The book John Darwin wrote
IN one of his books, Unfinished Empire: The Global Expansion of Britain”, John Darwin wrote: “We live in a world that empires have made.” He added: ‘Indeed, most of the modern world is the relic of empires: colonial and pre-colonial, African, Asian, European and American. Its history and culture is riddled with the memories, aspirations, institutions and grievances left behind by those empires.”
My beef with Darwin
I would have had no beef with Darwin if his book — it has 402 pages of reading matter — had ended with the above opening sentence.
Beyond that opening sentence, he provokes me mad, as does most Western and Eurocentric authors. For instance, the epithet “relic” suggests that the disfigurement of the lesser world by Empire is now but dead matter.
Yet I am a living tissue of that disfigurement, more than four decades after proclamation of the flag of Independence. Some have lived much longer.
This is why we write in the languages we do, thinking the Empire kindly gave us a facility for encoding and conveying thoughts, of erudition. As if our forbears had no language; were dumb and speechless buffoons.
Or couldn’t express certain semantic categories they needed for daily living, a deficit the goodly white man plugs with his carefully nuanced, encompassing lexicon. Nxa!
Emperors, empires do not die
We live in a world which empires long made; and which they continue to run, fullstop! Neither Emperors nor empires ever died; both don’t become anachronistic; mere relics.
They wouldn’t be empires if they did. They may become invisible, subtle; but they remain omnipresent, omnipotent. Know ye all men and women of so-called “post-colonial” Africa, yet another lie dressed as intellectualism.
What post-colonialism? Have we ceased to be colonial subjects, emerged from colonialism, itself the highest stage of imperialism, as Lenin would say?
Look at us, how we speak, name, dress, eat, think, love, gesture, laugh, cry! In fact our voluble protestation that Empire is dead, without reading its dirge, showing its pyre, its chief mourner, its grave, and the African grass on top of its grave, proves it lives.
Grievances sowed by Empire
But I agree with Darwin on one word/expression he uses: he says the world is full “of grievances left behind by those empires”.
Well said! I would go a stage further, alongside Marx and Engels, to say, the challenge and issue now is to resolve those grievances bred and left behind by formal colonialism, and continually stoked by its successor stage, neo-colonialism.
Such a way of thinking girds us for continuing struggles, long after attaining Nkrumah’s political kingdom.
Gods who write and re-write rules
This week saw a piece ran by the British Guardian newspaper. It urged Oxford University to reject funding from some Russian billionaire, now hatefully renamed oligarch by the same western world which wafted in yatches of the same Russian personalities only yesterday, cavorting with them and drinking Russian vodka at their expense.
To this day, their metropoles reek of Russian millions from the same oligarchs they now deride thinking they are avenging against President Putin.
These are the same millions the West has now impounded, in the wake of Russia’s special military operations against Ukraine.
The message is clear: under western eyes, Government and Business are one, which is why “sins” of Russia have to be visited on its businessmen and women invested abroad.
Putin has very little sympathy for his victimised countrymen and women. He smirky reminds them it pays to invest at home where no foreigner reaches or touches their wealth.
To save their wealth abroad, some have repudiated Putin and Russia. My wish is if only the western world had taught and told governments and home businesses are twins, in which case their enterprises here would have been fair game.
But we are talking about gods: they write and re-write rules and commandments on whims and interests.
Now they even tell us sport and music are political, with players and singers being extensions of the Russian Government. Call a singer and sportsperson Russian, in order to hang him!
Clean Oxford, beneficiary of dirty Rhodes
I am wandering off my main point. The article urged Oxford not to touch dirty money from some Russian mogul, lest the hallowed institution gets besmirched. Hallowed and impeccable indeed!
Yet this is an institution running on the largesse of Cecil John Rhodes, that brigand who occupied and exploited South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi, through his BSAC, the British South African Company, formally up to about 1923 in our case.
Thereafter, Rhodes’ BSAC morphed into many imperial enterprises, including playing absentee landlord on vast swathes of our land.
That Rhodes bribed the English press before, during and after conquest, hardly makes him better than Belgium’s Leopold who cut hands, feet, maimed and killed his Congolese subjects in summary.
And whose successors killed, dismembered bodies of the slain Lumumba, to dissolve his remains in acid, only leaving a false tooth made out of gold, as the only memento.
You only need to read what Rhodes did to Chingaira, Chiwashira, Mapondera, Nehanda, Kaguvi, many nameless warrior-patriots across the length and breadth of this land, to realise Rhodes was no less or better killer.
