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NUBIART - A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE ON THE AFRIKAN WORLD
Nubiart Editorials from 2005-12 are available as annual reviews in MS Word. To receive them free e-mail us stating which year you would like to receive.
BRITISH VALUES IN HISTORY & MODERN TIMES
The British always like to propagandise to all and sundry about the superiority of their values and ‘tolerance’. They will continually exhort that they don’t torture people as they consider themselves a civilised nation, that their government is the ‘Mother of all Parliaments’ and the Westminster Model is what every government should aspire to, and that the British police are the world’s finest. The following three stories from the past fortnight reveal how hollow and nonsensical these claims are.
~ KENYAN TORTURE VICTIMS TO RECEIVE COMPENSATION
Kenyans tortured by British colonial forces during the so-called ‘Mau Mau’ uprising will receive payouts totalling £20m, Foreign Secretary William Hague has announced after the British government belatedly accepted Kenyans were tortured throughout the 1950s. The Kenya Human Rights Commission says 90,000 Kenyans were executed, tortured or maimed and 160,000 people were detained in appalling conditions before Kenya gained independence in 1963.
Mr Hague also announced plans to support the construction of a permanent memorial to the victims in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. He said 5,228 victims would receive payments totalling £19.9m following an agreement with lawyers acting for the victims, who have been fighting for compensation for a number of years. The compensation amounts to about £3,000 per victim and applies only to the living survivors of the abuses that took place.
Mr Hague said Britain still did not accept it was legally liable for the actions of what was a colonial administration in Kenya. But in 2011, the High Court in London ruled that four claimants did have arguable cases in law. Their lawyers allege Paulo Muoka Nzili was castrated, Wambuga Wa Nyingi was severely beaten and Jane Muthoni Mara was subjected to appalling sexual abuse in detention camps during the rebellion. A fourth claimant, Ndiku Mutwiwa Mutua, unfortunately passed away last year.
The British High Commissioner in Nairobi also made a public statement on the settlement to members of the Mau Mau War Veterans' Association in Kenya. The reaction there was muted because the British government continues to deny liability for some of the abuses. Bryan Cox, of Tandem Law, said there were thousands of further claims that remain unresolved and his law firm was working with more than 8,000 Kenyans who were still awaiting an agreement with the British government.
Wambuga Wa Nyingi, 84, detailed his torture at the hands of the British colonial authorities in a witness statement. He was a tractor driver and member of the pro-independence Kenya African Union - but never took ‘the Mau Mau oath’. He survived the Hola massacre in 1959, when 11 Kenyans were beaten to death by prison guards in a detention camp. He said: "I was battered on the back of my head and around my neck repeatedly with a club for up to 20 minutes... I lay unconscious with the 11 corpses for two days in a room where the corpses had been placed awaiting burial. The people who put me there thought I was also dead, but I was in fact unconscious."
~ PLANS FOR CHAGOS ISLANDS MARINE PARK DEEMED LAWFUL
A British government decision to create a marine park in the Indian Ocean has been upheld by the High Court. The controversial reserve was set up around the UK-controlled Chagos Islands in 2010, with commercial fishing banned in areas. Lord Justice Richards and Mr Justice Mitting ruled the marine protected area (MPA) was compatible with EU law.
The Chagos Islands are located in the central Indian Ocean, 1,000 miles (1,600km) from the southern tip of India. The archipelago consists of 55 islands. The marine reserve is the largest in the world. Former residents, evicted in the 1960s to make way for the US Air Force base on the largest island, Diego Garcia, said it would effectively bar them from returning because fishing was their livelihood. This is the base to which terror suspects are ‘rendered’ and tortured from across Afrika, the Middle East and Asia.
The marine park was created by British diplomat Colin Roberts in his role as commissioner for the British Indian Ocean Territory on the instructions of the then Foreign Secretary in April 2010.The Americans were assured the use of their base on Diego Garcia would not be adversely affected by the reserve. Under cross-examination at the High Court, Mr Roberts denied that the marine park had been created for the improper purpose of keeping the Chagossians out, as the US wanted, and said it was for environmental and conservation purposes.
