Franz J.T. Lee, March, 2010
Quo Vadis, Africa? Some historic Reflections about a truncated Future
"Ex Africa semper aliquid novi"
(Gaius Plinius Secundus (23 - 79)
"If the American people knew what we have done,
they would string us up from the lamp posts."
George H. W. Bush (Daddy Bush) 2/07/06
An article I wrote half a decade ago and which was published by VHeadline on April 3, 2005, "Kwame Nkrumah: The dark face of the Bolivarian Revolution" has, over the years, brought about vivid discussions, with reference to the future of the natural and social resources of the African and American continents, to their respective peoples and therewith to humanity as a whole.
Currently, Venezuela-Africa South-South relations are improving as never before but also the Chinese and United States relations in Africa are booming. The billion dollar question remains: where does it lead this sudden great love for Africa? Let us remember some historic facts and processes which directly have led to the current African situation.
Why do the United States military bases in Colombia not only point at Venezuela but also at Africa?
Related to this, it is really fascinating to notice that some of the major revolutionary measures which President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana were fostering in Africa in the sixties, half a century ago, now President Hugo Chavez Frias of Venezuela is trying to take very similar revolutionary steps in America in the 21st century. Also the imperialist attacks against Chavez find their historical counterpart in the fierce economic sabotage and Big Lie strategy against Nkrumah: till today, many Africans, even Ghanains, still believe that Nkrumah was a great dictator.
With reference to Venezuela something similar is happening here.
The powerful global corporate interests do not allow micro-democratic reform anymore. US President Barack Obamaa already instructed the Pentagon, 'Comando Sur' and Africom to watch Chavez' steps on a world scale very closely. Cum grano salis, the failure or impossibility to materialize the brilliant revolutionary measures suggested by Nkrumah (and by other valiant African fighters like Frantz Fanon, Amilcar Cabral, Walter Rodney and Patrice Lumumba) is one of the main political reasons why Africa is losing progressively its 'revolutionary path' (Nkrumah); its emancipatory long term objective and transhistoric anti-capitalist quo vadis are being truncated.
Towards the end of the second millennium, another economic reason for the current fiasco was the complete 'sell-out' of many African States, especially of the South African Revolution, of its vital human and natural resources, to corporate globalization, to American-European Orwellian world fascism, which is already spreading like a wild bush fire in the Mideast. Instead of bargaining with the class enemy in Lusaka, of big promises to the suffering masses, of organizing 'dialogues' and 'truth commissions,' (except a few quantitative crumbs, which qualitatively have brought next to nothing for the African poor), if only some of our 'great leaders' of the South African Revolution would have completed their real, radical, anti-capitalist, proletarian, historic tasks, then the 21st century would have opened emancipatory vistas for mankind that today still would have been unimaginable for anyone with an indoctrinated slave mentality, been beyond intellectual grasping for a religious, ideologically manipulated petit-bourgeois mind.
With its mighty industrial and technological base (in the sixties the most advanced country of the South, south of Italy), including its possession of atomic bombs, Southern Africa, together with Zimbabwe, Angola and Mozambique, etc. (and even Cuba, and today even Venezuela and Bolivia) could have given Africa a new impetus to play a central role in world emancipatory affairs. The corporate world, the global military and industrial complex, its elitist mafia knows very well what is the difference between 'anti-imperialism,' the 'Empire' and anti-capitalism. From 1912 till today, it seems that many African nationalists have not yet understood that anti-imperialism is just a higher stage of radical anti-capitalism, and that anti-globalization is a still higher form of anti-capitalism, it is the total detonation of 'late capitalism' (Ernest Mandel). In globalization the age of capitalist nationalism is gone forever.
As a result of structural changes in world imperialism, which was heading towards the current economic crash, two decades ago, finally, corporate imperialism nipped the South African and therewith a possible African socialism in the bud. Africom intends to preserve this status quo with 'military humanism,' as it is being practiced in Iraq, Afghanistan and Gaza already.
Now, twenty years after ex-President Nelson Mandela left jail on Robben Island (and unfortunately is probably now suffering from Alzheimer's disease), what is now happening in the post-apartheid era, in the 'rainbow nation,' is not precisely what he was daydreaming about during nearly three decades of imprisonment. His ex-wife, Winnie Mandela stated it in these terms: "This is not the South Africa for which I have ruined my life!" It is not a matter of 'ruining any life,' it concerns the eradication of apartheid fascism which is annihilating the hopes of over 40 million South African toiling workers whose lives are still being 'ruined' by capitalist apartheid in Africa. Obviously the ideology and mythology about a "race war" in South Africa vanished into thin air, the exploitation and misery remain, now the class struggle is becoming the nightmare of Mandel's heritage, for modern pro-capitalist African nationalists.
* In Venezuela, will the Bolivarian Revolution or a possible 'Fifth International' truly succeed to realize the urgent anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist and anti-globalist global tasks?
* Will a real 'African Union,' NEPAD, Africom, imperialist 'economic partnerships' or 'joint ventures' really help us towards a new creative and creating quo vadis?
* Is there any hope for a billion Africans within the reigning global capitalist mode of self-destruction?
My article mentioned before indicated that Africa has become a historic anticipatory 'crystal ball' for Venezuela, for America; the 'Dark Continent' is not only the 'Cradle of Humanity'; under the contemporary international reality, namely, under the global threat of the current great depression and the coming Orwellian wars in 'Eurasia,' impoverished Africa is already becoming an apocalyptic premonition, a cruel fata morgana of the worst still to come: an inferno which the global and globalized ruling classes have in mind, have already launched for billions of "condemned of the earth" (Fanon); all these, 'full spectrum dominance' (Rumsfeld) and 'military humanism' are coming to pass just to gain a new parasitic lease of corporate military-industrial agony.
The transatlantic slave trade was the most brutal cardinal and capital crime commented against a whole continent. After the million 'mad cows' incinerated in Great Britain, anything could happen with millions of useless 'mad cattle,' with 'truculent Kaffirs and monkeys' (Sydney Welch), with useless 'wares' and with 'the white man's burden' (Kipling). On all continents, the arsenals of arms of mass destruction are being stockpiled to the heavens; in all probability to be used en masse within the next decades or somewhat later. It all depends on the international, devastating, devouring force of the current economic explosion of the 'Big Crash.' After global economic slumps come terrible fascist wars, the destruction of infrastructures, buildings, cities, capital, socialists, Marxists and millions of obsolete and troublesome workers. The biggest world war of them all has already begun in the Middle East, spreading from Iraq and Afghanistan, to Iran, Pakistan and India, to Russia and China. If this global possible military conflagration ever would come to pass, then really we would have a huge immediate problem, because thereafter we could say good-bye to all masters and servants, to capitalists and workers., to culture and civilization, to life and death. Ironically enough, if world revolution would end in human emancipation, precisely something similar would happen also.
The one possibility is barbarism (Nothing), the other is socialism (Everything, including Nothing), both would end master - slave relations. Hence, we have 'to venture beyond' (Bloch). We have to get out of capitalism, also out of its very own negation, which is part of itself, hence, also out of socialism, towards the exit of the formal logical closed system, towards the new, the exodus from this capitalist vale of tears, from the 'flesh pots' of Egypt. In other words, evolution and revolution have to be surpassed by 'exvolution,' towards the authentic new ... even towards 'homo afri,' homo novum in Africa, America and elsewhere. If this ever could be our quo vadis in Africa, then really we should hurry up, capitalist space and time, in the micro-, meso- and macro-cosmic worlds and spheres are running out at the velocity of scalar waves.
If our long term objectives are bound up with capitalist 'development,' then in Zulu or Xhosa we can just say: Africa, "Hamba Kahle!," go slow, bon voyage, 'Rest in Peace!'
The story related here is the story of all of us. To nurture and encourage African studies in Venezuela, especially in our Africa and Asia Investigation Center of the Faculty of Humanities, at the University of The Andes, Merida, we ad hoc are studying, recollecting and revisiting the colonial and imperialist milestones and own millstones which have truncated the fertile fecundation of African emancipation, for which across the ages so many invaluable African peoples, valiant children, women and men have sacrificed their very lives. In future commentaries we will write more about these topics, of the Venezuela-African relations.
The bourgeois democratic capitalist revolution was victorious; the African revolutions of the 20th century were foiled; with due respect, honor and love for our great leaders, except a few sparks, these social 'revolutions' ended up in a continental cul de sac, in the neo-colonial claws of globalization.
As indicated above already, the answer is very simple and straightforward: African nationalism, Pan-Africanism and even African Socialism were simply not fundamentally and radically anti-capitalist, they wanted to resolve their social problems from within, from within the capitalist system, within the imperialist mode of destruction.
