1. Empires and Lynching
Empires have always lynched dissidents. They have always murdered those who could not swallow their discontent, or let empire get away with the strangulating and toxic impact of its debaucheries. They have always bludgeoned those who refused to be intimidated by imperial impunities; and buried those who challenged their monumental indiscretions. They have forever banished and brazenly barbecued their opponents out of existence, with all the medieval cruelty, and inquisitorial wickedness in their arsenals.
Empire has always crucified those who offered any resistance to its impious excesses, or those who couldn't bear imperial jackboots patiently. Jesus, the opinionated, itinerant preacher from Galilee; who rattled a rotten and hypocritical establishment, was handed over to the apparatus of the Roman state; to be hung by Pontius Pilate-a servant of empire-; who allowed himself to be played into a cul de sac, where he must prove that he is a friend of the emperor by sanctioning the lynching of an innocent man, or risk losing his seat. Equally, in empire's unholy name, John the baptiser had to lose his head to the daughter of an adulteress. JFK was not murdered by Lee Harvey Oswald. Contrary to the cant hawked about; empire murdered him execution style, when he became a threat to entrenched imperial interests, politics of narrow insularity and corporate profit, represented by those who rule and run America for their gain. Martin Luther King, Jr., had to die, execution style when empire, like the Pharaonic Egypt of yore, realised that it runs the risk of losing its bonded Black, slave labour. China crushed dissidents to its tyranny with an iron fist in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Any challenge to empire or imperial interests is construed as treasonable felony, and dealt with decisively. To that end, empire has, and will always pillory and rise to crush those who prick its conscience; attempt to expose its hypocrisy; ask for a moratorium on its rapacious plunder, solicit the lifting of imperial jackboots off their necks; or demands that empire gets its fangs off the bleeding flesh of its victims. This noble vocation of calling for an end to imperial injustice is construed by empire as a threat to its existence. It is a noble vocation because disobedience to tyranny is obedience to God. This is the nobility in the sacrifices of a Nelson Mandela. But it rattles empire into convoking the medieval brutality of its might in slaying and making all peaceful evolution impossible.
All empires are polite tyrannies. And since tyrannies are never philanthropies, empires are resolutely ruthless. Absolute power is its end. That explains why it is always a construct of greed driven by a culture of fear. Fear is the software which runs every empire. Empire generates fear as well as it ingests fear. Ask Americans what they are doing owning guns! Empire entertains this perennial fear that the victims of its injustice will one day rise and demand redress; fear that its prisoners will break the chains of their slavery; fear and the knowledge of the fact that whenever the victims are allowed to unite in their quest and demand for justice, that collapse remains the only logical alternative for a construct erected on injustice as its fundament. To this end, empire will forever reinforce this culture of fear. It must create new monsters of fear to whip its domestic populace in line, crush any pocket of opposition with ruthless impunity, and gain their timid approval for its plunder of others. Whenever these fears threaten to expire, or is neutralized by whatever new realisation that critical thinking uncovers, it must be reinvented or repackaged, to keep its enterprise of exploitation and indentured slavery running. Where there are no raw materials for the creation of new vectors of fear, empire plumbs primitive reservoirs of angst harboured in the collective unconscious. It goes on to mismanage these primeval illusions, like the congenital fear of the stranger, in order to hew out a new incarnation of fear. America posited these classical symptoms of every empire on the rise, in the course of her rise to empire. The first carrier of this fear was communism. Today, it is terrorism. The primeval illusion it has for centuries mismanaged is the fear of the Black man. Always, a face is created for this fear. During the Cold War, it wore a Russian face. Today, its face is Arab. Domestically, this face is Black, male! Watch any news report of a homicide scene in America TV. The suspect is always identified as a "Black male".
Empire has always done these and worse!
But the most notorious hurdle challenging comprehension is why the oppressed have always raised traitors from within, who collaborate in their oppression and evisceration. Empire is smart! To effectively disembowel its victim, it conscripts collaborators from among those that it is decimating at each point in time. The Nazis raised some Sonderkommandos from among its Jewish victims; some of whom became even more efficient in disposing of the evidence of the crime, than the Nazis would have ever wished. The Vichy government collaborated with the Nazi occupation forces as it plundered Paris. These are some tiny part of an inexhaustible collection of historical instances in this regard. The reasons why in utter disregard of history, imperial victims have always abandoned themselves to be co-opted into helping empires officiate at the human sacrifice and inquisitorial barbecue of their brothers or fellow victims will forever remain a mystery.
That empires must simultaneously generate and quash discontent is a part of its blood-curdling ontology. But that the oppressed always allow themselves to be seduced into self-immolation, to appease imperial designs, is an engineered stupidity that must be challenged at all fronts. Empire has really fucked with the heads and minds of the oppressed. Frantz Fanon captured this rightly when he wrote that if suppressed fury fails to find an outlet, it goes in to devastate the oppressed themselves. Instead of the oppressed rising against their chains, and those who hold them in bondage, they scamper in timidity and feed on their fellow inmates of this vale of tears. They rise against those who share the same estates and scars of oppression alongside them. They collude and conspire in their exploitation.
That is the tragedy of timidity, which empire exploits to its advantage. That is the real chain holding the oppressed to the pillars of eternal slavery. Bob Marley was right. Whatever happens to a man happens to him in the mind. And for us to be really free, we must emancipate ourselves from mental slavery. Our critique of history and memory is in obedience to this charge of the reggae prophet. Every bondsman in his hands lies the keys to cancel his captivity writes Shakespeare some centuries ago. But how can a prisoner of Plato's cave know that what he beholds as reality are illusions. How can Africans liberate themselves from this kind of conceptual colonialism and mental slavery, when many of them are not even aware that they are peddling borrowed and manufactured stereotypes as the truths about themselves and goings on in their continent? How can they see clearly when many of them are wearing imperially designed goggles, which gives them no other visual ability except seeing and appraising reality from Eurocentric spectral prisms?