Lawyers for the islanders said a classified US government cable published by WikiLeaks supported their accusations. Mr Roberts was reported in the cable as telling US diplomats at the US embassy in London in May 2009 that the park would keep the Chagossians from resettling on the islands and mean ‘no human footprints’ or ‘Man Fridays’ in the territory. Initially, the judges ruled Mr Roberts should answer questions about the cable and could not rely on a government policy of ‘neither confirming nor denying’ allegations involving matters of national interest. But after further submissions on behalf of the Foreign Secretary, the judges ruled that the Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964 meant the alleged cable, or copies of it held by newspapers, were inadmissible in evidence.
Olivier Bancoult, a spokesman for Chagossian exiles, speaking from his home in Mauritius, where most of the islanders were taken after their deportation. "I am very disappointed that the judges did not consider the suffering of the Chagossian people. We don't understand how it is possible for foreigners - the Americans at the base - to live on the land of our birth while we natives are denied this right. It is one of the most shameful things for the British government to have done."
Mr Bancoult said he planned to launch an appeal against the judgement and to continue his campaign "to show the world that the British government has trampled on our rights". For consistent updates on the situation in the Chagos Islands check the UK Chagos Support Associationþ - www.chagossupport.org.uk
~ SMILEY CULTURE INQUEST
The inquest into the killing of reggae star Smiley Culture (David Emmanuel) has opened. Four Metropolitan Police officers went to his home on the morning of 15 Mar 2011 to arrest him and search his premises in Hillbury Road as part of an inquiry into allegations of conspiring to import Class A drugs into the UK. According to the absurd and fantastical version given by a police officer identified only as Witness Two Smiley Culture’s mood changed completely after a chat over mugs of tea in his kitchen as the search was drawing to a close. The officer claimed that Smiley plunged a kitchen knife once into his own chest although he was already under arrest. When the medics arrived he was already deceased and handcuffs were lying on the kitchen floor. The medics were unable to confirm whether Smiley was handcuffed or not when he was stabbed. Most police tend to keep their handcuffs on them unless they are in use they don’t tend to leave them lying around while they are in the process of arresting suspects. Our suspicion is that the police removed the handcuffs after the stabbing either to undertake CPR or to ensure that Smiley was killed. The inquest continues.
|FORTHCOMING NUBIART PROFILES|
NUBIART: Focus on arts, business, education, health, political developments and the media.
~ ‘FANGNAWA EXPERIENCE’ - Fanga & Maâlem Abdallah Guinéa [Strut – Out Now] This six-track album of extended workouts links the Gnawa ritual and ceremonial music and West African Highlife and Afrobeat through a cross-cultural musical fusion undertaken by French collective Fanga and Moroccan master musician Maâlem Abdallah Guinéa. The album grew out of a collaboration at the Détours du Monde festival in Montpelier in 2011 and here Fanga’s Burkinabe-born singer Korbo and Guinéa share lead vocal duties, with Guinéa building his trademark ‘Fusion Trance’ through spiritual evocations, and rolling, hypnotic rhythms on the gimbri (three-stringed lute) on tracks such as ‘Noble Tree’, ‘Gnawi’, and ‘Dounya’. Korbo’s lyrics serve up food for reflection, touching on the right to be different and promoting harmony between man and nature whilst denouncing the social injustices that result from an economic system out of control and designed to benefit the few. ‘Kelen’ has a groove straight out of The Shrine.
NUBIART LIBRARY – JUNE MEDIA
We will only review books we have read and DVDs we have seen and that are available at reasonable prices online or in shops or libraries. However, given the nature and current state of Afrikan publishing and film production there may be books and films on this list that are worth the extra effort to track down.
