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Welcome to the Ota Benga Alliance!

In honoring Ota Benga, we focus our efforts on the need to treat each other with dignity, with respect for cultural diversity as a source of strength, and with truth as a foundation for genuine reconciliation to end the cycles of violence, vengeance, and militarism. We believe that peace and dignity cannot be achieved while the injustices of the past and present are buried in silence, and while the struggles of the present go unheard.

(c) Mumia Abu Jamal
Find out more about Ota Benga

Welcome! We are the Ota Benga Alliance for Peace, Healing and Dignity in the D.R. Congo and beyond, located in Berkeley, California and Kinshasa, D.R. Congo.

Who was Ota Benga? A Congolese man, brought to the United States to be exhibited at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. He was an Mbuti (a pygmy), about 4 feet 8 inches tall, put on display at the Fair’s Hall of Man along with an exotic collection of indigenous peoples from all over the world. Ota Benga was exhibited next to a group of Native Americans that included Geronimo.

In honoring Ota Benga, we focus our efforts on the need to treat each other with dignity, with respect for cultural diversity as a source of strength, and with truth as a foundation for genuine reconciliation to end the cycles of violence, vengeance, and militarism. We believe that peace and dignity cannot be achieved while the injustices of the past and present are buried in silence, and while the struggles of the present go unheard.

Who are the Ota Bengas of today? Individuals and communities under siege all over the planet who are treated as less than human by a system built on greed, profit and violence:

  • Africans whose societies were torn apart by kidnapping, enslavement, and economic exploitation, whose labor built vast wealth for others, and whose descendents are subjected to racism and exploitation the world over;
  • Native Americans whose tribes and nations barely survived the genocidal attack of European settlers, whose land built vast wealth for others, and whose descendents still struggle against further displacement and cultural obliteration;
  • Japanese hibakusha who were exposed to the atomic explosions of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and whose descendents still are sickened by radiation poisoning;
  • Haitians whose rebellion against their slave masters and establishment of the first black republic in 1804 led to centuries of unmerited economic sanctions and on-going exploitation by Western powers;
  • South African shack dwellers struggling for land ripped away from their ancestors by colonial exploitation and a racist apartheid system;
  • Twelve million people the world over, forced out of their homes by war and violent conflict and warehoused for years in refugee camps ;
  • Men and women everywhere forced by poverty and exploitation to leave their homes and families and seek work in distant places.

To heal ourselves and our societies, we must hear the voices of those who have suffered from horrific crimes in the past and those who, today, continue to suffer from violations to the integrity of the human body and spirit.

And hearing these voices, we envision coming together to work for a world of cooperation and mutual support, free of systems that rely on physical and psychic, social and economic violence and political and military domination.

Looking at the mindset and the histories behind the expansion of Ebola and NATO

In a world that is increasingly more densely interconnected, and, theoretically, more informed, one can easily observe how misinformation/disinformation is easily spread around.  It is also easy to observe that those who have the most to win from any given development shall resort to anything in order to ensure their own victory.  In this kind of situation, sometimes described as a “crisis”, uncomfortable questions will tend not to be asked, and when asked the dominant profiteering mindset, centuries in the making, will likely lead to silencing any uncomfortable questions that might arise, and, naturally, the even more uncomfortable answers.   To examine some of the origins and ramifications of this mindset would require much more space and time than this brief essay.

In order to understand the logic and reasoning coming out of an institution like NATO, one should understand how its rise is intimately connected to the history of how the United States was settled.  In both cases, the central element is the conquest and shaping of power through military means.  This process has led to an understanding and practice of justice, in the US and beyond its borders, determined by violence.  Beyond its borders, NATO has become the most powerful instrument in the US military arsenal to impose its view of humanity, its understanding of justice.  NATO has allowed the US and its allies to impose its own understanding and practice of justice by any means necessary, including circumventing the UN.  The institutionalization of violence (through NATO) to achieve complete and total control over all segments of humanity has gone so far that the deep and wide historical interconnections between the expansion of NATO and the expansion of Ebola tend to be seen as having nothing to do with each other.  The logic and reasoning operating in the mindsets of those who are in charge of NATO is no different from the logic and reasoning operating in the mindsets of any rapist anywhere in the world.  In the process, collectively and individually, they tell themselves “nothing will happen to me”.

In a world split apart by a conception of justice imposed through violence, what is the difference between corruption and competition?  To which institutions can the average citizens of Haiti, Gaza/Palestine, turn for justice?  To whom can Congolese citizens, today, turn when the so-called “international community” is unable, unwilling to ensure that a sitting president respect the legal prescriptions enshrined in a Constitution?  To whom can the average black citizen in the US turn to see justice carried out when the country, through the 13th amendment of the Constitution, opened the way for the prison industrial complex, specifically aimed at limiting the freedom of the former slaves?

To which court on this Planet, could the Congolese citizens turn for justice to be served from the combined destruction inflicted by slavery, colonization, post-colonial dictatorial rule?  Although French President Chirac was willing to call slavery a Crime Against humanity, he was not ready to face the legal consequences of such a recognition.  The nature and depth of the profiteering mindset that led to the dehumanization of large segments of humanity are hard, if not impossible, to measure because the roots of how it came about are multiple, contradictory, and, more often than not, defy reasoning based on humane considerations.

The prevailing mindset among those who see themselves in charge of the destiny of the US is no different from the mindset still pervasive in countries that have engaged in, and benefitted massively, from slavery, colonization, apartheid.   Such a mindset is the one that continues to be at work among the officials in charge of the destiny of NATO.  While the historical processes through which massive financial, economic gains were made, no healing processes were ever set in motion to deal with the massive destruction that became the permanent legacy of those who have survived the destruction in the US Native American reservations, and/or in most of the former colonies.

Like any coin, mentalities have two sides: on one side there is a mindset typical of colonizers, namely that colonization was an altruistic process, and on the other, there lies the knowledge that this altruistic process, more often than not, had to resort to murderous violence in order to maintain itself in place.  In the Congo, for example, archival records related to King Leopold’s rule, were burned in order to prevent access to that kind of information.  Colonization went hand in hand with what was described as “pacification campaigns” whose objectives was to “settle” the country.  These campaigns were conducted by the military, not unlike what took place in North America.  As one observes the expansion of NATO into Africa, via Africom, it is clear that military force has never been absent from the process of making the Continent serve the economic and financial interests of the global corporations.   In the minds of those who most profited from the various phases of enslavement, colonization, Africa MUST continue to be subservient to the dictates of the dominant economic system that grew out of those earlier processes.

“Shock and Awe” was the name of the operation aimed at “pacifying” Iraq, in 2003.  Shock and Awe has always been present when the dominant mindset feels threatened, and/or decides that severe punishment is the only way to ensure peace.   The list of this kind of practice is long and diverse: the slaughtering of the Native Americans went through many episodes, one more barbarous than the other, from the infamous “Trail of Tears”, to well known massacres, to the use of Native American land to conduct nuclear testing, or, more recently, find a place where to get rid of nuclear waste.

When Napoleon decided to reinstate slavery in Haïti, his instructions were clear: no prisoners, and to make sure that those who dared to free themselves are so severely punished that they will not want to try again.  The latest war against Gaza, by Israel, supported by its usual allies, was meant to deliver the same message of Shock and Awe.  It is as if the West is so certain of the justice of its mission, its mindset, that it has become incapable of seeing the realities of the violence of that mission, differently understood and upheld by diverse constituencies, driven by fanaticism rooted in religion, ideology, cultural and moral identities and certitudes.  Media have become powerful means of glossing over injustices, and barbarities committed by the defenders of the West, while highlighting the barbarism of those that have become part of the Axis of Evil.

And now, from August through September 2014, humanity is witnessing the ultimate spectacle of the forces that are pushing for the expansion of NATO doing as little as possible to prevent the expansion of the Ebola virus, in West Africa. Those African voices that might have been expected to speak up in defense of humanity have remained strangely quiet, as if they are powerless because, in their mindset, power has become and must remain the sole property of the powerful.  This mindset is the direct and indirect legacy of injustices, crimes carried out with impunity.  How did African leaders, currently in power, reach the point of annihilating their own conscience and become accomplices to liquidating their own citizens, following and/or anticipating the orders coming from the managers of global dehumanization?

It is as if Humanity has entered a theatre with signs everywhere calling for SILENCE, regardless of the crimes being committed.