African self determination is non-negotiable, if we are to develop this continent. Africa must be able to drive her destiny. But Africans according to Chinweizu have been miseducated unto self-destruction. We have been diametrically miseducated unto mutilating a perfect right foot, because imperial brainwashing enterprise has succeeded in emblazoning on our minds like with red hot iron, that our right foot is evil. That is why what the hawks of an expired imperialism are propounding and peddling about Zimbabwe today, cannot be accepted on the score of ethics and manners. And this is why Robert Mugabe will be our scaffold for critiquing history and memory of the relationship between what Chinweizu aptly phrased as the west, and the rest of us, in its contemporary manifestations in Africa in general and Zimbabwe in particular. It is directed at those brainwashed Africans, who have bought into the imperial rhetoric of blaming the victim, and who are conveniently blind to the subterranean dynamics at work in Zimbabwe; and who are seduced by the western manufacture of opinion and consent into seeing a personality as the problem with Zimbabwe, instead of a whole construct of anomie, which has deep roots in the legacies of Africa's imperial past; the leadership that came out of that toxic ambience, and the present global power matrix and configurations.
Ours is not, and will never be an exoneration of Mugabe as a part of the problem. Mugabe is only a PART of the problem. That is why the removal of Mugabe actively pursued by the West will never yield the result of lifting Zimbabwe out of the doldrums. Rather, it will pave the way for a further evisceration of that land in subservience to Western interests, which has never augured well for Africa, since history and memory could recall. That the western media is canvassing a collective amnesia about the central issues at stake in Zimbabwe and are ready to embezzle facts pursuant to that project, is not surprising. But that many Africans will prostitute themselves out as mouthpieces of suspect opinions with imperial ends irks reason and batters rationality. This attitude in honour of ignorance cannot but invite the indignation and resistance of all whose vocation is knowledge and freedom.
2.Essays of Oppressions and Narrative of Hypocrisy!
Our first essay titled "The Real Trouble with Zimbabwe", and the sequel to that titled "The Lynching of Robert Mugabe', part 1", which informed this rejoinder, triggered off an unprecedented controversy that dwarfed our wildest imagination. The fallouts deluged our concern with their urgency and depth. The reactions to the said articles not only attracted a broad spectrum of theories, it created an essential arena for the ventilation of much closet rhetoric and undeodorized bigotry. This bordered not only on the cacophony of the submissions, but also the insistence of some of the issues raised; the reductive arguments marshalled by some brainwashed intellectuals, who like the prisoners in Plato's cave refused to rise above the dim luminescence of their ideological caves, to confront reality on its own terms, without the aid of borrowed or prefabricated conceptual goggles; as well as the grey areas that needed to be ironed out to aid a fuller appreciation of what the true narrative is, in and about Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe, that signature tune of many a freedom fighter was under a violent assault. This was marshalled by an armada of concentrated hypocrisy; led by Britain and supported by her 'almighty' ally in iniquity- George Bush's white House-, as well as the EU. Zimbabwe in whose memory, the great Bob Marley sang one of his most inspirational tribute to freedom was still in the chains of anomie, decades after the political independence granted it by the UK; which was only possible with an inbuilt economic emasculation of its black population; who are condemned to perpetually plead for justice.
Those essays not only gave us the podium to air our disgust at the lynching of the powerless by the powerful, or the enthronement of might into right; it equally allowed us a privileged admittance into the rotten core of the intellectual slavery and conceptual bondage, imprisoning so many African intellectuals in frozen fatalism and fossilized inferiority complex. We encountered and were jolted by the fact that the conceptual colonization and mis-education of the continent has been total and more far reaching than we ever thought. The African mind as made manifest in many of her elites and intellectuals has been etched with the worst form of self-loathing and inferiority complex that defies every canon of reason and decency. We equally met the enfeebled resistance of a few Africans who have escaped the dark grottos of this Plato's cave of superlative illusion. We witnessed first hand how unsuccessful and arduous their battle to reflect and show the majority, the exact colour of their chains. Years after 'The Stolen Legacy'; years after 'The West and the Rest of Us'; years after 'How Europe underdeveloped Africa; and years of Noam Chomsky's unveiling of the subtle face of imperialism; many educated Africans are still slaves to the manufactured illusions and conceptual schemes they carry about as truths. This means that Chinweizu's efforts in calling for the decolonization of African literature, and life, has not even scratched the surface of the problem. The prisoners he essayed to liberate have been genetically re-engineered or irreversibly brainwashed into the belief that their prison cell is the only universe that there is. And they carry and transmit this as a dogma, which attracts inquisitorial cruelties whenever questioned or challenged.
Amongst those reactions were some well meaning, but ideologically compromised authorities, who applauded our vision but urged that we employ new narratives in our enterprise of locating the African predicament and proffering solutions to them. Years of battling the same attitudinal propensity that has taken root in the African intellectual, may have blunted their axes or may have wounded and scarred their resolve. Their scars now command circumspection. And they prescribe that emasculated attitude as the only way to go since the dogs they tried to liberate genetically mutated and configured themselves to see their liberators as fair game.
