ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
an American soldier stationed in Germany, who did a tour of duty in Iraq said to me: I dont
give a fuck about those mother..F s, but what is our goddamn oil doing on their fucking soil?
Instruments of Imperial Domination
The Lynching of Robert Mugabe: Critique of Empire, History and Memory!
By Emmanuel Franklyne Ogbunwezeh
Modern empire showed its fangs when it marched into Chile to sack Salvadore Allende. The same conceptual scheme of empire was the architect of the Cold War since it needed to enthrone a culture of fear, which would keep the citizens from feeling the pangs of their oppression at the hands of the wealthy few, in a country priding itself as the wealthiest nation on earth. It engendered the Vietnam fiasco that got America bloodied. It marched into Iraq in 2003. And today, Zimbabwe is on the crosshairs.
Empire uses the media to generate, disseminate, and reinforce (or consolidate) fear in the population. Fear is one of the most basic insecurities native to the human person. Fear has shown to be the greatest instrument of social and political control. Power is based on opinion. And whatever influences opinion, influences the matrices of power. Nothing impacts on opinion and action more than fear. Once a fear is created or instilled in a person, he is at his most suggestible and malleable point, and is susceptible to being used by the capricious whims of whoever is the source, as well who promised or is able to make that fear go away. Empire uses its monstrous intelligence agencies as well as the media that it controls to trick our perceptions and manufacture our opinions for us.
This explains why every empire even potential micro-empires seeks to control information. Gutenbergs invention of writing in Mainz democratized and universalized the access to knowledge. It broke forever the monopoly enjoyed and deployed by the priestly classes and ruling castes of many ancient and medieval societies; which they used in imposing themselves as kings by divine right in absolute debauchery, cornering absolute power and unearned privileges. The ignorance and timidity of the masses which flowed therefrom, underwrote the creation and sustenance of a feudal establishment, and its various replicas in time, which financed their greed and funded their indiscretions. Martin Luther in Wittenberg deployed that power of information and knowledge dissemination to free people from the medieval superstitions imposed from Rome. Europe and the world got better for it.
But such brilliance has not stopped or dissuaded empire from perpetually trying to control information, and allow access to it only to a few privileged eyes. The Roman church did that with the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. The Nazi defunct imperial dream burnt books that testified to Jewish humanity, ingenuity, and intelligence, in order to deaden the outrage and mental agony that would normally be generated in the conscience, at the murder of a race. China is doing it today with it invasion of the internet and blocking of many websites. Many countries do it today with their intelligence agencies and classifications. The micro-empire of elitist greed ruling Nigeria sits comfortably upon any attempt to pass the Freedom of Information bill, which would have granted Nigerians access into the shady ways in which they are defrauded by this empire.
Empires desire to control of information flows from the fact that empire has realized the ancient fact that information is power. To this end, when an empire targets a victim, it mobilizes bias against this victim. This bias comes in every conceivable variety. The empire manufactures it, induces it, stockpiles it, funds it, sells shares in it, and justifies it to itself and to spectators. Mugabe and all those who mount a political resistance to the onslaught of empire are invaded and hanged for their troubles. The Northern Empire uses its intelligence agencies for its dirty jobs of tearing the reputations of their victims to shreds before giving them the political uppercut. These agencies dig for dirty manufacture and use the media to throw dirt at personalities that stand against their interests. It is only in this light that one can understand the media campaign being directed against Robert Mugabe at the moment.
Before America invaded Iraq, there was a media onslaught designed to soften public opinion and paint Sadaam Hussein as the deadliest virus since the discovery of Ebola. The CIA manufactured and cooked up non-existing falsehoods. The CIA Director saw the range of dirt he has as a slam-dunk that can nail even the Pope. That concoction did not convince anybody in Europe. America employed political arm-twisting, blackmail and threats to get Europe go to war in Iraq. But Europeans who have known the pain of Blitzkrieg and occupation never wanted to go that arrogant way again. They maintained their stand. The American and the British empires hastily convoked a coalition of willing stooges. That manoeuvre was a search for support and justification, to wage an unjust war against a country that neither attacked the US, nor had such plans or capability. The coalition was a patchwork of countries, economically arm-twisted into towing the line of manufactured and sanctioned by the powerful.