~ ‘THE MORALITY OF CHINA IN AFRICA: THE MIDDLE KINGDOM AND THE DARK CONTINENT’ - Edited by Prof Stephen Chan [Zed Books. ISBN: 978-1-78032-566-8]
“Western colonialism appropriates both land and labour for the material benefit of the metropole at the expense of the colony, while setting up a cultural and institutional hierarchy of race, gender and regime. And if Others fail to ‘comply’ with conversion to this ‘universal standard’, then they are subject to the ‘discipline’ from the ‘international community’.” (p74-75)
The reason for this book is that much has been said in the West and there have been many scare stories about China moving into trade with Afrika. Little has been widely reported of the views of either the Afrikan or Chinese and this dearth is redressed here as all of the contributors are Afrikan or Chinese, even if they are currently living or working outside China. The book analyses the relationship through the Confucian values of reciprocity. Afrika provides 25% of China’s oil needs and 15% of the US’s. There are 800,000 Chinese working, living and running businesses in Africa and 800 businesses that are involved in manufacturing and construction at competitive prices with cheaper labour costs than anything that can be achieved in the West.
“Deng’s idea was to purchase foreign industrial plant and machinery.” (p10). Former Chinese Premier Deng Xiaoping’s four great economic modernisations of 1978 is based on the Chinese Three World Theory originated with Zhou Enlai in his 1956 speech to the Bandung Afro-Asian summit and developed from Mao’s 1946 interview with Ann Louise Strong – US and USSR; other developed countries; China and other countries in Afrika, Asia and Latin America. Mao ascribed the final formulation of the theory to former Zambian leader Kenneth Kaunda during his visit to China in 1974.
Afrikans trained in guerrilla warfare carried Mao’s Little Red Book and Chinese-made AK-47s yet there were few Maoist movements in Afrika. Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda and Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere wore the Chinese-cut suit with Afrikan-style yet few Afrikans took up Chinese academic scholarships - they favoured the West and the US Peace Corps were able to heavily penetrate Afrika. There are prominent Chinese in Afrika such as Fay Chung, a Zimbabwean nationalist and Cabinet member while the father of Jean Ping, the former head of the African Union, moved from China to Gabon.
The Non-Aligned Movement was founded in 1961 and from those times the majority of Afrikan countries have stood by China over Tienanman Square, Taiwan and Tibet. China has dealt not with the AU but with individual states through the China-Africa Cooperation Forum (FOCAC) founded in 2000 to avoid embracing an organisation that also has diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Only four Afrikan countries currently have direct relations with Taiwan - Swaziland, Sao Tome e Principe, The Gambia and Burkina Faso. Malawi had maintained links with Taiwan during Hastings Banda‘s rule. In 2007 they broke with Taiwan and received a ?subject=From Website'>260m concessionary loan from China. Trade rose to ?subject=From Website'>100m and a new parliament was built (cost ?subject=From Website'>41m) and a five-star hotel (cost ?subject=From Website'>90m).
China built the African Union HQ with its statue of Kwame Nkrumah which opened in Jan 2012. It was designed after a nationwide competition in architecture schools across China and cost about ?subject=From Website'>200m but was given as a gift on land donated by the Ethiopian government under Haile Selassie in 1963. This is a continuation of major Chinese infrastructure projects in Afrika such as the 550km Somali border road and the TAZARA railway between Zambia and Tanzania which allowed Zambia to bypass apartheid ports. For a short period in the mid-1970s China found itself on the same side as the US and South Africa in supporting UNITA in Angola while the countries of the OAU and Russia were supporting the MPLA. China soon abandoned its position and this was the template for its policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries in Afrika. However, the Three World Theory was further contradicted by the Chinese invasion of Vietnam and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which the Chinese refused to aid despite their historic antagonism to Soviet expansionism.
The fall of apartheid in the 1990s was a bigger blow to the Western economies than many recognised at the time as it meant a source of resources previously considered secure was now open to trade with whoever it chose. It also meant that across Afrikan political efforts could move away from its focus on opposition to apartheid to growing their economies in a hoped-for period of unity and prosperity.
The Chinese are governed by concepts such as weizhing yide (to rule by virtue) and renzhi (rule of benevolence). Tienhsia is the Confucian ethos of benevolence, virtuous rule and non-aggressive Chinese internal / external relations. Confucius proposed five sets of binaries: emperor and subject; husband and wife; father and son; older and younger siblings; and friend with friend. Only in the last was there the possibility for horizontal reciprocation but all are natural and thus even the emperor had to engage in reciprocation. China is happy to front-load benefits to Afrikan countries with which it does business as ‘the older sibling’ – in this case the more economically developed - must provide. There is also the realpolitik that when China was a pariah state Sudan was the fourth country to grant it diplomatic recognition, Thus China ‘officially’ sees its role in Afrika as repaying a debt of loyalty. Chairman Mao proudly asserted, “It is our African brothers who carried us into the United Nations.” (p67)
“Four foreign-policy elements inform China’s African discourse: (1) the ‘three worlds’ theory; (2) ‘five principles of peaceful co-existence’; (3) ‘peace and development’; and (4) the Chinese view of a new world order.” (p62)
Indians started buying Zambian copper mines but tended to asset strip them whereas when the Chinese got involved they revived productivity to take advantage of a rise in commodity prices. However, In October 2010 Chinese supervisors shot 13 workers at the Collum coal mine. This went down badly in the country as Zambia is considered to have a good record of signing up to ILO legislation. The Chinese also engaged in cheating, late payment of salaries, unreasonable working practices and racism.
“The West is not providing aid to develop a competitor.” (p35) Reform of Bretton Woods institutions and the UN for more equitable exchange over global finance, trade and investment, is essential to enhance prospects for development and peace in Afrika. In 2008 China pledged ?subject=From Website'>9bn to DR Congo with Sinohydro Corp, Gecamines and Chinese railway Engineering Corp playing major roles. The Chinese were to get copper and cobalt and DR Congo was to get help with transport infrastructure, 32 hospitals, 145 health clinics, schools and two universities. Through the IMF the West reduced this to ?subject=From Website'>6bn meaning valuable much-needed infrastructure projects were lost. However, this highlighted the fact that the Chinese, like most Afrikans, recognised the prestige of university education whereas the West has always prioritised primary education eg the Millennium Development Goals make no reference to universities. The West prefers ‘Assured Subsistence’ for Afrika – clean water, housing, etc. The goals are a target but they have also become a ceiling so that Afrikan countries cannot challenge the West. The processing of coffee and cocoa would destabilize processing plants in Europe. While petroleum refineries and steel plants would require shared senior management. So China represents the right to manufacture products of a nation’s choosing.
There are many things Afrikans can learn from Asian countries: communist North Korea - treated as a basket-case pariah state in the West - has a cradle-to-grave welfare system that is state managed without the need for a civil society. Afrikans could also look at the role of India’s Green Revolution in boosting food security, IT and democratic politics to cope with internal strife. China has a two-decade strategy for growth as opposed to the short-termism of the West where a quarter’s figures are considered crucial. Chinese leadership visit Africa more regularly than Western leaders. However, China’s long-term time frames for loan repayment exposes them to volatilities, defaults and repudiations. Front-loading assumes a country’s absorptive and operational capacities. What about maintenance, upgrade, co-ordination, criminal or rebel damage? “…the entire Chinese expectation in Africa, repeated from country to country, is that either the governments with whom they deal will be sustained, or any successor government will sustain good relations with China. There seems to be no scenario plan that deals with being pre-emptorily asked to leave.” (p40)
Is Chinese non-intervention fostering and harbouring dictatorships and threatening Afrikan democracy? Does providing non-conditional aid and interest-free loans contradict Western efforts for the promotion of ‘good governance’ in Afrika? Chinese power plants, industry and construction neglect environmental standards and cause ecological damage and Chinese criminality are also being exported to Afrika.
