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This unpleasant image of Africa in Western conceptual scheme cascades down every second news report on Africa seen in the

Western media. This mobilization of bias has equally trailed the role given to black actors in centres of imperial relevance. This explains

why AIDS must originate in Africa, even though it was first discovered among white gay community in the United States.  

 

 

Slogan of Imperial Atrocity

By Emmanuel Franklyne Ogbunwezeh

 

Part 5 

Empire defines its narrow interests as national interests or interests with global applicability. We must be in the know that the empire of today can be seen in the corporations. Corporate interests are off the cuff defined as national interests. This situation is made possible by the mega-corporate ownership of the media in the West. Does this explain why in the name of furthering and advancing democracy, the American empire has had cause to support and prop up governments whose human rights record and democratic pretences are so scandalous as to make Hitler and Stalin look like choirboys? Read about Nicaragua and the contras! It is only an instance. What about the Saudis, where medieval monstrosities reign in modern kaffirs? You can ask the White House!

The Zimbabwean impasse assuming the epicentre of Western media news reporting for the past months, has presented opinion mongers and columnist a very rich material for their vocations. On the surface, what is at stake is supposedly the fight between two absolute poles, which can never meet; namely tyranny and democracy; the good and the evil. The framing is so very familiar. The discourse is being generated and driven by empire. Throughout history, metropoles of power have always framed, clad, and rendered their arrant grab for power and profit in this Armageddonic rhetoric. They have always driven the discourse.

The biblical Jews of the exodus saw it as a mandate of their High god, to slaughter the poor inhabitants of the land of Palestine into submission before occupying it. Their aggression and genocide was anchored on the pretext that the inhabitants of these land were pagans, whose ways are far from the ways of the Jewish god. Being a pagan or a witch was the ancient and medieval equivalent of being labelled a terrorist today. This was the death sentence on a people who are not as aggressive as the Jews were in their thirst for settlement.

The missionaries articulated their mission as a struggle between civilization and savagery. To calm their consciences, they sold themselves the dummy that they were on civilizing mission; setting out from their civilized climes to liberate Africans whom they considered captives to savagery. The development aid rhetoric is wrapped in the same dysfunctional paternalism and exploitative designs, which hides a rotten core of primitive greed

The Western media and their satellites manufacture fictions, which has been their tradition, when they accompany powerful interests to wreck havoc on those clamouring to be free. The framing and absurd reduction of the issues in Zimbabweas a war between the forces of good represented by democracy, and  axis of evil where terror, tyranny and dictatorship resideshas been a mismanagement of illusion and falsehoods. This construct has been the signature slogan deployed by rogue power to scaffold and justify the historical atrocities, which empire has inflicted on her victims. This slogan has accompanied the Western exploitative enterprise throughout history.

The pacification of natives who canvassed independence for the colonies was framed in the metropole as a battle between civilization and savagery. We saw that in the 1929 Aba women riots in Nigeria, and the 1949 massacre of striking coal miners in Enugu. America and her coalition of the willing are still bringing their bloody version of democracy to Iraq. We must bear in mind that the number of Iraqis that die daily since the American invasion is in the race to make Sadaam’s murders look pedestrian. At this rate, when democracy is finally given to Iraq, there wouldn’t be any Iraqis alive to enjoy it. 

This is the same metaphysic driving Zimbabwe’s day in the news. It has been all for the wrong reasons and from the wrong end of the power perspective. Does one have the luxury of expecting anything better? Africa entered Western conceptual scheme dressed in the borrowed robes of a fabricated image.  She resides in this scheme without any chance of redemption, as a continent in the thralldom of primeval savagery. Her image was constructed in the dark hearts of people like Joseph Conrad, and told in his Heart of Darkness. It was forever peddled by pseudo-authorities, whose bigoted pronouncements became authoritative in a supremacist dance of self-adulation. Here inhabit western philosophical sages like Hegel, who believed Africans have neither soul nor capable of philosophizing. The myopic and intellectual children among us were hoodwinked into thinking that this image has been erased by the rampaging advance of human progress. I wish it were.

This unpleasant image of Africa in Western conceptual scheme cascades down every second news report on Africa seen in the Western media. This mobilization of bias has equally trailed the role given to black actors in centres of imperial relevance. This explains why AIDS must originate in Africa, even though it was first discovered among white gay community in the United States. This explains why Hancock a black superhero played by Will Smith can only be a hero by having a white woman who had the heart of gold. This equally explains the subtle images of bias deployed to keep the African alive as a sleazy picture of proximate danger in western conceptual scheme. We equally saw this play itself out abundantly during Barack Obama’s primary run for the White House. Fredrick Lugard’s racists and condescending vituperations about Africa and Africans have not really changed much. It still resides in this conceptual scheme.

Amnesia trumps memory

The tragedy of modern victims is the historical triumph of amnesia over memory. Today’s victims have always been victims in history. Why is that the case? Where is their collective memory? Has it being bleached of all content? In utter disregard of Santayana, we have woefully failed to learn from history, and we have been condemned to this unintelligent repetition of historical tragedies. Zimbabwe is gearing up to be another footnote to the tragedies, which the empire of greed is ready to plunge us into, pursuant to its vision of a world ruled by a mixture of greed, capital, and dissimulation. We may accuse intellectual laziness or the congenital desire of modern victim to escape into amnesia as narcotic for the historical shocks that has punctuated his entire existence. But the point is that intellectual laziness is a culpable indictment because it is the exclusive preserve of vegetables, not humans.

