Tuesday, December 2, 2008

President-elect Obama, You're No Muhammad Ali...

30 October 1974 Muhammad Ali overpowered George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire (today the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and won the world heavyweight boxing championship suffering a match that thrilled millions throughout the world. “The Rumble in the Jungle” especially enthused African people electrified by the hoopla focused on their continent, and it inscribed the name Muhammad Ali in the pantheon of the most notable and admired individuals living on our planet. The magnetism of the champ left its mark, and the hearts of millions of Africans beat with joy rejoicing over the occasion which had fetched for them certain fame throughout the globe. No one can talk with an African today without finding a propitious comment uttered about The Lip. Muhammad Ali did more to foster respect and admiration for the DisUnited States of America in Africa, the world’s second-largest and second most-populous continent, than any diplomat or businessman might have ever even dreamed of doing in those days.

Since the election of President-elect Barack Obama on 4 November 2008, I have been speaking to Senegalese, Nigerians, Cameroonians, Gabonese and Southafricans in Tuscany in order to canvass their responses to this out-of-the-ordinary occurrence which has transformed the political atmosphere of the DUS. Most of the individuals with whom I have conversed are, naturally, pleased that an Afroamerican is president. Nevertheless, there does not exist any exceptional fervour for BO whom they regard as a wait and see entity who really still has to explain to us just what he is all about. One Nigerian commented so: “Listen, Obama isn’t even 100% black! He’s a mix of white and black ancestry!” What do Africans think about whites? “Cautious optimism,” obviously! Let it be said that if the DUS’s State Department and Central Stupidity Agency were banking on BO to haul in lots of African fifs (funny inside feelings) for the good of “democracy” and dog-eat-dog capitalism, they had better go back to their global drawing boards and start from scratch.

Africa, with its 61 territories and 53 countries and 1,000,000,000 people, covers 20% of the Earth’s total land area. It is of keen interest to industrial and developing countries bent on making use of Africa’s gold, timber, palm oil, minerals, cocoa, oil, cotton and other natural resources which have always been sought-after commodities. Arab nationalists and European imperial powers in days gone by ravaged the enormous landmass of much of its reserves. In fact, before colonialism Africa, the oldest inhabited territory on Earth and the most polyglot, possessed 90% of the world’s gold. The atrocious Arab and Atlantic slave trade that is said to have imprisoned perhaps up to 50,000,000 Africans, remains fixed indelibly in the hearts and minds of the African people. Today, the place which is said to be the origin of the human species, is the poorest continent on Earth. (What do we mean by poor?)

I am prone to predict that one day, during the BO presidential administration, Africa will come to be referred to—in non-politically correct jargon—as the bête noire of the DUS. That Africa will be so knotty for Northamerican political leaders, it will draw out their utmost aggravations, their repulsion at their own powerlessness to be able to deal with that continent boiling so impetuously for justice and liberty.

For all of us, Africa’s times gone by have been non-edifying—to say the least. During its colonial times, it was hacked up into myriad portions at the whim of, principally, the Belgians, British, French, Germans, Dutch, Italians, Portuguese and Spanish. Cruelty and carnage were the order of the day. European cultural, economic and political powers wielded heavy-handedly, arbitrarily and disproportionately. Africans had little to say concerning their destinies. Besides enduring tropical diseases, slave trade, corrupt European governments, botched central planning, international trade regimes, despotism and illiteracy, they also had to contend with their own quandaries of superstition and tribal and military conflicts which stunted any hope the Africans possessed. Worse—for the most part a pastoral people—they were forced to subscribe to the agricultural techniques of their European marauders who even sometimes performed upon them quasi-scientific eugenic experiments and employed techniques of social engineering to compel Africans to submit to the customs and values of their often bloodthirsty trespassers. The partition of Africa by colonial and imperialist nations today is the inherent cause of much of the civil wars and tribal clashes that continue to rage wrathfully often fuelled by those arms sold to African political factions by the same states that at the start hewed Africa into territorial chunks!

