22 February 2018
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Morgan Tsvangirai a dear, just leader
New era: Changing Zimbabwe’s past
Tsvangirai aide farewell to iconic boss
In the aftermath of Tsvangirai's death
The need for a new world reportage by Africans
20/01/2017 00:00:00
by Seewell Mashizha
Zim’s balance sheet & need for new impetus
Economy: the need for a paradigm shift
2018 election: Zim & the wealth card
Zim: The curse of the ‘Amai Syndrome’
Parties to be judged on appeal, results
The Coriolanus factor and its aftermath
Era of intrigue, pacts & accommodation?
When a stich in time could save nine
G40 Crew now Zim’s Gang of Four?
Kenya: What parallels for Zimbabwe?
Korea and Kenya: Which way Africa?
Africa must negate US's global empire
Zim’s silly season in politics continues
Yesterday’s ogres & restorative justice
Subverting the golden rule in our time
Seewell Mashizha: When bad boys return
Zimbabwe: Obstacles to Pan-Africanism
Generational politics & something seismic
2018: Looming battle of manifestos & issues
2018: As the MDC-T threatens violence
Envisioning the new day that must come
Of Zim’s political history and the convulsions
Gukurahundi: no single narrative will do
Prejudice and black achievements
Mashizha: Negating western propaganda
Rival political interests: Strengths & flaws
2018 and Zanu PF’s liberation war DNA
2018 elections and the opposition
Of wily foxes and tearful crocodiles
Time for Africa to shape its own destiny
US & the rise of Trump: An interpretation
Mashizha: telling our own stories as we see them
Zim: The curse of a blue print syndrome
Seewell Mashizha: Life is an open book
Seewell Mashizha: Africa’s interests
New day dawning or world done for?
Why Zim needs own glasnost, perestroika
Corruption: Tracking Zim’s slime highway
Africa through her revolutionary seers
Prophetic Edwin Hama: Waiting for a new day!

IN my last instalment I argued for the telling of Africa’s stories by Africans themselves. That of course does not preclude or exclude other narratives and perspectives.

If I needed to justify the stance I am suggesting I could just cite the apt Shona saying, ‘Ngoma inoti pangu pangu’ (The drum says me, me). Unfortunately, in the English translation the onomatopoeic origins and effect of the ‘pangu pangu’ throb of the drum is lost. Nevertheless, the meaning should be plain as daylight. The logic in the saying is also faultless. While blowing one’s own trumpet is not generally encouraged, in today’s world if you do not assert yourself you get ignored.

When the so-called first world tells its stories there is no demurring. They go for the jugular and tell you straight that they are God’s own gift to mankind. They do no wrong but see plenty of wrong and act on it. Spin-doctors then defend the nefarious activities regardless. Of interest is the current furore regarding Barack Obama’s latest clemency action in which a WikiLeaks whistle-blower who exposed the war crimes of America in Iraq has had her sentence cut from 35 years in prison to something that will see her released soon. The crime is well-captured on video and watching the images of the massacre of unarmed Iraqi civilians going about their daily business is sickening.

Story headlines like ‘Chelsea Manning: Obama commutes sentence of soldier who leaked government information’ are characteristic of the sanctimonious reportage in the Western press. The dead Iraqis are not newsworthy and Chelsea Manning is vilified for choosing to belong to the whole human race and for revealing the gory truth.

Soon to be the erstwhile US President, Barack Obama has commuted Chelsea Manning’s sentence. Manning, a former soldier, leaked sensitive intelligence that had America in tailspin. She is now to be released on 17 May. Prior to the decision of Tuesday 17 January Manning had been the recipient of the longest ever sentence in the area of espionage and the leaking of information. To a very large extent Manning can thank the over 100,000 signatures of a petition for her release delivered to the White House last December. The petition, plus of course, the details of the crime she exposed must have caused Obama sleepless nights. Not surprisingly his pang of conscience has led to Chelsea Manning’s early release. The Patriot Act notwithstanding, Manning’s case raises all sorts of questions about patriotism, world citizenship and deodorized reportage by a captive press. The outrage surrounding her release must be seen in the context of America’s selective amnesia.


There are many who feel betrayed that Manning is the beneficiary of presidential clemency. Among these are Arkansas Senator, Tom Cotton, whose bitter statement reads:

"When I was leading soldiers in Afghanistan, Private Manning was undermining us by leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks. I don't understand why the president would feel special compassion for someone who endangered the lives of our troops, diplomats, intelligence officers, and allies. We ought not (to) treat a traitor like a martyr."

It is clear that Iraqi lives are inconsequential and can be ignored.