For these guys, we confess our inability to dance to these drums of fear. We were out to enter an opinion on an ultra controversial issue, not to create a narrative. It was an essay and not a system of thought. And essays, like Aldous Huxley; the virtuoso of letters rightly articulated, remains a device for saying almost everything about anything. But essays are short pieces and it is impossible to give all things full play within the limits of a single essay. This is because essays belong to a literary species whose extreme variability can be studied most effectively within a three-poled frame of reference. There is the pole of the personal, and the autobiographical; there is the pole of the objective, the factual, and the concrete-particular and there is the pole of the abstract universal. And according to Huxley, most essayists are at home and at their best in the neighbourhood of only one of the essay's three poles, or at most only in the neighbourhood of two of them. This inheres in the fact that there are the predominantly personal essayists, who write fragments of reflective autobiography and who look at the world through the keyhole of anecdote and description. There are the predominantly objective essayists who do not speak directly of themselves but turn their attention outward to some literary or scientific or political theme. Their art consist in setting forth, passing judgement upon, and drawing general conclusions from, the relevant data.1
Some other tenants and inmates of this chimerical cave accused our efforts of being a misrepresentation of the illusions they carry about as truth. These unconscious proselytes of a false epistemology showed themselves incapable of comprehending that truth is greater than the sum total of their diseased illusions and engineered perceptions. Truth remains what it is, quite oblivious of perceptions. Some of the prisoners in this gilded cage called for our heads and essayed to forbid us from airing our opinions. The sanctity of fundamental freedoms has never been a deterrence to fanatics and fundamentalists, who lay claims to a monopoly of wisdom. Anyone who proves impervious or allergic to their narrow insularity, or dares disagree with them is a ripe candidate for decapitation. They use their freedom of free speech to canvass the muzzling of other people's right to free speech. Some others in the same club called us spastic, unbelievably stupid and so many other unprintable metaphors. We could shoulder that. This is because in spite of all their name-callings, they never called us liars. This is because the facts we tendered towered incontrovertibly above their perceptual inertia.
Zimbabwe has now assumed the role of a mountain of decision. African renaissance must either start after this battle, or will be once more postponed to our eternal discomfiture. Every renaissance starts with a saturation of the intellectual landscape with the awareness of the need to convoke an exodus from a dysfunctional history of regress. The internet is helping propel this discourse and awareness in our day because the establishment media would not. All that is needed is the sustenance of the momentum and tempo of this awareness; and constructively channelling it to irrigate our perceptual universe, and possibly lead to positive action.
Our contribution to this discourse is an essay on the hypocrisies of might. It is a critical rebellion against the manufactured opinions imposed as facts on an unsuspecting world, using the vehicles of the Western press; whose suffocating prejudice in relation to everything African is really convulsively ugly as it is repulsive. The first part of our contribution examined an insistent dialectic of hypocrisy, which has bedevilled every attempt to sift through, or wade across the fundamental issues raised by Zimbabwe. As a narrative fashioned in the fiery furnaces of oppression, we can understand the fusillade of reactions trailing this topic, most especially from the neo-liberal feudal establishment in whose interest it is to maintain this citadel and rhetoric of oppression, aimed at re-enthroning it in Zimbabwe. Although we welcome their dissatisfaction with out stand, we fear that we are going to fall victim to the avaricious anger of those whose lives depend on injustice, and the pain of others to thrive. Martyrdom is the destination of those who confront imperial arrogance with the shields of justice and conviction. But truth remains its own recompense. That is the only inspiration for bearing witness even in perilous times.
Our essay argues that for Africa to defeat colonial and imperial incursions into her body-politic, and be able to drive her destiny to the advantage of her peoples, foreign intervention in African affairs must be at our invitation and terms. The local collaborators to the imperial machine must be recognized and neutralized. This is the only way to gain that kind of true independence which respects the will of the people and never the will of the local collaborators of outside powers. This is to say that many Africans need a conceptual decolonization for them to see both imperial perfidy and domestic kleptocracy for what they are; namely two sides of the same coin.
Mugabe may have tyrannical persuasions. Which politician doesn't? He may be a political crook. That is an allegation. But these can never be a justification for Britain to attempt to re-colonize Zimbabwe through the backdoor. Mugabe's fate must be decided by the people of Zimbabwe, and not by Britain or her allies. We are fighting for the principle and right of a nation to take care of its destiny and internal affairs without let and intimidation from an imperial ogre. No African country has ever intervened in the political process of any European country. Why would European countries keep on intervening in the political process in Africa? Our critique of western hypocrisy is not because Mugabe is a saint, but because of the necessity of standing with justice and defending a principle, even using if a man accused as a useless tyrant happens by as the vehicle for our convictions. Justice should not be at the whims of the powerful.
Ours is designed to generate a debate on the way forward for Africa. We have many Mugabes scattered across Africa. We equally have many other imperial puppets that value their greed and subservient puppetry roles, more than they care for the welfare and the posterity of their people. But the West does not target these, simply because they are implementing a western designed blueprint. Were they to err in doing that, Mugabe's fate will befall them. To this end, my argument cannot be misconstrued as an exoneration of African leadership of blame in the crises manacling the continent. I have done that to a very great extent. My work: African Poverty as a failure of leadership" http://www.dawodu.com/ ogbunwezeh3.htm, took care of that. The point at stake here is African self determination; the need for Africans to chase away the hawk, before settling down to ask the chick, why it frolicked at the playgrounds of predators. And that is a duty we must discharge. Our charity must begin here at home.
