FRANCIS ANEKWE OBORJI
“When I turn on my radio, when I hear that negroes have been lynched in America, I say that we have been lied to: Hitler is not dead; when I turn on my radio, when I learn that Jews have been insulted, mistreated, persecuted, I say that we have been lied to: Hitler is not dead; when, finally I turn on my radio and hear that in Africa forced labor has been inaugurated and legalized, I say that we have been lied to: Hitler is not dead.” -Aimé Césaire, quoted in Frantz fanon’s Black Skins.
The above citation from the great Black poet and philosopher, Aimé Césaire reminds us of the hypocrisy that still surrounds the world powers’ post-colonial interests in their dealings with Africans and the continent. The descendants of Africa’s ex-colonial masters, who have since metamorphosed into neocolonialists with global agenda, are doing everything to free themselves and their forebears of any responsibility for the African’s inhuman condition. This attempt, however, of the ex-colonial masters in their present dealings with Africa is nothing but a protective device to ease their guilt.
Is this not the main reason the United Nations (UN) and its sponsoring neocolonial powers are super-heading this year’s celebration of the ‘Mandela International Day’, the 100th Birthday Anniversary of the South Africa’s anti-Apartheid crusade icon and the first Black President of post-Apartheid South Africa?
However, African narrative of Mandela legacy is of different order from that of the UN. In fact, seeing the way the UN and many foreign leaders are today obsessed with their so-called Mandela’s legacy, one is obliged to ask the following questions:
Why is the UN celebrating Mandela and NOT Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, assassinated in the most cruel way by the neocolonial masters of post-independent Africa and their local spinoffs under the watch of the UN in 1961? More significantly, why is the UN celebrating only Nelson Mandela and NOT with his wife Winnie Mandela who died few months ago?
Winnie Mandela was a determined African freedom fighter, Iron Lady, who suffered and supported her husband, Nelson Mandela all his years of incarceration, was later ostracized by the powers that be in post-Apartheid South Africa because of her defiance and steadfast adhesion to the ideals of total African liberation and freedom from all forms of colonial domination? Why can’t the UN honor Nelson Mandela along with his wife, Winnie?
In other words, why is Nelson Mandela a newly discovered ‘ally’ for the UN and the world’s centers of power, but not his wife Winnie? The answer to this question is that unlike Winnie, the Iron Lady and acclaimed Mother of the rainbow nation, it was easy for the modern imperial nations and the UN to change Nelson Mandela’s narrative and place in history to suit their neocolonial agenda in Africa. This they couldn’t do with the Winnie!
Perhaps, because of the torture inflicted on him by the Racist regime while in prison, it was alleged that Mandela had to make a lot of concessions in order to end the Apartheid regime. These concessions made under ‘duress’ by this great African leader, is what the UN is touting today as Mandela’s legacy. Outside this, every other thing they are saying are nothing but deception!
Thus, when the UN or any of the foreign powers in Africa speak of Mandela’s legacy, what they mean in effect is nothing else but those concessions that would allow some crucial aspects of Apartheid structures, especially, in economic and land ownership sectors to continue unchallenged in South Africa. This is the Mandela legacy, the UN and the West are celebrating.
In his video message for Mandela’s International Day, on July 17, 2018, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said, inter alia: “Nelson Mandela was a towering global advocate for justice and equity… He continues to inspire the world through his example of courage and compassion. Nelson Mandela was held captive for many years. But he never became a prisoner of his past. Rarely has one person in history done so much to stir people’s dreams and move them to action… That struggle for equality and justice continues.” (António Guterres, UN Secretary General, July 17, 2018).
The UN chief explained that the 100th anniversary of former South African President Nelson Mandela is in recognition for his global contribution to the culture of peace and freedom. It is an occasion to take stock of what he termed Mandela’s vast legacy for mankind.
No doubt, these were noble ideals, Mandela lived and died for. South Africans, and indeed Africans and the world in general would forever celebrate and honor Mandela for who he is and what he meant for us all.