Public advocate of public health, Paul Farmer, has come out, strongly, in favor of how the Ebola expansion could be stopped, especially from the technical point of view, but also by pointing out the fact that health systems in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea (the hardest hit countries by the virus, so far) are medieval in terms of organizational structures, confronted with a virus in the 21st century.  But there is an uncomfortable explanation as to why these health systems cannot cope with the Ebola expansion. Paul Farmer preferred to avoid engaging into that uncomfortable explanation.

Throughout the 80s-90s, the IMF and World Bank’s program of Structural Adjustment, obliged African countries to privatize state-owned firms, including those in health and education, and to drastically reduce state budgets for social services.  In the place of state leadership in public health each country was left with a highly fragmented gaggle of NGO’s each with their own agenda (these were to increase dramatically in the 1990’s as the HIV/AIDS epidemic expanded).   But in the discussions currently taking place, few voices are being heard concerning the role the Bretton Woods institutions played in creating the very situation that has made the current Ebola virus expansion so difficult to contain.  Is it unreasonable to ask why officials of these powerful international institutions have not been taken to task for having imposed unjust, unfair policies which have resulted in massive suffering?

Should one conclude from this example that power is meant to guarantee impunity and immunity from prosecution?  In other words, the dictated privatization of health care (and education) by the WB and the IMF has created other processes that could be described as a desertification of responsibilities, through which responsibility can no longer be traced to individuals, and therefore, prevent prosecution.  Put differently, one could say that the rule of law operates differently when confronted with power.  As is well known, corporations’ liabilities are such that its owners and managers, legally speaking, can always wash their hands.

In an article detailing the historical process through which US exceptionalism has been created, Tom Engelhardt demonstrates that, while the US has always liked to see itself in the most positive light, the actual record is not so bright.  This state of affairs should then lead one to look at the side of exceptionalism, which in the US, at least, is rarely looked at.

In its ideological battles (at one point G.W.Bush used the word “crusade”) against “evil”, it seems as if it has never occurred to US leaders that how this was being carried out had the look, the feeling of evil, for those who were at the receiving end of the onslaught.  In the long history of the US, “evil” went hand in hand with what David E. Stanner called the American Holocaust, in a book with the same title.

One could go on for a long time because the so-called US exceptionalism has a darker side whose roots go deeper than the last few decades.  Once a mindset has been constructed, maintained at all cost around the notion that “nobody can stand in my way” or the notion that  “The American Way of Life” is non negotiable, then, clearly the stage is set for the kind of crises that are unfolding around the Planet, because, the example coming from on high, other countries that see themselves as allies of the US shall practice, in their backyard, the same kind of mindset.

At least for the purposes of this essay, before concluding, here are two brief dispatches from a friend Ibrahim Abdullah, historian, living Sierra Leone, written under the stress of confronting a disaster, with his family, on their own:

 Greetings from ebola land. Ebola continues to subvert normal everyday life as we are quarantined and containerised lest we infect ourselves and the outside world. With every passing day we pray for our individual and collective safety even as nation after nation continue to inform the world that they have the antidote to the deadly virus that is slowly snuffing out our people from the unjust world order that they have created. This is war; this is genocide; a human-induced assault on our people for which no one wants to accept responsibility. All of a sudden they all have a cure: first the Americans; then the Canadians; now the Russians and the Chinese. Are we to believe that they were each working independently of each other and that their individual research and progress evolved independently at the same pace so that all were ready and fully armed with an antidote when the crisis reached seemingly genocidal proportion?

 We may never know the answers to these questions yet we should not shy away from raising them. Why would the director of CDC in Atlanta troop to the epicentre of the disease and proclaim US support and commitment to the end only when the disease had expanded? Let us continue to ask tough questions because ebola is seemingly here to stay.

 We are not the least interested in narratives sans evidence; we want explanations based on evidence that speaks to our collective concern: the scientific truth! We are still well (enough) to fight.

 The ebola scourge took hold at a time when exams were over and schools are closed. The school year starts in September; Colleges October. Because of ebola schools won’t resume this month and College will remain closed until further notice. Everything is at a standstill; a snail”s pace and semi-non-functional. It’s as if we are waiting for something; a miracle or some extra – worldly force to proclaim the end of ebola.

 I go where it’s necessary: bank; office; supermarket/corner store; and to see my mom. But I spend less than three hours out of the house. Put differently I am essentially home-bound: reading and on the phone with students all over the country getting updates and feedback to compare with official narratives. The official figures are just that: official. The real figures are not disclosed for stupid political reasons.
The health system in the country has always been government-centered because it was free. But NGOs and missionaries entered the realm in the 70s to allegedly complement what the state does no do. The result has been utter chaos and unnecessary duplication. The result has been the proliferation of private owned pharmacies that double up as consulting backroom hospitals where the death toll is staggering. They engage in everything: from taking care of unwanted pregnancy to malaria and now to ebola! The state had to shut down these outfits last month when news got around that ebola patients were trooping to pharmacies. The health care infrastructure is buckling under the enormous weight of ebola precisely because of lack of facilities and skilled personnel. Meanwhile all private hospitals are closed—they can’t deal with ebola, they say!

 Like the slave trade before it, ebola is sapping the able-bodied in the rural areas; the energetic; those who farm the land so that we can eat. We’ve been down this road before: state complicity and external intervention and we survived even though broken.  We survived the slave trade; we will survive ebola.
 Warmest, Ib

Toward Global Healing

The mindset that was launched with the conquest of the Americas, underwent various phases of modernizations, during which Africa and Africans were considered less than humans and therefore no better than material property to be hunted down, exploited at will, appropriated, traded, disposed off.  At the same time, one can see how rape continues to spread, as if unstoppable because, so goes the assumption, it is the women’s fault.  The same mindset that is at work in the heads of rapists has also been at work in the ranks of the most powerful maintainers of “exceptionalism”.  As they rape figuratively and/or really, they tell themselves: “Nothing will happen to me”.    There is no algorithm that could ever calculate the suffering that has been accumulated and reproduced by a system that seems to now be on some sort of automatic pilot to carry on what it has been programmed to do: liquidate the poor, liquidate those who stand on the side of the poor, liquidate poverty in Africa by letting the poorest of the poor die.  When the Americas were conquered, no one, at the time, said the word genocide.  It came afterwards, when the results became obvious.  What the expansion of the Ebola virus is now showing, brutally, is that it is taking place because the mindset behind the expansion of NATO is no different from the one that is looking at the expansion of the Ebola virus as though it were a spectacle.  Is there a way out?  There is, but it will have to be radically different from the mindset that has led humanity toward self-annihilation.  Contrary to the propaganda that presents Africa as primitive, it was far ahead in its efforts to bring about respect for justice, life, sharing.  On a level playing field aimed at healing relations between people and between people and nature, Africa and Africans will contribute toward eradicating the mindset that has so dehumanized large segments of humanity.

Long before Europe’s encounter with Africa, in search of slaves, Africa had created a way of living rooted in Mâât, respect for just justice, righteousness, solidarity.  In the current crisis Africa does have practices and values to offer that would help overcome the notion that only the most powerful countries have an answer to the current crisis.  The healing principles should be to hear, loud and clear, without any restrictions those whose voices have been silenced, not just the so-called experts.  Every single human being must be treated equally.  Her/his life is as precious as that of those who claim exceptionalism as a protective mantle.

