result, as reported at the time.

The net position is this:  The native population of Southern Rhodesia possesses today no rights in land or water.  It is allowed to continue to live upon the land on sufferance and under certain conditions . . . There appears to be no attempt on anyone’s part to deny the bedrock fact that these 700,000 natives have been turned from owners of land into precarious tenants.[1]

And among the methods employed in the race war and terror campaign that achieved this?  In the words of the Matabele Times,

We have been doing it up to now, burning kraals because they were native kraals, and firing upon fleeing natives simply because they were black.[2]

And for a glimpse of the spirit in which the British troops waged that race war, consider these words by an adventurer friend of Cecil Rhodes, a certain W. A. Jarvis:

The best thing to do is to wipe them all out as far as one can–everything black. 

And in letters to his mother, Jarvis wrote:

I hope the natives will be pretty well exterminated. . . . There are 5500 niggers in this district (Gwelo) and our plan of campaign will probably be to proceed against this lot and wipe them out then move on towards Bulawayo wiping out every nigger and every kraal we find.  . . . And after these cold blooded murders, you may be sure there will be no quarter and everything black will have to die, for our men’s blood is fairly up.[3]

At the end of it all, the Amandabele view of what the British had done to them was this:

Our country is gone, our cattle have gone, our people are scattered, we have nothing to live for, our women are deserting us; the white man does as he likes with them; we are the slaves of the white man, we are nobody and have no rights or laws of any kind.[4]

This armed and genocidal seizure of the land of the blacks would be compounded and given a fig leaf of legality when, in 1930 the colonial government passed the Land Apportionment Act, which divided the colony into separate areas for whites and blacks. The act allocated to white settlers, who numbered only about 50,000 (less than 5 percent of the colony’s population), approximately 50 percent of the land. Leaving the other 50% to the 95% of the population that was black.

Now, as we all know, it was not until 1980, after a 15years guerilla war against the white settler government of Ian Smith, that the stage was set for the blacks to recover their land after almost a century of white usurpation. The setting for that was the Lancaster House agreement of December 1979.

The three-month long conference almost failed to reach conclusion, due to disagreements on Land reform. Mugabe was pressured to sign and land was the key stumbling block. Both British and American governments of the day offered to buy land from willing white settlers who could not accept reconciliation (the “Willing buyer, Willing seller” principle–which could not be changed for ten years) and a fund was established, to operate for ten years from 1980 to 1990.

The British assisted in setting up the Zimbabwe conference on reconstruction and development in 1981. At that conference, more than £630 million of aid was pledged. The first phase of land reform in the 1980s, which was partially funded by the United Kingdom, successfully resettled only 71,000 families out of a target of 162,000.

What, after that, became of the Lancaster House provisions on land and the pledges?

Having secured the non-expulsion of the defeated white settlers, Britain proceeded to renege on its commitment to fund the repurchase of the land it had stolen a century earlier. By its own admission in 2004, “Since independence we have provided 44 million pounds for land reform in Zimbabwe” That’s £44m out of the £630m pledged in 1981.

The Zimbabwean Ministry of Foreign Affairs has noted that it was estimated that about $2 billion would be needed to properly support land reforms in the country. The government said it received only £40m between 1980 and 1996, and that, though a mission–sent by John Major to evaluate the position after the £40m provided under Mrs. Margaret Thatcher had been exhausted–recommended that further funding be given to Zimbabwe to complete the land reform programme, when John Major lost the 1997 general election to Tony Blair, the new regime immediately repudiated all the undertakings made by the British under the Lancaster House Agreement to assist Zimbabwe with land reforms. It quotes a letter written to the Zimbabwean Government on November 5, 1997 by Ms Clare Short, the then newly appointed Secretary of State for International Development, which reads in part:  

I should make it clear that we do not accept that Britain has a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase in Zimbabwe.  We are a new government from diverse backgrounds without links to former colonial interests. My own origins are Irish and, as you know, we were colonized not colonizers.

