Just some thoughts and ideas going around in my head while trying to figure out where I am and where everyone else is going.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mugabe, white man's Burden?

When I was young, most boys like me would read comic books about Superman or Batman. Some boys would follow the Marvel Superheroes, but I never got into that. I was more of a strictly DC Comics man myself. But what I really enjoyed was going to the library and reading all of HergĂ©’s TinTin books that I could get a hold of. They were about childhood adventure, crime and travel around the world in order to save the day and put things right for everyone. Until I hit my mid 20’s, I had thought that I had read all of the TinTin books but then I came across the hidden book, TinTin au Congo and I was shocked.

I wasn’t shocked in a debilitating way. But I was offended by the cover of a young African child with huge plate like red lips flapping in the wind being driven by his white European pseudo master. I was reminded that these books were written in a different age when HergĂ© was a Nazi collaborator (maybe) and imperialism and colonialism was a good thing and black people were seen as less than human, or at least people who needed to be taught the right way. It was the time of the white man’s burden.

I never read the book not just because it was in French, but by that time black people were coming into their own. The King of Pop was black at the time and was turning the music industry around. The other MJ was the ruler of the sports arena and pulling in celebrity, fame and fortune. I think RJR-Nabisco was on of the largest companies in the world and that was headed by an African American and New York City had gotten its first and so far only black mayor. Apart from a few earlier troubles with Idi, most African nations were free and independent and headed for a prosperous era that they had not seen since before colonialism. Even South Africa looked like it would free Mandela and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe was the one that everyone was trying emulate.

But I guess all that changed when Mugabe decided that the agreements that he had made for independence in Britain with the former Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, Ian Smith were no longer valid and he started to turn farmland once held by white settlers over to his own supporters whether they knew how to work a farm or not. They say that the land has become fallow now and inflation has risen astronomically and that the people are hungry. They say that other industries there have collapsed and the economy has become so burdensome that it affects the economies of Zimbabwe’s neighboring countries. I'm not saying he is wrong in what he wants done, but it may not be working out for him or the people.

There is to be an election in Zimbabwe tomorrow with the leader of the opposition Morgan Tsvangirai refusing to campaign because of the violence that they say is perpetrated by the Mugabe militia against those who do not support him. As Mugabe has already said that he will not leave office until his work is done, a sort of African version of Charlton Heston standing by the NRA podium crying out, “from these cold dead hands,” and holding up a rifle above his head. In other words, it's doubtful that any change will come to Zimbabwe unless it’s a Mugabe change.

What does all of this have to do with the people who live across the Atlantic? Nothing probably. Except maybe that if Zimbabwe is a allowed to become more and more unstable, how soon will it be before the country's instabilities become exported to neighbors like South Africa or Zambia where we do business? How soon then will it be that the US puts on its neo-colonialist hat to protect American interests like it has done so many times before? How soon will America have to start driving the Africans around just like TinTin? Who knows?


  1. Wow I thought I was the only kid that read Tintin back in the days.

  2. Dusty - I think if everyone read TinTin when they were young, we'd all understand each better as we got older.

  3. D - That's what I'm frightened of. Another reason for the US to interfere, rightly or wrongly, with the affairs of another country. Another opportunity to get bogged down in something we can't get out of.

  4. I have no clue what should be done in Zimbabwe. On one hand, I feel that the people should have a right to vote, but on the other hand, I wonder who are we to tell a country how to run its affairs. Living in America, I'd prefer for every country to enjoy a true democratic form of government, but I realize that's not going to happen. I'd like to say that I knwo the answer, but I'm smart enough not to pretend that I do hold it.

  5. i rember when i was in zimbabwe
    it was right when they started the land grab. i have mixed feelings about RM

  6. mp1v.8.0 - Maybe nothing should be done. But if the EU and the US doesn't start to impose sanctions would we not be seen as encouraging this behavior in Zimbabwe. If we do impose sanctions, won't the people instead get hurt and not it's leaders. If the people are hurt, won't they turn to countries like China who have already tried to sell and ship guns there. Will they then be in control of the resources there? Will we allow them to without going into Bush Mode and invasion and turning all of Southern Africa against us? I don't think there are any easy answers, but I do think one needs to be found.

    T - If it's true that 70% of the land is owned by less than 1% of the population and was stolen from the majority by your boy Rhodes over 100 years ago, then something needs to be done. I agree with Mugabe and his goals, I am just not sure he is going about it the right way nor why it has to be him to carry it out.

  7. Yo, Curious. I read this post from begin to end. However, I have not idea what kind of comment to make. I should have stopped when you said you were a DC comic fan. I could have commented on that all day.....but nay, you had do go and get deep on a brother.

  8. OMO - What you got against DC Comics? They written some of the deepest things and assues known to man. Good against evil. Truth, justice and the American way, especially when you looking at Superman. And then when you grow up, there was The Batman. No not Batman and Robin where questionable motives and needs are being hidden and thankfully not explored. But The Batman which is dark and lonely and is a search for redemption and acceptance.


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