There is no reason for us to suspect that BO is naïve enough to have forgotten that the Berlin Wall tumbled in 1989 after the floodgates were opened to wash away socialism (managed capitalism: Professor James Fulcher), swap it for unmanaged capitalism (Alan Greenspan), and then let it swing wildly in a frenzy of unmanageable capitalism (Professor Milton Friedman; http://www.revoke/miltonfriedmannobelprize.org). At that point in the history of economics, eyes came to be focused more assiduously upon Africa as the mammoth source of natural stores that it is. Kick-ass economies from all over the world, some let loose from the vices of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics’ regime-like economic guiding principles, scurried to the Dark Continent. Unmanageable capitalism was in its heyday, and global corporations were off to the races.

Harvard Boys and University of Chicago Boys, all genius-like specialists in economics, backed up by DUS military bases dotted all over the African continent, dictated their requirements to fledgling African test-tube economies, and promised them pie-in-the-sky results if their ministers of economy would fall in with the pitiless theorems and arm-twisting guidelines of the University of Chicago’s Friedman and his puerile ones. (Did Milton Friedman’s mother breastfeed him?). The scam managed to hoodwink many high-ranking African political leaders as they fell hook, line and sinker for the guarantees of profit and prosperity, something they had been seeking for millennia, that were now pledged to them by foreign bankers and international fraudsters toting MBA degrees.

The African people—as did others around the world who had been duped by the Harvard and Chicago Boys—reacted ferociously when they comprehended that the radical economic policies foisted upon their often corrupt leaders were, in fact, greedy attempts to force feed them Western economic, political and cultural ideas and mores. A bitter taste was left to savour, and Africa’s plight, by now burdened even more by the AIDS virus rampant throughout its land, appeared dimmer than it did before. These days, Africans think twice and thrice before jumping on the financial bandwagons of slick university professors, their prodigies, and bankers and financial counsellors representing those countries which, often before, set about exploiting their material goods and dignity. In fact, continent-wide unification organizations are taking root ever slowly but surely. Africans are wary of others, understandably, but with the exception of one country that has stood above the fray…

China. If Africa is the grandest developing continent with the largest number of countries, China is the hugest developing country. Sino-African similarities do not terminate there. In 200 BC, the Han Dynasty had contacts with China. Trade and commerce between them is not something new-fangled. Africa and China, “the two birthplaces of mankind,” both have been beset by colonial aggression, and they have engaged in battles against imperialism and exploitation by a stronger country of a weaker one throughout their histories. They have also brawled for national liberation—freedom from the fetters of foreign oppression.

Especially after 1989 China, too, drew more diligently nearer to Africa searching for those natural resources needed to sustain its turbo economy, a strategy wittingly adopted to nourish the West’s addiction to the theory that an increasing consumption of goods is economically beneficial—that presumption which is now debilitating and throwing into disarray most Occidental industrial nations. China approached Africa on a new footing. It pressed the notion of co-development between the two nations. Both of them are attempting to construct what is called “a new kind of equality and mutual support” said to be unparalleled in the history of international relations. China has encouraged Africa to find its own way, make its own choices, and follow the path considered best in the interest of its own populaces. China refuses to palm off any newly-conceived “political model” or one such as the supercilious Western countries’ Judeo-Christian capitalist democracy—a course of action which predisposed many African countries to humiliation after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

What is unique about this pact is that it is not based on any “historically accumulated rancour” which normally stultifies any concordat reached with an African nation say by France or England or any of the other states which traipsed through Africa to purely manipulate it. China and Africa have no chronicles of bloody battles to have to sublimate. They are beginning with a clean slate. They have no grave motivations to have misgivings about one or the other. This atmosphere of cooperation is akin to some all-directional independent diplomacy. The Chinese and Africans are disgruntled with the old Western colonial regimes, and are determined to seek an honourable and evenly balanced international order among all peoples. They realize that bipolar politics (Soviet Union-DisUnited States) belongs to the Past. We live in an age of multi-polarization, and even if there exists one “superpower”—for now!—there are also several big powers occupying the international stage and with which the DUS must now deal with in a more unassuming, open-minded and studied manner. Let us hope.

