A luta continua as Zimbabweans, native Americans wage cultural war
Obi Egbuna Jnr Correspondent
THE entire planet is witnessing the owner of the NFL (National Football League) sports franchise the Washington Redskins Mr Daniel Synder, which according to Forbes magazine is worth US$2,4 billion, continue to ignore rising sentiment to change the name of his team.This is because the term Redskins has a direct connection to the genocide and slaughter of the indigenous people of the Western Hemisphere.
As the native Americans appeal for sympathy and understanding inside US borders, they should know the Government and people of the Republic of Zimbabwe hear them loud and clear. This is because Zimbabwe is home to Mosi-oa-Tunya, which is commonly referred to as Victoria Falls, which is a result of the explorer David Livingstone renaming one of the world’s Seven Wonders, in honour of Queen Victoria.
This led President Mugabe and the Government of Zimbabwe to announce last year that “institutions bearing colonial names must be changed and be given indigenous names, school syllabuses must also change”.
When our native American sisters and brothers learn about the racist and arrogant disposition of Mr Livingstone, they realise Christopher Columbus when he claimed to discover America was only being loyal to a culture of rape, plunder and white supremacy.
The people of Zimbabwe take honour and pleasure in educating visitors to the country not only about the need to change these names, but about the horrific atrocities associated with the names the colonialists imposed with brutality and terrorism.
The veterans of the Second Chimurenga generously share the story about the former Enkledoorn, which is now called Chivhu, home to many of Zimbabwe’s national heroes like General Solomon Mujuru. During the days of Rhodesia, Zimbabweans were beaten tortured and hung in Enkledoorn. One of the victims who was savagely beaten and left for dead was national hero Cde Eddison Zvobgo.
In the province of Masvingo lies a breathtaking area of Zimbabwe called Glenlivet, which was given by the Scottish, because they stated this area drew a striking resemblance to an area in Scotland with the same outlook.
This tendency of colonialist explorers to not only invade our sacred homelands, but add insult to injury by naming areas in our countries in honour of their leaders or places part of their geographical landscape, sends the message that they want our children to remember how their ancestors were trampled and conquered.
In the case of the Redskins Mr Synder claims to have spoken to native Americans who consider the term a symbol of honour. This is a quick reminder of when a few years ago the New York Times reporter, Nicholas Christoff, sneaked into Zimbabwe on a tourist visa and wrote in an article he talked to some Zimbabweans who long for the days of colonial Rhodesia.
This explains why the chairman and editor of the US News and World Report Mortimer Zuckerman, who in his capacity as the chairman and publisher of the New York Daily News on August 17 2014, stated his newspaper will no longer use the name Redskins while covering the upcoming football season. A portion of their explanation is as follows
“Enormously popular and deeply ingrained in sporting culture the Redskins name is a throwback to a vanished era of perniciously casual racial attitudes. No new franchise would consider adopting a name based on pigmentation Whiteskins, Blackskins, Yellowskins or Redskins. Today the time has come to leave the world behind.’’
What makes this interesting is in the 1990s Mr Zuckerman helped Mr Synder purchase the Redskins for US$800 million, when Mr Synder was an upcoming entrepreneur, Mr Zuckerman invested US$3 million in his magazine Campus USA.
It appears as though Mr Zuckerman does not want Mr Synder’s arrogance to bring additional exposure to his role in the New York State-Israeli mission in which New York Governor Andrew Cuomo led a delegation to Israel, and openly refused to visit Palestinian territory, when questioned about this decision the delegates stated there simply wasn’t enough time. In his op-ed entitled “Why they hate Israel: The history of Palestinians war on the Jewish State”, Mr Zuckerman writes: “The greatest obstacle to peace between Israelis and Palestinians is quite simply a virulent jihadist hatred of Jews and the Jewish State it cannot be appeased.”
Earlier this year a three judge panel of the US Patent and Trademark Office’s trial and appeal board stated the Redskins team logo is disparaging, the Washington Post’s editorial board announced it would no longer use the name Redskin.
While the Native Americans have been fighting in the courts since the early 90s the court of public opinion and history are on their side. It started as a grassroots campaign when the American Indian Movement set up the National Coalition Against Racism and Sports in Media highlighting the Washington Redskins, Cleveland Indians, who have the symbol Chief Wahoo which is the split image of the little black sambo from the days of Jim crow and segregation.
The coalition cited Random House dictionary citing the term Redskin is equivalent to nigger, honky and wop which cannot be refuted historically. The so-called African Americans know justice in US courts takes an eternity, as some celebrated the 60th anniversary of Brown vs the Board of Education which called for desegregation of the public schools, we remember the Plessy vs Ferguson case in 1896 the same year Mbuya Nehanda ignited the Second Chimurenga.
When the native Americans hear the Zimbabweans discuss the war criminal Cecil John Rhodes and the slogan of the British South African Company “From Cape to Cairo”, which wreaks of warfare and expansionism, they must wonder who in their correct frame of mind would take pride in calling him/herself a Rhodes scholar. The Rhodes scholarship was originally set up in 1902, financed by the Rhodes estate, the process was facilitated under the watchful eye of Nathan Rothschild. Since its inception 7 000 scholars have received this distinction, it is said more than 4 000 of them are still alive in the flesh.
Some of them are former US president Bill Clinton, African National Congress lawyer Edwin Cameron, former De Beers and Anglo American Corporation Julian Oglivie Thompson and last but not least former US Congressman Mel Reynolds. It can be argued when Mr. Reynolds was on the ground in Zimbabwe, seeking to shake the Government of Zimbabwe down in shady business deals and now claiming his life is in danger, he was being true to the legacy of Cecil John Rhodes.
Zimbabweans have never forgotten how Mr Rhodes in his position of Prime Minister of the Cape allocated property to Catholic, Methodist and Anglican missionaries in 1892, Mr Rhodes than successfully conned Chief Mugabe into letting him steal one of Zimbabwe’s prized possessions the statue of Zimbabwe’s national bird Hungwe. The history states Mr Rhodes took the bird to South Africa, this is why President Mugabe proudly states “A Mugabe relinquished the bird therefore a Mugabe reclaimed the bird”.
The Hungwe bird was returned after Zimbabwe independence.
We salute Zimbabweans and native Americans in their courageous battle to rid the world of racist and colonial images.