Given this clearly worded reneging by the British Government on its Lancaster House commitments, the Zimbabwean government felt it was left with no option but to legally designate for acquisition in 1997 “nearly 1,500 white-owned farms for resettlement to landless peasants.”

That was how the Zimbabwean crisis was launched. Because Zimbabwe, when faced with Britain’s perfidious reneging on the Lancaster House Agreement, dared to try to repossess the stolen lands by any means necessary, Britain, supported by the white powers, launched a campaign of regime change, using sanctions and all the other familiar devices in the imperialist bag of tricks.  They have demonized the Zimbabwean leadership, crippled the economy with sanctions, organized and paid for an opposition called the MDC. It is a script we have seen before in other parts of the world including Chile, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela. The result is the ongoing torture of the Zimbabwean people.

And where do the allegations of human right violations, and lack of democracy come in? Or the claim that Mugabe has ruled for too long and is too old? That is all part of the regime change scenario.

Given their decision to drive ZANU-PF from power for daring to take back the land stolen by whites, these are all ways of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it. It’s all part of the faked story to justify regime change. It’s like the famous weapons of Mass Destruction that the world was assured that Saddam had stockpiled!! But we must not be fooled. We must not forget that Mugabe has stayed long in office by being elected and re-elected each time. Now, is it for the imperialists, or for the Zimbabwean electorate to decide when Mugabe should stop ruling? And all this noise about elections not being free and fair? When was the last time any elections were held in Saudi Arabia, let alone free and fair elections? Yet nobody is organizing regime change there!!

When was the last “free and fair” election in Nigeria or Kenya for that matter? Yet nobody is organizing regime change in these countries. Why not? Precisely because they hand over to the imperialists even what the imperialist have not dreamt of asking to be given. The point of it all is that, if a regime defends the interests of its people, it will earn the enmity of the imperialists, and become a target for these accusations and sanctions. But if it serves imperialism, it can be as undemocratic as Saudi Arabia, as suppressive of human rights as the Obasanjo regime was in Nigeria, or Pinochet’s in Chile, and the imperialists will give it their seal of approval.

What is the role of Tsvangirai and the MDC in all this? Tsvangirai and the MDC are simply regime change tools of the imperialists. He belongs with black traitors like Dhlakama of RENAMO and Savimbi of UNITA. Not only have they been lavishly funded by the imperialists, but Rhodesian whites have openly supported MDC and come to Zimbabwe saying they will be taking “their” farms from indigenous Zimbabweans when Tsvangirai becomes president.

Make no mistake about it. What ZANU-PF has been doing since 1997 is to collect reparations by any means necessary, after having patiently given the imperialists every opportunity to abide by their own pledges to fund their own “willing seller, willing buyer” formula for land redistribution. For carrying the liberation struggle to its second stage, ZANU-PF deserves the support of all anti-imperialist Black Africans, of all Pan Africanists.

We mustn’t forget that when white-ruled Rhodesia was under sanctions in the 1960s and 1970s, it was helped to bust sanctions and survive by white-ruled South Africa and white ruled Mozambique. Now that Black Zimbabwe is under punitive sanctions from the vengeful white world powers, why are Black-ruled South Africa and its other SADC neighbors not doing enough to help Zimbabwe defeat these sanctions? What is Black Africa doing to help? We must all do much more! We will not have done enough until these sanctions are defeated with our visible help. So I must ask each and every one of you: what are you, in Pan-Africanist solidarity, prepared to do to help the Zimbabwean people today?

Having said all that, it is our comradely duty to also ask ZANU-PF to thoroughly review its methods of fighting sanctions and its methods of telling its story to its people and to the world. For it seems not to have done an adequate job of that so far.

Talk at African Liberation Day Public Forum at Accra Polytechnic, 26 May 2008, Organized by the PAN-AFRICAN COUNCIL

Chinweizu is a Black Power Pan-Africanist; the author of The West and the Rest of Us, Decolonising the African Mind, and other books. He is the co-founder of the Committee Against Arab Colonialism in Black Africa [CAACBA].