This kind of reportage is common wherever the interests of the USA and her allies appear endangered. In such cases interests far outweigh human life, especially when the lives lost are those of people other Western ones. This is the one big reason why Africa needs to work seriously for African reportage. Too many things happen and are either ignored or glossed over except when they happen to be African. A few examples should suffice to make the case.

Take the issue of political dynasties, for example. George W. Bush is the son of George Bush Snr, one-time President of the United States and a former Director of the CIA. George Bush Snr is on record as having provided the intelligence that enabled Apartheid South Africa to discover Nelson Mandela’s whereabouts and arrest him. Mandela was busy setting up Umkhonto WeSizwe at the time. What then followed was the Rivonia Treason Trial where Nelson Mandela in his revered and oft-quoted statement closed his submission with the famous words:

During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

Happily Mandela lived to see many of his hopes and dreams materialize. His spirit and that of his comrades, the likes of Govan Mbeki, Walter Sisulu. Ahmed Kathrada and others was not diminished by the long incarceration on Robben Island. Indeed his words were heroic when seen against those of another nationalist leader from the region. After ascending to the leadership of ZANU at its formation in 1963, Ndabaningi Sithole argued against any accommodation of Ian Smith and his minority white government. He espoused armed struggle as a matter of course and principle and was subsequently arraigned before a court on the grounds that he was plotting to have the Rhodesian Prime Minister assassinated.

After being found guilty and sentence was passed, Sithole disintegrated. That began the slide of his political fortunes and also provided a stark contrast with Mandela’s consistency and resoluteness when faced with equally dire circumstances before a settler court of law. Sithole dissociated himself with the armed struggle in Zimbabwe. Before a judge, he renounced the armed struggle and divorced himself…

in word, thought or deed from any subversive activities, from any terrorist activities, and from any form of violence.

Rhodesians denied the legitimacy of the armed struggle and regarded all those engaging in it as terrorists. Events such as these were reported by pro-Western newspapers that side-lined everything and anything that could possibly enhance a people’s struggle. For that reason, Nelson Mandela’s name was only removed from America’s black list a few years before his death at the age of 95 in the year 2013.  Africa needs to return the favour by reporting analytically on the goings-on in the developed North. And one way of doing that is through a demythologization process where we debunk some of the myths espoused and held as articles of faith in some quarters of our globe.

The Bush Dynasty may yet be with us, given that Jeb Bush may make a much more serious attempt to go to the White House in future. The Kennedys are a well-known political clan with the brothers, John F Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Edward Kennedy, all assuming positions of importance in the American body politic. Who knows what might have happened of Jack Kennedy had not been assassinated in Dallas Texas.

Bill Clinton had an eventful Presidency during his tenure. Attempts at impeaching him and the Monica Lewinsky story come to mind. His lady, the sly Hillary Clinton almost made it to the White House in America’s recent acrimonious election that brought a politically unknown billionaire, Donald Trump onto the world scene. With his inauguration in sight the world waits with bated breath, unsure what exactly his Presidency will do to the world. Trump has in no uncertain terms castigated fake news and other trends. One tends to sympathise with him on that score when unproven and unverified accusations of Russian interference in Hillary Clinton’s failure to become the next US President are repeated throughout the day on Western TV stations as if they are proven fact. Someone in Washington is obviously yearning for a return to the cold war where the spectre of Russia and the KGB could safely be peddled. Oh, for a John Profumo and a Christine Keeler! Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks boss and Edward Snowden the former CIA intelligence contractor and computer expert who leaked confidential information, help keep the tension going. Talking about them moves attention to other things and buys time.

Now that Obama is gone there is talk that his lady might be back to have another crack at making history. She would want to be the first woman president and the first black woman president. With her cultivated speech and poetic nuances she easily makes a riveting speaker. America is transfixed on dynasties. African scribes should really be going to town on this and coming up with all sorts of epithets and angles of vision, but we are not. Yet the things I have just cited would make very attractive news elsewhere and accusations would be flying left, right and centre about corruption and nepotism. Former South African President, Thabo Mbeki escaped what might have been insinuated, owing to the fact that senior Mbeki did not make it into government when the political apartheid state died.

Kenya is an interesting case with sons of the fathers on the stage. Jomo Kenyatta, the first President of independent Kenya was deputized by Oginga Odinga the author of ‘Not Yet Uhuru’. Ironically, Uhuru Kenyatta is on seat. The fathers became rivals after initially working together. The sons initially worked together but later split. Now they are sworn rivals and from an ethics point of view, are probably responsible for or complicit in the post-election violence that rocked Kenya in 2007. Are political dynasties in the making in Kenya? Only time can tell, but we wait to see if Africa’s scribes can take the gauntlet and be more analytical and less charitable with regard to the politics of the developed world.



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