Empire uses its efficient military force to project and deliver brute force wherever it is needed to advance or protect its interests. It spends a substantial part of its budget to sustain that. Can one explain the fact that even in peacetime, over 90 percent of American budget goes for war?[i] This explains why every empire has had a very efficient military machine, some of which ended up ruling the empire. In Roman times, the imperators were military tacticians and field marshals who commanded troops in battle against foreign foes only to come home to usurp power. Julius Cesar was a perfect example of this. Alexander the Great equally followed this line. Napoleon Bonaparte is equally at home here. Do we talk about Ike Eisenhower, the allied supreme commander-turned-president of the United States, who told the world that in spite of the appearances to the contrary, that the American empire is being ruled by the military industrial complex? In climes where empire is compelled to be ruthlessly polite, deranged cowboys with military pretences are seated on the tribunes of power; handed the remote-control capable of turning the earth into the ashes of Mars, and bidden to further and defend the interests of empire.
No instrument is too sacred for empires leprous hands. Empire has even deployed religion to conquer people for economic gains of the metropole. And many imperial religionists are busy mourning or trying to find out the reasons for the decline of the sacred in industrial society[ii], whereas it is an open secret that religion lost its validity not only to the advance of progress, but to its scandalous dalliance with empire. This is the kind of scandal which gave credence to Karl Marxs assertion that religion remains the opium of the masses. Pizzaro scandalously connived with the Franciscans in his devastation, plunder, and brutal conquest of South America. The colonialist defined Africans as savages, whom its missionaries should bring to heaven, while their administrators would bring civilization. In Zimbabwe they took our land and gave us their bible, like Desmond Tutu rightly said. Even the Vatican towing the lines of empire had to outlaw the liberation theologian of Latin Americans, who were fighting the abysmal injustice obtainable in their clime.
Empire controls the sources of social legitimacy. It uses the classical reward and punishment mode for this. Anyone who dares challenge the prejudices and fabricated bigotries it manufactures and canonizes is considered an outlaw; and patronized out of existence with non-recognition. And anyone who furthers that in anyway gets a pat on the back and a Nobel Prize, even for his crimes. Chinua Achebe, the Nigeria writer and one of the literary giants of all times, exploded the myth peddled for long by empire, that Africa was an arena of savagery, without form or structure before the advent of the white-man. He did this by telling the story of his people that contradicted and scandalized imperial bias, with the truth of its assertions, which empire has struggled to bury and discredit for centuries without success. In spite of his literal greatness, the integrity of his prose, and the eternity of his influence on global perceptions, the Nobel Prize was not awarded him. He was an outlaw who dared to contradict imperial dogmas.
This man, whose works remain the epitome of finesse and intelligence; who illuminated the path for writers around the world seeking new words and forms for new realities and societies.” [iii]; this eagle on the tallest Iroko, whose unparalleled lucidity and self possession[iv] made his works one of the best, and one of the most translated works to come out of Africa, was not deemed worthy of the Nobel Prize. But a roll of Nobel Prize winners has names like Henry Kissinger, whose destruction of so many Asians and their once-charming real estate won him a (Nobel) prize for peace from the ironists of outer Europe. [v]
Empire creates its own constructs of meaning and interpretation to calm its conscience and justify its plunder of others. Since it is an oppressor, it can never construct a pedagogy of the oppressed, or a narrative of the wretched of the earth, as was the cultural experience of conquered peoples and regions of our globe. It only manufactures consent and creates institutions which validate its vision of reality as the only authentic vision. This was why the European imperial project invented the crude and primeval dogma which was peddled by the crème of European philosophers that the African has no soul and cannot think, let alone philosophize. This dogma was in currency and was equally peddled by Hegel even when an African, William Amo (Hegels contemporary), was teaching philosophy in the heartland of Europe. It was a philosophy designed to justify the imperial project and the slavery enterprise. They had to deny the African of his humanity in order to justify the crimes they are perpetrating on him.
Such philosophies abound in the annals of the imperial project. Anyone who finds himself outside the confines of this vision, or who dares show dissent or discontent is a dangerous rebel to be decisively excised with maximum violence and unemotional economy. Those who have factual and evidential basis to refute or question the version and vision of reality peddled by empire, risk the destruction of their reputation. They are dismissed as conspiracy theorists. This is to water-down their truths by casting doubts on their sanity and therefore integrity. And since empire holds the keys to social legitimacy, (since the owners of the media of communication are members of the empire, it moderates the accessibility to information and determines the opinions allowed admittance in public discourse.