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[1]   E. D. Morel, The Black Man’s Burden, p. 50.

[2]    Ibid., p. 47.

[3]    Quoted in  Stanlake Samkange, “The History of  Zimbabwe: Source of Nationalism”, in  J. O. Okpaku et al., The Arts and Civilization of Black and African Peoples,Vol.5, Lagos: CBAAC,  1986, pp. 245-246.

[4]    E. D. Morel, op. cit., p. 47.

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Launching the Pedagogical History of Africa Project in Harare yesterday [5 September 2011] , President Mugabe said . . . “The history that must be written by our African scholars and academics here is the history that focuses on African people in struggle as creators of their own destiny rather than mere consumers of stories written about them by passive on-lookers who oftentimes happen to be non-African outsiders . . . . Real history belongs to a people in struggle and not to the interpreters of history. The people themselves are the makers of history and therefore the real historians. The interpreters are mere raconteurs of history and not the actual history-makers as is often wrongly implied . . . Only this way can we avoid history written by colonialists as ‘winners’. Our real winners are the people, whose real history or struggle the so-called winners would like to distort and suppress . . . You cannot be a historian of African people if you do not share their cry or their laughter. No. The African sensibility, reflected in African culture and worldview, is the only accurate compass to guide a historian who is genuine about writing African history. . . . Slavery and colonisation do not themselves constitute African history. They disrupt and falsify the trajectory of African history. They dehumanise Africans to fit into the scheme of European capital. The ideology of racism is created as a parallel process to rationalise the oppression of Africans. . . . I need not stress that it is imperative to edify educational systems, which embody the African and universal values so as to ensure the rooting of youth in African culture in the context of a sustainable and participatory development. This way we continue to foster the spirit of unity in Africa as embodied in the African Unity Charter”—AllAfrica

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Zimbabwe Opposition Candidate Drops Out—Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew Sunday from Zimbabwe’s presidential runoff election under the might of a vicious campaign of political violence by President Robert Mugabe, saying that “we cannot stand there and watch people being killed for the sake of power.” Tsvangirai’s decision ends an electrifying challenge to Mugabe, who over 28 years has led his once-bountiful country into economic ruin, then unleashed an onslaught of state-sponsored torture, beatings and killings after he lost the first round of voting in March. Election officials deemed a runoff necessary because neither candidate got a majority of votes, and they set the date for Friday. . . . WashingtonPost

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Mugabe Dismisses Calls to Delay Vote—In Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe is defying international pressure to cancel a run-off election marred by allegations of intimidation and the withdrawal of his opponent. Addressing a rally of supporters, Mugabe said he would proceed with Friday’s vote. . . . Meanwhile, in the United States, Mugabe has come under criticism from the civil rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson. Jackson and Mugabe have known each other for decades and worked together in the campaign against South African apartheid. Speaking on CNN, Jackson called Mugabe a “heresy to democracy.”

Rev. Jesse Jackson: “Well, he was a hero. Now, he’s kind of a heresy to democracy. That’s why the AU and others must step up their diplomatic initiatives, one, to get humanitarian relief back into Zimbabwe; two, to get a free press back in to talk to both leaders about some kind of reconciliation. The opposition withdrawal today is really a way of saying they cannot take the heat of violence. And so, the people there deserve an open, free and fair democracy. And we must somehow reconcile these two extremes. We cannot, as it were, leave Zimbabweans suffering in isolation.” DemocracyNow

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COSATU Demands Democracy in Zimbabwe—The Congress of South African Trade Unions fully sympathises with the decision of the Movement for Democratic Change to withdraw from what was clearly going to be a totally unfree and unfair election on 27 June 2008. The federation is appalled at the levels of  violence and intimidation being inflicted on the people of Zimbabwe by the illegitimate Mugabe regime, and endorses the view of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) . . . COSATU

