Democracy of the missionary position cannot be Zimbabwean

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By Prof Artwell Nhemachena

 

WHAT I call democracy of the missionary position is a kind of democracy that thrives on Western evangelism, call it secular evangelism if you want. 

But even the old missionaries were secular in the sense of serving imperialism rather than serving God.

Of course, the old missionaries taught Africans that it was only by assuming the missionary position that they would enter the kingdom of Heaven. 

This way, colonial missionaries legitimised the neo-colonial logics where one part dominates the other.

Africans need to beware of the so-called international partnerships and ensure that they are not forced or tricked into missionary positions in the 21st Century. 

Africans who are afflicted by the colonial hangover of the missionary position always look up to Europe and America to initiate agendas and projects. 

Even when the State provides opportunities for them to become their own masters and mistresses, owning and controlling their natural resources, they continue to wait for agendas and projects from Europe and the US.

The only kind of democracy which they accept and hope for is one which is defined and given by the West.

What is evident is that colonial missionaries had their own ulterior missions or goals which were neither to serve God nor to serve African people but to serve imperialism and the colonial projects imposed on Africans. 

What I call democracy of the missionary position draws African attention to the fact that missionaries of democracy in Africa have their own ulterior motives or goals which are neither to serve Africans nor to serve God but to serve imperialism and the neo-colonial projects being imposed on Africans.

Missionaries of the democracy of the missionary position are evangelising like the missionaries of the old. 

Missionaries of the democracy of the missionary position are insisting that Africans must be obedient and must be submissive to the West, just as the missionaries of the old exacted obedience and submission from Africans. 

They are keeping Africans busy with a kind of democracy that keeps them poor because it is not connected to ownership and control of natural resources. 

It is not connected to African sovereignty over natural resources.

Put differently, democracy of the missionary position, by default, makes Africans love poverty. It, by default, promises Africans that the poor will enter and remain in the kingdom of the empire and be loved by the emperor.

The emperor has assumed the position of God. He has become the unmoved mover in the world. 

One who moves and orders others around without being ordered and moved in return. 

One who, with impunity, dispossesses and exploits others in ways that deprave their God-given humanity.

The emperor warns that those Africans who repossess their land and other natural resources will not enter and remain in the kingdom of the empire, or be loved by the emperor. 

Travel embargos and sanctions will be imposed on those that repossess their land and other resources.

Liberal democracy is not liberal because it is, for Africans, a democracy that is dictated by the West. 

This is the reason I call it democracy of the missionary position. It is a kind of democracy that is imposed. 

The missionaries of such a form of democracy know very well, like the missionaries of the old, that Africans already had their own kinds of democracy that served them well.

Democracy of the missionary position is not pluralistic because it is imposed and dictated by the Westerners who, in any case, constitute a very small percentage of humanity. 

It is a form of democracy that thrives on submission and obedience to the West which imposes the democracy.

The term ‘democracy of the missionary position’ captures the dictatorial, authoritarian and autocratic nature of what Westerners call liberal democracy. 

It exposes the illiberalism of the ‘liberal’ democracy in so far as it is premised on the logics of the missionary position where one part assumes a hegemonic position dominating the other.

There is no democracy in Western liberal democracy.

Just like missionaries of the old insisted that Africans assume missionary positions, new missionaries of Western liberal democracy insist that African leaders assume missionary positions in their relations with Westerners. 

There is nothing liberal in Western liberal democracy.

Western democracy impoverishes Africans who are not allowed to think and rethink their own politics and economies, for instance. 

Consequently, Africans become economically, ideologically, politically and theoretically poor because they cannot think and rethink their own politics.

Poverty is not all about material economic conditions. Western liberal democracy is a curse that maintains the impoverishing colonial status quo on Africans suffocating Africans even as they are promised freedom through it.

It is a kind of democracy that inherently promises what it cannot deliver in the form of freedom and liberation.

The term ‘liberal democracy’ belies the kind of democracy that Africans are forced to practise in Africa. 

African intellectuals need to retheorise democracy so that it reflects the realities in Africa. Liberal democracy is liberal for Westerners but, for Africans, it is illiberal in the sense that it is imposed, dictated and suffocating. 

A democracy of the missionary position cannot bring development and prosperity to Africans.

 It may result in Western humanitarian aid which is effectively a ‘gift’ to Africans and is not sustainable.

This is why those Africans who refuse to take the missionary positions in relation to the West are denied humanitarian aid, and even sanctioned.

Westerners loathe equality. 

In political spheres, economic spheres, religious spheres, cultural spheres, in education, in legal spheres, technological spheres, health spheres and so on, Westerners want to dominate.

Even elsewhere, the ongoing war in Ukraine came about because the West thought the Russian President Vladimir Putin would accept the missionary position even as NATO expanded towards the Russian borders, in breach of earlier agreements made in the 1990s.

Similarly, the fast-track Land Redistribution Programme in Zimbabwe happened because the West thought the late and former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s Government would accept Britain’s dominance, even after the British breached the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement to fund land redistribution in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe was sanctioned by the US and Europe not because Mugabe’s Government had breached democracy and human rights. 

The problem for them was that Mugabe’s Government refused to be cowed.

And anyone who is defiant is regarded a rebel deserving Western sanctions. 

And so, many African leaders have been, and are being, forced and arm-twisted into submission so that they can continue siphoning African resources to the West, in the 21st Century.

Patriotism requires Zimbabweans to be up and active in ensuring that Zimbabwean values are at the centre.

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