Exemplary solidarity from Cuba  http://www.who.int/features/2014/cuban-ebola-team/en/

Looking at Ebola from the perspective of one humanity

7-Nov-2014:   In response to the Ebola epidemic in Guinée, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the world noticed two distinctly different responses: one from the USA and France, carried out by their defense departments and the other from Cuba which demonstrated the kind of solidarity that is rarely seen nowadays, especially from the most powerful countries.   The latter seek ways of maintaining their way of living, their way of looking at humanity as a hierarchical structure.  The perspective of the powerful countries is not only a by-product of the way they look at their domination of the world during the last 500 years, and how they should benefit from the maintenance of that domination.  An understanding of what is right and just for all of humanity can be found by looking at humanity’s history from as far back as possible.   The most powerful countries and their militarized ways of responding to health issues is also related to their ways of ensuring that their view of justice, of science remains the unchallengeable one.  Shouldn’t scientific research, medical research be organized to benefit all of humanity?   If such a global approach to sharing knowledge were operational today, the response to the Ebola epidemic would most likely have been different. If knowledge about the best way of maintaining humanity’s health had been framed from the perspective of sharing, the response coming from Cuba might have been the rule rather than the exception.  The practice of keeping knowledge for a few, by a few, for enhancing their well being, to the exclusion of others, has been accepted as if that is the only way it can be done for the benefit of all.  This practice is in complete contradiction to all the utilitarian humanitarianism spread around under various names, including R2P.  Put in a different way: the Ebola epidemic is not just about a health issue.  It is about how the best knowledge can be mustered, and shared, for the benefit of all of humanity. Put in yet another way, how all of humanity reacts to a crisis like the Ebola epidemic hinges, crucially, on which narrative of its long history it chooses to accept. People of the Pyramids vs. People of the Spheres In his novel, KMT- In the House of Life –An Epistemic Novel (Per Ankh Cooperative Publisher, 2002. Popenguine. Senegal) the Ghanaan writer Ayi Kwei Armah has described this conflict between those he refers to as Sharers (of knowledge) and Keepers (of knowledge) in ways that are pertinent to how members of humanity could/should be looking at the current Ebola crisis.  This excerpt from the above book has appeared in Corinne Kumar’s edited volume Asking We Walk: Book Four: In the time of Spring. Streelekha Publications. Bangalore. 2013

Ayi Kwei Armah goes beyond questioning by imagining griots from those times battling for a different vision and, hence, a different narrative.  It is a narrative that shows an Ancient Egyptian society breathing live, seeking itself.   In the process of that search, one encounters groups that left behind the pyramids and others that left the spheres as symbols of their vision and understanding of the kind of society they would have liked to see emerge.

Confronting challenges through good and bad times, they began to understand differently how to respond to good times and bad times.  As recounted, this story that happened centuries ago in the Nile Valley sounds as if it is going on around us today.  On how to deal with the knowledge acquired through that process, two groups emerged: “Some were for sharing; they saw sharing as the solution, the way to forestall disaster.  And then there were those who did not see the need to share.  They were for keeping knowledge among those who planted it” (Armah,2002:264).

And so, it is easy to see from Armah’s KMT that the battle between those who are willing to share and those who are eager to keep all the benefits of the society to themselves is not something which started 500 years ago, but thousands of years ago.  And so the battle lines were drawn between those who looked at knowledge as power and, thus, something to keep for themselves and those who saw greater benefits for everyone by spreading knowledge:  “If all society grows in wealth, nothing prevents us from enjoying our share of the general knowledge”. (Armah, 2002:266).  The Sharers, then and now, were/are speaking the same language.

Needless to say, those who were/are opposed to sharing knowledge, food, power, –the keepers—found/find all kinds of arguments to reject the principles of sharing.  There is no need here to recount all of the arguments going back and forth.  Here is how the keepers were making the case for knowledge as a source of power: “Imagine if the entire valley obeyed one king, sustained by keepers of knowledge.  It is not only the nobles who would gain.  The people themselves would live more safely, their livelihood secure.  As for us keepers of knowledge, nothing would separate us from kings.  We shall have all the land we need, and slaves to work it for us all our lives.” (Armah: 2002, 270)

The geometrical figure that most faithfully represents the thinking and practice of the keepers is the pyramid while the one that is the most perfect figure for the sharers is the sphere.   Asked to explain how such “a balanced system would work”, the sharers responded: “It would begin with an open house, the house of life.  In that house all children would be our children, all of us.  Since the entire inheritance of society would belong to every child, no gate in our house of life would be closed against the entry of any child.” (Armah, 2002:280)

The keepers and the sharers went back and forth explaining how they would implement the kind of society they envisioned.   The dialogue is presented to us as taking place between the pyramid and the sphere.  Here is a sample:

“Air fills the world.  Knowledge is scarce.” “Sharing it creates more.” “Keeping it gives the keeper great power.” “Power unshared is unstable.” “There is sharing and sharing.  At the top of the pyramid the keepers have knowledge in pure form.  At the bottom the toilers enjoy the dregs.  That is stability.” “The deceptive stability of inert forms.  If you want stability containing life, strong enough to contain change, look away from the pyramid.  See the sphere.” (Armah, 2002:284)

Further down, the dialogue continued:

“So in your pyramid, reason will not be the guide.” “All power belongs to the king.  The valley being unified, the king of the Two Lands is the King of Kings.” “And after he dies?” “He shall  not die.” “Now here is a new song.” “Listen well to it.  We the companions who work with the warriors are not traitors.  We have gone with the men of force not because we love force but because we live by results.  The rule of the warriors can be beneficial to us if it brings the results we want, but cannot achieve on our own.” (Armah, 2002:285)

Much later the saga between Sharers and Keepers described by Armah was repeated.  It happened between those who wanted to share the commons and those who, through enclosure, wanted to keep the commons for themselves.  They would love to turn the earth into a pyramid.  The earth, because of how it was built cannot become a pyramid, no matter how hard the keepers try.   The earth is the house of life.  And as the novel KMT ends, so will the Earth: it shall keep reproducing the House of Life.*  It shall keep distilling life, sharing its treasures, make sure that all have access to them.  Earth calls for unity, sharing always, all the time. From Armah’s novel, it is possible to look at how the Ebola epidemic is being confronted through the prism of the Sharers of Life vs. the Keepers of Death.  For the Sharers of Life, healing and health are not about how quickly to accumulate wealth.  On the other hand, in spite of its humanitarian disguises, the Keepers of Death are not interested in the sharing of access to knowledge that will enhance the health of all members of humanity without exception. Despite appearances to the contrary, members of the House of Life continue to live and spread the principles of the sharers that could also be called a language.  It is much more than a language, it is a way of living life, or to quote from Armah’s definition: a way of “moving into new beginnings in hopes of creating communities walking the paths of balance, living justice.” (2002:293).  In other words, the responses to the Ebola epidemic as exemplified by the most powerful nations of the Planet, on the one hand, and, on the other, by Cuba, do go beyond issues of health.

Jacques Depelchin
Berkeley CA

Ebola and R2P: An unfolding epidemic or an unfolding crime against humanity?

22-Oct-2014:  R2P or the Responsibility to Protect was invented by the most powerful countries to demonstrate their humanitarianism, but in reality to provide themselves with yet one more weapon in its endeavor to dominate the world.

Is it not reasonable to think that R2P would have been invoked to rally world support against the spreading Ebola virus in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone?  After all, even the head of the World Bank has criticized the failure of the rich Western countries to respond adequately to the epidemic.  But given the gravity of this failure, this “mea culpa” ends up being a sort of cover up.  Was the head of the World Bank, the IMF and like-minded institutions with a global reach willing to remember the role they played, through Structural Adjustment Programs, in further weakening all African health infrastructures, rendering them completely inadequate to a serious epidemic?  Dr. Paul Farmer, a personal friend of the head of the World Bank has described these infrastructures as “medieval”.

Given that recent history and the one that preceded it, would it be an exaggeration to describe the Structural Adjustment Program a crime against humanity? However, again, given the history of the relationship between the Western countries and Africa, the former are likely to be outraged at being called perpetrators of such a crime for their failure to respond adequately to the spreading epidemic.  For the Western countries, R2P is supposed to be used against perpetrators of crimes against humanity.  By definition, given their own self-serving, utilitarian narratives, these most powerful nations are not prepared to look at themselves as actively involved in perpetrating such a crime.

The way the Ebola epidemic is being dealt with by the most powerful countries of the world can only be understood if one approaches it through the mindset that emerged from the history of conquest, slavery, colonization and apartheid.  The Western countries enriched themselves through these historical processes that were rooted in systemic injustices.

For these injustices, no tribunal was ever set up.  One of the consequences has been an ongoing impunity with regard to what occurred in Africa.  Yet, the same Western countries have been quick to set up an International Criminal Court to make sure that crimes against humanity are punished.  The question is: who decides on whether or not a given behavior, a given historical process, should be investigated for creating an environment conducive to a crime against humanity?

How the most powerful countries have responded to the Ebola epidemic is not unlike the manner in which they have responded to the evidence of climate change.  The concentration of power, wealth into the hands of a tiny segment of humanity has led to the growth of an understanding of justice, truth, solidarity that is completely contrary to the maintenance of humanity.

The norm inscribed in the three pillars that constitute the foundation of the R2P automatically enjoins us to pose tough moral questions for those who have assumed the responsibility to execute that decision. President Sirleaf’s passionate letter to the world carried on BBC last Sunday, October 19, 2014, reminded the global community that ebola ‘respects no borders’. And the ‘bitterly disappointed’ Kofi Annan, another darling of neo-liberalism with impeccable credentials, was enraged to go further—‘if the crisis had hit some other region it probably would have been handled very differently’. This difference, shaped by centuries of history, teaches that one part of humanity is expendable while the other is not.