Already in 1956, China had provided no-strings-attached support for Africa. It is prominent for bringing about the Tanzania-Zambia Railway. The Chinese have bartered for African goods exchanging their textiles, light industrial products, rice, electrical appliances and motorcycles. The Chinese have made available desperately-needed technical assistance in the fields of agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, fishery, manufacturing, and health care. Medicines, medical equipment, recreation and sporting equipment, and agricultural machinery have been dispatched to Africa. Chinese doctors, agricultural experts, physical training coaches, computer teachers and instructors have helped to offer the multi-ethnic, multi-tribe continent a better life. Incredibly to us and Haliburton personnel, experts sent by the Chinese government to Africa must be paid equally as those of the recipient countries they have been sent off to assist!

The point here is that China, with all the disadvantages of language and culture that it possesses when transacting politics and business in Africa, has stated that it is pursuing a policy of peaceful neutrality and nonalignment while strictly respecting the sovereignty of all African nations. Equality, mutual benefit, the relief of the burden of poor countries, and peaceful coexistence are the order of the day, and it only remains for us to see whether these standards will be adhered to vigorously enough or buried forever beneath the Babylonian Weeping Willow of political rhetoric.

Onto this mesmerizing African mainland will be plonked one day the President-elect of the DisUnited States of America, Barack Obama, who will become president on Inauguration Day 20 January 2009. BO will be lugging three dirty laundry bags with him when his Air Force One lands on the world’s most underprivileged continent:

· The Democratic Party. As much as BO thinks his party is the most democratic and viable political force in the DUS, it is not. There is not one. If we go back in modern history, it is easy to assess that the demerits of this cluster are rather extensive. Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt steered the DUS out of the 1929 Depression. He manoeuvred the country through World War II, and some say he was a cause of that conflict. Harry S Truman dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, and he did not seal, by doing so, any harmony of mutual respect between the DUS and The Rising Sun for the years that went after his tenure. HST’s diplomatic blunders also included the Korean War. Democrats John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson piloted the DUS out of the 1962 recession and escalated the Vietnam “War.” Democrat William Clinton baulked on sending troops to quell the slaughter between the Hutus and Tutsis—an act that surely would have won for him the admiration of most African people. Will Democrat Barack Obama be harked back to for his leadership efforts during World War III/Universal War I?
The Democratic Party’s political machine in Chicago is well-known for its opinionated shenanigans and sleaze, and it is the mechanism that pushed JFK over the finish line when he was elected president. Big money is the talk of the town among Democratic Party officials as it is with their opposition, the Republican Party.
BO is a product of the Chicagoans’ politics and served on the faculty of the University of Chicago.
When all is said and done, even if BO is the pristine pure Democrat he claims to be, most Africans are going to look askance at this proud Democrat—if only for his party’s Past.

· Europe. The DUS is a hodgepodge of various European émigrés. BO represents them. The DUS’s ties to Europe are more durable than those with Asia, Oceania (except for Australia and New Zealand) and Southamerica—three regions relations with are nothing to brag about. The DUS’s languages, creeds, customs and practices, history and collective memory, the value it subscribes to its heritage, public spaces and specific landscapes, political and economic inclinations are founded on the literatures, religions, the political theories and the Judeo-Christian democratic capitalist concepts of, particularly, German, Irish, English, and Italian immigrants who still cuddle those ideas and philosophies. Quod erat demonstrandum: Africans are chary of both Europeans and Northamericans. They should be. And they will also be iffy a propos BO.
· The tarnished reputation of the DUS. Would any African person in charge, in his or her right mind, want to do business with a DUS bank? If the citizens of the DUS cannot confide in their own banks, how can anyone expect that others would? The Captains and Robber Barons of Capitalism look ridiculous in their shabby outfits of covetousness and fraud. Still, the DUS’s plunge cannot be measured solely with economic and financial lingo. Examining any other sphere where the DUS might once have been appreciated and respected, one is not going to be very much encouraged. The Leader of the World has turned out to be The Policeman of the World. (Citizens of the DUS are a magnificent people—if they aren’t bombing you!) Which means that the DUS might be feared, but it is respected now barely so. The culpability cannot be placed, exclusively, on Bush I and Bush II and their Republican cohorts, and we will never be gratified and/or proud of their political performances. The blameworthiness must be levied on each and every Northamerican citizen.