Africans have been celebrating Mandela even before his demise in 2013. They have been doing so ever since after his demise. Even when Mandela was in prison for 27 years, Africans in general were celebrating him in solidarity with their suffering South African Blacks.
In other words, Africans do not need the UN chief or any other foreign leader to tell them who Mandela is. We lived with Mandela in Africa all his life. Mandela lived and died in Africa amongst his people, Africans. So, if there is anybody qualified to tell the story of Mandela, certainly that person is not the UN scribe or any foreign leader whether it be Obama, Bill Gate or whatsoever.
Only the African, Mandela’s co-traveler in the continent and in the valley of man’s inhumanity to man, is best qualified to tell the world who Mandela his, his legacy and place in African history. It was in Africa that Mandela was born, lived, imprisoned by the White Racist regime, triumphed, became a head of state, and eventually, gave up the ghost for African liberation.
When Mandela was in prison and Apartheid Racist regime at its highest gear in South Africa, the continental African Cup of Nations Football annual competitions, was renamed “Mandela Cup.” Some African countries like Nigeria and Libya, every year in those days, would earmark billions of US Dollars from their annual Oil sales to help African National Congress (ANC) in the fight against Apartheid and in conscientization of the world powers to end Apartheid in South Africa as well as for the release of Mandela from the prison.
Even before Mandela’s arrest and imprisonment, when he was declared a ‘personae non-grata’ – or rather a ‘terrorist and communist’ by the Apartheid regime, Tanzania of Julius Nyerere gave him the Tanzanian International Passport and shelter. With that he was able to continue his ‘clandestine’ travels and secret tours of various African countries, soliciting for aid and continental help to end Apartheid in his home land. When it seemed his hideout in Tanzania was leaked to the Racist regime in South Africa, President Nnamdi Azikiwe of Nigeria took over from Nyerere and sheltered Mandela in a private house in Enugu, Eastern Nigeria.
These are just few examples of African story of Mandela’s legacy. They all point to the fact that the legacy of Mandela is the legacy of his wife Winnie, South African Black populations, and indeed the whole of African continent. It is therefore, a highest form of human deception for the UN or any other world body or nation, to use Mandela’s
celebration today as a cover-up for a ‘psychological war’ against the Black Race, the African people. Because from hindsight, this is what all the noise the UN is making about celebrating Mandela’s legacy is all about and insinuating.
The UN and their sponsoring neocolonial powerful nations have found ‘new love’ in Mandela’s legacy. What type of ‘love’ is that? It is nothing else but a propaganda, a way of evading Africa’s demand for justice for the crime against humanity committed in the continent and still been committed today by the ex-colonial masters and their descendants. Therefore, the UN celebration of Mandela Day or the 100th Birthday has a hidden agenda aimed to tell Africans, ‘shut up your mouth, do not demand for economic liberation and any more political or economic powers. You have them already, thanks to Mandela’s concessions!’
Furthermore, by celebrating their so-called Mandela legacy, the UN is invariably, telling Africans, ‘forget and forgive the past wrongs done to you by the colonial masters. Do not ask for justice for those wrongs of the past. Mandela doesn’t approve such a thing!’
Again, the Mandela legacy UN is celebrating is like, saying to Africans, ‘let the bygone be bygone! Do not demand for economic freedom or any further freedom other than what you had when Mandela was the President of South Africa.’ Furthermore, ‘do not demand for land ownership either, or redistribution of South African land confiscated during the Apartheid regime.’
This is because, in the opinion of the UN and it sponsors, ‘Mandela didn’t want it that way.’ So, they are saying to Africans, ‘remain as you have been, we shall take care of you! Mandela has done all for you.’ Your freedom has been won by Mandela! Nothing more is needed for you to demand for liberation.’
But assuming that some other people, let say, Africans have wronged the Europeans in such an inhuman magnitude, would the Europeans forget and forgive Africans? Certainly no! Europeans never forgive or forget. They would make sure that the person who had offended them is humiliated, crushed, phased away from the face of the earth or made to pay to the last penny. It is only when others have offended them that they preach a hollowed forgiveness and reconciliation without justice and economic emancipation.