The one billion basket fund launched by the UN to reduce the rate of transmission has failed to attract donor support outside the $20 million pledge and the $100,000 donated by Columbia. But the cost of two F-22 Raptor stealth jets—going at $412 million a piece— gulping a whopping $67 billion to develop could eradicate ebola and malaria combined in one go.  From 8 August to 24 September the US spent nearly one billion dollars bombing ISIS in Iraq.

Jacques Depelchin, Berkeley, California
Ibrahim Abdullah, Freetown, Sierra Leone

10 Steps to Dictatorship: Why The Grassroots Movement in Haiti Is Taking To the Streets Against President Michel Martelly


Counterpunch:  DECEMBER 17, 2013


At great personal risk Haitians have been demonstrating massively in cities throughout the country for the last several months calling for President Michel Martelly to step down, including September 30 and October 17, dates of important coup d’etats in Haitian history, and November 29, the date of an election day massacre in 1987.

By choosing these historically significant dates, the Haitian grassroots majority is clearly saying they want an end to Martelly and to the 10-year UN military occupation that has followed the coup that overthrew elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide on February 29, 2004. Martelly’s police force brutally broke up some demonstrations with tear gas and beatings.

Demonstrators have reported the police used a very “powerful” gas, which surprised them in its potency and aerial reach.

In late October, students in Cap Haitien, demonstrating to support teachers demanding an increase in pay, were tear gassed so viciously that 60 were injured, 4 seriously.

The next day, students in the State University of Port-au-Prince, demonstrating in support of attorney Andre Michel (see #7 below), were gassed for hours, even after they had been pushed back to their campus. The gassing went on so long that some legislators went on the radio to demand that it be stopped.

On November 6th, lawyers marched in Port-au-Prince demanding an end to threats and harassment for those willing to take on cases involving Martelly’s corruption. They also called for the resignation of the chief prosecutor.

And on November 7th, thousands marched, chanting “Aba Martelly” (Down with Martelly). Haitian police attacked the demonstration with tear gas and beatings. Three people were shot and wounded.

1. Who Is Michel Martelly?  Martelly grew up during the 27 year dictatorship of Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier and his son, Jean Claude “Baby Doc.”  He reportedly joined the Duvalierist death squad, the Tonton Macoutes, at the age of 15, and later attended Haiti’s military academy. Under Baby Doc, Martelly, a popular musician, ran the Garage, a nightclub patronized by army officers and members of Haiti’s tiny ruling class.

After Baby Doc’s fall in February 1986, a mass democratic movement, long repressed by the Duvaliers, burst forth and became known as Lavalas (“flood”), from which emerged Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a popular liberation theology Catholic priest, who was elected president in 1990 with 67% of the vote in the first free and fair election in Haiti’s history.

Martelly quickly became a bitter opponent of Lavalas, attacking the popular movement in his songs played widely on Haitian radio.

Martelly “was closely identified with sympathizers of the 1991 military coup that ousted former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide,” the Miami Herald observed in 1996, and ran with members of the vicious FRAPH death squad from that period, infamous for gang rapes and killing with impunity.

On the day of Aristide’s return to Haiti in 2011, after 8 years of forced exile in South Africa, and two days before the “run-off” election, Martelly was caught in a video on YouTube insulting Aristide and Lavalas: “The Lavalas are so ugly. They smell like s**t. F**k you, Lavalas. F**k you, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.”

2. The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2010-2011:   In the presidential election cycle of 2010-2011, Haiti’s Electoral Council banned Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas Party from participation, which de-legitimized the whole corrupt process. Voter turnout was less than 25% in the primaries and less than 20% in the “run-off.” The top two candidates announced after the sham primaries were the wife of a former pro-Duvalier president and the son-in-law of Rene Preval, the president at the time. Martelly was declared third, but his supporters demonstrated violently. An OAS commission, with the full support of Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, who flew to Port-au-Prince at the height of the Egyptian revolution, ruled that Martelly had finished second. He received $6 million from an anonymous donor in Florida to hire a PR firm that had worked on the campaigns of Felipe Calderón in Mexico and John McCain in the U.S.

3. Corruption – Corruption scandals have followed Martelly since he refused to divulge who funded his campaign for president.

Bribes - Award-winning Dominican Republic journalist Nuria Piera broke the story in April 2012 (later reported in Time) that Martelly was alleged to have accepted $2.6 million in bribes during and after the 2010 election to ensure that a Dominican construction company would receive contracts under his Presidency.  In addition, the vote to make Laurent Lamothe the Prime Minister is known in Haiti as the “tout moun jwenn vote” (“everyone got their cut” vote).

Surcharge on international calls and money transfers for “education” – Questionable new taxes have also fed controversy. A $1.50 tax on money transfers and a 5 cent per minute tax on phone calls to Haiti are alleged by Martelly to support education, but the poor majority continue to face unaffordable school fees, and critics say no money from this tax has gone to schools. Moreover, Haitian teachers have been marching to demand back pay. Martelly’s new taxes were not ratified by or presented to Haiti’s Parliament, making them illegal.

Travel Expenses – When traveling, which he does often, Martelly’s entourage receives an outrageous per diem from the Haitian government. According to Senator Moise Jean-Charles, Martelly gets $20,000 a day, his wife $10,000 a day, his children $7,500, and others in his inner circle get $4,000 daily.

A plan to establish an illegal parallel customs system to circumvent legislative control – This allegedly involved the selling of a membership card and gun to anyone who wanted to be part of the Martelly gang. The membership privileges included tax-exempt status at customs. The program had to be scratched when US DEA complained about members facilitating drug transport on the strength of their membership.

 4. Rewriting and Undermining Haiti’s Constitution:  The overthrow of Baby Doc in 1986 led to the creation of a new democratic Constitution in 1987, ratified in a referendum by an overwhelming majority of Haitians. It recognized Haitian Kreyol as an official language, along with French, and legalized Vodun, the spiritual practice of the majority of Haitians. It provided for grassroots participation in national decision-making, decentralized the nation’s finances and political structure, and provided for protection of human rights.

On June 12, 2012 Martelly announced new amendments, which concentrate executive power and herald the return of Duvalier-style dictatorship. The new illegally amended Constitution, written by non-legislators, and never seen nor voted by the Parliament prior to its publication creates a top down method of choosing a Permanent Electoral Council to run elections, undermining grassroots participation and centralizing control from above.

It allows the president to appoint the prime minister after merely “consulting” the heads of the two chambers of Parliament instead of requiring Parliamentary ratification. In cases of “presidential vacancy,” the new amendments make the prime minister the provisional president, so presidents can resign, appoint the prime minister to succeed them, and thereby maintain perpetual control.

New amendments provide that a “general budget” and a “general expenditures report” can replace line item annual budgets, thus limiting parliamentary oversight of the budget.

New amendments return Duvalier era and other retrograde laws, including:

* A 1935 law on “superstitious beliefs,” which would ban Vodun once again.

* A 1977 law establishing the Court of State Security to increase state surveillance and repression.

* A 1969 law that condemns all “imported doctrines”, thereby attacking freedom of thought and freedom of association.  Violation of this new law can result in the DEATH PENALTY.  The 1987 Haitian Constitution had eliminated the death penalty.

5. Restoring The Army:  In one of the most popular moves of his administration, President Aristide disbanded the hated Haitian army in 1995. Since the coup that overthrew Aristide for the second time in 2004, UN troops and police, currently numbering 8,754 uniformed personnel, have occupied Haiti. One of Martelly’s campaign promises was to restore the Haitian Army, and now new Haitian troops are being trained by Ecuador and Brazil. In addition, well-armed former military and paramilitary personnel have occupied militia camps since early 2012, supported by Martelly.

6. Return of the Death Squads:  Martelly has issued pink identity cards with a photo for $30 to selected supporters, promising many benefits to those who hold them, like jobs and impunity from prosecution. During the Duvalier period, every Tonton Macoute received a card that provided many privileges, like free merchandise from any store entered, entitlement to coerced sex, and fear and respect from people in general.