For Africans who have been at the receiving end of historical atrocities to rise and reclaim their dignity and rightful place, they must learn from history. The memories of our pain; the memories of the chains laid on the hands and feet of our ancestors; the stolen labour squeezed and exacted out of them with cudgels; the bludgeons applied to their tiredness, and death offered for their resistance; the memory of lashes and wounds inflicted by prejudice and racial bigotry on their backs must all be excavated and archived in our collective memory. The slave trade was worse than the Jewish holocaust. But no one has ever atoned for it. The watery chasm of the Atlantic was forced by imperial greed to bear witness to history’s greatest crime. “Fortunes were made, and financial institutions flourished on the back of human bondage”.[i]

Africa was despoiled for good measure. The dress rehearsal for the Nazi holocaust was first practiced by the German State on the Herrero tribe of Nambia, led by a manHeinrich Ernst Goering; whose sonHermann Goering, would grow in the footsteps of his father to become a prominent actor in the Nazi version. All these must be recalled and catalogued in memory. Amnesia should never be allowed to triumph over memory. The Jews catalogued theirs and have been morally blackmailing the world with their pain. That helps memory to cry: Never Again! And insist on it. Africa should never continue on the paths it has been forced to take since the official end of that era. 

The inroads of collective amnesia on memory have made us forget history. This has a la Santayana, condemned us to repeating it. The slave trade has never ended. What ended was its Atlantic version. In the modern version, empire now destroys the economic and ecological basis for survival in the conquered lands. Globalization was designed to accommodate these conquered peoples as strangers in the house of globalization.[ii] Instead of them selling their brothers, the crème of African youth are now induced to bound themselves in the chains of illegal immigration, take very costly, tortuous, and dehumanizing trip across the Sahara and the Mediterranean to hand themselves over as slaves without portfolio to European authorities, to do with them whatever it deems fit. Many of them die enroute Lampedusa, and are buried in the watery graves of the Mediterranean, just like their ancestors got in the Atlantic. But that never deters them.

Europe needed not send her sailors anymore to fetch the slaves; African faces have replaced the white faces of old. Those who are accepted and allowed to stay must be declared fit in the “skills department”, like their ancestors of the trans-Atlantic version must be declared “physically fit” to fetch high market price. Many of them are quartered in asylum camps like chattel.Feudalism dies hard, you can say!Majority of the ones that gained employment, simply work like slaves of old, in professions and jobs deemed too demeaning for the citizens of the metropole.

Slavery is today conducted in its very polite version, because empire has civilized her tools, but never changed her metaphysic. Like their Trans-Atlantic counterparts of old, who were branded with red hot iron for identification as slaves, the contemporary slaves now do the branding. Due to the polite nature of contemporary slavery, the red-hot iron is now racial profiling; their skin-colour was branded in the minds of the citizens of the metropole to identify them as second class human beings.  They have no dignity, no respect, and like their Transatlantic ancestors are beaten on the streets and killed at will by neo-Nazis and other supremacists of Europe.

To this end, any journey enroute liberation and renaissance must commence with an exodus from amnesia. We must reclaim our memory. This memory must be made ever present. It discourages repeating the mistakes of the past. It is the only launching pad for a future of freedom. The Igbos of Eastern Nigeria like so many other African societies value and give names like ‘Echezona’ and ‘Ozoemena’ to their children. Echezona means “Forget not”; Never forget!, while Ozoemena means, “Never Again”! Africans especially the modern African intellectuals need to revive these ancient calabashes of wisdom in our vocations of giving meaning and shining the light so that our people can find their way.

The Western Media as Agents of Cant: The Zimbabwe Test Case!

Noam Chomsky and Edward Hermann, after years of studying the political economy of the mass media in the United States, found a worrying discrepancy at the ontological core of the relationship between the empire and the media. This discrepancy reveals a hypocritical and dissimulating metaphysic intrinsic to this union. And this has an adverse effect on the nature and extent of freedom and purity of information generated and peddled by empire. They found that the mass media serve to mobilize support for the special interests that dominate the state and private activity, and that their choices, emphases, and omissions can often be understood best and sometimes with striking clarity and insight, by analysing them in such terms.

