ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
Colin Powell Now Seeks to Destablize
An Elected African Government
Freeing a Nation From a Tyrant’s Grip
By Colin L. Powell
A brave man recently met with me and described how life in his country has become unbearable. “There is too much fear in the country, fear of the unknown and fear of the known consequences if we act or speak out,” explained Pius Ncube, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Yet Archbishop Ncube speaks out fearlessly about the terrible human rights conditions in Zimbabwe, and is threatened almost every day with detention or worse.
For hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans, the worst has already come. Millions of people are desperately hungry because the country’s once-thriving agricultural sector collapsed last year after President Robert Mugabe confiscated commercial farms, supposedly for the benefit of poor blacks. But his cynical “land reform” program has chiefly benefited idle party hacks and stalwarts, not landless peasants. As a result, much of Zimbabwe’s most productive land is now occupied by loyalists of the ruling ZANU-PF party, military officers, or their wives and friends.
Worse still, the entire Zimbabwean economy is near collapse. Reckless governmental mismanagement and unchecked corruption have produced annual inflation rates near 300 percent, unemployment of more than 70 percent and widespread shortages of food, fuel and other basic necessities. Is it any wonder that Zimbabweans are demanding political change, or that President Mugabe must rely on stepped-up violence and vote-rigging to remain in office?
On June 6, the police again arrested Mr. Mugabe’s most prominent opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai. They paraded him in a courtroom in shackles and leg irons before releasing him on bail on June 20. His offense? Calling for work stoppages and demonstrations to protest economic hardship and political repression.
Like Myanmar’s courageous opposition leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Mr. Tsvangirai wages a nonviolent struggle against a ruthless regime. Like the Burmese junta, President Mugabe and his Politburo colleagues have an absolute monopoly of coercive power, but no legitimacy or moral authority. In the long run, President Mugabe and his minions will lose, dragging their soiled record behind them into obscurity. But how long will it take? How many good Zimbabweans will have to lose their jobs, their homes, or even their lives before President Mugabe’s violent misrule runs its course?
The United States and the European Union has imposed a visa ban on Zimbabwe’s leaders and frozen their overseas assets. We have ended all official assistance to the government of Zimbabwe. We have urged other governments to do the same. We will persist in speaking out strongly in defense of human rights and the rule of law. And we will continue to assist directly, in many different ways, the brave men and women of Zimbabwe who are resisting tyranny.
But our efforts are unlikely to succeed quickly enough without greater engagement by Zimbabwe’s neighbors. South Africa and other African countries are increasingly concerned and active on Zimbabwe, but they can and should play a stronger and more sustained role that fully reflects the urgency of Zimbabwe’s crisis. If leaders on the continent do not do more to convince President Mugabe to respect the rule of law and enter into a dialogue with the political opposition, he and his cronies will drag Zimbabwe down until there is nothing left to ruin and Zimbabwe’s implosion will continue to threaten the stability and prosperity of the region.
There is a way out of the crisis. ZANU-PF and the opposition party can together legislate the constitutional changes to allow for a transition. With the president gone, with a transitional government in place and with a date fixed for new elections, Zimbabweans of all descriptions would, I believe, come together to begin the process of rebuilding their country. If this happened, the United States would be quick to pledge generous assistance to the restoration of Zimbabwe’s political and economic institutions even before the election. Other donors, I am sure, would be close behind.
Reading this, Robert Mugabe and his cohorts may cry, “Blackmail.” We should ignore them. Their time has come and gone. As Archbishop Ncube has said, “Things in our country can hardly get worse.” With the perseverance of brave Zimbabweans, strengthened commitment from their neighbors, and the strong support of the international community, we can rescue the people of Zimbabwe. This is a worthy and urgent goal for us all.
Colin L. Powell is U. S. secretary of state
Source: NYTimes Op-ED Page — June 24, 2003
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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 CharterAllAfrica
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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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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 Mammys behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own familys 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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From The World and Africa, 1965
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update 27 June 2008