Yes, we can join hand in hand with China to help Africa lift itself out of abject poverty! Yes, we can join nations from all over the world and build more hospitals and schools for the African people! Yes, we can demonstrate to the world that the DUS is not keen on only imposing its resolve upon the people of the Dark Continent! Yes, we can start off on an accurate foothold this time and seek fairness and parity for all African people! Yes, we can stop selling arms to African nations! Yes, we can! Alleluia! Alleluia!! Alleluia!!!


The Truth-o-Meter

When I think of Afroamericans there comes to my mind two unambiguous cases in point of institutionalised racism—not the kind where a gang of thugs beat up on one Afroamerican, or a bunch of criminals who thrash upon one Northamerican who is not Afroamerican. (I do not use the word “black” anymore to refer to Afroamericans, and I refuse to use the racist “of color” soubriquet.) The first is the United States Army in the late 1960s. In Vietnam, on the battlefield, Afroamericans were frequently superior in number and proportion (12% of the DUS’s population is Afroamerican) to Northamericans who were not Afroamericans, and, at times, the Afroamericans constituted 50% of an infantry company’s roster in attendance in the “boonies.” (15% of the US Army troops serving in Vietnam actually presented themselves at the combat zone. 85% performed backup, maintenance assistance, and other rear-echelon activities including thievery.) Base camp Afroamericans were frequently blackmailed with threats of being sent to the front line. And, one lieutenant-colonel from a southern state in the DUS, briefing me on my promotion opportunities, told me point blank: “If you want to make a career of the US Army, lieutenant, you better stay away from those niggers.” The second occasion for me to witness established racial discrimination was when I functioned as a social worker for the State of Florida in the very late 1960s. Here again the Afroamerican was criminally controlled and kept at bay through the administration of a contrived poverty. Both the US Army and the State of Florida, as many other DUS groupings, have progressed exceptionally well in doing away with intolerance in their organizations, but nevertheless there remains an unhealthy, unpardonable dose of bigotry in the sinews of the Northamerican population.

Be that as it might, I am pleased that an Afroamerican has been elected president of the DUS. I do not intend to say that it is the least of what could have been done for Afroamericans. I wish to declare that citizens of the DUS are somewhat now on the right path to justice and egalitarianism on behalf of the Afroamericans. A very long distance still has to be traversed before we can affirm that an end has finally come to this outrageous Northamerican perfidiousness. Even so, I am not gratified that that individual, that perfunctory representative of Afroamericans, Barack Obama, is the president-elect of the DUS, and I am still further disenchanted that many Northamericans, and their Afroamerican counterparts, voted for BO because he is, above all, an Afroamerican. They voted for the “color” of his skin knowing very well that a green man with yellow stripes could have got rid of the opposition in this see-sawing soap opera’s attempt to hit upon a way to extricate the DUS from the horrible crisis it finds itself bogged down in.

BO is very clever, physically potent, youthful as far as politicians go, deceptively coherent when he deliberates, upbeat, on the move, and fluky. I would like very much to pose the following uncertainties I have about him to him:


Who backed you in this gargantuan effort to become
president of the DUS?
The names of these prime movers, please.


When did you decide to run for president?
You were sworn in as a DUS senator on 4 January 2005.
You resigned that post 16 November 2008.
You announced your candidacy on 10 February 2007.


Where did the financial funding for your effort come from?
Each and every receipt.


What might happen if you, or a member of your family, is assassinated?
The DUS is in perhaps the gravest dilemma of its history,
and your elimination would be exceptionally traumatic for the DUS.


Why do you think you are qualified to lead the DUS?
Your credentials, your Washington experience,
your knowledge of foreign affairs…please!

Thank you.

Authored by Anthony St. John
Casella Postale 38 50041 CALENZANO FI Italia
1 December 2008
African statistics extrapolated from http://www.wikepedia.org/
The writer wishes to thank Professor He Wenping,
Chinese Academy of Social Sciences,
whose article,
“China-Africa Relations Facing the Twenty-first Century,”
27 May 2003,
was referred to for details in the aforesaid essay.

* * *

No comments: