Abu-Jamal's Radio Broadcasts
Wars Against Africa
3.51 MBs, 4:15
Short version: mp3,
2.77 MBs, 3:22
There can be
no telling of the stories of Africa without reference to the long
train of brutal wars that have afflicted her, for centuries.
For over 400
years Africa's western coasts and southern regions were plundered
of its human and material capital by the naval powers of Europe.
Millions of the youngest, most vital people were bundled up and
sent into foreign captivity for hundreds of years.
For over 1,000
years Arab states to the north wreaked havoc upon Africa's eastern
coasts, and southcentral regions. They walked millions of women
and children for hundreds of miles north, to provide labor and pleasure
for their wealthy elites.
came to mind as I discussed African history with a recent acquaintance
who is an African historian (let's call him Professor Mike).
who has spent decades teaching history to Americans, lamented the
economic devastation now experienced in his native country, Zimbabwe.
A nation of some 12 million people, Zimbabwe just gained it's political
independence in 1980. The terms of the peace agreement, called the
Lancaster House accords, promised political independence to the
African majority, but not surprisingly, it left economic relationships
untouched. Thus, Zimbabweans gained 'independence' in a nation where
some 2% of the population (whites) owned about 70% of the land!
This was a recipe for eventual disaster.
is an economic basket case!," Professor Mike exclaimed, and,
as if to illustrate his point, he cited the recent receipt of a
letter from the capital city of Harare. In the mid-1980s, the letter
cost between 50 cents and $1.00 (in Zimbabwe dollars). The 1986-era
letter bore one stamp. A 2003 letter received from the same city
was ablaze with stamps. A simple letter, in order to survive deposit
and mailing to the United States bore over $5,000 (!) worth of stamps!
The most recent
letter's cost reflects the deep hyper-inflation ravaging the economy
as it starves for foreign exchange. Because Zimbabwe dared to try
to return some of the vast, stolen land-holdings to Zimbabweans,
the U.S. and the former colonial power, Britain, have waged a relentless
economic war against the country, using the IMF and
the World Bank.
When the Mugabe
government was letting the white minority live on stolen African
land like princes of the Delta Queen, neither the British nor the
Americans had much criticism, for their people were profiting from
this new kind of colonialism.
have changed. While Mugabe's cronies have indeed received land,
millions of the majority Shona and Ndebele, many whom have worked
the land from antiquity, are not given the security of ownership
of the land of their fathers. Victims, years ago, of the wealthy
white elites, who exploited their labor and resources, they now
fall victim to a new African elite, who want to grow rich under
the new dispensation.
Mike explains, "People are starving today in Zimbabwe."
It troubles him deeply that, in a country with so much potential
wealth in natural minerals and resources, people are in such a bad
way. Zimbabwe is rich in gold, chromium, nickel and other minerals.
It's colonial agriculture was devoted to serving external needs,
and it became a major exporter of tobacco, sugar and cotton. These
features survived into the 'independence' era, and survives today.
The late Ghanaian leader, Kwame Nkrumah once warned, "Political
independence, without economic independence, is but an illusion."
The plight of Zimbabwe (as well as many other African countries)
demonstrates the truth of that adage.
our meeting, Professor Mike's words kept ringing in my ear: '...
people are starving!...'; 'Zimbabwe is an economic basket-case...'
It was saddening.
I thought of
recent works I'd read by African scholars and artists, which, in
their own ways, spoke of similar conditions in other parts of Africa.
It seemed that
Africa was still at war, still under attack by foreigners; still
exploited and raped. Sad, but true.
2003 Mumia Abu-Jamal
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© copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
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Reprinted by permission of the author.