Swans Commentary » swans.com August 24, 2009  



Oh, Shut Up, Mrs. Clinton!


by Femi Akomolafe





"You tear out a man's tongue and then explain that his dumbness is his own fault - the man is tongueless! Imperialists conquer peoples; turn their lands into dungeons; prevent industrialization; shore up all the feudal and native reactionary elements; distort the whole economy by forcing concentration on particular cash crops or strategic minerals; super-exploit the colonial working population; grow sleek and fat on the wealth robbed from the colonies, and then - shame on you non-technical and non-industrial peoples for your 'backwardness!'"
—Herbert Aptheker, Laureates of imperialism, Masses and Mainstream, p.67.
"The object of neo-colonialism is to ensure that power is handed to men who are moderate and easily controlled, political stooges. Everything is done to ensure that accredited heirs of colonial interests capture power... The strategy was to place in power in Kenya those elements that would be favorably inclined to Britain, and would safeguard her economic and military interests."
—Oginga Odinga, Not Yet Uhuru, Hill and Wang. p.256


(Swans - August 24, 2009)   A month after her boss made his hugely disappointing (at least to Africans) trip to Ghana, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is making what is regarded as a whistle-stop trip to seven African trips. It is a trip believed designed to salve the bruised egos of leaders of countries that were miffed by President Obama's failure to see them on his visit. Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya are prime examples.

From August 3-14 Hillary Clinton breezed through seven countries in Africa doing what Western politicians do best: lying through their teeth while pasting hypocritical smiles on their faces to hide their devilish intentions towards the non-Western world. And African leaders, for their part, are doing what they do best: playing the vassal chiefs in the presence of their overlord.

Colonialism and imperialism have not paid their score when they withdraw their flags and their police forces from our territories. For centuries the capitalists have behaved in the underdeveloped world like nothing more than war criminals. Deportations, massacres, forced labor and slavery have been the main methods used by capitalism to increase its wealth, its gold or diamond reserves, and to establish its power.
—Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of The Earth, Grove Press, Inc., New York. p. 101.

Apart from Nelson Mandela, who advised President Bill Clinton to go and drink some sea water when he (Clinton) preached to the old man on how to choose his friends and Zimbabwean President Mugabe (may the ancestors continue to guide and protect him), who continues to vibrate against Western interference, no other African leader has had the courage to tell nosy interfering Western leaders some home truths.

Some of these are that:

i.  International relations are not based on sentimentalities, but on strong economic and political considerations.
ii.  The 500 or so years of relationship between Africa and Europe has been detrimental to Africa.
iii.  Europe has never been a friend of Africa as its scholars and leaders would want us to believe.
iv.  The West is in Africa for what it can get from the continent - first it was humans and later the mineral resources.
v.  Africa remains the only place where Westerners still come to preach.
vi.  Africa does not need any lesson on human rights from Euro-America whose wretched past would shame a nation of the most primitive savages.
vii.  It's high cultural philistinism for hosts to insult their guests.

Mrs. Clinton was reported to have said in Angola: "We want to be your partner, not your patron."

God have mercy! When and where did Africans asked to be patronized? What have patriotic Africans been asking for since the dawn of history? The sheer cheek of it all!

It was the editor of the London-based New African magazine, Baffour Ankomah (a former contributor to Swans), who once wondered whether or not Western leaders eat the same food ordinary mortals eat. I guess the good editor was just too frustrated to make sense of the nonsense Western leaders keep spewing at the rest of us.

Mrs. Clinton was also reported to have told Angolans about the need for good governance and strong democratic institutions and also that it was important to be vigilant against corruption.

Look at who is talking. One wonders where the woman has been the past two years when massive greed and monumental corruption sank major US (and Western) banks and companies? Who the heck is Mrs. Clinton to give any lecture on corruption when pervasive corruption has all but wrecked her own country's economy? And who has been doing all the corrupting in Africa if not Western corporations in cahoots with their local compradors?

When the countries of Europe undertook to develop the New World, they were interested primarily in the exploitation of America's natural resources. Labor was, obviously, necessary, and the cheaper the better... Because of their color, Negroes could be easily apprehended. Negroes could be purchased outright and a master's labor supply would not be in a state of constant fluctuation. Negroes, from a pagan land and without exposure to the ethical ideals of Christianity, could be handled with more rigid methods of discipline and could be morally and spiritually degraded for the sake of the stability of the plantation. In the long run, Negro slaves were actually cheaper. In a period when economic considerations were so vital, this was especially important. Negro slavery, then, became a fixed institution, a solution to one of the most difficult problem that arose in the New World. With the supply of Negroes apparently inexhaustible, there would be no more worries about labor. European countries could look back with gratitude to the first of their nationals who explored the coasts of Africa, and brought back gold to Europe. It was the key to the solution of one of America's most pressing problems.
—John Hope Franklin, as quoted in Black Power, pp. 40-41)

A Yoruba proverb says: Iri ti a ba ri oja, la nno. It means that goods are priced the way they are displayed.

Western leaders continue to talk down to Africa because African leaders continue to behave like obedient children that would listen to duplicitous lectures from Western leaders. And five centuries of playing the vassal does not seem to have dampened the enthusiasm of these quislings. Shame on them!

Who is Mevrouw Clinton to come and give me a lecture on human rights? She lives in a country that has done nothing but to kill human beings all across the world since the beginning of its miserable history. She lives in a country where vile racism is still very much alive and where black people continue to be treated with impunity. Senator Clinton was part of the infamous gang of US Senators that drafted the infamous bill that placed sanctions on Zimbabwe -- current vice president Biden is another one of the senators.

