now long extinct, seem to have earned themselves a special
place in the hearts and minds of white American folk. White America beholds them with a passion that
surpasses the enthusiasm they hold for animals, much less
humans of color that are still extant.
More than any other humans, White America has taken
it upon itself to scan remote corners of the globe seeking
to unearth the remains of this long vanished creature. It would seem that the sole purpose of this
curious exercise is to allow the race the exclusive pleasures
and joys of holding the beast in awe.
One cannot help but surmise that a Freudian infatuation
and identification with brute power and force
underlie what may seem to the rest of us an utterly pointless
having accustomed itself to centuries of brute dominance
over fellow humans of color, this ongoing white fascination
with morbid symbols of majesty and power becomes a means
of reinforcing self-identity, no matter how fossilized
the source of such symbols may be.
The same may be said about White America’s obsession
with the imagined power and brutality of extraterrestrials,
to the extent that a crazed segment among them will cheerfully
partake of lethal poison, hitch a ride on Haley’s Comet
with the hopes of forging a posthumous union with the
imagined beasts somewhere deep in the cosmic wilderness.
would also seem fruitless to condemn dinosaurs, whatever
the reason, simply because they are extinct.
Besides, the condemning of disappeared phenomena
will not likely aid in mending their ways.
Unless, of course, such condemnation was issued
with the express purpose of accruing benefits for posterity.
But it requires a special turn of mind to imagine
virtues that might obtain from condemning an extinct period
that bears no special relevance to the present human condition,
except deep in the psyche of White America.
It is in this light that George W. Bush’s trip
to Africa might be usefully viewed.
For in condemning slavery at Goree Island in Senegal,
George W. would in fact appear to be flogging a dead horse.
Because it is hoped that slavery is indeed dead.
But in contrast to condemning dinosaurs, the reproach
of slavery would be more meaningful if Mr. Bush had chosen
to deliver it in politically more pertinent contexts. Whereas dinosaurs have no known modern day
descendants that might benefit from condemning their beastly
forefathers, descendants of African slaves constitute
an inseparable part of the American landscape and narrative.
Thus the censure of slavery will only carry significance
if the real intent is to redress the balances and right
those cruel wrongs among a people still suffering the
inhumanity of that legacy of White America. Regardless, Mr. Bush’s stand on affirmative
action and his silence on reparations are too well known
for such concerns to enter into his political agenda.
and Blacks “noble” in death
on the evils and brutalities of slavery might be better
served if they were delivered closer to Mr. Bush’s birthplace,
where an entire community and a culture, to which he belongs,
and one that forms the backbone of his political support
and base, arose. It is a community of White Americans loosely referred to as rednecks
and one that subscribes to the ideology of White superiority,
constituting his core constituency and the rank and file
of the neocons. But Mr. Bush, the Supreme Chief of Rednecks,
hardly dares take that challenge, lest he be labeled a
“nigger lover”. On occasion, his kinsmen, with an uncommon
patriotic zeal, are known to derive sadistic pleasure
from lynching citizens of African descent and dragging
them to their death on the back of pickup trucks.
One might then be inclined to believe that while
there may be political and economic rewards in a hastily
arranged trip to Africa, a guided tour of American inner
cities for Mr. Bush, where African Americans and people
of color predominate, would be a more useful start.
Because therein are to be found in vivid color,
the enduring and wicked effects of the legacy of slavery. Having thus delivered his condemnation in such
relevant settings, with unequivocal denunciations of racism
– crude or subtle – and the initiation of unambiguous
federal programs of redress for the wrongs visited on
African Americans, only then might the first steps toward
healing begin to emerge.
Bush claims that slavery made White America value freedom.
This is perverted logic. Freedom being a natural human right, remained
a persistent yearning among the enslaved, for what must
have seemed to them in their state of bondage, an eternity.
To White America, freedom – even in its distorted
sense – was a given; to the enslaved it was hope
unrealized and a dream to aspire to. To assert that slavery taught White America
the virtues of freedom is to commit yet another Freudian
slip of unwittingly justifying this heinous crime: that
what constituted a natural human right should require
that Whites enslave Africans in order for Whites to learn
and appreciate the virtues of freedom.
But for whom one might ask?
We read of similar logic in the writings of Robert
M. Pirsig (Lila: An Inquiry into Morals): that
the Native American gave the world the idea that “all
men are created equal” and that the frontier culture and
freedom are native American-inspired.
That may well be.
But to so state arrogantly, and conveniently sidestep
the horrors that Native Americans suffered in what is
considered among history’s worst genocides and dispossessions
on a continental scale, is to assert that as a result,
White America appreciates the merits of freedom, justifiable
by such gruesome acts against fellow humans.
Quite the contrary, one would be inclined to reason
that it is the dispossessed more than the aggressor that
appreciate the true meaning of freedom, which continues
to elude them. If the aggressors, in this case White America,
are to even begin to comprehend it’s meaning, it will
require they embark on an arduous path of self-discovery,
one that will require abandoning their sense of superiority
with the racist lies that the public had been fed to justify
aggression against Iraq, Mr. Bush’s visits and his remarks
in Africa must therefore be seen for what they characterize:
more lies and deceit. It is from this perspective that the real intention
of his visit to Africa might be revealed. First, given Mr. Bush’s track record of blatant lies that were spun
to justify the criminal invasion of Iraq, the bona fide
rationale for this visit might be understood much less
from what issues from the mouth of the Supreme Commander
of Rednecks than from what he does not say. Since much of the fabricated facts behind justification
of the invasion of Iraq are now being retracted one at
a time, we suspect that the declared purpose of visiting
Africa will likewise become evident in time and not from
the daily briefings from the White House, which has now
become America’s undisputed reservoir of official lies. But be that as it may, it was not for nothing
that Mr. Nelson Mandela, that statesman of courage rarely
visible among African leaders today, confirms what we
already know about George: that he cannot think properly. True to form, Mr. Mandela had better things
to do than keeping company with a racist idiot. Mr. Mandela
promptly left town.
is doubtful that all African leaders, indeed Africans
in general, are unaware of the fact that the American
President, in his bid to garner and consolidate his conservative
constituency, one of his first acts was to deliver a campaign
speech to an institution, Jones University, where the
practice of social apartheid was very much in vogue. He could not have been oblivious of that fact and in delivering
a speech with no mention of such unconstitutional and
blatantly racist practices, the President became a willing
accomplice to the apartheid and confirmed his status as
a thoroughgoing racist himself.
It is not therefore unreasonable to suppose that
such racist postures issue from deep inside, manifesting
themselves in the now familiar supercilious disregard
for people of color. Africans themselves, having lived
under racist colonial yokes for decades, understand only
too well the nature of the beast they are confronting.
They are therefore unlikely to be convinced that
Mr. Bush’s heart all of a sudden has developed a soft
spot for Africans and is dying to help them.
Africans in the run up to the Iraq invasion had expressed
their displeasure along with the rest of the civilized
world, and were opposed to the invasion almost unanimously. Mr. Bush then paid no attention.
It is with these same people that he now is seeking
to promote what would obviously be a now familiar monologue.
It is also tempting to speculate that Mr. Bush’s
two favorite African Americans, Colin Powell and Condoleezza
Rice, needed to be rewarded for their unwavering support
of Mr. Bush’s criminal agenda in Iraq. But while these two minions, whose intelligence
quotients cannot be too far removed from that of their
boss, are keen to present their chief as a person with
empathy for people of color and that the visit to Africa
is intended to demonstrate that Mr. Bush was neither in
Iraq nor in Africa for oil.
Neither were honest Enron CEOs motivated by greed.
And Mr. Cheney did not label Mr. Mandela a terrorist
while assiduously condemning apartheid by his kindred
racists in South Africa. It should now be obvious that the two cronies
did not and could not insist that Mr. Bush first undertake
an internal tour of Black America, where they themselves
presumably came from. Meanwhile, they must be content to serve as
unprincipled quislings surrounded by opportunists and
racists alike in the persons of Cheney, Ashcroft, Defense
Secretary Rumsfeld and criminal power mongers like Paul
Wolfowitz and Richard Perle.
In the company of such distinguished con artists,
Ms. Rice and Mr. Powell will continue to discharge their
functions as errand boys and girls and no doubt with distinction,
Harry Belafonte’s characterizations of them notwithstanding.
many, the offer of some $15 billion to help fight AIDS
must seem like a godsend.
Maybe. But with little doubt most of the money will
be redirected to the coffers of American pharmaceutical
firms. Now, having destroyed a pharmaceutical factory
in one of the world’s poorest nations, the Sudan, and
killing an unknown number of civilians in the process,
the United States may not be in the mood to encourage
African countries, now reeling under the devastating effects
of globalization, to help nurture a pharmaceutical industry
that will enable African countries to produce anti AIDS
medications affordably. That would do little to placate the American
pharmaceutical corporations who have shown scant regard
for the millions of Africans that have already died and
continue dying of this scourge. And it is to corporations that Mr. Bush owes
his existence and hopes for recapturing the presidency
in the next elections.
That could well be one other compelling reason
for Mr. Bush’s desire to visit Africa: to do the bidding
of his corporate masters.
unexpectedly, Mr. Bush declared U.S. intentions to use
Africa as a base to launch his “war on terrorism.” In
his characteristic ignorance of world affairs, much less
those of Africa, the President needs to be reminded that
Africa itself has been reeling under racist terrors of
colonialism and imperialism.
In the days of anti-colonial struggles, such characterizations
of colonized Africa must have sounded bizarre to White
with its imperial brethren, the U.S. regarded colonization
as a divinely ordained phenomenon and a blessing calculated
to civilize “African savages” and reinvent Africans in
the image of their colonizers. That said, Mr. Bush studiously avoided visiting
the two nations hardest hit by terrorist operations: Tanzania
and Kenya. The
two countries suffered hundreds of casualties as a result
of terrorist bombings targeting United States embassies.
It did not escape the attention of the two countries
in the immediate aftermath of the attacks that racist
American rescue efforts were directed solely toward helping
their own kind. That
callous disregard for African lives was not lost on the
African public. Now pressure is being applied to these countries to legislate against
terrorism solely to protect American interests and such
legislation, if passed, amounts to yielding sovereignty
to American authorities and basically racist interests.
This, in addition to the fact that religious communities
that had co-existed for centuries are now being polarized
and their Muslim minorities hounded in defense of a racist
the shadow of a doubt, many African countries have been
censured repeatedly in the past for curtailing individual
freedoms in the name of national security.
Now that many of them have adopted more tolerant
political regimes with an independent press that would
be the envy of much of the American cheerleading brand
of journalism, they are being told to reverse these immense
gains. Now racist interests and pressures from the
US, where civil liberties for targeted populations have
almost ceased to exist in the name of the war against
terror, are about to reverse the hard-earned nascent democratic
institutions in some African countries.
also merits mention that Mr. Bush is reported to be in
agreement with Thabo Mbeki, the South African President,
over the questions of Liberia and Zimbabwe.
Be that as it may, many corrupt and tyrannical
regimes have fallen by the wayside, because Africans themselves
are changing the political landscape via the electoral
are no doubt capable of following suit.
But the real issue of who owns land in Zimbabwe
is being obscured by Mr. Bush, presumably coming under
the able tutelage of Mr. Tony Blair, both of whom are
descendants of the world’s most efficient land grabbers.
To date, however neither of the two leaders has
updated us as to how many farms in their countries
are owned by Black Zimbabweans. Their concerns cannot therefore go beyond racist
and kinship ones with little regard for the masses of
landless Africans in Zimbabwe and elsewhere.
It therefore becomes quite clear that Mr. Bush
must have other undeclared intentions behind this bizarre
the following quote from the South African newspaper The
Guardian, which likened the Bush administration to
prostitution, is an apt summary for this visit:
“Like the world’s oldest profession, the Republican
Administration of United States President George W. Bush
has interests rather than principles…it would be a mistake
to take Bush’s ‘compassionate agenda’ seriously.” The paper went on to say that Bush’s concerns
are “domestic security, the advancement of corporate America
and the securing of strategic assets, mainly oil.”
In conclusion, “Africa can exert some…influence
in bringing the world’s most destructive and rogue state
back into line.” Certainly true, but wishful thinking. In any event, such influence would hopefully dissuade Africans from
turning their own countries into agents of a rogue and
Kweli Nzito is an Assistant Professor and Scientist at
the University of Miami. His e-mail addres is [email protected].