The violence of keeping what one has stolen

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By Prof Artwell Nhemachena

WESTERN media’s reports on violence give the false impression that colonial and imperial violence ended at the time Zimbabwe, and other African States, got political independence. 

And so, any violence witnessed in Africa is often incorrectly described as African violence even if it is in fact colonial or imperial violence which manifests in Africa as African violence.

In other words, violence that occurs in Africa is not necessarily African — it is proxy violence — much as the terrorism that occurred in the US on September 11 2001 was not American. 

If terrorists, including Al Qaeda according to the US, could be so much a threat to the US that they could destroy the World Trade Centre right within the US, why would violence and terrorism that occur in Africa be simplistically assumed to be African?

The problem in Western media reports is that they are quick to Africanise violence, to describe violence as African merely because it is manifesting in Africa. 

They ignore the fact that even foreign spirits are manifesting in Africa and in Africans – even when it is known that they are not African. 

They forget that when Africans are possessed by foreign spirits, such that they oppose everything African, peace becomes impossible in Africa. 

They ignore the fact that terrorists from outside Africa are exporting, and can export and outsource, their violence to Africa, including in the most insidious ways.

Terrorists need not be the usual Al Qaedas or ISISs. In Africa, slave hunters and colonialists are the terrorists that have, for centuries, executed overt and covert operations everywhere on the continent. 

Even in the 21st Century, the reason some Africans are afraid to repossess their land which was stolen by colonialists is because of fear of escalations in colonial terrorism, including via impositions of sanctions. 

Africans do not need Western media to define Al Qaeda and ISIS as terrorists. Africans know who has terrorised them for centuries.

Africans in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Mozambique, among others, know that it is logical and lawful for them to repossess their land but they are afraid of escalations of imperial terrorism via sanctions, embargos and travel bans, among other punitive measures. 

Similarly, Africans know that real good governance would have to be premised on repossession of stolen African land, yet those in the West who define good governance ignore the imperatives of restitution.

Sanctions are imposed not in order to help Africans but in order to terrorise them so much that they begin to fear demanding their resources which were stolen during colonialism. 

Of course, Western States fool some Africans by arguing that sanctions are meant to force those who repossess their resources to return to the rule of law, democracy, human rights and good governance.

The only difference between Westerners, and Al Qaeda as well as ISISs is that the latter are not given chances to justify their terrorism.

It is not for the love of democracy, human rights, rule of law or good governance that Africans have not taken back their land. Rather it is for fear of Western terrorism and vengeance that some Africans consider repossessing their land as unthinkable.

Recently, I watched a video wherein some South Africans argued that they do not need their land but they need jobs – and they said they were afraid of what happened in Zimbabwe. 

Of course, the irony was that they said they do not need their land even as they were eating, sitting and walking on the land – and even as they are buried on the land. 

In other words, even a worker has to value the land because where there is no land there is no work. 

Given the importance of the land, one would even have expected xenophobia to be directed at those who took or stole South African land instead of at fellow Africans who are accused of taking away South African jobs.

Put differently, it is South Africans who value work more than they value their land who are perpetrating Afrophobia against fellow Africans. 

If they valued their land more than working for someone else, the violence would not have been directed against fellow Africans.

In other words, xenophobia is a sigh of the oppressed creatures who fear repossessing their land. They prefer to repossess jobs instead of repossessing their land. They target those who take away jobs even as they fear those who take away their land. 

They do not even dare to destroy industrial robots that are taking away their jobs faster than fellow Africans are doing. 

In fact, there are reports that about 4,6 million South Africans are set to lose jobs due to robotisation of work in the near future. 

Already, Nedbank South Africa announced it would lay off 3 000 South African workers as it begins robotising or employing robots. 

But there hasn’t been xenophobia against robots that are speedily taking away South African jobs.

Without jobs and without land, South Africans will begin to value the Zimbabwean land revolution because Zimbabweans will, at least, have land when they lose jobs to robots.

Xenophobia, which is targeted at fellow Africans, is merely following a line of least resistance in the sense that the repercussions of xenophobia are very low on those who perpetrate it. 

But the repercussions of repossessing their land are very high in so far as imperialism would escalate its terrorism and vengeance on South Africans who cannot withstand sanctions, embargos and trade restrictions, among others.

Zimbabwe is not an example of Zimbabwean failures or the failure of Zimbabwean leaders. 

Rather, Zimbabwe is an example of the ephemeral effectiveness of imperial terrorism and vengeance on those who attempt to repossess their land stolen during the colonial era.

If there was no imperial terrorism and vengeance, Zimbabwe would have been an example of a Zimbabwean success. 

The problem is not with what Zimbabweans did in repossessing their land, rather the problem was with the resistance by the farmers who did not want to share the land with indigenous Zimbabweans – and the problem was also with imperial terrorism and vengeance.

Zimbabweans, and all other Africans, understand very much the logic of vengeful alien spirits or mashavi that trouble Africans. 

Fear of alien vengeful spirits (mashavi) explains the absence of initiatives and innovativeness among some Africans. 

Imperial vengeance stifles African creativity and innovativeness. Indeed, it is the international politics of vengeance that disrupted the Zimbabwean economy.

The difference is that Zimbabwean leaders did not fear the alien vengeful spirits when they repossessed Zimbabwean land. 

Zimbabweans know that the way to deal with vengeful alien spirits is to cast them out rather than fear them. 

Of course, it is not nice for one to be cast out. 

But one has to understand the violence of keeping what one has stolen. 

The most egregious violence is not in the political realms of African States. Egregious forms of violence are in the economic realms where colonialists and imperialists continue to keep what they have, for centuries, stolen from Africans.

It is not political violence that constitutes the most egregious harms on democracy, human rights, good governance and rule of law. 

Economic violence is lethal on democracy, human rights, good governance and rule of law. 

The point here is that the problem in Africa is not so much about presidents who supposedly stay for too long in power; rather, the problem is that those who stole African land and other resources have kept them for too long. They have stayed for too long with stolen resources, including stolen land.

If staying anywhere too long was not good, colonialists and imperialists who have stayed too long with the land which they stole from Africans would have been the first ones to quickly return it. Instead they have, ironically, stayed for centuries with and on the stolen land. 

Yet Western media only condemn some African political leaders for supposedly staying too long in power. The Western media do not condemn those who have stayed too long on stolen land and with stolen resources.

It constitutes violence for those who stole African land to continue keeping it. And Western media must begin to report violence fairly by including, in their catalogues of the violent ones, those keeping stolen land.

Violence is everywhere in Africa against Africans who have been dispossessed of their land; only that some Africans are not allowed to conceive the most lethal violence perpetrated by those who are keeping stolen African land. 

What human rights can Africans have on a continent where they are not allowed to repossess their stolen land? 

It is ownership of one’s land that defines one as human.

The most egregious violations of human rights are committed by those keeping stolen African land. 

When the Zimbabwean Government repossessed African land, it effectively was enhancing the human rights of those indigenes who had been robbed of their land during the colonial era.

Zimbabweans, and the rest of Africans, who do not have vision will not see that the jobs that they are hoping to keep are already being taken away by robots. 

The visionaries will know that African futures are in ownership and control of African land.

Zimbabweans should vote for land and not for the already vanishing jobs.

While Western media demonised Zimbabweans for ‘invading’ farms, ironically Western capitalists and media are letting robots invade industries and take away human jobs. Western capitalists seek to keep African land and then employ robots.

Those who oppose the Zimbabwean land revolution must ask themselves what is the future of the Africans in such a world where robots are taking over millions of jobs?

What will they be left with, if not the land!

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