Or that his imperialism is no relic, which is why his bust could not be toppled from Oxford’s hallways.
The long colonialism as knowledge
Here is the source of my anger: what, except boundless confidence in an editor and in a paper, gives a publisher the temerity to sell to the world such false sanctimony but the knowledge that victims of colonialism so maligned are so completely brainwashed, so completely conquered intellectually, as to ever challenge such odious narratives?
This is where we are: mute, unthinking victims of a long colonialism, a long empire which Darwin dares call “a relic”!
It ticks, kicks vibrant in our brain tissue. You can also see how scholarship and journalism symbiotically feed their victims: one moulding enduring myths for which fat scholarships are needed to imbibe; the other digesting and simplifying such myth into everyday parlance and popular culture.
Daily stuff that becomes a dietary must-read! Cry the beloved Continent, so beautifully carved by Empire!
Regaling Ian and Janet as tropes
I will not make reference to Triple C’s apotheosising of Ian and Janet Smith, and how that fits in so neatly with the-empire-as-relic falsehood I have been at pains to show.
Save to say when political actors find value in not just resurrecting dead, brutal settler colonialists for contemporary re-issuance, but also confidently compose a sprite campaign message and trope out of such odious personages, who dares doubt that the Empire lives?
And lives as an alternative out to electoral test? Who dares doubt it is so much living that it shapes current political discourse, and is seen as so potent as to creates a chance for aspiring governors of the so-called post-colonial Zimbabwe?
Post-colonial Zimbabwe where Ian and Janet Smith find friends, field and favour, 42 years after they were toppled, more than three decades after they were buried.
Sullying our heroes
Let me not sully or abuse our real heroes. We are commemorating the passing on of Umdala Wethu, Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo, whose whole life was consumed in fighting settler colonialism, personified by the two heroes of Triple C.
Sleep well, rest well, Chibwechitedza; the Zimbabwe you fought for will not slip through our fingers, go land into the hands of quislings of imperialism.
Biden’s Administration is quite cheeky; brazenly so. It wrote to many African countries, Zimbabwe included, ordering them to de-commission weapon systems African countries might have bought or got from Russia.
And not to return pieces of such decommissioned systems to Russia, lest Russia gets re-armed by its old weapons!
America promised and demanded more from Africa: promised that compliant States, Zimbabwe included, would receive American systems as replacement; demanded an end to all business and economic links with Russia!
Why? Because America does not like Russia, and is at war with Russia, albeit vicariously through sacrificial Ukraine. Foolish and suicidal Ukraine, if bare, unadorned words be used.
Hoping Biden’s envoy is circumspect
We just hope the lady Biden is sending to us as his new Ambassador does not come here drunk with similar or worse idiocy.
They say she is a security expert who was once attached to NATO.
One wonders why they didn’t assign her to Ukraine. Whichever way, in case she comes with that frame of (un)thinking, her term is sure to be an unhappy one.
This is the Land of Munhumutapa and Mzilikazi. Certain indignities simply will not be suffered, less so from a country which slapped us with illegal sanctions.
Even George Bush saw ZDERA’s iniquity
Talking about those illegal American sanctions, some little bird that sat on the wall as George Bush (JNR) signed ZDERA back then, told me he wrote in long hand that the pernicious ZDERA would haunt America for a long time to come, given its hideousness as a piece of penal law.
Can you imagine, even Bush the war-monger saw how unjust ZDERA was!
Yet to this day, no American President has had the common sense and humanity to admit to this, and to refuse to sign the successive Executive Orders which give it destructive effect on poor Zimbabwe.
A demarche for the emperor’s subjects
Back to Empire and the world it daily shapes, long after its formal tenure.
What but vain imperialism gives America the impudence to write such a terrible demarche to a whole continent?
The power relations are clear: such communication comes from a master barking orders to an askari, a subaltern!
Not just power semantics, but played out in the full knowledge the recipient is thoughtless and gullible; infantile in fact.
Who on the continent believes America arms Africa except for coups?
And to imagine ZDERA gets loosened merely as reward to us for ditching Russians? What happens to America’s desire to own and control our lithium, uranium and many other strategic minerals?
It’s wish to set up a military observatory for Southern Africa at Mazowe and/or Chimanimani?
Its ambitions to set an AFRICOM base here? Not to mention its perverse desire to retain long imperialism over us? It is this overweening view of Africans as simpletons which I just find maddening.
Not even a donkey suffers such, which is why it finally kicks hard when the master takes abuse too far. I have brayed enough.