This piece comes with a Caveat! It is written with those, who approach the temple of facts with an open mind; who love the intercourse with ideas without the condoms of bigotry intruding, clouding and frustrating the fructification of their minds, consequent on that intimate conjugation. It is not meant for those who confuse and deceive themselves into supposing that thinking consists only in rearranging their prejudices, or advertising their bigotries; and invoking every contrivance in bending facts to suit their opinions. It is equally not meant for those in whom facts are not sacred; and who would never to listen and understand other view points other than the solipsistic insularities echoing from the Black holes they harbour as minds. Whatever goes into these minds, like in black holes is forever lost. It is also not for those who are narcissistic in their love of their own voices and echoes of same. For every other seeker after the truth, it is a dialogue. Let it begin!
3.Witnessing in Perilous Times
The whole world has been bombarded with false and manufactured facts about Mugabe being the problem with Zimbabwe. Today Mugabe has been portrayed as a megalomanic tyrant in the mould of a Hitler. This may all have many elements of truth to them. Mugabe may not be a saint. He may be crude, and he may have committed crimes against his own people. If Mugabe is on the dock for his crimes, we would then support his having his day before the tribunes of justice. But what we can never lend our names to is the manipulation of information and opinion, in order to nail a notorious bad guy, who is fortunately innocent of the charges being labelled against him. A thief who stole my car on tuesday cannot be in justice be brought to trial for killing my wife who died of cancer on Friday because of my chain smoking, simply because I have not forgiven him of that theft and have been seeking an opportunity to give him a bad name in order to hang him, to appease my burning sense of revenge and vendetta. Whenever such false syllogisms are licensed, we all should then bid farewell to justice. And when justice is crushed, peace will continue to elude us.
Ours is not an apologia for Mugabe. Mugabe has led Zimbabwe for donkey years, perhaps, without anything to show for it. He deserves the greatest rebuke for his failures. But that does not empower the advocacy for invasion being peddled by the British government and media. Ours is an apologia for truth, justice and decency. It is a stand against sanctimonious hypocrisy engineered by principalities and powers of amoral politics and corporate greed. Mugabe and others fought for the independence of Zimbabwe against those same forces of western greed that are today demanding for his head on a plate.
In perilous times such as this, bearing witness against the onslaught of empire is the equivalent of placing one's head on the chopping block and inviting the executioner to take the bestial pleasure of severing you from your member. It is akin to giving up one's reputation for crucifixion in between a crowd of buccaneers and a mass of fence-sitters. In this interface, there is no hope of salvation. Crucifixion in between two such camps is like Dante's Inferno. All you really need to do is to abandon hope once you enter there. Your salvation expired before you did. None of both crowds can save you. The buccaneers are agents and privies of the powers that desire to do you in. The crowds are the chameleons on the periphery of indecision. They are competent opportunists ever ready to sail wherever the wind blows. Crowds since time began have connoted those who left their brains at home to dance to the whims and capricious contrivances of the few, who could manipulate and brainwash them at will. The crowds could scream 'Hossanna filio David' -Hossanna to the son of David!!!-on a Sunday morning, and on the evening of a Friday called 'Good'; five days later, be re-engineered to scream 'crucifigium eum'-crucify him.!!! Reposing your salvation on such a camp is foolery. Machiavelli recognized this when he contemplated the difficulty of instituting change in a society. For Machiavelli, anyone who embarks on instituting change would immediately have enemies in those who profit from the status quo. The status quo feeds their obscene privileges. And their lives are tied to these estates of obscenity. To give it up is to give up their lives. Like Shylock of old in his allocutus, told the learned Judge 'Portia' as judgement fell on his corrosive desire for vengeance: "you take away my life, when you take away the means by which I live". And that they can never abide. To this end, they are natural opponents of change. Any allowance or assumption of the obverse stance is an invitation to self-destruction or suicide. Machiavelli equally saw the masses one is fighting for as the most unhelpful of all factors. They care no less whether the revolution succeeds or not. They have been at the receiving end. And they have seen conquerors and messiahs come and go with promises and hopes of a better life raised and dashed repeatedly as to become congenital pessimists. So these camps are no help to a guy who desires to bear witness to his convictions.
But should these insurmountable factors deter our resolve in speaking our convictions? No is the answer. The only requirement for evil to triumph is for good men to keep silent in timidity. This conspiracy of silence has forever empowered impunity. It has spawned atrocities and has legitimized horrors and abominations. Our lives will be a monumental disgrace to whoever gave us the privilege of life, if we are to keep silent and allow the armada of injustice ride roughshod on the heads of the weak because it can. Besides, Wole Soyinka is forever right. The man dies in him who keeps silent in the face of tyranny!
Modern empire is a transnational incarnation of predatory capitalism and neo-liberal feudalism preached in modern times by the Chicago school of economics. It is an exclusive club of power. It remains a faceless and amorphous cabal of power peddlers, influence traders, war mongers, and economic hit-men, hiding under layers and layers of institutions, conceptual schemes, political lobbies, corporations and schools. It is a secret society of the rich and powerful, who rule our world today. It cuts across countries and is like the Cosa Nostra in its hyper-amoral stance to issues and life. It is an arrogant, wicked, and heartless construct, which rules the world through fear, tricks and brute force. These three pedestals of control align effectively with the three vehicles it deploys to that end.
