Patterns of history…American ambassadors to Zimbabwe

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FROM independence to date, a total of 15 US Ambassadors have been accredited to Zimbabwe. 

On the face of it, the informing principle was diplomacy mutually beneficial to both parties. 

But on the ground, the relationship has been toxic and, for the most part, unsustainable. 

The powerful guests have been vulgarly disrespectful to the ‘weak’ host in a manner that shamelessly borders on genocidal intentions. 

And it is not a first time. 

It is a thinly veneered historic race issue.

This article invokes black people’s ‘self-evident’ right to a point of view ‘not prescribed’ by USAID to Africa but informed by lived experience.

It is an irrefutable fact of recorded history that during the liberation struggle, when indigenous black Zimbabweans were fighting genocidal extermination by Europeans, the US circumvented UN sanctions on white Rhodesia and bought Rhodesian chrome to give white Rhodesians a life line.

The US further allowed Ian Smith to recruit white American mercenaries into his army. 

Many of these swelled the officer ranks of the notorious Selous Scouts regiment.

The US again honoured arms deals with apartheid South Africa, the conduit used by the whole Western world to get NATO machine guns into Rhodesian hands. 

The carnage and mass graves at Nyadzonia, Chimoio, Tembwe, Mkushi, Freedom Camp, Chibondo and Butcher Farm are irrefutable testimony to that.

Needless to say Zimbabwe still attained independence even in the face of the enormous NATO odds, and the Americans and their British counterparts shamelessly facilitated the transfer of the worst elements of the Rhodesian security forces to apartheid South Africa from where they would continue to destabilise independent black African States. 

Those ‘worst elements’ included members of the Selous Scouts Regiment, Grey Scouts, SAS and the Mozambique National Resistance Movement (MNR) among whose ranks white American mercenaries had fought to preserve exclusive white minority privilege.

And then there was the pretension that everything was normal. 

The US representative in Zimbabwe changed from ‘US Chargé d’Affaires’ of Rhodesia to ‘US Ambassador to Zimbabwe.’

As mentioned before, 15 ambassadors have been deployed from independence to date. 

And of those 15 ambassadors, seven have been black African-Americans.

They are: J. Steven Rhodes (March 8 1990-August 6 1990 ); Edward G. Lanpher (October 25 1991-January 12  1995); Johnnie Carson (March 4 1995-July 25 1997); James D. McGee (October 2007-2009); Charles Ray (September 14 2009-2012); Harry K. Thomas, Jr. (December  8 2015 March 25 2018); Brian Nichols (July 2 2018-September 13 2021)

It is important to note that none of the black ambassadors were deployed in the first 10 years of Zimbabwe’s independence. 

The Lancaster House Agreement that ended the liberation struggle had adequately secured white settler-interests by providing that the Constitution could not be changed in the first decade. 

This meant that constitutional amendments for full implementation of the black self-determination objectives of the liberation struggle had to wait until expiry of the constitutional sanctions in 1990.

Hindsight now shows that the first deployment of US black ambassadors to Zimbabwe on March 8 1990 coincided with the expiry of the Lancaster House Constitutional limitations and the implementation of the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) recommended and sponsored by the World Bank whose president was traditionally an American citizen nominated by the US, the largest shareholder in the World Bank Group.

It is needless to say that ESAP was a tragic error of judgment that not only delayed land reform but also wrought economic disaster on the country. 

The September 9-11 1998 International Donors Conference convened to raise funds for land reform yielded nothing. 

In retrospect, the noncommittal stance taken by the British and Americans who had originally given their word to fund and redistribution at the 1979 Lancaster House Conference seems to show that ESAP had been part of the bigger conspiracy only now visible in the longer perspective.

The same hindsight also shows that the choice of black ambassadors was not a case of clinical merit but bold chessboard moves deployed at critical moments in the volatile history of Zimbabwe. 

The longer perspective shows that the black ambassadors were deployed for their capacity to work unnoticed among the indigenous black victims of like skin colour.

Their black skin would not draw undue attention to their movements. 

And it also worked as a decoy inspiring tragic confidence in the targeted majority black population as well as the novice politician and human rights activist.

It is an insurgency trick that worked with Rhodesian Selous Scouts, a pseudo-guerilla regiment whose first and deepest cut was the August 9 1976 massacre of refugees at Nyadzonia. 

They were black just like the targeted victims. 

They dressed like comrades. 

They carried AK 47s. 

They chanted liberation war slogans. 

They recited national grievances to gain the victims’ trust.

But their handlers were white Rhodesians, and their orders were to kill those who trusted them. 

And that was notwithstanding that the pseudo-guerillas were themselves also institutional victims of the very same system they were fighting to preserve. 

Like their victim black kith and kin, they too did not have the land for which the freedom fighters were fighting to get. They too could not get treatment from whites-only hospitals. 

And in the camps they operated from, they were not allowed to use whites-only facilities and, their meagre wages (of political sin) were determined by the colour of their skin.

Background checks show that of the eight black ambassadors deployed by the US Government to Zimbabwe since independence, four have roots in the southern former slave States of Louisiana,Virginia and Texas. 

In 1861, the three states were among the 11 southern States that formed the Confederacy that fought the US to preserve their slave economies. 

For them, slavery of black people meant free labour which translated to easy money that could not be given up without a fight. 

The other Confederate States were South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina.

These later included Kentucky and Missouri.

The Confederates lost the civil war but not the numerical majority decision to retain the benefits of slavery through state and local laws that became known as the Jim Crow laws. 

The Jim Crow laws enforced racial segregation in the Southern US.

This was to the extent that a century later, in the 1960s, the southern States constituted a modern-day nursery of the Ku Klux Klan that produced white supremacists who opposed the protection of descendants of black slaves by law.

The principle of Ku Klux Klan is still in operation today. 

It gives credence to the Black Lives Matter Movement, which begs black ambassadors deployed to oppose black-African self-determination to open their eyes.

And they don’t seem to see the connection.

The case in point here is that black Zimbabweans have a common race ancestry with J. Steven Rhodes; Edward G. Lanpher; Johnnie Carson, James McGee, Charles Ray, Harry Thomas Jr and Brian Nichols.

They are all black like us. 

They were abducted from among us and we are all victims of over 500 years of racial hate and holocaust. 

We are all brothers to Malcom X, Martin Luther King and George Floyd.

And, it is not right for the descendants of abducted blacks to return home leashed to hunt surviving brethren for the white slave master.

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