These racists were there when Ian Smith and his brigands were massacring Africans; they didn't sanction him. They were probably asleep when the apartheid killing machines were mowing down innocent Africans who were just protesting against the violations of their inalienable rights to be humans. It should be mentioned that American corporations and banks were in deep cahoots with the stiff-necked Afrikaners. These fine senators, most probably in the pay of US corporations, still look on unconcerned as American MNCs continue their rapacious rape of the earth's resources. They were sponsoring the proxy wars that devastated Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Somalia etc. They were there, cheering in the case of Madam Clinton, when American forces marched illegally to occupy Iraq and killed (who is counting?) Iraqis.

I say who the heck is Mevrouw Clinton to come and pontificate to Angolans about human rights and democracy? Where was America when Angolans were groaning under a very bestial colonial rule? Why didn't American officials moralize to the Portuguese about the need to stop treating Africans like the beast of burden? Why didn't the USA help Angola and the other African colonies to regain the independence from colonial rule? The truth of the matter is that not a single colonial state in Africa enjoyed even a token support from Uncle Sam.

The obscene noises President Obama (oh, he's black!), Mrs. Clinton, and other American officials make today about human rights sound very hollow, hypocritical, and sardonic indeed. And let the truth the told, the U.S. has supported and continues to support the most despicable tyrants in the world. Do I need to name Mr. Diem, Somoza, Pinochet, Mobutu, Batista, Stroessner, Marcos, etc.?

Which brings us back to the Yoruba proverb. President Obama was in Cairo, Egypt recently. We didn't see him talk down to Egyptians. If anything, he talks to them like equals will talk to one another. He didn't give them any lecture about good governance and elections even though Hosni Mubarak has being in power for about thirty years. We do not see US officials hectoring European leaders the way they do to African leaders. The U.S. and Europe occasionally have their differences, but we do not see US officials threatening them or using offensive languages against them.

There is another thing Western people just tend to forget: Cultured guests do not insult their hosts. And those errand boys in Africa who continue to sit down and listen to stupid sermons from Euro-American officials will do well to remember that no elf-respecting host will tolerate insults from those sojourning in his house. Frau Clinton will not dare go to Malaysia and tell the people there how to lead their lives; she simply knows that she will get more than she bargained for.

Mrs. Clinton was just been plain ingenious and ironic when she went to Somalia and started throwing accusations at Eritrea. The U.S., more than any other nation, is largely responsible for the total chaos in Somalia. And how hypocritical can you get! Madam Clinton came to Somalia, according to press reports, with 40 tons of weaponry. She didn't come with bread and butter to feed starving Somalis; but only with the war machines that will continue to destroy Somali lives! Over the years the U.S. has been supporting one faction or the other in the sad Somali saga.

How can you be sitting there
Telling me that you care, that you care
When everytime I look around, the people suffer in suffering
In everyday, in everyday...
Yes, we are the survival
—Bob Marley, from the album SURVIVAL.

This was how the famed Somali rapper K'naan puts it:

There was a moment during this relative calm that we're talking about when the warlords were being kicked out of the country by this group called the Islamic Courts Union. And I think maybe just because of the name alone, the US said, "This might not be a good idea," started to align itself with five of the major warlords, which had been causing havoc for eighteen years in this country, and they called them the Alliance for Restoration of Peace. This was the name given by the US. And those guys started to come back and destroy more. And so, even if we don't go back into history into how the US has been effective in that country, up to the present has been not great.
(Source: www.democracynow.org)

We have Americans officials on record boasting in an August 1989 issue of TIME magazine as saying that these wars were not to ensure that one side triumph over the other, but just to turn brothers against brothers, so that people will continue to live wretched lives: "The objective of the war is not to make UNITA win a war, but to devastate Angola and make the people lead wretched lives." (Time, August 10, 1987. p.33)

According to Dr. John Henrike Clark, the mistake our ancestors made, and which African leaders continue to make unto this day is that:

Non European people, especially Africans and the Indigenous Americans in the Caribbean Islands referred to as "Indians" initially attributed to the Europeans a humanity and spirituality that they did not have, and still do not have in their relationship with most of non-European people of the world. This brings us to a conclusion that might be difficult for a lot of people to accept. Maybe the world outside of Europe didn't need the Europeans in the first place. Maybe in this fakery about spreading civilization he destroyed more civilizations than he ever built and did the world more harm than good.

Rotten liars from the West continue to trod around Africa vociferating about corruption, good governance, human rights and things because many Africans refused to grow up and throw some garbage right back at the sanctimonious hypocrites. Africa remains the only place where some thieving bastards from the West are allowed to continue to hold the high moral ground.

Good governance, my foot!

Is Mrs. Clinton's own country, the United States of America, a well-governed nation?

I shall end this piece with a quotation by one of the greatest polemicists to wield a (very sharp) pen. Welcome Frederick Douglass:

What! Am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow-men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their masters? Must I argue that a system, thus marked with blood and stained with pollution, is wrong? No; I will not. I have better employment for my time and strength than such arguments would imply.


At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. Oh! had I the ability, and could I reach the nation's ear, I would to-day pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.

What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy -- a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the old world, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by side of the every-day practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.
—Frederick Douglass, My bondage and my freedom, pp. 341-344.


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About the Author

Femi Akomolafe is a computer consultant, a writer and social commentator, an avid reader, and a passionate Pan-Africanist who lives in Kasoa, Ghana. Femi is known to hold strong opinions and to express them in the strongest terms possible. As he likes to remind his readers: "As my Yoruba people say: Oju orun teye fo, lai fara gbara. It means that the sky is big enough for all the birds to fly without touching wings." Femi Akomolafe's views, opinions, and thoughts can be accessed on the blog he maintains: http://ekitiparapo.blogspot.com/.



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Published August 24, 2009