HomeTop NewsAFRICOM and the tragic pattern of history‘…our enemy is next door’

AFRICOM and the tragic pattern of history‘…our enemy is next door’

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THE US has one of the largest mi

litary forces on the planet, with billions worth of arsenal at its disposal, but if history is anything to go by, the establishment of the so-called Office of Security Cooperation in Zambia will soon have tragic consequences for Southern Africa.

No doubt having a US military outpost on one’s land means opening the nation to attacks. 

The 1998 Nairobi and Dar es Salaam US Embassy bombings that left thousands dead come to mind.

In fact, there have been more attacks on Kenyan soil ever since.

According to the US Defence Department’s Africa Centre for Strategic Studies, there are now roughly 24 active militant Islamist groups operating in Africa, from just five in 2010, two years after US Command Base (AFRICOM) set camp. The US military activities in Botswana are also questionable.

Since AFRICOM set base in Africa, the number of military missions, activities, programmes and exercises has risen 1 900 percent from 172 to 3 500.

According to an investigative report by The Intercept, the US military has recently conducted 36 named operations and activities in Africa, more than any other region of the world, including the Greater Middle East.

Without any military and economic muscle, Africa finds itself in yet another phase of imperialism as the Americans set up to ‘defend their interests’ on the continent and attempt to stop any serious competition to its control of resources and markets.

Since the 1884 Berlin Conference that marked the partitioning of Africa, there has been competition for Africa’s human and natural resources with global powers using whatever means necessary, be it soft power (aid, immunisations, vaccines…) or hard power (AFRICOM) to achieve an edge over competitors.

So far, China has outbid them in terms of partnerships.  

Kwame Nkrumah, in his book, Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism, writes: “A world power, having decided on principles of global strategy that it is necessary to have a military base in this or that nominally independent country, must ensure that the country where the base is situated is friendly. Here is another reason for balkanisation. 

If the base can be situated in a country which is so constituted economically that it cannot survive without substantial ‘aid’ from the military power which owns the base, then, so it is argued, the security of the base can be assured.” 

As always, Africa finds itself marooned and paying for its underdevelopment as it becomes yet another playing field for the ‘new cold war’ games.

The US 2019 New Africa Strategy Report stated that: “Great power competitors, namely China and Russia, are rapidly expanding their financial and political influence across Africa. 

They are deliberately and aggressively targeting their investments in the region to gain a competitive advantage over the US.”

On the other hand, the European Union’s report titled, Towards a Comprehensive Strategy with Africa (2020) fretted over the ‘competition for natural resources’.

There was a trending caption on Twitter that said: “France has the 4th world gold reserve 2 436 tonnes worth US$111,8 billion while it possesses no gold mine on its territory. 

While Mali has no gold reserve and has 860 gold mines and produces 50 tonnes each year.”

The writer ends the post by reminding the reader that France has been in Mali for decades to ‘fight terrorism’ in its former colony.

Obliviously our neighbour, Zambia, like other historical African leaders has signed away our regional stability, future prospects and unity.

There is a tragic pattern of history with regards to treaties and partnerships in our region.

In 1887, King Lobengula entered a treaty with Piet Grobler just as his father King Mzilikazi had entered another that stifled their military development with a clause that stated: “Lobengula commits himself to provide assistance at all times whenever he is summoned by the Government or an officer of the South African Republic, to render any assistance, either with soldiers or otherwise, as his people shall then have to stand under the command of the Commanding officer or lesser under him, without he or one of his men showing the least disobedience.”

In an earlier treaty with Potgieter, King Mzilikazi is alleged to have signed and agreed not to allow the trading of guns or ammunition in his territory and to arrest any arms traders and hand them over to the Boer Republic. 

This would again further disarm the locals and historically entrench themselves as the weaker race.

Every year, global powers show off their military prowess and also as a warning to any country that intends to attack.

The rule of the jungle is that might is power and one cannot keep what he cannot defend

As the Athenians say: “The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”

Over the years, the disarming of the indigenous people would be strategic and consistent.

Again in 1888, Charles Rudd fraudulently entered an agreement with King Lobengula in what is called the Rudd Concession. King Lobengula believed that Reverend Charles Helms who was witness to the treaty was an honest man only to realise that he was on Rhodes’s payroll.

The treaty deceitfully stated that King Lobengula was king of Mashonaland and had given the British 

ultimate powers over the territory to stop the Portuguese from arming the Shona people.

The treaty stated that we had signed away our minerals and sovereignty for a few guns and bullets as well as few hundred British pounds.  

For that he signed to give the whiteman’s, “…heirs, representatives, and assigns, jointly and severally, the complete and exclusive charge over all metals and minerals situated and contained in my kingdoms, principalities, and dominions, together with full power to do all things that they may deem necessary to win and procure the same, and to hold, collect, and enjoy the profits and revenues, if any, derivable from the said metals and minerals, subject to the aforesaid payment.”

Today the heirs and governmental representatives to these ‘grantees’ use same said profits to divide the nation

 and lobby other nations to sanction the country and its people to paupers.

King Lobengula also pledged to use his military to fight and exclude any other interested parties – even if they had a better offer: “I do hereby undertake to render them all such needful assistance as they may from time to time require for the exclusion of such persons, and to grant no concessions of land or mining rights from and after this date without their consent and concurrence.”

In another instance, Botswana’s Seretse Khama actually invited British occupation, supposedly for protection from King Lobengula and he advised south-west Zambia’s Lubosi Lewanika to do the same to which he readily agreed.

It is not surprising that it was Khama’s people who literally paved the way – chopping off branches and cutting the long savanna grass – for the 1890 Pioneer Column into Zimbabwe.

That is how Zimbabwe’s fight against occupation in Southern Africa became a lone fight.

South Africa was already a white State and the launch pad of regional occupation while Mozambique was already Portuguese territory. 

Our northern neighbour, Zambia (formerly Northern Rhodesia), was literally handed independence after 73 years of British rule.

That was not the case for Zimbabwe as it took protracted liberation wars to dislodge white colonial rule. 

Thousands of Zimbabweans perished in those wars.

Perhaps that explains why it was not an issue for our neighbour, particularly its new leadership, to allow AFRICOM to set base there. 

They trust the whiteman. 

It’s unfortunate because by the time they realise that the whiteman in general has no permanent friends but interests, it will be a little too late. 

As for Zimbabwe, lest we forget; the enemy is right next door.


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