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South African Communist Party Statement on the Latest Developments in Zimbabwe—The SACP is extremely concerned at, and disturbed by, the latest developments in Zimbabwe, including the increase in violence directed at opposition members and supporters, the arbitrary arrest of opposition leaders, the trade union movement, and other sections of civil society, now culminating in the withdrawal of the MDC from the Presidential run-off. The SACP strongly condemns the decision by the Zimbabwean government to proceed with the elections this coming Friday under these conditions. Such a decision can only create further chaos and instability and it is not in the interests of the Zimbabwean people. . . .GoogleNews

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Amandla! interviewed Morgan Tsvangirai MDC president on the current impasse in Zimbabwe and on the future policies an MDC orientated government would like to see implemented:

BA: But it does beg the question in terms of what role would you see for the state playing going forward? One of the things in the RDP was very much centred around a massive investment programme in housing and other things that would stimulate downstream industries. Is that’s foreclosed in the current situation in Zimbabwe.

MT: Well, there will be massive housing that will be needed. But, you see, you have to put the cart before the horse. We have to create the necessary instruments and wealth in order to have social intervention. If you start off by redistribution before creating the necessary productive sectors then you won’t go anywhere. I suppose that’s what South Africa did having realised the gaps between the intention and the realities on the ground. For us we face huge social problems and I think that it may be some time before those social problems can be tackled. And by the way, we do realise that over a period of time we have to move away from donor dependence or donor support, which I think in the initial stage would be the initial * 19:38 [infusion/inclusion – unclear] of the necessary resources to investment resourced capacity – your personnel, your manpower resources, your industry and those kind of investments.

BA: But wouldn’t what you’re saying just be another version of trickle-down economic policies that have been generally incapable of averting and addressing extreme poverty and unemployment?

MT: Unfortunately there is a stage where some form of trickle-down has to be expected. But the state itself cannot play in every area of social endeavour. But it can intervene socially in those basic services: health, education, housing as a way of providing the basic services and facilities for the poor. But if you are not doing anything it has its own limitations. But, yes, I think that it can give the guiding philosophy as to how the social democratic economic environment has to be created. AmandlaPublishers

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Emergency Rally in Support of Zimbabwe July 3, Harlem—Thursday, July 3, 2008, the December 12th Movement and Friends of Zimbabwe are holding an emergency meeting at the National Black Theater, 125th Street & Fifth Avenue, to discuss the recent elections in Zimbabwe.  Just back from observing the elections, Viola Plummer and Omowale Clay of the December 12th Movement will be joined by a host of Pan Africanists in support of Zimbabwe and in opposition to the US/UK led campaign to isolate and destabilize Zimbabwe.

As Africa seeks to consolidate and move from political independence to economic independence, Zimbabwe is leading the way through it’s fight to regain sovereignty over natural resources.  And it is paying the price – US/UK sanctions have played havoc with the economy and a daily barrage of media attacks are laying the groundwork for intervention. 

For further information call (718) 398-1766 and come to the meeting Thursday, July 3rd, at the National Black Theater, 125th Street & Fifth Avenue in Harlem. Press Release June 28, 2008 (718) 398-1766 For immediate release

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as “the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field ‘cut their teeth’.”

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 24 June 2008




Home  Transitional Writings on Africa  The African World   Black Labor

Related files: Empires and Lynching  The Real Trouble with Zimbabwe    The Lynching of Robert Mugabe (Ogbunwezeh)   Black Africa’s duty to help Zimbabwe    No to invasion of Zimbabwe! (Molefe) 

Western Hypocrisy   Zimbabwe and the Question of Imperialism (Goodman)  Look What I Found (video)  Choosing Sides  Trans Africa & Progressives on Mugabe  Colin Powell on Mugabe   Sanctions on Zimbabwe 

Zimbabwe’s Lonely Fight for Justice     Reporting Zimbabwe    President Robert Mugabe’s UN Speech   A Shattered Dream  Zimbabwe and the Question of Imperialism

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