Thursday, October 22, 2009

(LUSAKATIMES) West remembers human rights after 120 years

West remembers human rights after 120 years
Thu, 22 Oct 2009 15:39:00 +0000

IN life it is true that even the most intractable conflicts can be peacefully resolved. The British, even as they walk on Zimbabwean soil know that they walk on a battlefield that they were allowed to smell after 100 years of colonial, segregationist and white supremacist rule.

As we walk the streets of Harare today, we see names like Greenwood, Belvedere, St Michael's, etc. These are all reminders of the history that we endured as a people and the pain that we went through while Britain watched they kith and kin main and kill us.

At independence on April 18 1980, then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe extended a hand of reconciliation to colonisers who had spent nearly 100 years plundering resources and killing blacks. In his speech, he never said we would forget the pain, but said, "Let's transform swords into ploughshares."

Today, the same man is still preaching the same gospel, but that gospel is not being heard by those same people. Let bygones be bygones. Lift the sanctions and let the children of Zimbabwe, for once, prosper.

The same people who enslaved us and killed us, are still doing the same thing, albeit in a different way, with different tactics.

Through their disastrous illegal and inhumane sanctions, they are trying to take us back to those colonial times when second-class citizenship ruled supreme, when indigenous people did not control their means of production.

The divide-and-rule tactic is still in force and there are today more perpetrating the "killing" of their own people, through sanctions. The power of the dollar (pound) is still reverberating on our lands.

We see our own people today, who suffered years of colonial rule, masquerading as champions of human rights.

Isn't it interesting that today, there are more Zimbabweans than any other nationality receiving "human rights awards", for calling for sanctions against their own people, for calling their heroes names and denigrating their contribution to freedom?

None of the freedom fighters in Africa, who called for decolonisation have ever been awarded such accolades. Mandela was recognised for reconciliation and not his fight against imperialism and against apartheid.

His award was twinned with Frederik W. De Klerk's to rinse and neutralise his contribution to black freedom in South Africa.

President Mugabe was awarded Knightwood after he extended reconciliation to colonisers, but never for his efforts at freeing the majority of black people who suffered under Smith. That Knightwood was recalled when he sought to empower his own people by giving them access to their own means of production.

What exactly has PM Tsvangirai done to deserve an accolade, to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize? There are many luminaries today, alive on the African continent that have never been accorded that honour.

There are many others who could be posthumously awarded that prize. Mandela's prize was nominated for his reconciliatory tone, more than anything else.

The problems that have been experienced everywhere in the world, any wars in the world, have been somehow linked to the West. But the West has the audacity to preach to the African people about democracy. African people have been fighting for democracy since colonisation and the West has been blocking it.

This bowlful of self-serving hypocrisy is dealt out by those with short memories. If the West continues on this trajectory, it won't take long before our welcoming cups of tea are replaced by hatred as the West repeatedly oversteps the mark and solidifies itself as a major provocative element.

Britain and the US have been responsible for thousands of deaths on other people's soils and have used and abused other people on their own soil. The Windrush that brought 'slaves' from Jamaica to Britain in the 1940s is not easily forgotten.

When the Empire Windrush sailed into Tilbury on June 22 1948, most of its 500 Jamaican passengers only intended to stay five years.

The then foreign secretary reassured that country they 'would not last one winter'.

Half a century on and many of them are still there, living in near poverty conditions on British soil.

The many people who come from former colonies are either labelled "asylum seekers","illegal immigrants" or any such derogatory terms. The British forgot they were asylum seekers and illegal immigrants who overstayed on other people's soils.

President Mugabe aptly summed it up in an interview with CNN's Christianne Amanpour when he said they acquired "citizenship by colonisation".

The promise made to the Jamaicans never materialised. Infact, they were made British subjects by being offered a British passport and the right to live as second class citizens.

Successive British governments have constantly ignored the gospel they regularly preach to the outside world.

Many of us asked more than once: how could the country that gave birth to Amnesty International become itself a state that bent the rules, subverted the law and undermined the world-wide raising of standards it was intent on promoting?

If Britain couldn't behave better, why should anyone else?


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