Obi Egbuna Jnr Simunye
WHILE Africans all over the planet were celebrating the life and work of the Honourable Marcus Mosiah Garvey on August 17, we had no idea two days later that the African ancestral world would be calling home one of our most unique and celebrated artistic talents Brother Dick Gregory, who passed on on August 19, 2017 in Washington DC aged 84.
The iconic African revolutionary and cultural icon Paul Robeson once said, “The Artist must elect to fight for either freedom or slavery”. If our fallen brother and comrade was asked to draw a sketch of a fellow artiste and frontline comrade, whose life and deeds personified that statement, without question that sketch would be the twin of brother Dick Gregory.
For nearly 60 years Dick Gregory stood on the battlefield that he chose over a life of luxury, opulence and comfort, simply because he felt historically obligated to lend his voice, platform and most importantly labour, to the Civil/Human Rights struggle inside US borders. When Brother Gregory was asked why he maintained such a rigorous traveling schedule, reiterating his unwavering commitment to our movement, he would remind everyone that the struggle was in the streets and not his house.
Brother Gregory would proudly talk about the enormous impact that the modern day Civil/Human rights movement had on the entire planet, anyone who questioned the authenticity of this claim, we urge them to watch the powerful documentary by Companero Roberto Chile entitled “Fidel is Fidel“, which showed Commandante Fidel Castro shouting to the Cuban People “We Shall Overcome”.
When Brother Gregory made the decision to inform the Tonight Show with Jack Parr that the only way he would perform is if he could sit down on the couch and engage in stimulating dialogue after his comedic monologue, this put Hollywood on notice that Mr Gregory had a sophisticated understanding of propaganda and imagery.
This is similar if not identical to how President Mugabe and the late National Heroes former Vice President Joshua Nkomo and General Josiah Magama Tongogara showed the entire planet, during the Lancaster House Negotiations that Africans not only could defeat the British/Rhodesian military in armed struggle, but also take both former US president Jimmy Carter and British prime minister Margaret Thatcher to school when articulating the Zimbabwean cause in the diplomatic arena.
After watching former US president Lyndon B. Johnson cut off Dr King’s back-door access to the White House, for accepting the challenge from the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee to condemn the Vietnam War, Brother Gregory eloquently stated Hell hath no fury like a liberal scorned.
If President Mugabe and zanu-pf were asked how Brother Gregory’s statement on the mind frame of White Liberals pertained to the Zimbabwean situation, they could simply point to the behaviour of former British prime minister Tony Blair, who not only spearheaded imposing British-EU-US sanctions on Zimbabwe, but held private talks with his former Chief of Defence staff Lord Guthrie about military invasion of Zimbabwe. We thank former South African president Thabo Mbeki for exposing Mr Blair’s assassination plan on the world stage.
One can only imagine how Brother Gregory felt when learning about the plan to assassinate President Mugabe before Zimbabwe’s independence celebration on April 18, 1980, which drew similarities to the assassination attempt on the life of former Egyptian president and revolutionary figure Gamal Abdel Nasser, while he was speaking in Alexandria celebrating Britain’s military withdrawal, while Muslim Brotherhood was blamed, the methodology had the CIA written all over it.
Unlike many of his Civil/Human Rights contemporaries Brother Gregory felt compelled to educate the planet about the sadistic nature of the US Military Industrial Intelligence Complex (today called US Homeland Security), primarily the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency.
In 1977 Brother Gregory co-authored a book entitled “Murder in Memphis: The FBI” and the assassination of Martin Luther King, which demonstrated his willingness to crush the lie that Dr King’s blood was exclusively on the hands of the redneck James Earl Ray. Our Sisters and Brothers in Zimbabwe remember that Mr Ray wanted to migrate to colonial Rhodesia, because he felt the white supremacist regime of Ian Smith would grant him asylum simply because he was merely accused of assassinating Dr King.
Another aspect of US imperialism that troubled Brother Gregory was their cowardly media and propaganda apparatus. Brother Gregory once said, “I buy US$1 500 of newspapers every month not that I trust them, I’m looking for cracks in the fabric”.
If Brother Gregory carefully studied the reactionary newspapers in Zimbabwe, who due to a lack of patriotism and journalistic integrity, have always taken pride in serving as the extended mouthpieces of Voice of America and the BBC, he would have seen cracks more visible than the one in the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.
In 2005 Brother Gregory shared a platform at the National Medical Association’s national convention with the former Zimbabwean Ambassador to the UN Comrade Boniface Chidyausiku, who gave an excellent presentation on how Zimbabwe’s applications to Global Fund were denied on four different occasions the second ,third, fourth and sixth rounds to be exact. During his remarks Brother Gregory told the audience that was only the tip of the iceberg and Zimbabwe should expect more hostility for reclaiming our land on George W. Bush’s watch.
The African world remembers how President Mugabe decided to take former US president Ronald Reagan to task concerning US Policy in Nicaragua after being informed that the ultimate political chameleon had no intention whatsoever to honour the Lancaster House negotiations, Brother Gregory was our loudest voice exposing how the Reagan administration gave the CIA the green light to funnel crack cocaine in South Central Los Angeles in order to continue the Iran/Contra wars regardless of the wishes of the Us Congress and Senate to re-evaluate policy due to world outrage.
Because Brother Gregory’s autobiography was entitled “Nigger” he never shied away from using the word when he deemed usage was appropriate, he often stated that former US president Barack Obama wasn’t nigger enough, stating that if the Governor of Arizona Jan Brewer had pointed her fingers in his face he would have bitten them off and ate them with his favourite barbecue sauce.
It can be argued that President Obama made up for that by bombing Libya for seven months in a row and extending US-EU sanctions on Zimbabwe for eight consecutive years, which explains why President Mugabe decided to blast President Obama at the UN General Assembly in 2012 for propagating the notion that the life of one US Ambassador was more important that the Libyan women, children and men that he sent to an early grave. These heinous acts of aggression against Mother Africa clearly showed under the banner of US imperialism, President Obama was certainly nigger enough.
Brother Gregory stated as a child his generation used to root for Native Americans against the US cavalry because they think it was fair in the history books when the cavalry won it was a great victory, and when the Native Americans won it was a massacre. When Comrade Evo Morales a cocalero farmer, who was one of the leaders against US imperialism’s environmental warfare campaign against Bolivia, Colombia and Peru to exterminate their natural crops under the guise of a drug war became Bolivia’s first indigenous President, Brother Gregory was humbled and proud.
When President Mugabe politely yet boldly told Mr Blair in Johannesburg South Africa, ‘‘Keep Your England and Let Me Keep My Zimbabwe,’’ this was in line with the thoughts and action that best defined the life of Dick Gregory.
Obi Egbuna Jnr is the US Correspondent to The Herald and External Relations Officer of Zicufa (Zimbabwe Cuba Friendship Association). His email is [email protected]