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
exercise. Thus, 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
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 and invincibility.
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 America.
Along 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 agenda.
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 ballot.
Zimbabweans 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 visit.
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 racist
Kweli Nzito is an Assistant Professor and Scientist at the University
of Miami. His e-mail addres is [email protected].