Senator John Joel Joseph has identified Senators that he claims are marked for assassination. He identified the people who have been paying the “hit squads” on behalf of Martelly. He denounced one of the men as an escaped criminal who had been caught red handed with a “near death” victim behind his vehicle. Said victim sent the police to a house where two more victims could be found. Senator Joseph identified the leader of the death squad and his vehicle, denouncing the group as the one which recently assassinated a grassroots militant. He accused the president and his wife of pressuring the chief of police to remove the senators’ security detail, in order to facilitate their assassinations. He denounced a previous instance when Martelly tried to pressure former police chief Mario Andresol to integrate a hit-man into the police, to assassinate Senator Moise Jean Charles. 

7. Death of a Judge:  Martelly set up his wife and son as head of governmental projects, but with no parliamentary oversight. A Haitian citizen, Enold Florestal, filed suit with attorney Andre Michel before Judge Jean Serge Joseph, maintaining that the Martellys were siphoning off large amounts of state monies, which the Haitian Senate has no jurisdiction over. Judge Joseph moved the case to the next judicial level, which required depositions from the Martellys and various governmental ministers. Enraged, Martelly and Prime Minister Lamothe called two meetings with the judge (which they deny took place) to demand he kill the case, the second on July 11. The judge drank a beverage offered him at that meeting.

On July 12 Judge Joseph became violently ill and died on July 13. Haitian police arrested Florestal on August 16 after viciously beating him, and Haitian authorities have issued a warrant for the arrest of Attorney Michel, who has gone into hiding. A commission of the Haitian Parliament is now calling for the impeachment of Martelly based on illegal meetings with the judge, interference in legal matters, and threats to those involved in the case.

Since then Enold Florestal and his brother, who’s completely uninvolved with the case, have been arrested and remain in jail. On October 22, police stopped Attorney Andre Michel and demanded to search his car. He refused without a judge present to prevent tampering or planting of evidence. The action quickly turned into a standoff between police forces and a large crowd that was gathered to defend Michel. Michel was eventually summoned to appear in court the next day.

In court the prosecutor told the judge he did not have charges to file, but for Michel to  not leave the courtroom. Several Deputies and Senators who were present whisked Michel out of the courtroom and took him to an unknown location, where he remains at the time of this report.

8. Corrupting the Judiciary and Parliament:  The Martelly regime is working to establish executive control over the judicial system through the use of “controlled” prosecutors and judges. In violation of the constitution, he appointed as Supreme Court chief justice, Anel Alexis Joseph, who is 72. Haitian law says a judge must be 65 or under to be named to this position. The chief justice also leads the commission that regulates the entire judicial system, so Judge Anel Alexis Joseph is using his power to block an investigation into the death of Judge Jean Serge Joseph and to protect Martelly and his henchmen from all legal challenges, thereby granting impunity.

Martelly has also corrupted the legislative branch that could bring charges against members of the executive. He ordered the arrest of Deputy Arnel Belizaire in spite of parliamentary immunity and his legal council’s advice. He has so far failed to call elections for 10 Senate seats in January, and is trying to force the 10 Senators whose terms he says are up (they say in 2015, not 2014) to leave office. Since elections have still not been held for 10 additional seats, if these new 10 seats are vacated, it would leave the 30 member Senate without a quorum, allowing Martelly to dissolve the Parliament and rule by decree.

9. Reactionary Economic Policy:  Martelly enforces the Clinton Bush plan for economic “development” of Haiti through sweatshops, tourism, and the selling of oil and mining rights to transnational corporations. Under this plan, money donated for earthquake relief has been used to build a duty free export manufacturing zone in the north of Haiti, which was not affected by the earthquake, and several luxury hotels in Port-au-Prince. The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund made a $2 million equity investment in a hotel called the Royal Oasis, to give foreign tourists and investors an “oasis” to escape the miserable conditions under which the majority of Haitians live.

At the same time, the Martelly regime viciously represses the economic activities of the poor super majority. The phone and money transfer taxes cut into their incomes. Taxes have been arbitrarily increased on imports, affecting small merchants. Thugs wearing masks have burnt markets in different cities, causing merchants to lose capital they had been accumulating for years, forcing them to raise new capital through usury loans. Street vendors are harassed and removed forcefully, then after hours, their stands are looted.

10. Duvalierism Returns to Haiti:  Martelly warmly welcomed the January, 2011 return to Haiti of Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, one of the most brutal dictators of the 20th century, after his decades of luxurious exile in France. Duvalier still has many supporters in Haiti, some of whom are armed and have a history of killing political opponents.

Martelly’s government is filled with Duvalierists: hardline former Haitian army officer David Bazile is now Interior Minister. Magalie Racine, daughter of notorious former Tonton Macoute militia chief Madame Max Adolphe, is Martelly’s Youth and Sports Minister. Public Works Secretary of State Philippe Cinéas is the son of longtime Duvalierist figure Alix Cinéas, who was a member of the original neo-Duvalierist National Council of Government (CNG) which succeeded Duvalier after his fall in 1986. In addition, Duvalier’s son, Francois Nicolas Jean Claude Duvalier, is a close advisor to Martelly.

Conclusion:  A major objective of the Duvalier dynasty was to institutionalize dictatorship through death squad brutality, supported by the United States and other powers. Martelly is an example of their policies having come to fruition. He’s restoring a government of impunity per the Duvalier era, building an administration of right wing ideologues who believe in dictatorship, and who collaborate to sidestep all legislative and judicial controls.

His goal is to implement extreme neo-liberal economic policies on behalf of Haiti’s less than 1% with control over all natural resources. The people will be at their mercy for factory work and other “subservient” positions, under the boot of a UN occupation force of 8,754 army and police personnel, the beginnings of a restored army, paramilitary training camps, death squads, gangs and mafias that use the cover of the corrupted executive and judicial systems to operate.

The Haitian majority does not accept this return to the bad old days, however, and has been actively and massively protesting this repression for the past year. They deserve the support and solidarity of freedom loving people everywhere.

HAITI ACTION COMMITTEE • www.haitisolidarity.net • action.haiti@gmail.com


Open Letter to the Mayor of Durban

Dear Mr. Nxumalo, Mayor of Durban, South Africa

I have been informed that you are trying to be helpful to the poor, by way of being charitable, and sensitizing richer people to donate whatever they can to improve the conditions under which the poor live. From what is being reported, it does seem that you are not interested in listening to what the poor themselves are saying with regard to deal with their living conditions.

I do have many questions, but the one that really dominates is the following: why is it so difficult for you (and others in your administration, in the justice system, locally and nationally, in your party, locally and nationally) to look at people who are protesting on the basis of values (like solidarity, for example) that most Africans, nay, most humans, are proud to share? Is it not possible to put aside what capitalism, colonialism, apartheid, slavery, drilled into our minds, and listen with the kind of care, love, compassion someone like Francis of Assisi once did as a way of reminding us what we do have in common. One does not have to be a former catholic believer to admire someone like Pope Francis giving examples of humility, compassion, generosity, recently embracing a disfigured person. Or have you so imbibed the concept of power as power only when exercised with impunity, that you do not see how closely you are reproducing what went on during apartheid?

In his novel, KMT –In the House of Life, subtitled, an epistemic novel, Ayi Kwei Armah has provided an enlightened response. In this novel, Ayi Kwei Armah tries to understand why Ancient Egyptian Civilization fell apart. In a nutshell, it boiled down to a struggle between two antagonistic understandings of how to advance knowledge (and humanity). On one side there were the keepers (using knowledge as a way of accumulating power) and the sharers (using knowledge as a way of promoting solidarity, and the continuing emancipation of humanity).

Mr. Mayor, have you ever entertained the idea that, given your position, you could play a significant role, not only in Durban, but beyond, toward a complete and total emancipation of humanity, from the predatory practices of capitalism? What has been missing in Africa, since the years of Independence? What has been missing in South Africa, since the end of Apartheid? In all these cases can one seriously talk about transition when those who most benefitted from the predatory liquidation of Africa organized themselves to carry on with the predatory system? The predators are keepers and reproducers of the knowledge that made them powerful and super rich. The residents of Kennedy Road, Cato Cress Manor are trying to make you understand their messages about sharing in solidarity, not through charity. The latter is a healing message, the former is a transaction aimed at keeping the poor poorer and the rich richer.