THE FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION
The fundamental question is, ‘where was the UN and its sponsoring neocolonialist nations all those years of Apartheid White Racist regime in South Africa?’ Again, ‘where was the UN and its sponsors during the 27 years Mandela was imprisoned by the White Racist regime?’ How come that it is only now that the UN and its sponsors are discovering Mandela’s legacy? Why today, in 2018 and not when Mandela was in prison? Why today and not when Mandela’s South African Black populations were lynched, segregated against, and massacred on daily basis by the Racist Apartheid regime?
All this means that Mandela’s legacy is African legacy. Africans should be allowed to celebrate Mandela in their African way and rhythm. The foreign interference in Mandela celebration, whether it be the UN or any other, is by all intent and purpose, suspicious. It is a great distraction to what Mandela lived and died for; a great distraction to what Mandela means today for the Africans in their daily struggle for survival.
Otherwise, how can the UN say it is celebrating Mandela’s legacy while at the same time, the umpire world body is turning a blind eye on similar situations of injustice and state sponsored ethnic-cleansings going on in many African states today. Why can’t the UN act to end the ongoing ethnic-cleansings, for instance, in Nigeria, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and Southern Cameroun, to mention but a few?
Moreover, it is hypocritical for the UN to say that is celebrating Mandela’s legacy without addressing the question of justice to the victims of Apartheid regime. The so-called “Truth and Reconciliation Commission”, headed by our revered Archbishop Desmond Tutu, good as it is, is nothing else but what the World powers had designed to shield the real architects and actors of evils of Apartheid from facing justice at the ICC in The Hague.
Thus, it is deceit of the Devil for the UN to say, is celebrating Mandela’s legacy while protecting the key actors of Apartheid regime in South Africa and Zimbabwe, e.g., De Clerk and Ian Smith from been sent to the ICC tribunal to answer for their crimes against humanity. In other words, the question of justice to the victims of Apartheid as well as economic freedom and redistribution of arable land seized during the Apartheid regime, are unresolved issues that will continue to haunt the UN and their sponsoring powerful nations.
In fact, it is only when non-Western actors are involved and are accused of crimes against humanity that the UN is quick to act and send them (especially, if they happen to be African Heads of States), to the ICC in The Hague. Nowadays critics are quick to point out that, it seems the ICC at The Hague was established to punish African Heads of States who violate the neocolonial geopolitical agenda in their respective countries. Western leaders, in spite of all the crimes a good number of them have committed against humanity in many countries of the southern continents in pursuance of their neocolonial geopolitical agenda, have never appeared at the ICC at The Hague to answer for their crimes against humanity.
The fact is that the same inhuman condition in South Africa that Mandela fought and for which he was imprisoned for 27 years by the Racist regime, is still very much with us in Africa. Unfortunately, the world umpire body, the UN appeared to be less concerned about those ongoing atrocities in today’s Africa. Many indigenous African populations and nations are still struggling to liberate themselves from the yoke of neocolonialism and tyrannical regimes imposed on them through international conspiracy, yet the UN is looking elsewhere.
Thus, what again does the UN want by all these noise is making of celebrating Mandela’s legacy when it cannot intervene to similar inhuman situations in Africa today? Does the UN understand Mandela’s legacy more than the African people for whom Mandela lived and died for their liberation from the colonial racist’s yoke!
The fact is that Africans do not need the UN or any other foreign body or country to tell them who Mandela is, or worse still, to tell them how to honor him. Mandela is Africa’s pride and heritage, not United Nations’. This is because the hands of the UN are not clean in anyway at all in Africa’s daily struggle for survival, and search for liberation, equity, equality, justice and freedom.
As many individuals and groups are beginning to note, it is high time, these international organizations like the UN and allied financial institutions, for instance, are reformed and charged to return to the original aim of the founding Fathers of the world umpire bodies. The first to make sure a call was the Billy Brandt Commission on “North-South: A Program for Survival”, in 1983.
