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2020 an unending hell for sure

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2020

2020 an unending hell for sure. Phew!!! What a year 2020 is turning out to be. Who would have thought that one day the United States, which styles itself as the be-all and end-all model of democracy, would consider using soldiers to quell protests? If it were one of the books in the Bible, it surely would have been “Revelations”. The year is now turning out to be both apocalyptic and full of revelations.

Who would have thought that the US, the self-promoting high priest of human rights and freedom of assembly, would one day deploy military helicopters and use police to fire teargas and rubber bullets in Washington — the seat of government power?

Who would have thought that one day US cities would resort to curfews to contain protests? And who would have thought that police in America, the supreme lecturer of press freedom, would arrest a journalist — CNN’s Omar Jiminez — live on air for simply doing his job?

All this could not have been made more ironic by the fact that the recent flare-up in violence in the US was stoked by the killing of George Floyd, a black man, by white police officers, themselves the symbol of state power.

But the gratuitous violence and unrelenting protests that we all witnessed last week were not necessarily about the killing of George Floyd, but simply an explosion of emotions that have been building up for 400 years against an ingrained system of racism within the American society.

Well, this system began with chattel slavery, which entailed treating slaves as property, in 1619.

Universal struggle

But this story is not about America, nor is it about Africa, which has far too often been considered an incorrigible student of quintessential civilisational values that respect human rights and civil liberties.

It is a story about blacks.

Clearly, the condition of blacks is no different in Africa than it is in America, or anywhere else in the world. Impliedly, the struggle of blacks in America is the struggle of blacks everywhere across the world, while conversely, the struggle of blacks around the world is also the struggle of blacks in America.

You cannot possibly talk about blacks without talking about crime, disease, misery and poverty that reeks to the high heavens. These are all time-hewn stereotypes that have shattered the dignity and identity of blacks, be it in Africa or in the Diaspora.

Worse, it has always been subtly and insidiously inculcated in successive generations of blacks, particularly Africans, through a tailor-made imperial and colonial education system that they are the only ones to blame for their pathetic and miserable circumstances.

Capitalism

Bishop Lazi seeks your indulgence, dear reader, for this is not another history lecture, but an attempt to simplify the complex workings of the world, especially in an epoch where abject ignorance and amnesia have become pervasive.

For blacks, imperialism, racism and colonialism are not mutually exclusive. All these “isms” are instruments of the same exploitative system that we call capitalism today. This system has everything to do with our current lived reality or realities.

It has shaped the geopolitical landscape through the rise of America as the only unipolar power, and it has also given rise to key global financial institutions such as the World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF), which are modern-day churches that preach capitalism.

And this system was arguably bred, incubated and perfected on American slave plantations, especially in the 19th century. For 246 years between 1619 up until 1865 when Abraham Lincoln made the Emancipation Proclamation (the 13th Amendment), blacks were used as slave labour on sweatshops called plantations.

This exploitation became frenzied and manic in the 19th century when cotton demand rose around the world. You see, cotton, which had and has multiple uses, was to the 19th century what oil was to the 20th century.

In fact, cotton plantations were America’s first big business. By 1831, the US was delivering nearly half the world’s raw cotton crop, almost all of it grown by slaves in Southern states such as Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina.

The whites in these Cotton States became rich, as did their counterparts in the north, who established mills, banks, merchants and a whole economic architecture which traded in the cash crop.

Plantation owners became so rich through using slave labour to the extent that by 1860, the Mississippi Valley had become home to more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the United States. There has been an extensive enquiry by historians on the extent to which slave-driven economic activities helped build America’s economic might.

In 2016, 16 scholars wrote the book “Slavery’s Capitalism: A New History of American Economic Development”, which was edited by Sven Beckert — a professor of history at Harvard University — and Seth Rockman, an associate professor at the US-based Brown University.

Beckert and Rockman later concluded that “American slavery is necessarily imprinted on the DNA of American capitalism”. The Bishop wants you to take a moment to reflect on this.

Sociologist Matthew Desmond, who is a professor of Sociology at Princeton University in the US, went a step further by explaining how America rose to become a super power as a result of this exploitative system, and is determined to maintain the system — which unfortunately spells doom for blacks and Africans such as the Bishop, including other developing countries — to retain its supremacy.

In an article titled “In order to understand the brutality of America’s capitalism, you have to start on the plantation”, which was published by The New York Times Magazine on August 14, 2019, Desmond critically noted that slavery “helped turn a poor, fledgling nation into a financial colossus”.

His conclusion on the culture wrought by America’s capitalism was perhaps the coup de grace that summarily defines the problem facing blacks today.

“That culture,” Desmond said, “would drive cotton production up to the Civil War, and it has been a defining characteristic of American capitalism ever since. It is the culture of acquiring wealth without work, growing at all costs and abusing the powerless. It is the culture that brought us . . . the stock-market crash of 1929 and the recession of 2008. It is the culture that has produced staggering inequality and undignified working conditions.

“If today America promotes a particular kind of low-road capitalism — union-busting capitalism of poverty wages, gig jobs and normalised insecurity; winner-take-all capitalism of stunning disparities not only permitting but awarding financial rule-bending; a racist capitalism that ignores the fact that slavery didn’t just deny black freedom but built white fortunes, originating the black-white wealth gap that annually grows wider — one reason is that American capitalism was founded on the lowest road there is.”

Renaissance

As a thoroughbred Pan-Africanist, Bishop Lazarus is convinced that the world as currently configured is rigged and staked against blacks everywhere as long as the current world order, which is driven by the twin evils of imperial and neo-colonial capitalism, remains the same.

Clearly, there is a need for a Pan-African renaissance that can define a prosperous future for blacks.

Why can’t a people that provided the sweat and labour that built the developed world grow their own food for consumption? Why can’t a people that upended colonialism dismantle neo-colonialism? This can only be possible when blacks reclaim their history, their identity, culture, knowledge systems, values and norms.

This necessarily entails unlearning the stereotypes that portray them as criminals, drug addicts, thoroughly incompetent, school drop-outs and criminals. And central to unlearning all these stereotypes is decolonising the mind and our educational systems to drive our worldviews and interests.

The Bishop once told you about Macaulayism, which is a systematic policy of eliminating indigenous culture through the planned substitution of the alien culture through the education system. It was developed and recommended by this British “gentleman” called Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800 – 1859).

In the 19th century, plantation owners used the “Slave Bible” — published in 1807 — to brainwash their victims to accept their miserable and pathetic circumstances. This was accomplished by removing books that could possibly stoke rebellion.

While a typical Protestant edition of the Bible contains 66 books, a Roman Catholic version 73 books and an Eastern Orthodox translation 78 books, the Slave Bible only had 14 books.

It removed verses such as Jeremiah 22:13, which reads: “Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness, his upper rooms by injustice, making his own people work for nothing, not paying them for their labour.”

Exodus 21:16, which says “Anyone who kidnaps someone is to be put to death, whether the victim has been sold or is still in the kidnapper’s possession”, was also expunged.

Surely, a system can never be as occultic and evil as capitalism, which still continues to assume different forms to this day. You see, racism, imperialism, colonialism and capitalism will never die. As viruses, they only mutate and assume subtle and insidious forms.

This is why Zimbabwe cannot be forgiven for taking back its land and trying to champion values for the empowerment of blacks, as this presents an “extraordinary threat” to racist, imperial and neo-colonial capitalism.

So it has to suffer so that no country dares reclaim its land.

This is also why the character of African leaders such as Paul Kagame, John Magufuli and most recently Abiy Ahmed, who have been investing a lot in improving the lot of their people, is being systematically assassinated.

In the old days such characters such as Patrice Lumumba and Thomas Sankara were gruesomely assassinated.

So for blacks it is still aluta continua!

Bishop out!

Source – Sunday Mail

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