There is a world of difference between solidarity and charity.
The latter calls for silence
Acquiescence, submission
Acceptance of poverty
As something akin to predestination
Calls for audacity
In liquidating misery
Forever everywhere
Not just in one corner of a territory

The poorest of the poor
Took to the streets because they had no other way
To be heard in their own voices
By themselves, for themselves

In today’s world dominated by violence
The voices from the poorest of the poorest
Are healing voices seeking
To heal wounds, visible and invisible

Mr. Mayor, it is easier to focus on the visible wounds, the ones everyone can see and understand, but the deepest wounds tend to be the ones that are invisible from the outside. Real healing means going as deep as possible in those hidden wounds, with the help of those who are vocal and those who have been so badly wounded that, more often than not, they would rather keep quiet.
There is one humanity, indivisible. In the end, each one of us will be asked, whatever our beliefs what did we do in order to heal that which appeared irreparably destroyed.

Jacques MF Depelchin
Hugh Le May Fellow Rhodes University (August-December 2012)

Edward Snowden: A healing voice

Like many people, I was surprised to hear of Edward Snowden’s decision to leave his job and move toward Hong Kong in search of a place where he could reconcile his conscience with his understanding of humanity and the US Constitution. Ever since, I have been trying to understand how he had come to a decision that, one may be certain, others contemplated, but then did not pursue for reasons that are not important, at this point, to figure out.

As days, weeks, months passed, most citizens of the US had difficulties in assessing Edward Snowden’s act: was he a hero or a traitor? In the midst of these hesitations, his father embraced him tightly. [His mother may have done the same, but more discretely, so discretely in fact, that no one but herself and Edward and his father know about it]. It was a very encouraging and courageous act even if it had to be handled, as too many things have to, in these days, with the help of a lawyer.

Is this lawyerly mediation of father-son love a sign of the times we are living in?

Solidarity, generosity, love,
Natural as humans for thousands of years
Cannot be expressed without consulting
Lawyers, expert navigators in protecting
Humans from being liquidated by other humans
So blinded by the exercise of power with impunity
They and/or their lobbyists
cannot see how such insanity
Has led to a slow, possibly
Irreversible process
Of annihilation of values that
Once defined humanity

In these turbulent and confusing times, the striking quality of Edward Snowden’s voice may account for the silence it has tended to generate among his fellow humans. In the ideological dictionary of how to catalogue him, the specialists are at a loss, between honoring him as a hero and castigating him as traitor. Yet, his voice has come out as clear as crystal, as simple as a healing voice echoing his own conscience, a conscience fine tuned to how it was defined thousands of year ago when humans began to gain a conscience of themselves as different from animals.

As one reads Ancient Egyptian texts, especially around the concept of Mâât (justice, balance, ethics, solidarity, etc.), it is not difficult to see the connection between Snowden’s Ba (inner spirit, soul, conscience, according to the Ancient Egyptians) and that of The Man In Dispute of His Ba, a text from the 12th dynasty. (See Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature. Vol. 1: The Old and Middle Kingdom. UCLA press, 1975) It is not difficult to imagine Snowden debating with his Ba on how to decide what to do in the face of doing work that told him that it was not right.

As in that text from the 12th dynasty (1990-1785 BC), one could imagine Snowden thinking like that man:

To Whom Shall I Speak Today
The Constitution shows one way
My bosses kept messaging me: stay away
From your conscience
They would say
Insisting you are
Too young to know anyway
The right from the wrong way

Still I kept asking myself
To Whom Shall I speak today
While being encouraged to go
against the right way

To Whom Shall Speak Today
Facing solitary incarceration
Because I cannot help say
Yes to my conscience

Knowing what he did and what he was being asked to do, it is not difficult to imagine how he first tried to push his conscience away, silence it, telling himself that his job was to follow orders and not think about the bigger issues of whether it was right or wrong. But his conscience or his Ba kept coming back, sometimes in the middle of the night. He may not have thought the same as The Man from the text in Ancient Egyptian 12th dynasty, but it is also clear that it is those words that led him to look for people with whom he could share the load weighing on his conscience/Ba. The pain from the load was too much. Like any reasonable human being he looked for help, searching for someone he could speak to, without facing punishment concocted by generations of misguided, gone astray guardians of laws built on lies, violence, still unacknowledged crimes against humanity.

We do know that our brain/body still react physically/psychically in ways that were learned from thousand of years ago, whether in the face of threatening danger or in the face of dilemmas dealing with life issues. Living as human beings means that one is permanently connected to one’s conscience. That umbilical cord that connects us to primordial times has never been severed, but it will come under severe strain, now and again. In times past, land and conscience were as inseparable as any of the organs that make humans what they are. Inheritors of that crime against humanity see nothing wrong in cashing in on that original impunity by invading the soul/conscience of every single human being to own it as they owned the land they conquered.

Could it be that the difficulties of figuring out how Edward Snowden decided to do what he did stems from a station in the evolution of humanity that is showing signs of being split from its conscience. Put in another more brutal fashion: could it be that one of the consequences of the way humans are being organized economically, politically, scientifically, culturally, religiously, humanity as we have known it, is being liquidated, along with its history and being replaced by a species fashioned to respond without resistance to the rules and regulations that are being imposed in all spheres of life, all of them rooted in the impunity that sanctioned the severing of the land from people whose conscience kept repeating:

You are the guardian of the land
Earth, air, water one way
As Corbin Harney used to say
Only one way to stay
The integrity of humanity
Let no one take your land away
Because not long after they
Will take your conscience away
They turned the land into a commodity
With names like plantation, reservation,
Bantustans, colonies, commonwealth,
How far is humanity
from unrecoverable cacophony
hibernation, isolation, desolation. Liquidation?

The signal is clear: do not listen to your conscience, especially if tells you to denounce something that is damaging to other members of humanity.

Looked at from such an angle, Edward Snowden’s voice and action can be seen as healing gestures in a world increasingly being pushed to self annihilation by practices that emphasize, single mindedly, the competitive search for self-enrichment. In the face of such a disaster, should one be surprised that a person with a highly sensitive conscience could not help but follow it? When a healing voice, like Edward Snowden’s, emerges in the midst of an undeclared war against humanity, one can be certain that such a voice is the result of a massive healing energy being expressed from different segments of humanity. This voice is not an isolated cry. Could it be the water breaking preceding the birth of a renewed conscience and affirmation of fidelity to humanity?

An Open Letter to the highest moral, religious, juridical, political and business authorities of South Africa

This letter should have been written a long time ago because there have been too many instances when I remained silent when speaking up in solidarity with AbahlaliBaseMjondolo was what my conscience was telling me to do. The excuses for the silence are the usual ones: nowadays it is impossible to respond to calls for solidarity coming from too many members of humanity, worldwide, being threatened, assaulted, criminalized, killed for simply saying they must be treated with respect, dignity, justice. Most of the facts regarding this particular issue can be found on the following site: www.abahlali.org. What has triggered this response can be found here: [Abahlali] Nqobile Nzuza is Dead & She was Killed by the Police in a So-Called Democracy

That announcement began as follows:

“Nqobile Nzuza, a 17 Year Old School Girl, Shot Dead with Live Ammunition by
the Cato Manor SAPS

Nqobile Nzuza a 17 year old girl, a grade 9 learner at Bonella High School and
an Abahlali baseMjondolo supporter was gunned down at around 5:00 a.m. this
morning. Nqobile was shot twice from behind with live ammunition. Luleka
Makhwenkwana was also shot in her arm with live ammunition and she in King
Edward Hospital. Thulisile Zide fainted and went unconscious, she is also in

I have been following with growing dismay how police and Durban City authorities have been waging a war against South African citizens fighting for their rights to a peaceful life, to having a living space, to having access to water, electricity, to being respected as human beings.

Like many Africans, during the apartheid days, I have participated actively in solidarity campaigns for the end of apartheid. As a historian I have taught African history in a way that is respectful to all of those who made it possible for apartheid to be abolished.

Fighting against apartheid, or fighting against the war in Vietnam, or fighting for the end of Portuguese colonial rule was rooted in the same kind of conscience that led us to also fight for the end of racial discrimination in places like the United States, Western Europe, India, Palestine.

It is from the same kind of commitment to one’s conscience that people in places like Haiti and Cuba, put an end to slavery and colonization by mafia profiteers from casinos and prostitution. The emergence of conscience as a moral guide for humanity, however, has a much longer history than the recent centuries of capitalist predation on humanity.

The current times make one wonder whether one should not listen to voices coming from the times of Ancient Egypt when one learns of the despair of a Man disputing his Ba (his spirit, soul), asking himself whether it would not be better to end his own life, given the miseries he is facing. For those who are interested, the full text is available online at

If I were a member of AbahlaliBaseMjondolo anywhere in South Africa, I might ask you as that person back from Ancient Egyptian 12th dynasty (between 1990-1785 BC), in desperation, and in the face of screaming injustices that seem to have become acceptable norm among some of those who fought against apartheid.

