By Dr Tafataona Mahoso
THE white Anglo-Saxon world remains extremely sensitive to any conversation, let alone action, concerning historical land theft and demands by indigenous people for land reclamation and land redistribution.
With few exceptions, all the white regimes of the world, from Norway to New Zealand, have retreated into laager mode since the beginning of Zimbabwe’s African land reclamation movement and agrarian revolution known as The Third Chimurenga.
This white laager has been centred around London and Washington DC, with their Zimbabwe Democracy Trust (UK) and Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Amendment Act (ZDERAA, US).
The determination of these two white supremacist states to globalise what started as a bilateral quarrel between London and Harare can be demonstrated by listing the international organisations which have so far been set up and deployed against Zimbabwe since the year 2000.
This global land issue is directly related to slavery.
The European theft of vast continental lands in the West created acute hunger for slave labour to work huge plantations in North/South America and the Caribbean.
The availability of African slave labour made it easy for settlers in North America to treat Native American populations as purely disposable, that is as victims of genocide and the Western apartheid system based on ‘reservations for superfluous natives’ which were later copied as ‘Bantustans’ in South Africa.
To illustrate the global historical legacy of slavery on land we should place or imagine in front of us 11 historical maps, which I have seen and used in my classes.
The first map would show invasions of Ireland by English and Scottish settlers from 1500 to 1558.
There the waves of conquest moved from the east of the island toward the west.
The next two maps of Ireland would illustrate the persistent and continual growth of the settler-population in the form of ‘plantations’ used to supply England with food and raw materials at the expense of natives.
The next two maps, four and five, would demonstrate demographic and societal ‘push factors’ in England, between 1649 and 1691, which necessitated aggressive land grabs in Ireland.
These push factors in England were to grow more and more powerful until they resulted in a frenzy of global expansionism in the 19th Century which made heroes out of scoundrels such as Cecil John Rhodes with his Cape-to-Cairo megalomania.
From seeing or imagining such maps, it becomes clear that Ireland was used as the experimental ground for what later happened in North America in the 17th and 18th Centuries.
In North America, the English settlers used, upon Native Americans, the experience and skills gained in subjugating and dispossessing the Irish.
The first North American map should show the distribution of Native American populations before their decimation by white settlers.
White history tries to paint the picture of an almost empty North American continent; but scholars point to evidence that the population of natives in North America was around 12 million prior to white intrusion.
This means, without genocide and white-induced epidemics, Native Americans initially had the demographic potential to remain the majority into modern times.
The second map, we would use for North America, demonstrates a big shift in population and land control taking place between 1784 and 1820, making it clear that the worst genocide against natives happened after the US Declaration of Independence of 1776 and that it also coincided with huge expansions in the African slave population.
As in Ireland, in North America the push against native populations started in the east going westwards.
The third North American map to illustrate our story would show what happened between 1820 and 1840; what the natives call the ‘Trail of Tears’, meaning the forced removals and migrations of natives from their sacred ancestral lands into concentration camps out in the West which are called ‘reservations’.
The fourth historical map for North America would reveal a most shocking similarity between Native American ‘reservations’ and what the English and Boer settlers in South Africa copied as ‘Bantustans’.
This last historical map, for our purpose, for North America can be renamed ‘the distribution of North American Bantustans’.
It shows, on the ground, one of the reasons the US was such a great investor in apartheid up to the 1986 US Anti-Apartheid Act.
From North America, we move to SA.
The first similarity we notice is that white historians and white textbooks in both countries are concerned with whether or not white settlers stole land belonging to natives.
The text books in both countries try to treat natives as settlers who happened to arrive in the area earlier than whites; to treat the land as empty or almost empty at the time of white settlement; and to under-state the size of the native population at the time of white settlement.
In SA, slavery was introduced and practised in Cape Colony but the proximity and availability of large African populations made it less effective than in North America. However, the importation of applied apartheid from the North American experience was very effective.
‘Reservations’ became ‘African tribal reserves’ which became ‘Bantustans’ in South Africa.
The white settler-push and land grab against African nationalities in SA moved from the south-west to the north-east, mostly between 1770 and 1886.
That is what our first map on SA would show.
The second map on SA would show the series of white wars against the Xhosa and the Zulu as well as the fast disappearance of African lands into white settler-hands. In nine wars against the Xhosa alone, for instance, the white settlers stole more than 500 000 head of cattle, that is half a million head of cattle.
The map or maps would show that the current Kingdom of Lesotho is only about one quarter of what used to be the land of the Sotho in the 19th Century.
The rest of the land is now part of South Africa.
What we call Swaziland (eSwatini) is also only one third of what eSwatini was up to in 1868.
The main point of the brief survey is to demonstrate why all Anglo-Saxon societies hate contemporary native land demands and land revolutions.
The second point is that, because slavery started late in SA and was not as effective and widespread there as in North America, the settlers had to rely on labour from African nations.
As a result, they could not adopt a policy of outright extermination of the natives as in Australia, New Zealand and North America.
Genocide policy in SA was ambivalent because the same Africans provided essential labour and because the Africans continued to outnumber white people throughout the colonial period.
Natives in SA would continue to struggle for independence with the real hope of becoming free and independent.
This hope was lost to Native Americans, to Tasmanians, to Australian Aborigines and to Maoris of New Zealand.
All the same, all these native
populations support land revolutions for Zimbabwe, SA, Namibia and even Palestine.
On the other side, the reason why it is only white countries which maintain sanctions against Zimbabwe is the white supremacist mentality which is the legacy of slavery on a global scale.
The late South African President P.W. Botha’s 1985 speech summed up this mentality, as follows:
“(It) is comforting to know that behind the scenes, Europe, America, Canada, Australia, and all others, are behind us in spite of what they say.
For diplomatic relations, we all know what language should be used and where.
To prove my point, Comrades, does anyone of you know a white country without an investment or interest in (apartheid) South Africa?…The strength of our (apartheid) economy is backed by America, Britain and Germany.”
In the very same speech, Botha also revealed his thoughts on white ways to reduce the population of Africans in particular, saying:
“I wish to announce a number of new strategies that should be put to use to destroy this Black bug.
We should now make use of the chemical weapon. Priority number one, we should not by all means allow any more increases in the Black population lest we be choked very soon.
I have exciting news that our scientists have come with an efficient stuff.
I am sending out more researchers to the field to identify as many venues as possible where the chemical weapons could be employed to combat any further population increases… I am also sending a special request to Afrikaner (white) mothers to double their birth rate.”
This is the context of white racist sanctions against Zimbabwe.
This is the context of the US wall across the US-Mexico border which the current US President Donald Trump had courage to make an election campaign issue.