Sunday, August 29, 2010

Homecoming in Windhoek: Zimbabwe, SADC and the African Millennium

Homecoming in Windhoek: Zim, Sadc and African Millennium

AFRICAN FOCUS By Tafataona P. Mahoso
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

Three important readers of this column called to say that I should explain the meaning of the profound facts and events which I enumerated in the last instalment: Beijing, Chiadzwa and the Insurrection of “Frontline States.”

The first series of profound events involved the President, Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe. The Rhodesian and Anglo-Saxon lobby inside and outside Zimbabwe had wished and predicted that the president, and indeed the country, would be rejected and humiliated at the Sadc Summit and the 30th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference (Sadcc), the predecessor to Sadc.

Instead, the summit first chose and asked President Mugabe as the one who could best articulate both the memory and the destiny of the region at the celebrations. Then they gave him a standing ovation at the end of his speech, which was to say he had spoken eloquently for all of them.

Africa had done the same at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa in 2002, at the World Food Summit in Rome (two times), at the UN General Assembly in 2002 and other times, and at the 15th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009.

What this means for Zimbabwe is that we must stand warned by Luke 4:24 which says: Zvirokwazvo, ndinoti kwamuri, hakuna muporofita anogamuchirwa munyika yake. No prophet is acceptable in his own hometown.

This is a warning. It does not mean that it is impossible for a prophet or genius to be accepted by his own people. It means that the tendency of too many is to take for granted, even to despise, betray and trash their own prophets and to realise only when it is too late that they squandered the gift of God and the ancestors to them.

At home there are too many who think only in terms of their individual jealousy and ambition to succeed or replace this prophet. So they have no time and no inclination to appreciate that this person is blessed and is a blessing to the society and the nation.

In Zimbabwe, cheap media have helped to mix up the mortal person of Robert Gabriel Mugabe with the values that his life, experience and leadership represent. The US empire feared and hated Chairman Mao of China as a threat to imperialism.

But it was foolish for them to think that once Mao and his generation passed on, the worst threat to Anglo-Saxon hegemony would be over. It is the current China, without the mortal Mao, the China which Mao founded, which will finish off the slave-built Anglo-Saxon empire of the last 400 years. That is how Zimbabwean patriots look at Mugabe and Chimugabe, Mugabe and Mugabeism.

African teaching is organised around the dariro, the relational circle, which treats time not as linear progression but as relational: Those you may think you left behind at the take-off point you will find holding the finishing line for you at the end of the adventure. And what you think is the end is in fact yet another beginning.

That is exactly what has happened to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara in relation to President Mugabe. The then leader of the MDC in 2000 said: “What we want to tell Mugabe today is: Please go peacefully; if you don’t go peacefully, we will remove you violently.” In African relational thinking it would make sense to ask MDC leaders then which “Mugabe” they were referring to.

But when they arrived at the front line of African leadership during the 30th anniversary of Sadcc and the celebrations of the Frontline States, it was the same Mugabe, in terms of guiding values and in person, who was holding the frontline and articulating both the Sadc agenda and the Pan-African agenda for the next millennium.

Mugabe is doing that and doing it with a miraculous passion precisely because he knows his mortal person cannot be there for a millennium. He is doing that because he knows he is part of Africa’s destiny and long memory.

Maimire Mennasmay in the 1970s published an article called “Political Theory, Political Science and African Development” where he questioned the arbitrary application of the Eurocentric definition of time and change to African society:

“If time is assumed to be independent of social practices, men (people) are reduced to being spectators engaged in an involuntary (and externally driven) movement which is unidirectional, objective and mechanical. By negating men (people) as historical subjects, their capacity to be free is simultaneously denied. In short, such a conception of time cannot recognise human beings as moral agents.”
Did MDC leaders in 2000 mean to remove Mugabe as a moral agent?

What would that involve? Mennasmay goes on:

“It is then impossible for the (linearly trained) political scientist to see the historical nature of what is called ‘development’ when he works within a (linear and Eurocentric) conception of time.”

The dicing of African relational time and memory was reflected in the following news stories:

Mugabe no longer relevant (Zimbabwe Independent, June 25 1999); Mugabe out by July 2001 (Daily News, February 21 2001).

The same technique was used in relation to the Sadc Summit, which was announced as follows: “Zuma takes aim at Mugabe” (Financial Gazette, July 29 2010); “Mugabe fails to remove Zim from Sadc agenda”, (Zimbabwe Independent, August 6 2010); “Zim remains stuck as failed state” (Financial Gazette, August 5 2010); and “Storm over Zim splits Sadc” (Zimbabwe Independent, July 30 2010).

When the opposite to what was predicted did happen, readers were given the following media rationalisations, still far from reality: Mugabe wins big at Sadc” (Standard, August 22 2010); Zim issue suspiciously removed from Sadc Summit debate” (Zimbabwe Independent, August 20 2010); “What next after tribunal suspended (at Sadc, at Zim’s insistence)?” (Standard, August 22 2010); and “Mugabe disciples dominate (Sadc) region” (Standard, August 22 2010).