Lynching Robert Mugabe
Does justice command the lynching of a crook? The Nazi cosmic criminals were not lynched. They were tried. Mr. Justice Jackson opening his prosecution of the Nazi criminals in Nurnberg, rightly contended that, that trial represents one of the greatest tributes that power ever paid to reason. Justice is the tribute of reason to man! The question then is: why would Britain encourage the lynching of Mugabe in Zimbabwe? Why would an independent country call for the destabilization of another independent country in this age of the United Nations? Britain condemned in strong terms Ahmadinejads call for the obliteration of Israel. But this same country is shamelessly calling for the overthrow of the government of another country.
For those Africans, whose memory has been raped, plundered, and re-engineered to hate themselves, and see themselves as eternally in the wrong; those suckled, weaned, and engrafted into imperialistic victimological blackmail; those whose conceptual scheme has been programmed to blame the victim for his predicament; those who have been psychologically tele-guided and tortured to accuse themselves wrongly of crimes committed against them; we can understand you. We all started cursing our gods for being so weak in their defence of our heritage, until we learnt that in the arena of power, the gods themselves are weak and non-existent, whenever we refuse to act in our defence!
A Britain, which rediscovered her imperial arrogance; her allies and hangers on are out to lynch Robert Mugabe. Those who think that Zimbabwe is the ultimate target are simply blind to the geostrategic posturings and the strategic calculus of empire. The dominoes are falling like they did in Southeast Asia decades ago. The ultimate target is the South African seaboard and the oil fields of Angola, which will soon overtake Nigeria as the largest oil producer in Africa. Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea are already in the net. A mixture of puppet governments in both countries and an American strike force stationed nearby in the Gulf of Guinea ensures the stability and security of those sources, in spite of the rude indiscretions of the Niger Delta militants.
The Niger Delta insurrection has in recent times attracted the military interests of empire. Britain and its Prime Minister Gordon Brown have promised its lackeys in Abuja military aid to enable them to deal effectively with the Niger Delta annoyance, which has seen oil prices fluctuate in the world market in recent times. It is a scorched earth policy of total conquest. Uganda and Kenya are partially re-conquered and in the clutch of imperial interests. Once the arable fields of Zimbabwe are re-conquered, by being weaned of the recalcitrance of a Mugabe and his henchmen, imperial sights will turn to Angola, which once a playground of imperial military tricks, will be pressurized to cave in to the control of capitalist interests. The next target will be South Africa. The intendments will be to recapture it for the whites. This is a very long term project. Zimbabwe happens to be a phase in that enterprise.
The treatment given to Mugabe now was the same case in Iraq. SaddamHussein was lynched and guillotined. Saddam may be a historical criminal. But he was not lynched because of his crimes; if it were so, his accessories and western accomplices like the CIA would have equally been docked. But he committed a crime of lording it over a State that has the second richest oil deposits in the world, at a time that America designated oil, as a strategic security issue; meaning that America could use force to protect or even kick out anyone who stood in the way of their access to this resource. This is summarized in what an American soldier stationed in Germany, who did a tour of duty in Iraq said to me: I dont give a fuck about those mother..F s, but what is our goddamn oil doing on their fucking soil?
To hang a dog, a bad name must be invented for it, where none is already in existence. To justify giving Saddam the sack, empire constructed dumb lies and falsehoods that Iraq is in possession of WMDs. Today Saddam is dead, and WMDS are yet to be found. Yet George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Tony Blair, and other engineers of that monumental crime of an unjust war perpetrated on the people of Iraq are not yet at the International Court of Justice, answering for their attack on a country that neither attacked the United States, nor showed signs of doing so. Since these guys are still walking in freedom, are we to go apologise to Hermann Goering, Himmler, Doenitz, Keitel and other Nazi war criminals for hanging them, for a crime similar in ontology? Remember the memorial words of Mr. Justice Jackson as he led the prosecution. These words are the raison detre for the existence of the international courts of justice.
In his opening speech as the lead prosecutor of the Nazi war criminals in Nuremberg. He said among others as follows: The common sense of mankind demands that law shall not stop with the punishment of petty crimes by little people. It must also reach men who possess themselves of great power and make deliberate and concerted use of it to set in motion evils which leave no home in the world untouched. But it seems that this law, under which the Nazi criminals were convicted and hanged, does not apply to the mighty and powerful criminals of our world today! Iraq will forever be a historical crime scene, where a bunch of plundering nations cooked up lame apologetics and wooden excuses to invade another country to rip it off of its resources. And the criminals got away with their crimes. And Zimbabwe happens to be another country being prepared for that kind of rape.