The Willy Brandt Commission asked that the world umpire organizations, especially, financial institutions and the UN be reconsidered and restructured under circumstances nearly as serious as those of 1944, when the lingering horrors of 1930s economic disasters, after effects of the two World Wars and conflicts, inspired the founding of the Bretton Woods Institutions – GATT, IMF, the World Bank, and later the UN. The vision and need for a new political and economic order were clear then.
Today, these international organizations and finance institutions may not deny being major contributors to the present socio-political and socio-economic problems of many developing countries, especially, Africa. This is why all hands must be on deck towards giving the UN and its allied international financial institutions a human face, so that those who control the world centers of power should use more of their position and influence in the interest of peace, equity, justice and freedom.
It may not be an over-exaggeration to say that the UN as it functions today is part of the African problem. Because, the world umpire body is accused of serving as the instrument of neocolonial agenda in keeping Africa under-check, down and in perpetual foreign tutelage.
Thus, if the UN really wants to tell the world that it loves Mandela, let it begin immediately to challenge the neocolonial agenda of the Western powers and their allies in contemporary Africa.
Again, if the UN wants to tell the world that it really loves Mandela, let it also inaugurate an ‘International Day’ in honor of Winnie, Mandela’s faithful wife all through the years and period of struggle against the Apartheid Racist regime in South Africa. Let the UN be part of the effort to rehabilitate Winnie Mandela who, because of her pro-African agenda, was unjustly humiliated and ostracized immediately her husband was released from the prison in the 1990s.
It is absolutely wrong for the UN to pretend to celebrate Mandela’s legacy today without paying tribute to his indomitable wife, Winnie Mandela who died few months ago. The Iron Lady, Winnie Mandela, stood behind her husband all the years of his travails and imprisonment, and looked after their children and large family. Winnie Mandela deserves equal celebration by the UN as her husband, if the world umpire body really, meant well for Mandela and Africa.
Furthermore, if the UN really loves Mandela and Africa, let it begin to call for, and promote in concrete terms, the cause of justice for the victims of the Apartheid regime. Let the UN delve into the unresolved questions of land redistribution and economic empowerment of the Black population in the post-Apartheid South Africa. Because these unresolved issues of the evils of the Apartheid are like a ‘letter bomb’, that if not addressed now, may spell doom for the country and Africa in future.
All Africans stood behind Mandela and his South African Black populations when the whole world led by the neocolonial masters and the UN were looking elsewhere. Neither the United Nations nor any of the so-called “new found friends” and promoters of Mandela’s legacy were there when Africa suffered with, and sacrificed everything for Mandela’s freedom from the Apartheid yoke.
If today, the UN claims it has found a ‘new love’ in Mandela, the world umpire body needs to go beyond mere celebration of ‘Mandela Day’ or 100th Birthday, to taking concrete steps into ending neocolonial agenda in post-Apartheid South Africa. If today the UN wants to tell the world that it is Africa’s ‘friend’, let the global umpire body match its words with concrete steps and actions to end the ongoing ethnic-cleansings of indigenous African populations in most of the troubled spots of the continent today.
From hindsight, it is clear the inhuman conditions and conflicts we experience today in Africa are, by and large, as a result of Western interests in the continent. It was for these foreign interests that these world powers have imposed in different African states, as presidents and prime ministers, their ruthless spinoffs and local agents through foreign-sponsored rigged elections.
It is for these foreign interests that the world powers and the UN have insisted on maintaining the colonial ‘artificial arbitrary boundaries’ of different African states which the colonial masters themselves created at the Berlin Conference in 1885 without the involvement of Africans. At the Berlin Conference in 1885, European nations partitioned and divided Africa among themselves for their selfish interests, political and economic dominations of the Black Race.
There is no way the UN and its sponsoring nations will claim not to know that the conflicts and ongoing ethnic-cleansings in Africa today, just like the Apartheid in South Africa, are as a result of the arbitrary
colonial boundaries and partitioning of Africa. In fact, many concerned individuals are beginning to wonder if the world umpire bodies such as the UN and the ICC were not established, principally, for the sole reason of maintaining and protecting the colonial boundaries and other Western interests in Africa and elsewhere.
