By Dr Vimbai Gukwe Chivaura
THE white man’s incessant obsession with Africa is all about land.
Africans should never let anything distract them from this fact.
The white man’s talk about religion, human rights, women’s rights, children’s rights and all kinds of constitutional rights are all meant to distract Africans from this fact.
The white man’s intention is to dispossess us Africans of their land and take it himself as his heritage.
This is the meaning of the Berlin Conference.
It was a grand plan to stop Africans from inheriting the fertile lands of Africa bequeathed to them by their Creator and ancestors and surrender it to whites in exchange of beautiful sounding empty words such as Heaven, Paradise, Democracy, Globalisation and Freedom of worship, as if we did not have all these things or worship freely before the white man set foot on African soil. What is there to choose between our land and their concocted rights?
What wisdom is there in such a choice or exchange?
Real African rights and constitutions are celebrations of our land, the resources of our land, the benevolence of our land, the plenitude of our land, the sanctity of our land, and indivisibility and oneness of the people of our land and their land.
The following views from the Red Man’s experience about the dispossession of his land at the hands of the white man in America will help Africans wake up to the danger of forfeiting Africa as their heritage to the white man in exchange for empty rights as mere toys for children to play with.
Here is the Red Man experience:
Will you ever begin to understand the meaning of the very soil beneath your feet?
From a grain of sand to a great mountain, all is sacred.
Yesterday and tomorrow exist eternally upon this continent.
We natives are guardians of this sacred place (Peter Blue Cloud, Mohawk).
The Blue Ridge Mountains were part of the sprawling domain of the Cherokee, a bountiful land that would meet all their needs, so long as they took care to preserve the intricate harmony of the Creator’s work (Red Indian Elder explains).
When the white man came over the wide waters, he was, but a little man, very little.
His legs were cramped by sitting long in his big boat and he begged for a little land.
But when the white man had warmed himself at the Indian’s fire, and had filled himself with the Indian’s hominy, he became very large and demanded for more land (Speckled Snake, Creek).
I have long since learned who you Castilians are.
To me you are professional vagabonds who wander from place to place, gaining your livelihood by robbing, sacking, and murdering people who have given you no offense and taking away their land (Florida Chief 1539).
Your forefathers crossed the great waters and landed on this island.
Their numbers were small.
We took pity on them, and they sat down among us.
We gave them corn and meat.
They took our land from us and gave us poison in return (Sagoyewatha ‘Red Jacket’, Seneca).
We know our lands are valuable.
The white people think we do not know the value of our lands.
But we are sensible that the land is everlasting and the few goods we receive for it from the white man are soon worn out and gone (Canasatego, Onondaga).
My reason tells me that land cannot be sold.
Nothing can be sold, but such things as can be carried away (Black Hawk, Sauk).
Sell a country!
Why not sell the air, the great sea, as well as the earth?
Did not the Great Spirit make them all for the use of his children? (Tecumseh, Shawnee).
These lakes, these woods, and mountains were left us by our ancestors.
We will part with them to no one (Pontiac, Ottawa).
We have lived upon this land from days beyond history’s records, far past any living memory, deep into the time of legend.
The story of my people and the story of this land are one single story.
We are always joined together (Pueblo Elder).
We never had a thought of exchanging our land for any other, fearing the consequences may be similar to transplanting an old tree, which would wither and die away (Levi Colbert, Chickasaw). The landscape is our church, a cathedral.
It is like a sacred building to us (Zuni saying).
The whites are already nearly a match for us all united, and too strong for any one tribe alone to resist.
Unless we support one another with our collective forces, they will soon conquer us, and we will be driven away from our native country and scattered as leaves before the wind (Tecumseh, Shawnee).
We had hoped the white man would not be willing to travel beyond the mountains.
Now that hope is gone.
They have passed the mountains, and have settled on Cherokee lands.
The remnants of the Ani-Yunwiya, the Real People, once so proud and formidable will be obliged to seek refuge in some distant wilderness (Dragging Canoe, Cherokee, 1768).
Brothers, we must be one as the English are, or we shall all be destroyed.
You know our fathers had plenty of deer and skins and our plains were full of game and turkeys, and our coves and rivers were full of fish.
But, brothers, since these Englishmen have seized our country, they have cut down the grass with scythes and trees with axes.
Their cows and horses eat up the grass, and their hogs spoil our bed of clams; and finally we shall starve to death; therefore, I ask you, resolve to act like men. (Miantonomi, Narragansett)
You have guns, and so have we.
You have powder and lead, and so have we.
You have men and so have we.
Your men will fight and so will ours, till the last drop of the Seminole’s blood has moistened the dust of his hunting ground. (Osceola, Seminole, 1836)
I am a red man.
If the Great Spirit had desired me to be a white man he would have made me so in the first place. Now we are poor, but we are free.
No white man controls our footsteps.
If we must die we die defending our land. (Sitting Bull, Hunkpapa Sioux)
I have a little boy.
If he is not dead, tell him the last words of his father were that he must never go beyond the Father of Waters, but die in the land of his birth.
It is sweet to die in one’s native land and be buried by the margins of one’s native stream (Tsali, Cherokee Shaman, awaiting execution, 1838).
The battle cry for Africa and Zimbabwe today should therefore be, Our Motherland or Death.
Mwoyo wangu wazvipira kufira Zimbabwe!