According to Chomsky and Hermann, although this may be an obvious point, the democratic postulate is that the media are independent and committed to discovering and reporting the truth, and that they do not merely reflect the world as powerful groups wish it to be perceived. Leaders of the media claim that their news choices rest on unbiased professional and objective criteria, and they have support for this contention in the intellectual community. But if the powerful are able to fix the premises of discourse, to decide what the general populace is allowed to see, hear and think about and to ‘manage’ public opinion by regular propaganda campaigns, the standard view of how the system works is at serious odds with reality.[iii]

Gore Vidal took it up a step further to show how we are captive to the manufactured opinions fed us by the corporate owners of our world, who have purchased and sold our futures many times over. He contends that the average man on the streets of the metropole, as well as the ‘conquered’ territories is shrewd when it comes to his personal issues and welfare. They are all shrewd enough to know that their situation is almost always bad. There is always a declining economy, even though the elitist hawks are making kills off the situation and fattening their holdings. But the reasons for these declines and crises are never made clear because “the corporate ownership of the country has absolute control of the populist pulpit-the media- as well as of the schoolroom”.[iv]

Gore may be absolutely right when he opined that “the corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the wonders of the Western world and that no first world country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity-much less dissent”.[v] But he must know that this grip has been pushed further and extended to a global audience. With media mergers in Germany and other countries, the news pushed down our throat are nothing but filtered and compacted opinions approved by empire through editorial policies that advance corporate interests. Gore contended that although it is possible for anyone who has time to spare and a canny eye to work out what is actually going on, but the majority are not so endowed with the time, and I add the willingness or interest. And the major portal of access this majority had to information is the network news; even though this may not be news at all but only a series of flashing fictions intended, like the avowed commercials, to keep docile huddled masses, keep avid for product addled consumers.[vi]

Most opinions according to Gore are controlled by 29 corporations in the United States. “And one can identify the 29 CEOs as a sort of politburo or College of Cardinals, in strict charge of what the people should and should not know. They also select the Presidents and the Congresses or to be precise, they determine what the politicians may talk about at election time-that famed agenda that never includes the interesting detail that, in peacetime, close to 90% of the (United States) Federal revenue goes to war”.[vii]

Other snippets suggestive of manipulation and cooking of opinion by the corporatocracy are well captured by Gore. He writes: “Although AIDS can be discussed as a means of hitting out at unpopular minorities, the true epidemic can never be discussed: the fact that every fourth American now alive will die of cancer. This catastrophe is well kept from the public by the tobacco companies, the nuclear power companies (with their bungled waste disposal) and other industries that poison the earth, so that corporate America may enjoy the freedom to make money without the slightest accountability to those they are killing”.[viii]

Chomsky and Hermann and Vidal all demonstrated how the few manipulate opinion. The average American according to Vidal keeps the TV set throbbing for seven hours a day. This translates to an average American watching 350,000 commercials by the time he gets to 17. The talk-shows and Hollywood are deployed to divert the audience from the real issues, just like the Roman circuses and gladiatorial shows served to divert the attention of the plebeians from their oppression at the hands of a monstrous imperial debauchery convoked by the patricians and elites of Rome. In a world so in the grip of the owners of the media of information, we are all unwitting zombies, who are constantly programmed and reprogrammed at the whims of some corporate interests and agenda.

In the case of Zimbabwe, empire would deploy a coordinated campaign of calumny in synergy with veiled threats and subtle character assassination to discredit anyone awake enough to see through their dissimulations and courageous enough to voice his dissent in the face of such a wholesale fraud. But we chose to bear witness to the truth of our convictions. Zimbabwe happens to be another choice real estate, which western greed has for long trained its sights on, after it lost absolute control in ’82. And to grab it like Jezebel of old did Nabaoth’s vineyard, they have no qualms deploying every weapon and contrivance of dissimulation in their arsenal to achieve that end. They have a historical heritage of such perfidy. To this end, the media onslaught against Mugabe is not new. It is the favourite method of Western corporate interests, which I have designated as empire, to soften public opinion before their principals invade a country or knock off a government. It was the exact kind of onslaught directed at Sadaam Hussein.

Africans must be awake! A man encircled by foes must eternally guard his life!

Notes

[i] General Assembly Marks 200th Anniversary of end of Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2007/ga10581.doc.htm accessed on the 14th of July, 2008

[ii] Ogbunwezeh, E.F., Journal of Globalization for the Common Good, http://lass.calumet.purdue.edu/cca/jgcg/2006/sp06/jgcg-sp06-ogbunwezeh.htm accessed on the 14th of July, 2008

[iii] Chomsky & Hermann, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, London, Vintage Books, 1994, p.V

[iv] Gore Vidal, The Decline of the American Empire, op. cit. p.40

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] Ibid, p.43

[viii] Ibid.

posted 19 September 2008 

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The Lynching of Robert Mugabe  (part 1)  Empires and Lynching (part 2)  

Witnessing in Perilous Times (part 3)  Instruments of Imperial Domination  (part 4)

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Home   The African World  Nkrumah-Lumumba-Nyerere Index   Transitional Writings on Africa 

Related files: The Lynching of Robert Mugabe  (part 1)  Empires and Lynching (part 2)  Witnessing in Perilous Times (part 3)  Instruments of Imperial Domination  (part 4)

The Real Trouble with Zimbabwe (Ogbunwezeh)   Black Africa's duty to help Zimbabwe defeat sanctions (Chinweizu)   Zimbabwe's Lonely Fight for Justice     Colin Powell on Mugabe   Trans-Africa on Mugabe 

Sanctions on Zimbabwe   Land Expropriations   Reporting Zimbabwe   Attempt to Defame Grace Mugabe  In The House of Stone