To Whom Shall I Speak Today
Police kill citizens
Instead of protecting them

To Whom Shall I speak Today
Political authorities stay silent
Instead of speaking out loud against injustices

To Whom Shall I speak Today
Religious and moral authorities shy away
From defending the poor, the weak

To Whom Shall I speak Today
Business people care more about competition to death
Than promoting solidarity as a way of living

To whom Shall I speak Today
The constitutional Court is too far away
From those who need it the most

To Whom Shall I speak today
The powerful caring only for their own
Giving charity to the poor
Taking their houses away
Refusing them access to water and electricity

To Whom Shall I speak Today
When housing is traded for votes
Life taken away from Shackdwellers
Who are fighting for the right to be treated with respect, justice and dignity

To Whom Shall I speak Today
When humanity is being replaced with insanity
In the name of power is only power when exercised with impunity

To whom Shall I speak Today
When healing thoughts
Have been replaced by the urge to liquidate
The weakest members of humanity, be they old, jobless, poor, handicapped
To Whom Shall I Speak Today
The Marikana Commission to investigate the assassination
Of 34 miners asking for a decent wages
Prefers to steer away from seeking justice
To accommodate the wishes of the powerful

To Whom Shall I Speak Today
I thought apartheid practices had gone away
Power with impunity have won the day

The full text of The Dispute of a Man With His Ba can also be found in Miriam Lichtheim’s Ancient Egyptian Literature (vol 1: The Old and Middle Kingdom), London, Los Angeles: University of California press, 1973.


It has been pointed out that the assassination of Amilcar Cabral marked the end of a sequence of history (Michael Neocosmos) namely the end of politics through armed struggles. In the process of thinking and re-thinking the legacy of Amilcar Cabral is it possible to say anything that has not been already said, either by himself, or by those who have written about him? Is it possible to go beyond just citing words and/or phrases that reconnect to his vision of an emancipated Africa? Is it possible to accept that, from the end of WWII, if not before, history has unfolded as imposed by the most powerful economic and political forces.

Discussing Amilcar Cabral, in a way, is no different from discussing other iconic and revolutionary figures whose lives were cut short precisely because of how they were perceived by their enemy. The long history of freeing Africa and Africans from the legacies of enslavement, colonization, apartheid, globalization seems like a never-ending task. The task could be made easier if one’s understanding of the above legacies were not too intimately tied to the Enlightenment.

In this essay, I would like to argue that one of the reasons Africa and Africans, and especially the poorest, are not better than they were in 1973 (possibly worse off), has to do, in part, with an inadequate understanding of how capitalism rooted itself in Africa, while uprooting its people, its culture, its history, and, at the same time pushing the splitting of humanity to levels that will make the task of coming back together appear impossible.

While most theorizers of capitalism and the processes linked to its expansion do mention violence, to my knowledge, none has really focused on the impact of cumulative violence on both sides. In addition, most theorizers, even if they may deny this, focus on the economic and financial impact of capital. The political and ideological impact resulting from the violence has not received the same kind of attention that the equation labor-capital has received. If capital, for the sake of its survival, shall feed on states, any of them, it will do so.

The financialization of capital and the kind of impunity it rests on must be analyzed through a theorization of how violence has been exercised while, at the same time, not being presented as violence. The towering dominance of finance capital is deeply connected with the violence present, represented and accumulated over the years in military organizations like NATO and the nuclear arsenals of countries with nuclear capability. In turn that latent violence which hangs over humanity like a Damocles sword has historical roots in processes that tend to be seen as separate. Ideologically speaking, capital and capitalism must be presented in the same light as, say the history of the US: the best, the greatest, incapable of committing crimes against humanity. The ruthlessness of capital, under any of its historical sequences, has been sanitized to the point of turning it into the “only acceptable alternative”.

The political and ideological power that has resulted from the violence inflicted during slavery and colonization deserves greater attention if the economic, political and cultural transitions are going to be understood, whether from slavery, colonial, apartheid to post-slavery, post-colonial, post-apartheid times. In a nutshell, the argument can be summarized as follows: from slavery through the current era called “globalization”, a type of power has emerged on a global scale that has not be given a name, as yet. In addition the cumulative effect of violence, physical and psychic has led to the emergence of a world in which violence will often take forms that have nothing or little to do with violence as is understood. To this kind of overwhelming power that is almost impossible to assess, one should add the power of technology. The creative side of technology is overemphasized while its destructive capacity has been growing beyond the imaginable.

For example, through advertizing (supposedly focused on creativity), consumers are led to believe that a given product (while in reality lethal for one’s health) is not only desirable, but also will enhance one’s health, and how one will feel, look, etc. Thus, while living under a socio-economic system that could be described as the most predatory in the history of humanity, humans seem to be unaware and/or unconcerned that, in the words of Aimé Césaire, “We have entered a tower of silence where we have become prey and vulture.” Indeed, one could convey the same idea by wondering whether capitalism has become the nicotine of humanity.

If it were to be analyzed in detail, this kind of power, rooted in how capitalism has imposed itself could lead one to conclude it has achieved the kind of dominance that Nazi leaders could never ever have dreamed of. Yet, it would be wrong to look at the end of WWII (i.e. how it came about, as a singular turning point. What is needed is a history of transitions (from slavery to colonization to apartheid to globalization) of capitalism, focused on where and how the concentration of economic, political, financial power was built.

One of the starting points has to be how the post-WWII has been presented by the powers that have been in control of that process: as a period that has brought greater progress, peace and security to everyone, under the twin aegis of capitalism and the United States. This narrative must be questioned in view of the crossroads in which humanity finds itself today. Asking for the narrative to be questioned does not mean that one has reached a conclusion with regard to how one should call the times under which we are living, but questioning at all times while maintaining fidelity to humanity can be the only way of maintaining fidelity to emancipatory politics.

Cabral’s famous warning about not claiming easy victory comes to mind. Yet, it could be argued that, in fact, systematically, at every transition there has been something akin to “claiming an easy victory”, or thinking that because some victories had been achieved, the rest, as Nkrumah so famously put it, will follow. In Frelimo’s publication during the struggle, an editorial was written, very critical of Nkrumah. Was Cabral thinking of Nkrumah when he issued his warning about not claiming easy victories?

As in any scientific endeavor, emancipatory processes, if they are going to be successful, can never end, if only because the temptations of one group seeking to take advantage of the rest is always going to be present. One of the difficulties, if not the principal one, is that the nature, form and appearance of the challenges will never be the same. Thus, Samora’s probing question “Who is the Enemy?” cannot ever have a prefabricated, or ready-made answer. It requires a constant battle whose shape, form, organization will never be the same. Sounds obvious, but is it? One of the reasons why there has been a tendency to claim easy victories (whether over slavery, colonization, Nazism or apartheid) comes from the imposition of historical narratives that see no connections (or very few) between these various phases when, in reality, the connections are structural, and should lead to constant re-examination.

For example, is it far fetched for an author like Claude Ribbe to look at Napoléon Bonaparte as a precursor of Hitler? Ribbe’s book focuses on how Napoleon ordered the restoration of slavery when he came to power. How that process was carried out may lead historians to other conclusions, but there is no doubt about how horrific it was (instructions coming from the highest levels were to make no prisoners, and asphyxiate them in massive numbers in the ship howls before throwing the dead bodies in the ocean). Moreover, Napoleon’s intentions were made clear: make the punishment as severe as possible so that the enslaved would think twice before engaging in overthrowing slavery. In other words, there are parts of the history of capitalism and/or nations that became powerful through its expansion that are considered sacred and untouchable. If impunity is going to be addressed seriously, then let it be done in a manner that does not flinch at investigating some of the most deeply embedded causes.

The enemy that allowed slavery to be abolished was actually working at modernizing slavery, i.e. getting rid of those shackles that were considered as obstacles on the growth of capital. The enemy that was later defeated in Indochina, Kenya, Algeria was in the process of modernizing its arsenal. This process has nothing to do with conspiracy theory; rather it has to do with the transition from colonization by European countries to US capital overtaking the latter. It has to do with the obvious: reconnecting histories that have continued to be treated as separate and unrelated to each other.

The history of the politics of emancipation as it has unfolded in Africa is one that should generate a process of rethinking à la Cabral. This would mean that emancipatory politics must understand the trajectories of colonization, apartheid, globalization, better than those who think that given that they always have won, there is no other lesson to learn from anyone, let alone from those who have been systematically slaughtered because their resistance was described as backward, barbarian, etc.

