I am looking forward to see Lincoln, the recent film by Steven Spielberg. I want to see it for purely selfish reasons: I am a huge Daniel Day Lewis fan. He plays Uncle Abe and from what I see from the previews, his performance is spellbinding. Those who have followed along with me in this blogging journey from the beginning, know that I used to be a working actor (in what now seems to me like a “previous life”).
I was waiting to see it before writing a review, which most likely would have been from an afro-political rather than an artistic perspective. However I was watching Meet the Press on Sunday and the roundtable panel, which included the Obama apologist and MSNBC sellout Rev. Al Sharpton, were not only praising the film, but the nobility and sacrifice of Lincoln the man, in his fight to abolish slavery in Amerikka. Huh…I could see Sis. Deb shaking her head… and as we Jamaicans say… “sucking her teeth”… at the commentary (i.e. bullshit) they were spewing.
I recall that many, many years ago when I was a university freshman (in what again seems to me like a “previous life”), my final paper in my Political Economics course was based on the premise that Lincoln did not free the slaves for any noble or altruistic reasons, but primarily because he and the Northern industrialists knew that Amerikka could not reach it’s full industrialization potential with a slave based, agrarian economy dominating the South. Cheap labour needed to move North, while capital for industrialization needed to move South and the domestic consumer market needed to be nurtured. My thesis certainly wasn’t an original one, but as a young and very naive Black man living in Canada, who was just beginning to understand the “real” world and how it had been influencing my perspective about myself and those around me, this revelation was a part of the process I had been going through at the time: the stripping away of illusions and lies I had been told about “the good white people” like Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.
Now let’s fast forward to the present and speaking of Sis. Deb, let’s be clear. As I watched the Meet the Press segment, I was reminded of an insightful and educational article she did on her blog entitled: Lincoln, the resolute white supremacist — the Changeling’s “homeboy”? I encourage you to read the whole article, including the links… it’s fantastic! It portrays the real Lincoln… in his own words. Another excellent article was previously posted here by brothpeacemaker: Quotations from Abraham Lincoln.
I have come to understand and expect the behaviour of the dominant culture, like that of a drug addict, to constantly feed it’s white supremacy cravings, so as to satisfy its needs to feel superior to the “others”, while at the same time feel comfortable about their white privilege, through the guise of their (supposedly) noble endeavours and sacrifices for these same “others”. We can see this playing out especially among the so-called “White progressives and liberals”. It is their “White man’s (and woman’s) burden”! Hence, no character representing, nor a mention at all of Fredrick Douglass and his influence on Lincoln in the film.
This discussion brings to mind a portion of the lyrics of Fight The Power by Public Enemy, with a couple of minor revisions:
Lincoln was a hero to most
But he never meant shit to me you see
Straight up racist that sucker was
Simple and plain
Motherfuck him and JFK
Very interesting post and conversation. I encourage any comments to be made at original post (here).
As my feminist consciousness has developed the more I’ve become aware, both explicitly and implicitly, that there is a popular notion that feminism is un-African. Every time I write a post about feminism in an African context, I get at least one response about how feminism is this flawed, white supremacist ideology. The internet is rife with articles about this so I’m not going to pull up too many examples. Most argue along the lines that feminism is “diabolically anti-African anti-human neologism emerging out of the Eurocentric reactionary women’s movement in the 50’s”
What’s problematic about these arguments is not that people have a different opinion, as is their right, but that these critics don’t even bother to understand what African feminism is about before attacking it. Yes, there is global feminist consensus, but it is also important for African feminists to shape our own ideological home for African feminism through which we can view African women’s issues. In fact, this is very much an ongoing process and like all political work, it is nuanced. To very briefly summarize, some African feminists thinkers and activists are liberal, post-modern, eco, socialist feminists etc and some adopt a more radical approach to challenge the legitimacy of patriarchy. African feminists are concerned with the domestic imbalance and gender roles, but also about so called ‘bread and butter’ issues like poverty reduction, violence prevention and health and reproductive rights which affets African women worse than men. African feminism is just as much about the inter-connectedness of slavery, colonialism, racism and so on and how these historic realities have caused women’s oppression.
Yes, the term ‘feminism’ does not have African roots, rather, it came to the continent largely due to the African-American feminist movement. However, the concept itself is not one that western feminists exported to African women. Africa has some of the oldest civilizations and so it also has some of the oldest patriarchies. And African women have always found ways of resisting patriarchy through manipulating popular ideas of motherhood, or religion, or labour. The argument that feminism is un-African is also flawed in its romantic view of pre-colonial Africa. Even if African societies were egalitarian, which wasn’t always the case at all, most African societies, have now imported a largely western gender order, one that is patriarchal.
I find it sad that an African woman can debate Greek democracy in Accra or Freudian psychoanalysis in Harare or US capitalism in Lagos and be qualified as political, not western. But let us even mention women’s issues and someone will be quick to accuse you of neglecting our African past and being brainwashed by western values. The reality is African politics is not gender neutral and pretending that it is despite all the suffering that gender inequality causes is much more ‘un-African’ than what any one person chooses to affiliate with.
What transpired in Ivory Coast recently, luckily, unearthed a great rot in our education system and upper echelons of power in Africa. Laurent Gbagbo, the professor of History, made a bad history for not understanding history. He mindlessly clung unto power so as to cause many deaths and many casualties.
Gbagbo’s saga is a test to our educational intergrity and worth for us as a society. Many would think a such highly educated person would know basic things such as human rights, freedom and rule of law, so as to uphold democracy especially elections. But nay, the guy thought though wrongly he was but a king.
After Gbagbo was shamefully dragooned out it came to light that his wife, Dr Simone Ehivet Gbagbo, also the historian, harshly used him to tighten his grip on power and terrorize the country by ignoring all rules in the book.