Britain was a rogue empire which gobbled up half the globe on behalf of her plundering majesty, the King or Queen, who knighted his pirates and sea robbers. That was the ancient method. Today, the new empire commissions economic hit-men and covert intelligence operations designed to sack, blackmail or manipulate governments into adopting imperial interests as its own. Institutions like IMF and World Bank have also been variously used for these hits. Any resistance offered by these governments are dealt with decisively, by generating artificial illusions of discontent, funding and financing insurrections, or recommending economic embargoes and sabotage to bring the target government on its knees. These cocktail of unfriendly actions forces it to either self-destruct or adopt and apply imperial blueprints to its local economy. We can ask Salvador Allende in Chile why he had to die. Or ask Augusto Pinochet who actually designed, funded and operationalized his bloody overthrow of the elected government of Chile under Allende. We can equally ask the American government and CIA. I think that they know better. This is the whole ontology of structural adjustments, military coups, and other kinds of violent government change in Africa and in the global south.
The real problem with Zimbabwe is not Mugabe. He is a part and not the whole of the problem. The major problem in Zimbabwe is this same overrunning of territories by empire. This unfortunately is the case in spite of what the embezzlers of truth and peddlers of cant would like us to believe. Some commentators weaned on Western intellectual diets negatively critiqued my submission as the narrative of victimhood. The unfunny joke here is that their enterprise in this regard is a revision of the victimhood narrative in a classical blame the victim default mode. John Milton, centuries back, saw what our response today would be, and noted that they, who have put out the peoples eyes, reproach them of their blindness. You kill someone and blame him for dying. Imperial colonialism built in a perpetual fault-line in Zimbabwes social evolutionary trajectory, and is now blaming a guy, who is exasperated at being made to wait for generations to see a fulfillment to their own terms of the contract, only to have the contract unilaterally thrown out with impunity by the stronger party, who feels that Zimbabwe is an imperial playground; choice real estate that nobody should tamper with, without being lynched.
Mugabe may be a crook. But are those accusing him innocent? Whoever must come to equity must come with clean hands. What is happening to Mugabe is exactly the same in ontology to what happened to the woman caught in adultery by prurient Jewish debauchees, and brought before Jesus the Christ for condemnation. A claimant to the godhead has powers to see beyond the ordinary if his claims are to be worth their salt. He looked at the minds of the hypocritical fools parading their non-existing holiness and saw sepulchral rottenness gravitated with mean-spirited mendacity. He knew immediately that these guys were customers of the woman in question. Adultery is not only an adults affair, it takes two to tango. He started writing out the names of the crooks in their order of seniority and freshness of their adultery with the woman. He delivered the pile-driver: He, who has not committed this crime, should cast the first stone. The story ended as the fools fled starting from the eldest. A roll call of those criticizing Mugabe, reads like a who-is-who in global political perfidy. It is criminally stupid to allow guilt to set the tunes of justice because only the innocent may condemn!
[i] Gore Vidal, The Decline and Fall of the American Empire, Berkeley California, Odonian Press,1992.
[ii] See: ACQUAVIVA, S.S. (SABINO S). The decline of the sacred in industrial society. Oxford (Eng.): Basil Blackwell, 1979
[iii] Elaine Showalter, cited in Njogu Ndungu, Literary icon fit for Nobel Prize award, http://eastandard.net/arts/InsidePage.php?id=1143988426&cid=291&j=2008&m=7&d=10&PHPSESSID=2d4025d920b60663bf01726d1ae891e1 accessed on the 14th of July, 2008
[iv] Cf. The Oxford Contemporary Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry (1994) on Achebes poetry
[v] Gore Vidal, The Decline and Fall of the American Empire, Berkeley California, Odonian Press,1992, p.41
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Slogan of Imperial Atrocity (part 5)
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For July 1st through August 31st 2011
#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane
#10 – Covenant: A Thriller by Brandon Massey
#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva by Ashley and JaQuavis
#12 – Don’t Ever Tell by Brandon Massey
#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide by Ntozake Shange
#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree
#15 – Homemade Loves by J. California Cooper
#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper
#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber
#18 – Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare
#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King
#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey
#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe
#22 Thug Matrimony by Wahida Clark
#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark
#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber
#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter
#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson
#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History by Ahati N. N. Toure
#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley
#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell
#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit by RM Johnson
#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins
#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell
#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard
#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris
#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice
#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields
#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class by Lisa B. Thompson
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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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posted 6 August 2008