Most of us did not think and act socialism, Marxism; capitalism scared the devil out of Africa with the pagan phantom 'Marx.' The worst was (and still is) to be an atheist, to explain the world cosmically, scientifically and philosophically out of itself and to solve man made problems by man himself. A thousand years ago, Africa knew this already, this was precisely what the 'Arab camel drivers in the Sahara Desert' Avicenna and Averroes were doing and saying on the 'Dark Continent,' while in the Old World, Europe was practicing exorcism, adoring Christian Roman Catholicism, the Church, the Dominican Order and the Spanish Inquisition. The latter was preparing itself to burn scientists, philosophers, innocent women at the stake. Its modern counterpart is dropping white phosphorous bombs on Arabs all over in the Mideast.
What dangerously deviated a great part of Africa's telos was that many of us swallowed Christianity, an alien alienating religion, the 'opium of the people' (British Canon Charles Kingsley, a contemporary of Marx), fish, bait, hook and sinker. Our own, native sentiments, feelings and beliefs ... our 'natura naturata and natura naturans,' that is, our creating and created nature ... landed on the colonial altar of the Mental Holocaust.
In his book, "African Nationalism," the Methodist minister, Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole of Zimbabwe described this problem with picturesque clarity: The white man came from far away over the sea, he told us to shut our eyes, our brains, to open our hands, and taught us how to pray. When all this was over, we opened our eyes, found the Holy Bible in our hands. We looked towards the horizon and saw that our children, our wives, our land and live stock were all gone.'
We do not want to offend anybody, however, it is time to call a spade a spade. Who wants to know the truth always gets hurt in capitalism. Nonetheless, if we cannot stand too much African revolutionary heat, we should just take a few steps backwards, away from the transgenic, radioactive kitchen of 'MacDonald's Farm,' and try to get the African 'Humpty Dumpty' off his feudal wall.
With all its mineral, metal, water, gas and oil wealth, Africa is one of the poorest continents. However, the annual profits of giant corporations ... like Exxon-Mobil, Chevron-Texaco, Repsol, Mitsubishi or Microsoft, which proudly 'make a billion dollars profit a week,' ... by far surpass the total budget of the whole African continent. Africa is disappearing from the global economic map; as indicated before, a great part of Africa our 'great' leaders have 'sold out' to the multinational corporations. Also, this is happening all over the South by means of so-called 'joint ventures' or "new economic partnership" with giant corporations. which, inter alia, finance "military humanism" in Africa; others, like Chevron, finance both US Democrats and Republicans and support destabilization campaigns in Africa and America.
As scientists and philosophers cum ira et studio we have to face the horrendous truth. Not only Africa, humanity itself is at the cross roads, is already crossing the Rubicon, and our quo vadis is not precisely a free trip to heaven or socialism. All over hellish barbarism is raging. Perhaps, we urgently need scientific and philosophic clarity about our apocalyptic situation in order to wake up and leave this labor and capital Moloch, this sinking Titanic.
Marx said it in a footnote of "Capital": 'Capitalism was born into this world, dripping with filth and blood from head to toe.' Chernobyl, Pearl Harbor, Twin Towers, Katrina, Haiti, Chile all the experiments of HAARP on a global scale, all the floods, droughts, tsunamis, earthquakes and pandemics are not 'natural' anymore; they are accidental, side effects, direct or indirect results of military experiments. Who knows what the USA and its allies are preparing for Africa, for Venezuela, for the Middle East, for Iran, for Russia and China at this moment. Big capitalist depression is Big economic Business, is Big Military War.
The great contenders for future global hegemony, the USA and China, in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, are wooing Africa into their inexorable economic and military battles to come.
This is not new.
Inter alia, for a start, what could be new in Africa, in the South?
Well, to test our real sovereignty,
* that Africa does not exchange one master for the other,
* that is, it should construct for its defense a South Atlantic Treaty Organization,
* a common South-South Bank,
* an own currency,
* a new anti-capitalist system,
* ban all military bases,
* forbid all foreign aggressive military flights over the continental air space and
* prohibit conspiring organizations and embassies in Africa,
* to close its Africa's borders to terrorist paramilitary intruders, and, finally,
* create an African, a South-South Commonwealth.
If the above should be impossible, well, then we better stop talking about liberation and freedom; we need not run from one international summit to the other anymore. All of us, all seven billion workers should buy food and drink to last for a few weeks, then stay at home for a week or so, play with their kids, make love not war, and wait to see what would happen in world democracy and world peace.
If the above ever would be possible, we need not do it anymore, because then we have a unified, international, proletarian conscious working class, organized in a New International.
Also in Venezuela, also in Africa, a class conscious proletariat will have the final word with reference to the experiment Man, of experimentum mundi. The alternative would be eternal, global, capitalist, fascist barbarism, the continuation of the old, of the obsolete, of decay.