Currently the Chinese economy is growing at 9% per annum. Trade with Afrika was ?subject=From Website'>122bn in 2011 – 4% of Chinese trade worldwide and 10% of Africa’s total trade while FDI totalled ?subject=From Website'>5.4bn. China does competes with Africa producing cheaper, processed goods – textiles, foods, refinery and timber products and one of the contributors, Patrick Mazimhaka, suggested Afrika should shift to automotive and aircraft manufacturing and maintenance and IT.
Stephen Chan was present as an adviser to the Afrikan governments at the Trilateral Dialogue meetings in Tswalu (South Africa), Beijing and Washington DC and the report from the Afrikan participants is included as a chapter here. NEPAD signalled the beginning of a new era in continental politics – a search for unity of action and a desire to seek principled strategic partnerships with the rest of the world. Major economies such as Brazil, India, Turkey, Canada, Cuba and Mexico all have diplomatic relations with the African Union. It is unlikely Afrikan development will come from high volume manufacturing. Afrikan development goals are underpinned by the following strategic tenets: access to technology and global markets, creation and maintenance of social peace, the establishment of environmental standards, transport bidding and institutions, promotions of governance and sound economic management, transparency in aid giving, the maximization of revenues for African governments and electorates, and maximising the effect of local conflict resolution and peacekeeping.
Afrika will need access to money markets as aid has no long-term place in the scheme of things as it stunts local initiative eg with food aid assisted families are reluctant to return to farming as long as the food aid remains available, Across Afrika governance is so lacking that even private sector investors seek government guarantees. Areas for improvements include: institution building and legal reforms, in relation to taxation, public markets and protection of investments. Afrika needs to protect the rights of women, children and minorities. There are also problems arising over the renting of Afrikan lands, displacement and the resettlement of peasants. Afrikan states are still vulnerable to violent change of regimes and therefore investment ratings are low. Tunisia was top of the World Bank ‘Doing Business’ indices immediately before the revolution of 2010-11. Corruption is costing Afrika ?subject=From Website'>150bn a year and around 40% of Afrikan capital has fled the continent giving foreign investors scant confidence.
Africa exports mainly energy to Asia while Asia exports manufacturing and consumer goods to Afrika. For Afrikan trade to grow it is essential for Asian countries to lower high mutual tariffs. Looking wider than China there is also a chapter on India’s investment in Afrika. There is a long history of Indian business in East Africa. Gandhi’s satyagraha movement emphasized the relationship between India and Afrika should not be based on conventional trade and exploitation but on human exchange – ideas and services. Sumit Roy claims the Indian’s have five mantras in dealing with Afrikan countries: of economic cooperation; engaging the persons of Indian origin; preventing and combating terrorism; preserving peace; and assisting the Afrikan defence forces.
The India-Africa Delhi Summit in 2008 pledged to double trade to ?subject=From Website'>50bn by 2012. There was a second India-Africa Forum Summit in Addis Ababa in May 2011 where they aimed to boost trade from ?subject=From Website'>45bn in 2011 to ?subject=From Website'>70bn by 2015 and provide additional aid of ?subject=From Website'>500m alongside the ?subject=From Website'>5.4bn already promised. Also outlined were plans to enhance capacity-building through setting up regional centres of excellence, training centres and skills training over the next five years, discussions on curing piracy and terrorism and mutually supporting Indian and Afrikan seats on the UN Security Council.
ONCC Mittal Energy Ltd negotiated a ?subject=From Website'>6bn infrastructure contract with Nigeria in exchange for two offshore oil exploration rights. “India has also set up a pan-African e-network (IT). This links fifty-three African countries to Indian universities and hospitals to facilitate the development of critical human capital – health and education.” (p136)
Overall, this book makes for fascinating reading not least because it breaks out of the one-dimensional eurocentric analysis of Afrikan trade and development and highlights the importance of not just who wins but who’s story wins. “More intriguing is that Chinese stories about Africa do not reach the West any more than Western stories of Africa are told in China.” (p62)