The arrogance of empire is a congenital disease native to every such construct. Empire can afford to preach to other smaller constructs in her ambience to tow lines that she would never lift a finger towards. She moralizes, even though her leprous debaucheries indict her homiletics. This is exactly what the United States and Britain are doing in Zimbabwe at the moment. They wanted to sack Mugabe for election fraud, when George, who is guilty of the same crime, has not been sacked from his post. When empire comes to equity, she cares no hoot about the cleanliness of her hands. She accuses even though her hands are not clean. American foreign policy in the 20th century bears all the impresses of elevated hypocrisy and suffocating double standard. Ask Oliver North, or pay a visit to Nicaragua to see for yourself. The devastation of Iraq and the hanging of Sadaam are testaments to empire's arrogance.
The wickedness of empires could be seen in the heartlessness with which it grabs resources to feed its greed at the expense of every other variable. Modern ecological crises are thanks to the yawning avarice of empire for resources to drive its economies and those of its satellites. This heartless greed saw to Africa been despoiled of the crème of her youth in the slave trade, to drive the industrial revolution in Europe and America. It equally recommended that mounds and mountains of chopped and amputated human limbs be harvested in Congo in punishment for daring King Leopold's greed for Congolese Rubber, timber and other resources. The same metaphysic prescribed the bombing of Iraq to smithereens in propitiation of the greed for cheap oil. It is the same operational ontology that stands aloof to wreck lives and poison the environment in the Niger Delta.
Imperial heartlessness could be seen in its fluid propensity to wage wars and destroy every opposition, cultures, and pedestals of value, meaning and significance, and sources of social legitimacy obtainable in the areas it chooses to conquer or destroy. Pizzaro's sacking and destruction of the Inca civilization in Mesoamerica; the colonial destruction of African values, language, and desecration of the temples of African gods, or the exiling of African kings that are sources of authority and social legitimacy; the American obliteration of the Ameri-indians are all testaments to this. Professor Amy Chua did a book on how the export of free market democracy today is really creating spirals of unease across the world and setting the world on fire.
Empire is never non-profit. It is an economic predator. To this end, citadels of profit will always annihilate college of prophets. Mammon is a very jealous god. It can never be worshipped alongside any other. It demands the bodies and blood of its opponent as the only sacrifice that appeases it. Pursuant to this, empires in subservience to profit entertain no qualms in decimating cultures, sacking lands and sanctioning genocide and annihilation of peoples, murdering its own citizens, and crushing every opposition raised against it. Ancient Rome plundered Carthage and sacked nations up to the furthest extremes of the British Isle. Communist China of Mao's vision, on its way to empire had to crush over 20 million of its citizens in a bloody cultural revolution that is as repulsive as it was monstrous. Soviet Russia enroute its communistic empire trampled upon millions of its citizens. Need we talk about the British Empire or the new American empire? That has been the chequered history of empires! Empires in whatever forms its manifest itself are proud bullies and monstrous oppressors, whose interests are superlatively sacrosanct, even if populations are to be decimated in the process. You can ask Alexander the Great and Napoleon Bonaparte about the reasons for their aggressions and conquests. You can equally ask Adolf Hitler what his 'Lebensraum' project; a raw, naked territorial aggression policy was intended to achieve. To this end, no empire has ever won a prize for benevolence. Charity is not the vocation of empires. This inheres in the metaphysic of empire; namely, empire is a construct of galloping greed. It is a bloody enterprise.
Empires come and go. But isolated micro-universes of greed will always converge to build new empires of avarice, which subsists. Once its vehicle in a particular epoch dies, it shuffles off to inhabit new spaces of legitimacy, wearing new robes. Imperialism as we knew it may be no more, but empire is alive and well. Empire and imperialism are like icebergs. They are three-quarters submerged. What is immediately accessible to the eye is only one-third of its dimensions. The fundamental aspiration of empire is to find the price at which the majority should be bought and sold for the profit of the few.
The emerging empire according to Hardt and Negri's is fundamentally different from the imperialism of European dominance and capitalist expansion of previous eras. It is a universal order that accepts no boundaries or limits, and which today draws on elements of U.S constitutionalism, with its tradition of hybrid identities and expanding frontier.2 A perfect example of that universal order and its recalcitrance to accept boundaries could be well seen in the engines driving globalization today.3
Every empire which desires to survive must be a chameleon. That underlies why it is a fatal mistake today to view empire purely as a territorial construct. The empire of today transcends territorial jurisdictions. Hardt and Negri are forever right! Empire remains a universal order that accepts no boundaries. Empire could wear the robes of an ideology and its purveyors. The desire for survival explains why the empire of today must be an extra-territorial and trans-national monolithic aristocracy of capital, which seeks to preserve the reign of neo-liberal capitalism all over the world. This
At the expiration of territorial empires, extra-territorial ones arose to take their place. Interests evolved to the point where, empire must coagulate into a trans-national, non-territorial alliance of aristocracies, corporate interests, re-invented monarchies, nation-states' leadership, lobbies, and the elite of various societies. This alliance made it possible to create a legal framework for interaction across states. This is what led to globalization. Little wonder that globalization shorn of its pretences benefits the rich with much of the affluence and influence, and bequeaths the poor a lot of the negative consequences. This is because, globalization in many instances have been forced to wear the apparels designed by a conglomeration of totalitarian capitalists, and profiteers transcending national boundaries, who bend the knee in supreme subservience at same the altars of profit. And to that end, they deploy jointly and severally the apparatuses of various nation states and international conventions, protocols, and institutions in furtherance of their interests, and elimination of all threats to their domination of the global order. To this end today, democracy as traditionally defined in Lincolnesque is virtually non existent, or grossly eroded of all meanings and implications.