This is because, it is only when the interest of the West is challenged by any of the so-called African heads of states or leader that these world umpire bodies would become exotic, haunt and accuse such African leader of committing crimes against humanity by killing his own people. This was why they were after such African leaders like Charles Taylor of Liberia, Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast, Al Bashir of the Sudan, Gaddafi of Libya, among others.
Most of these African leaders became enemies of the world bodies and their sponsoring powerful nations from that moment they chose pro-African agenda over and above foreign interests in their respective countries. The civil wars that took place in some of these countries were therefore foreign induced, a cover-up to depose the ‘dissident’ head of states who refused to play the ball according to the music of the neocolonialists.
In some cases, African leaders are removed from office through the so-called ‘regime change’ policy monitored from outside, or through outright bloody coup sponsored by the former colonial powers. This was the case with the brutal assassination of Patrice Lumumba of the Congo in 1961, and Thomas Sankara in Burkina Faso, among others.
As for the ‘regime change’ foreign sponsored elections, a typical example is Nigeria’s 2015 elections: how General Buhari, a former brutal military dictator, was helped by the United State President Obama and the British to defeat President Goodluck Jonathan, a good man, in the Presidential elections. The after effects of that foreign interference in Nigeria’s 2015 Presidential elections, we are all living it today. The most disturbing is the ongoing Islamic agenda of Buhari administration and the alleged government sponsored Fulani herdsmen terrorism in the country.
Amidst all these, the foreign powers are not talking nor are they condemning the ethnic-cleansings and Islamization of Nigeria agenda of Buhari administration. Moreover, none of the mainline media houses of the powerful nations is talking about these evils happening under the watch of Buhari administration. The neocolonial nations’ institutions and establishments, including media houses, are working together in advancing the neocolonial geopolitical agenda in Africa.
The foreign powers and their global bodies do all these things just to kill the ‘African spirit’ or rather psychologically, wound and loot the pro-African agenda of any progressive African leader. The foreign powers and the UN appear to promote only mediocre and sell-outs as presidents or prime ministers in Africa. The real authentic African leaders are never given chance to come up.
Moreover, the African heads of states – the neocolonial spinoffs and local agents, are always protected and defended by their masters, the UN and their sponsoring powerful nations. But progressive African leaders that want really, to change the course of inhuman conditions and neocolonial agenda in their respective countries, are the vulnerable ones, without foreign nations’ or global bodies’ protection. They are the easy prey victims of witch-hunting and ridicule by the ICC and similar world bodies.
Bob Marley, the Afro-Reggae giant once said, “Any relative conscious African should be worried when the White begin to shower you with awards and praises.” Of course, nothing is wrong for any person or group to honor Mandela as a world icon and anti-Apartheid crusader. No. This is not the point here. Rather our point of departure lies on one fact: There is a sinister agenda of the global umpire body, the UN in its new found ‘love’ in Mandela legacy.
The children of ex-colonial masters in Africa, who are now in-charge of neocolonialism in the continent, with their global agenda, have to convince themselves that they are not responsible for modern Africa’s woes. That is why their umpire ‘world bodies’, like the United Nations (UN) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague in The Netherlands, prefer to remain detached in their investigations of negation of social justice, abuse of human dignity, sanctity of life and freedom committed by their spinoffs and local agents in various African nation states today.
During Mandela’s travails with the White Racist regime in South Africa, those who stood behind Mandela were his wife Winnie, South African Blacks and the whole of Africa. In those dark days of Mandela and his South African Black populations, neither the voice of the UN nor that of the ‘new friends’ of Mandela from the West, was heard.
Both the UN and its sponsoring neocolonialists were all on the side of the Apartheid Racist Regime. None of them was on the side of Mandela nor of his suffering Black South Africans when Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years by the Racist South African regime.
How come, the UN and its sponsors are today celebrating Mandela as their ‘hero?’ This is unfortunately, the hypocrisy that underpins the present social structures upon which our modern society is founded, and which pretend by deception, to serve the welfare of the oppressed peoples of the world.
Oborji, a Roman Catholic priest, is a professor ordinarius at The Pontifical University, Rome