In this dirty business of dirty politics Gbagbo is not alone. Who knew that a professor of law like Abdulaye Wade (Senegal) would tamper the constitution and extend his term in office on top of grooming his son to inherit his presidency?
Who would risk thinking that a hyper academician like Robert Mugabe, would mess the way he has always been doing. Who would think that Mugabe would be hoodwinked by an illiterate like his wife Grace Marufu, so as to abuse the powers vested on him as president?
The sage has it that when you want to tame a bull, you must know where its strength and weakness lie. For African big men their strength-cum-weakness is in the bedroom. So who occupies and controls their bedrooms, control everything including them and their powers.
This can be seen in, among others, Simone, former political activist, who was able to make or affect whatever decision Gbagbo made. She was like a president, especially acting as an adviser to the president. Many people who know her believe Gbagbo’s decision not to cede power to a constitutionally elected president Alasane Ouattara, was the result of the advice of this lady.
When the world found that Gbagbo had lost his sense of reasoning, it intervened to see to it that he is booted out. Interestingly, UN and Ivorian former colonial master, the French, took a lead in getting rid of the tyrant.
Gbagbo and his wife were humiliatingly bundled before the media, as they were dug out from the bunker they had spent over two weeks hiding. Indeed, Gbagbo once again proved the sage that education sometimes does not emancipate the bearer if he is unable to read the signs of times. So too, was his son, Michel, who was severely beaten before the TV cameras. It was a shame of its own magnitude for the former president and his family to be treated just like common criminals. All this happened just recently. But did our venal rulers make any note of it?
Today’s analysis is based on hidden presidents, namely the first ladies and members of the families of the presidents. Simone was described by many media outlets as the lady that was feared more than the president himself. Moreover, she was implicated in many scandals among which is the case involving the disappearance of her husband’s rivals, prominent one being French-Canadian journalist Guy-André Kieffer. Kieffer is believed to have been hijacked under the instructions of Simone in 2004. Since then Kieffer has nary been seen anywhere.
What was unveiled in Ivory Coast is just a typical replica of what has, for long, been going on in many African countries as far as power greed is concerned. It is more a tip of iceberg. Sadly though, when all this sacrilege is going on, those who oil the cog are encouraged to produce more as they slink to stinking poverty.
Presidency in corruption-rampant Africa is the means to opulence, not only for the holder of it but also his or her family, friends in other cases even the tribe. The capital so much used by hidden African hidden presidents is nothing but sharing bed with the big man plus being able to manipulate him. In today’s analysis we shall try to explore incidents where the “hidden Simones or presidents behind the curtains” are going on with business as usual.
In Uganda, Yoweri museveni’s wife Janet, the first lady and minister is still a legendary when it comes to tame the man. It is alleged that clan and kids are all benefiting from the government of the day and nobody is blotting this nepotism.
In Guinea Bissau the tyrant Theodore Obiang Nguema allowed his namesake son to scoop from the treasury as much money as he deems fit. This tiny country with the population of a half a million, of which over 50% are living under a dollar a day, is like Nguema’s private estate. The son of president, who also is a minister in his father’s government, owns mansions and beaches worth millions of dollars in Malibu and a personal jet worth over $ 30,000,000 is untouchable. To add more flavour, the son of the tyrant spends a million bucks in every trip he makes to the US. Why is the US gagged? Wherever there is trouble, just drop a coin.
Not far from Equatorial Guinea, there is Congo Brazzaville where the son of the tyrant, Denis Christel Sassou-Nguesso, has all it takes even to stop IMF and WB from probing any malpractice involving public funds. Just like Nguema, the boy can spend any huge amount of money without raising any alarm! Remember this is the country of just 4,012,809. The irony is despite having a small population with where 50% lives under a dollar a day, the same has the income of $ 3,000,000,000 annually from oil. Where does the money go? Ask the tyrant, his son and cohorts. Anyway, this is Africa.
In Tanzania, the son of President Jakaya Kikwete, Ridhiwani and the president’s wife Salma, are occupying senior positions in the ruling party to which Kikwete is chairman. One opposition party (CHADEMA) recently alleged that Ridhiwan is a billionaire despite the fact that he just graduated from school recently.
To and more flavour, Salma runs an NGO that mints and prints millions of shillings without auditing report or anything near! So too, most of her friends are in high position thanks to their friendship to this hidden president.
In Kenya, Unga (Flour) scandal that left Lucy Kibaki morally nude, is still reverberating even though it was put to rest just like Anglo-Leasing scam.
In Ethiopia the wife of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Azeb Mesfin is known as Queen of Mega, thanks to being alleged to have an upper hand in mega corruption.
The last but not least player is none other than Robert Mugabe’s sweetheart Grace Gucchi Mugabe. This lady is renowned for over spending, especially at the time Zimbabweans are dying in thousands thanks to poverty and mismanagement. Grace stole thunder when she was linked with Bloody Diamond by Wikeleaks recently, before the media uncovered her coveted love with governor of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), Gideon Gono. Thanks to her ability to muzzle Mugabe, nothing has ever gone wrong in their convenient marriage despite the leak. Gono is still the governor of RBZ and Grace is still first lady. This can show you how president behind the curtains are more powerful than those you see on the arena.
Going back where we started, what was unearthed in Simone Gbagbo sheds light on a true but grimmer picture of what has been going on in Africa where presidents behind the curtains have inflicted a great deal of sufferings to our people and our economies. Think about that and evaluate your ruler.
Submission from educator, writer and AfroSpear Googlegroup blogger José Luis Vilson
Click on image for article:
I saw this over at brotherpeacemaker: