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 LAVERY, COLONIALISM, WORLD CUP: AN AFRICAN REFLECTION

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Nombre de messages : 8069
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Date d'inscription : 28/05/2005

29062006
MessageLAVERY, COLONIALISM, WORLD CUP: AN AFRICAN REFLECTION

LAVERY, COLONIALISM, WORLD CUP: AN AFRICAN REFLECTION

By Bill Saidi

HARARE - FIVE hours without electricity can turn you into a cranky old man – if you had never lived in an environment where there was never any electricity to speak of, such as in the village during colonialism.

You can start developing a homicidal mania, or a mania for destruction. In a small way, it makes you feel like breaking something: someone’s head, their car, their house or their office furniture.

The period of darkness can also induce in you a time for deep reflection on your country. There was a time, you will remember, when you never had to worry about electricity – because it was always there.

If you are old, you can trace this period to colonialism, when the paternalism of the colonialist ensured that you had everything. I lived during that period, when they paid your rent in the township, paid for your water, paid for everything.

It meant, in reality, that your pay was peanuts. You hated the paternalism and you hated the peanuts pay. Which was one reason why, when someone pointed out to you this was not a dignified way to live, you agreed with them and then joined them in condemning colonialism and destroying it.

I was born during colonialism, but before slavery, of which I have no personal memories.
President Robert Mugabe was born in 1924, a year after the British government decided to grant “self-government” to the clique set up by the British South Africa Company which had “occupied” most of what was then Southern Rhodesia after 1890.

You could say then that his gripe against colonialism was probably deeper than mine. You would be wrong. I felt just as hard done by as he was.

Mugabe must also have only the vaguest memories of African slavery. Both of us, though, can relate to a recent visit to The Gambia, by an Englishman who desired to make a public apology to the Africans for his ancestors’ role in the slave trade in Africa.

Most Africans have always tried to understand why their continent was chosen, first for slavery, and then for the Scramble for Africa, during which the Europeans sat around a table and decided who would “own” which piece of Africa – as if there were no people who owned the continent.

For most of us, the answer is quite simple: these people were greedy, corrupt, bloodthirsty and cruel. They would kill human beings for no other reason than that they resisted their campaign to conquer their countries.

So, is it any wonder that, eventually, the Africans fought against the colonialists, killed some of them and reclaimed their birthright?
Today, most of the people of the piece of land previously pilloried as The Dark Continent are free and relatively enlightened.

What must cause many of them constant headaches is the nagging suspicion that this freedom they enjoy is not total. It may not be as horrible as the atrocious conditions they endured under colonialism. It may not rival the persecution they suffered in the slave trade, as so graphically portrayed in the film Roots.

To put it very mildly, most of them could conclude they were sold a bum steer, as the saying goes. Or someone conned them, tricked them, sold them fool’s gold or fake diamonds.

In other words, the whole package that resulted from their struggle for independence was phony, counterfeit, a sham, full of useless newspaper cuttings, and not the sparkling emeralds they had been promised.

Obviously, this is an exaggeration. There are nuggets of success here and there. In Zimbabwe, not even the most rabid critic of the corrupt, greedy institution that is Zanu PF could fault the government’s success in the sphere of education.

Yet there are so many causes for people to gripe that for most of them any reference to the crudities and cruelties of colonialism and slavery are utterly absurd.

To anyone subjected to the brutality and savagery of Murambatsvina, the reality of independence becomes obscure, a hazy, indistinct mirage, as unattainable as Nirvana.

For the journalist, the persecution of the fraternity is as intense and indiscriminate as it was during colonial times.

Among colleagues I know to have died as a consequence of their disenchantment with their governments’ treatment of their profession are Willie Musarurwa in Zimbabwe and Kelvin Mlenga in Zambia.

I joined them at The African Daily News in 1957. Others there at the time – and still alive today – are Nathan Shamuarira and Lawrence Vambe.

Richard Chikosi, who had gone into public relations by the time I returned to Zimbabwe in 1980, died a few years later. Harvey Mlanga, who had also worked for African Newspapers, publishers of other newspapers, apart from The African Daily News, died in Malawi, a disappointed man.

Many others all over the continent, men and women who had supported with the pen the struggle against colonialism that others had waged with the gun died, their hearts filled with the bitterness of not seeing the dream of independence realized during their lifetime.
Most African leaders today have a clear vision of why independence on the continent has not brought the fruits of true nationhood that the people were promised. There is greed and corruption among the leaders.

Their antidote for this feeling of guilt is to blame it all on the West. Their argument is: the West never really bought into the independence of their former colonies. They too are obsessed with greed, for they still covet the natural resources they so freely exploited when they “owned” the colonies.

They will do anything and everything to ensure that the new African owners do not reap the same rich benefits from their natural resources that the colonialists did.

Do they want to recolonize the African countries? In Zimbabwe, the answer is a resounding YES.

What is the truth? It’s in the darkness of a small room in Glen Norah or Glenview: There is no power; the family cannot afford firewood or candles – inflation is now nearly 2 000 percent. They have to wait for four hours before they can start doing anything at all. They can’t even watch the World Cup match scheduled for live screening that evening.

The previous night, when the power was available, they watched Ghana qualify for the last 16. It was an unbelievable achievement for Africa – among the l6 best football nations in the world, for the first time in the history of the World Cup.

Zimbabwe had failed to make it to the World Cup. This was punishment from God, one of the children said. The parents could not believe such words coming from the mouth of a six-year-old.
In response to their furious stares at him, the tyke said: “That’s what our Sunday schoolteacher said.”

In the bigger world, the world of adults, Zimbabweans continue to ask themselves if their country is truly cursed, and if the curse is from God or from the men and women who fought in the so-called First Chimurenga.

Is it conceivable that Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi, wherever they are today, are so livid with the present leadership they too have joined the rest of the population in praying, in their own peculiar way, for the end of the regime?

They too, even without having experienced the magic of electricity in their lifetime, somehow know that its constant absence in Zimbabwe is caused by a leadership so wrapped up in its own importance the welfare of ordinary is not a priority.

Apparently, they too now appreciate why this disregard for the people is worse than the colonialists’.

Meanwhile, to the Zanu PF slogan Zimbabwe Will Never Be A Colony Again, someone has replaced Colony with Country.


http://www.zimbabwejournalists.com/story.php?art_id=578&cat=4

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