Martin LeFevre: Africa Is the Homeland of Humanity
Africa Is the Homeland of Humanity
The interminable and unconscionable nightmare of Darfur exemplifies the utter inadequacy of the United Nations and the international/multilateral system. Sudan, a bottom-tier country that is responsible for years of “slow motion genocide,” is dictating whether UN peacekeepers and humanitarian workers can enter Darfur. It is a disgrace to the human race.
Though for years the UN has had a Secretary General from Africa, the charge of colonialism is still being used as a shield by a tin-pot tyrant in the Sudan against effective action in Darfur. The underlying attitude of the West toward Africa is not colonialist however; it is racist. No other region on Earth endures such ongoing indifference to despotic regimes, preventable starvation, and needless bloodshed.
Racism cuts all ways however. At bottom it has nothing to do with the color of one’s skin, just the prejudices a person or a people hold against other people.
Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe is able to destroy the homes of hundreds of thousands of people, and yet the successor to Nelson Mandela in South Africa, the eminently forgettable Thabo Mbeki, supports him. As one of very few whites integral to the anti-apartheid movement, Helen Suzman has said, "The way Mugabe was feted at the [South African] inauguration was an embarrassing disgrace. But it served well to illustrate very clearly Mbeki's point of view."
Suzman, now 88, was the only national office-holder unalterably opposed to South Africa’s apartheid form of government. One of the foremost champions of political reform and human rights in South Africa during and after apartheid, Suzman said “Don't think for a moment that Mbeki is not anti-white - he is, most definitely. His speeches all have anti-white themes and he continues to convince everyone that there are two types of South African - the poor black and the rich white.”
Mbeki’s “New Partnership for African Development,” which had promised a pan-African Renaissance, is an utter failure. Why did Mbeki become Mugabe’s enabler? Especially when a few years ago, Jonathan Moyo, President Mugabe's Information Minister, described South Africans as "filthy, recklessly uncouth and barbaric."
Over a decade ago, I corresponded with a person widely considered Africa’s leading philosopher, Professor Odera Oruka of Kenya. He was recommended to me by the Kenyan embassy in Washington, but became an outspoken critic of the Moi regime. His friends believe that cost him his life. Which means the leading philosopher on the African continent was run down like a dog in the street.
Was Professor Oruka’s untimely death a loss for humanity, or a loss for Africa? To say ‘both’ is to avoid the question, and miss the point. First and foremost, it is a small tragedy for humankind, just as Africa’s nightmares –be they in Rwanda, in the Congo, in the Sudan, or in Zimbabwe – are monumental tragedies for humanity.
If these are African issues (much less “internal” Zimbabwean, or Sudanese, or Congolese issues), then there is no hope for the human race. Particularizing problems not only prevents their resolution; it multiplies them, on the African continent and beyond.
When the US Congress and George Bush labeled it genocide, Darfur became a litmus test for the ‘international community,’ and a set up for the United Nations to fail. (What better way to undermine the UN than to declare another genocide in Africa, but then tie the UN’s hands to stop it?)
"I declared Darfur to be a genocide because I care deeply about those who have been afflicted by these renegade bands of people who are raping and murdering," Bush said in Vienna at a news conference with Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel and European Union President Jose Manual Barroso.
If Bush ‘cared deeply,’ he would have put his money where his mouth is. This is an administration that is wasting hundreds of billions of dollars (not to mention thousands of lives) on the completely ill conceived adventure in Iraq. And yet it has not been willing to back up the UN and AU in the least by the strongest military in the world.
Now, not surprisingly, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has drawn a line in the sand with regard to the deployment of UN peacekeepers in Darfur. "This shall never take place," he said, absurdly adding, “these are colonial forces and we will not accept colonial forces coming into the country."
The ‘international community’ has learned nothing from Rwanda. Whether by intention or disposition, the Bush Administration has been eviscerating the UN, and so the al-Bashirs and Mugabes continue to run rampant.
- Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The author welcomes comments.