To take just one of the stories: Which “Mugabe” is supposed to have “won big” at Sadc? Were they not Zimbabwe, Sadc and Africa which won?

Returning to Sunsleey Chamunorwa’s Financial Gazette article on November 26 2009, we notice the peculiar and arbitrary dicing and slicing of African memory through the manipulation of time as a series of Eurocentric windows of opportunity which the journalist can choose to open and shut at his convenience.

But relational time does not obey the arbitrary manipulation of linear windows. Indigenous memory cannot be cut off, shut out or shut in using mechanical time windows.

Here is the conclusion to Chamunorwa’s article.

“And the perverted logic, that the condemnation of any wrongdoing by war veterans should be responded to by reminding all and sundry of their liberation war credentials, is a tragic mindset informed by the failure to acknowledge two salient facts: First, that Zimbabwe cannot be frozen at the point of liberation.

“And second, that the epoch-defining (1970s) war of liberation belongs to the past and cannot be a rallying point for the future.”

Yet it is this linear thinking which the Sadc Summit in Windhoek in August 2010 proved wrong.

It is important to look at this Financial Gazette passage as a piece of linear discourse on African development, using the Second and Third Chimurenga as examples.

The writer is projecting on the war veterans the very same error which he himself is committing: The war veterans as a social group have not frozen anything. They are trying to continue to make sense of their lives in a country which has been subjected to what Naomi Klein calls mass shock in reference to neoliberal disaster capitalism and what Debravka Ugresic called terror by forgetting in relation to Yugoslavia.

But it is the writer himself and his generation who wish to freeze the African liberation movement of the late 1960s and 1970s by placing linear windows between that era and now, which time windows he believes will render the war veterans irrelevant now.

The writer also makes the deliberate and self-justifying error of sealing the liberation movement and the war veterans into one stereotype, again, in order to render them irrelevant today. The stereotype is that war veterans are people, even the only people, who use their past success and past virtues to condone their present failures, excesses and sins. Yet it is obvious that these are tendencies which can be found in any group, any family or organisation.

Such faults cannot apply to every war veteran and to the entire movement. President Mugabe and Sadc have proven the contrary. And the fact that such faults are found in some war veterans, just as they can be found in some churches, cannot render the entire liberation movement irrelevant.

What matters for the reconstruction of African memory is that the freedom fighters succeeded in re-membering the dismembered African memory and re-mobilising a nation which the settlers believed they had permanently fragmented and frozen into so-called Tribal Trust Lands and Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.

Chamunorwa contradicted himself. The Zimbabwe crisis he tried to deal with has arisen precisely because the war veterans refused to be frozen at the point of independence. The crisis has arisen because starting in 1992 the war veterans joined hands with the peasants to move on to their lands which were stolen and monopolised for 100 years by white settlers.

The mass shock of sanctions and the terror by forgetting arising from the accompanying propaganda onslaught were mounted against Zimbabwe beginning in 1997 precisely because the war veterans had succeeded in transforming the First Chimurenga into the Second Chimurenga and they were now transforming the Second Chimurenga into a new Chimugabe or Third Chimurenga.

So Chamunorwa is all worked up, not because African experience has been frozen at the point of the 1970s but because Chimugabe is now a legitimate movement of the 21st century and it is rooted in the First Chimurenga and Second Chimurenga. The 30th anniversary of Sadcc in Windhoek demonstrated that reality.

The second profound detail had to do with proof that the prophecy in Deuteronomy 28 is not only about the future of Zimbabwe and Africa; it has already happened. It is Zimbabwe and Africa who have given loans to Anglo-Saxon nations and what they have received back as “aid” is just relief (chema ne nyaradzo).

As I write, there is a huge scholarship fund left behind by Sir Charles George Smith based on wealth he accumulated from Africans based on the racist apartheid system. Up to now it has been reserved for white Anglo-Saxon girls of English and Dutch descent only, although it is based in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

And the current poverty of our African thinking is reflected in the fact that there has just emerged a huge controversy in South Africa, limited to whether or not the piece of paper called Sir Charles George Smith’s “will” can or should be tinkered with in order to accommodate some African and other girls as tokens to cleanse the image of Sir Charles George Smith as a white racist plunderer of African resources.

This is in the same vein as Cecil John Rhodes’ will of 1999 which was mentioned in the last instalment.

What it means is that it is the stolen resources of South Africa and Zimbabwe, especially gold and diamonds, which have been used to educate and train the ruling white male elites of Britain, North America and white South Africa at the following rates, for example:
--15 per year from Natal and Cape;
--96 per year from the USA, at two per state (when they were 48 states);
--Nine per year from Rhodesia; and many more from the British Isles.
These white males were educated at Oxford University at Southern Africa’s expense. By 1983, more than 2 035 white male elites from the USA had been so educated at Oxford at Africa’s expense. Africans were excluded, just as they are still excluded from Sir Charles George Smith’s scholarships in Kwa-Zulu Natal to this day.

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