This explains why elections today across many so called democracies remain Machiavellian smokescreens deployed to perpetuate the pretence that the people have a stake in their governments, while in actual fact the elites, the lobbies, and the corporations, and not the masses govern. This accounts for why what we have today is an aristocracy of capital ruling over our most inmost affairs. Ask Monsanto, ITT or Halliburton! Ask the greedy big guys at Wall Street, or the guys at Lockheed Martins and other defence contractors: they will tell you, if they are honest, who actually rules the world. Ask the chairmen of the various boards of the major oil companies, they know who is actually responsible for the war in Iraq as well as the impasse in the Niger Delta.
They are the same people!
These guys 'own the vast majority of resources, manipulate stocks, control prices, and avoid taxes. They also maintain monopolies over energy, medicine, armaments and manufacturing by suppressing new technologies. And they wield undue influence over the news media and world governments with their control of multinational corporations as well as private organization.4 In trying to find out actually who rules America, Wallace and Wallechinsky in their work, The People's Almanac, stated that 'there are many forces at work in the US society, but the most powerful by far are the interlocking directorates of the major banks, corporations, and insurance companies, with the backing of the leaders of the military: in the words of former president Dwight Eisenhower, 'the military-industrial complex.5 This conglomerate is what is ruling the world today. And In Zimbabwe, this conglomerate has shown us its eugenic face.
This emerging one like all empires of history is built on the same tripod of slave labour, stolen resources and stolen legacies. From the unpaid slave labour of ancient Rome to the chattel slavery of the feudal peasantry; from the indentured slavery of the American cotton fields to the minimum wages of the average African American today, it is the same slave labour. China is utilizing its internal demography for slave labour and modern empire on the heels of globalization, is crowding and outsourcing to China for the same slave labour.
Africa remains the continent of choice for stolen resources and stolen legacies since time immemorial. In the 20th century the Middle Eastern and Arabian oil fields joined it with its oil. The scramble for Coltan; the driver of modern interconnectivity is still financing wars and conflicts in the Congo as blood diamonds are doing all over Africa. Oil is contributing its own share of death and devastation in the Niger Delta, as the Chinese marches into Africa to re-enact what Europe and America have done for the last 800 years: resource exploitation! To steal resources! From the collective amnesia at the plight of the African Americans, to the non apologises and non-reparation for over eight centuries of crime committed against the African people, to the neo-colonial insults in Zimbabwe today, it is all the same stolen legacy!
5.Instruments of Imperial Domination
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. Gutenberg's 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 there from, 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.
Empire's 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 it dirty jobs of tearing the reputations of their victims to shreds before giving them the political uppercut. These agencies dig for dirty, manufacture dirty 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 need 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?6 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 empire's 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 society7, 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 Marx's 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, who their 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."8; this eagle on the tallest Iroko, whose unparalleled "lucidity and self possession"9; made his works one of 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".10
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 it 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- Hegel's 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.
6.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 Ahmadinejad's 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 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. Sadaam Hussein was lynched and guillotined. Sadaam 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 don't 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 Sadaam the sack, empire constructed dumb lies and falsehoods that Iraq is in possession of WMDs. Today Sadaam 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 d'etre 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 has 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 people's eyes, reproach them of their blindness. You kill someone and blame him for dying. Imperial colonialism built in a perpetual fault-line in the Zimbabwe's social evolutionary trajectory, and are now blaming a guy, who exasperated at being made to wait for generations to see a fulfilment 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; a choice real state that nobody should tamper with, without be 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 adult's 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!
7.Slogan of Imperial Atrocity
Empire defines its narrow interests as national interests or interests with global applicability. We must be in the know that the empire of today can be seen in the corporations. Corporate interests are off the cuff defined as national interests. This situation is made possible by the mega-corporate ownership of the media in the West. Does this explain why in the name of furthering and advancing democracy, the American empire has had cause to support and prop up governments whose human rights record and democratic pretences are so scandalous as to make Hitler and Stalin look like choirboys? Read about Nicaragua and the contras! It is only an instance. What about the Saudis, where medieval monstrosities reign in modern kaffirs? You can ask the White House!
The Zimbabwean impasse assuming the epicentre of Western media news reporting for the past months, has presented opinion mongers and columnist a very rich material for their vocations. On the surface, what is at stake is supposedly the fight between two absolute poles, which can never meet; namely tyranny and democracy; the good and the evil. The framing is so very familiar. The discourse is being generated and driven by empire. Throughout history, metropoles of power have always framed, clad, and rendered their arrant grab for power and profit in this Armageddonic rhetoric. They have always driven the discourse. The biblical Jews of the exodus saw it as a mandate of their High god, to slaughter the poor inhabitants of the land of Palestine into submission before occupying it. Their aggression and genocide was anchored on the pretext that the inhabitants of these land were pagans, whose ways are far from the ways of the Jewish god. Being a pagan or a witch was the ancient and medieval equivalent of being labelled a terrorist today. This was the death sentence on a people who are not as aggressive as the Jews were in their thirst for settlement. The missionaries articulated their mission as a struggle between civilization and savagery. To calm their consciences, they sold themselves the dummy that they were on civilizing mission; setting out from their civilized climes to liberate Africans whom they considered captives to savagery. The development aid rhetoric is wrapped in the same dysfunctional paternalism and exploitative designs, which hides a rotten core of primitive greed
The Western media and their satellites manufacture fictions like has been their tradition, when they accompany powerful interests to wreck havoc on those clamouring to be free. The framing and absurd reduction of the issues in Zimbabwe as a war between the forces of good represented by democracy, and axis of evil where terror, tyranny and dictatorship resides; has been a mismanagement of illusion and falsehoods. This construct has been the signature slogan deployed by rogue power to scaffold and justify the historical atrocities, which empire has inflicted on her victims. This slogan has accompanied the Western exploitative enterprise throughout history. The pacification of natives who canvassed independence for the colonies was framed in the metropole as a battle between civilization and savagery. We saw that in the 1929 Aba women riots in Nigeria, and the 1949 massacre of striking coal miners in Enugu. America and her coalition of the willing are still bringing their bloody version of democracy to Iraq. We must bear in mind that the number of Iraqis that die daily since the American invasion is in the race to make Sadaam's murders look pedestrian. At this rate, when democracy is finally given to Iraq, there wouldn't be any Iraqis alive to enjoy it.
This is the same metaphysic driving Zimbabwe's day in the news. It has been all for the wrong reasons and from the wrong end of the power perspective. Does one have the luxury of expecting anything better? Africa entered Western conceptual scheme dressed in the borrowed robes of a fabricated image. She resides in this scheme without any chance of redemption, as a continent in the thraldom of primeval savagery. Her image was constructed in the dark hearts of people like Joseph Conrad, and told in his 'Heart of darkness'. It was forever peddled by pseudo-authorities, whose bigoted pronouncements became authoritative in a supremacist dance of self-adulation. Here inhabit western philosophical sages like Hegel, who believed Africans have neither soul nor capable of philosophizing. The myopic and intellectual children among us were hoodwinked into thinking that this image has been erased by the rampaging advance of human progress. I wish it were. This unpleasant image of Africa in Western conceptual scheme cascades down every second news report on Africa seen in the Western media. This mobilization of bias has equally trailed the role given to black actors in centres of imperial relevance. This explains why AIDS must originate in Africa, even though it was first discovered among white gay community in the United States. This explains why Hancock a black superhero played by Will Smith can only be a hero by having a white woman who had the heart of gold. This equally explains the subtle images of bias deployed to keep the African alive as a sleazy picture of proximate danger in western conceptual scheme. We equally saw this play itself out abundantly during Barack Obama's primary run for the White House. Fredrick Lugard's racists and condescending vituperations about Africa and Africans have not really changed much. It still resides in this conceptual scheme.
8.Amnesia trumps memory
The tragedy of modern victims is the historical triumph of amnesia over memory. Today's victims have always been victims in history. Why is that the case? Where is their collective memory? Has it being bleached of all content? In utter disregard of Santayana, we have woefully failed to learn from history, and we have been condemned to this unintelligent repetition of historical tragedies. Zimbabwe is gearing up to be another footnote to the tragedies, which the empire of greed is ready to plunge us into, pursuant to its vision of a world ruled by a mixture of greed, capital and dissimulation. We may accuse intellectual laziness or the congenital desire of modern victim to escape into amnesia as narcotic for the historical shocks that has punctuated his entire existence. But the point is that intellectual laziness is a culpable indictment because it is the exclusive preserve of vegetables, not humans.
For Africans who have been at the receiving end of historical atrocities to rise and reclaim their dignity and rightful place, they must learn from history. The memories of our pain; the memories of the chains laid on the hands and feet of our ancestors; the stolen labour squeezed and exacted out of them with cudgels; the bludgeons applied to their tiredness, and death offered for their resistance; the memory of lashes and wounds inflicted by prejudice and racial bigotry on their backs must all be excavated and archived in our collective memory. The slave trade was worse than the Jewish holocaust. But no one has ever atoned for it. The watery chasm of the Atlantic was forced by imperial greed to bear witness to history's greatest crime. "Fortunes were made, and financial institutions flourished on the back of human bondage".11 Africa was despoiled for good measure. The dress rehearsal for the Nazi holocaust was first practiced by the German State on the Herrero tribe of Nambia, led by a man- Heinrich Ernst Goering; whose son-Hermann Goering, would grow in the footsteps of his father to become a prominent actor in the Nazi version. All these must be recalled and catalogued in memory. Amnesia should never be allowed to triumph over memory. The Jews catalogued theirs and have been morally blackmailing the world with their pain. That helps memory to cry: Never Again! And insist on it. Africa should never continue on the paths it has been forced to take since the official end of that era.
The inroads of collective amnesia on memory have made us forget history. This has a la Santayana, condemned us to repeating it. The slave trade has never ended. What ended was its Atlantic version. In the modern version, empire now destroys the economic and ecological basis for survival in the conquered lands. Globalization was designed to accommodate these conquered peoples as strangers in the house of globalization.12 Instead of them selling their brothers, the crème of African youth are now induced to bound themselves in the chains of illegal immigration, take very costly, tortuous, and dehumanizing trip across the Sahara and the Mediterranean to hand themselves over as slaves without portfolio to European authorities, to do with them whatever it deems fit. Many of them die enroute Lampedusa, and are buried in the watery graves of the Mediterranean, just like their ancestors got in the Atlantic. But that never deters them. Europe needed not send her sailors anymore to fetch the slaves; African faces have replaced the white faces of old. Those who are accepted and allowed to stay must be declared fit in the "skills department", like their ancestors of the trans-Atlantic version must be declared "physically fit" to fetch high market price. Many of them are quartered in asylum camps like chattel. -Feudalism dies hard, you can say! –Majority of the ones that gained employment, simply work like slaves of old, in professions and jobs deemed too demeaning for the citizens of the metropole. Slavery is today conducted in its very polite version, because empire has civilized her tools, but never changed her metaphysic. Like their Trans-Atlantic counterparts of old, who were branded with red hot iron for identification as slaves, the contemporary slaves now do the branding. Due to the polite nature of contemporary slavery, the red-hot iron is now racial profiling; their skin-colour was branded in the minds of the citizens of the metropole to identify them as second class human beings. They have no dignity, no respect, and like their Transatlantic ancestors are beaten on the streets and killed at will by neo-Nazis and other supremacists of Europe.
To this end, any journey enroute liberation and renaissance must commence with an exodus from amnesia. We must reclaim our memory. This memory must be made ever present. It discourages repeating the mistakes of the past. It is the only launching pad for a future of freedom. The Igbos of Eastern Nigeria like so many other African societies value and give names like 'Echezona' and 'Ozoemena' to their children. Echezona means "Forget not"; Never forget!, while Ozoemena means, "Never Again"! Africans especially the modern African intellectuals need to revive these ancient calabashes of wisdom in our vocations of giving meaning and shining the light so that our people can find their way.
9.The Western Media as Agents of Cant: The Zimbabwe Test Case!
Noam Chomsky and Edward Hermann, after years of studying the political economy of the mass media in the United States, found a worrying discrepancy at the ontological core of the relationship between the empire and the media. This discrepancy reveals a hypocritical and dissimulating metaphysic intrinsic to this union. And this has an adverse effect on the nature and extent of freedom and purity of information generated and peddled by empire. They found that the mass media serve to mobilize support for the special interests that dominate the state and private activity, and that their choices, emphases, and omissions can often be understood best and sometimes with striking clarity and insight, by analysing them in such terms. According to Chomsky and Hermann, although this may be an obvious point, the democratic postulate is that the media are independent and committed to discovering and reporting the truth, and that they do not merely reflect the world as powerful groups wish it to be perceived. Leaders of the media claim that their news choices rest on unbiased professional and objective criteria, and they have support for this contention in the intellectual community. But if the powerful are able to fix the premises of discourse, to decide what the general populace is allowed to see, hear and think about and to 'manage' public opinion by regular propaganda campaigns, the standard view of how the system works is at serious odds with reality.13
Gore Vidal, took it up a step further to show how we are captive to the manufactured opinions fed us by the corporate owners of our world, who have purchased and sold our futures many times over. He contends that the average man on the streets of the metropole, as well as the 'conquered' territories is shrewd when it comes to his personal issues and welfare. They are all shrewd enough to know that their situation is almost always bad. There is always a declining economy, even though the elitist hawks are making kills off the situation and fattening their holdings. But the reasons for these declines and crises are never made clear because "the corporate ownership of the country has absolute control of the populist pulpit-the media- as well as of the schoolroom".14 Gore may be absolutely right when he opined that "the corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the wonders of the Western world and that no first world country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity-much less dissent".15 But he must know that this grip has been pushed further and extended to a global audience. With media mergers in Germany and other countries, the news pushed down our throat are nothing but filtered and compacted opinions approved by empire through editorial policies that advance corporate interests. Gore contended that although it is possible for anyone who has time to spare and a canny eye to work out what is actually going on, but the majority are not so endowed with the time, and I add the willingness or interest. And the major portal of access this majority had to information is the network news; even though this may not be news at all but only a series of flashing fictions intended, like the avowed commercials, to keep docile huddled masses, keep avid for product addled consumers.16
Most opinions according to Gore are controlled by 29 corporations in the United States. "And one can identify the 29 CEOs as a sort of politburo or College of Cardinals, in strict charge of what the people should and should not know. The also select the Presidents and the Congresses or to be precise, they determine what the politicians may talk about at election time-that famed agenda that never includes the interesting detail that, in peacetime, close to 90% of the (United States) Federal revenue goes to war".17
Other snippets suggestive of manipulation and cooking of opinion by the corporatocracy are well captured by Gore. He writes: "Although AIDS can be discussed as a means of hitting out at unpopular minorities, the true epidemic can never be discussed: the fact that every fourth American now alive will die of cancer. This catastrophe is well kept from the public by the tobacco companies, the nuclear power companies (with their bungled waste disposal) and other industries that poison the earth, so that corporate America may enjoy the freedom to make money without the slightest accountability to those they are killing".18
Chomsky and Hermann and Vidal all demonstrated how the few manipulate opinion. The average American according to Vidal keeps the TV set throbbing for seven hours a day. This translates to an average American watching 350,000 commercials by the time he gets to 17. The talk-shows and Hollywood are deployed to divert the audience from the real issues, just like the Roman circuses and gladiatorial shows served to divert the attention of the plebeians from their oppression at the hands of a monstrous imperial debauchery convoked by the patricians and elites of Rome. In a world so in the grip of the owners of the media of information, we are all unwitting zombies, who are constantly programmed and reprogrammed at the whims of some corporate interests and agenda.
In the case of Zimbabwe, empire would deploy a co-ordinated campaign of calumny in synergy with veiled threats and subtle character assassination to discredit anyone awake enough to see through their dissimulations and courageous enough to voice his dissent in the face of such a wholesale fraud. But we chose to bear witness to the truth of our convictions. Zimbabwe happens to be another choice real estate, which western greed has for long trained its sights on, after it lost absolute control in '82. And to grab it like Jezebel of old did Nabaoth's vineyard, they have no qualms deploying every weapon and contrivance of dissimulation in their arsenal to achieve that end. They have a historical heritage of such perfidy. To this end, the media onslaught against Mugabe is not new. It is the favourite method of Western corporate interests, which I have designated as empire, to soften public opinion before their principals invade a country or knock off a government. It was the exact kind of onslaught directed at Sadaam Hussein.
Africans must be awake! A man encircled by foes must eternally guard his life!