1. Power, violence and impunity

At the root of the long process of conquering Africa, one finds violence exercised with impunity. The end result, as can be seen today, is a practice of power that, implicitly and/or explicitly states that “power is only power if it is exercised with impunity”. In order to understand this, one has to look at the cumulative violence that has been unleashed for centuries, most of which went unrecorded in the annals or archives of the conquering forces.

It is not enough to note, as most observers do today, that there are two international justice systems, one at the service of the most powerful nations, corporations and one at the service of the weakest. For the latter, an arsenal of humanitarian, charitable organizations have been put in place since the days of the abolitionist movement in England, in particular, but not only.

Humanitarianism has a history longer than the birth of the United Nations and most charitable organizations. Humanitarianism can be looked at the manner in which the most powerful show their power to the weakest. Justice that is practiced out of charity is not justice. When adjectives begin to be added to justice, such as “social justice”, then one should be alerted to the fact that justice means different things to different groups of people.

For power to be exercised with impunity, the violence behind it must not be interpreted as questionable, or unjust. The most powerful nations and corporations are not interested in examining the reverberations/repercussions of how they exercise their power. It has reached levels of unaccountability that are usually associated with dictatorial rule.

For example, when it is decided in a given place that a group of people must be liquidated because one person has been identified as a threat to the well being of those controlling economic, political and financial power. Such a process makes a mockery of justice and reframes the parameters of international relations in a way that becomes impossible to challenge because impunity has become part and parcel of the definition of power as exercised by the most powerful.

2. Education, history

If one looks at the interest in history during the liberation struggles and the immediate aftermath, it is not difficult to notice that history was an important topic. Education was equally important. The reasons were obvious: if people were going to be mobilized to fight colonial rule, then it was important for them to understand its roots and how it worked, both physically and mentally.

The correlation between knowing the past, the present and the future was crucial in the success of the armed struggles for liberation. If one takes the example of Frelimo and the teaching of who the enemy is, during the armed struggle, it is not difficult to see how crucial education and history were as mobilizing weapons. When the colonized (or the enslaved) stand up and affirm themselves as not colonized, as free, they state that they count in a way that goes counter to how they had been treated by the enslavers and/or colonizers. However, that affirmation does require constant updating if the pitfall of National consciousness (or claiming easy victories) is going to be avoided.

Is it not interesting that preoccupation with history and/or education tends to occur at moments of crisis or in times when there is a sense that things cannot go on as they are? Although still in power, Frelimo has adopted the dominant manners and practices of its former enemy by relegating history, education and health to the bottom of the priorities. The presupposition (from the US to Mozambique, to DRC, to Brazil) is that these disciplines are sought by the less intellectually gifted. According to those in power (corporations and/or state) this is as it should be because the best brains are headed for science, Business and Law Schools.

Post Apartheid South Africa devotes 20% of its budget to education, and yet education continues to suffer from the apparent determination that it is not crucial for a society driven by a bottom line that has stated, for centuries now, that Africa and Africans should not get the best education possible for every single person. The bottom line continues to be dictated by the notion that those who have risen to the top have done so thanks to their own merit. The idea that maintaining fidelity to humanity is crucial not just for the tiny few at the top, but for every single one, is simply anathema to those who have most benefitted from the process of dispossession and dehumanization that has taken place under capitalism.

3. Capitalism: toward eradicating humanity and its history?

Over and above the typical features of capital related to the relationship between labor and capital, what takes place at the same time is a process of dispossession that goes far beyond what has been understood. How lethal capitalism has been in its process of destroying humanity has not been fully understood. The discussions about whether primitive accumulation or dispossession best capture how capitalism as an economic system operates can only lead to claiming easy victories, because capitalism has impacted humans in ways that go far beyond the realm of economics.

It is not sufficient to provide a critique of capitalism by just focusing on its economic features. Sometimes it may take the voice of poets to see better through capitalism. I will refer here to just two of them: Aimé Césaire and Ayi Kwei Armah. For the first I can only send readers to his Discourse on Colonialism. In it he articulates the interconnections between capitalism, Nazism and colonialism in a way that does not follow the usual script. He points out how the reconstruction of Europe went hand in hand with a continuation of Nazism (in the colonies). After all, it is not Hitler who proclaimed the following: “We do not aspire to equality, but to domination. The foreign race country must become again a land of serfs, daily farm or industrial workers. The issue is not to do away with inequalities among people, but to amplify them and turn it into a law”. Ernest Renan, the western humanist, the idealist philosopher is the author of this quote, written immediately following the end of WWII.

In a few more paragraphs, Césaire illustrates, with quotes, the ideological kinship between French thinkers and Hitler and his acolytes; between the barbarism that colonization leads to do, and where Nazism led. For Césaire, both colonialism and Nazism are the by-products of a sick civilization that, in his word “irresistibly, from consequence to consequence, from renunciation to renunciation, calls for its Hitler, I mean its punishment”.

From the perspective of Africa and its enslavement, Ayi Kwei Armah has written about the reality brought about by the white destroyers and the way to heal from the carnage. He has done it not only in his writings, but also in his practices as a writer, a thinker, as a sharer of his vision and understanding of the way away from the destroyers’ way. In chapter 7 of Two Thousand Seasons, readers will find reflections that are pertinent to not claiming easy victories, as in the following lines where he describes what a liberator is: “For he is no liberator whose skill lies in calling loudly to the bound, the trapped, the impotent enslaved, to rise upon their destroyers. The liberator is he who from a necessary silence, from a necessary secrecy strikes the destroyer. That, not loudness, is the necessary beginning.” (p. 314) Further down, he warns of more difficulties: “Dangers will be in the newness of this discovery, dangers like the headiness of too quick, abundant faith from those too long sold to despair; the pull of old habits from destruction’s empire; the sour possibility of people helping each other turning in times of difficulty into people using each other to create a selfish ease…(p.315)

4. Cabral and Guiné-Bissau

As observers and scholars look today at the African continent, the general impression that emerges is certainly not the one that prevailed around 1973, just before the assassination of Cabral. Even the assassination of Cabral could not dampen the feeling that victory against Portuguese colonial rule was within reach. By April 1974, thanks to the pressure brought by the armed struggles in the colonies, the Portuguese army seized power and put an end to the dictatorship. With the independence of Mozambique the (September 1975) the focus shifted from ending Portuguese colonial rule to facing and defeating Ian Smith and its allies in South Africa. With the defeat of the Americans in Vietnam in 1975, it appeared as if anything was possible, including the end of the apartheid regime. There came Soweto 1976, but soon after that (September 1977) came the assassination of Steve Bantu Biko. And it was around this time (April 1976) that the US (under Henry Kissinger), decided that the timing of the end of apartheid had to take place according to what would be decided in Washington, London, and not by Africans pursuing their search for complete and total emancipation from centuries of domination.

For the purposes of this essay and the current times, there is one question that is impossible to avoid: from the days of Nkrumah’s rise to power and the process of decolonization, what is it that, systematically, has not been dealt with as it should have been? Despite the volumes written on, around African unity, how come everything but unity prevails? What is it that prevented thinkers like Cheikh Anta Diop, Nkrumah, Cabral, Fanon, Nyerere, Mondlane, Ruben Um Nyobe, from joining their efforts? What is it that has led African political leaders to treat Cheikh Anta Diop’s individual work with the same disdain that, collectively speaking, Haiti’s overthrow of slavery has been treated? These questions will have to be answered sooner or later.

I mentioned earlier the fact that in the process of enslaving and colonizing the continent, the process of destruction did much more than what has been acknowledged, even by leaders like Cabral. It is one thing to call for African unity, it is another to articulate it in a way that any one on the continent would immediately understand the historical, cultural, linguistic, philosophical roots of that unity; provided such articulations were rooted in an understanding and conviction that, in fact, the unity that politicians talk about has in fact been in existence through the culture, the languages, the values that can be traced back to Egyptian civilization. Although Cabral himself pointed out that the history of Africa has deeper roots than alleged by the theoretical approach framed by the history of class struggle, there is no evidence that he or his close collaborators, like Mario de Andrade, for example, took the work of Cheikh Anta Diop seriously.

Today, what is the state of liberation (emancipatory politics) in countries that fought armed struggles? More broadly speaking what is the state of the continent compared to what it looked like it might become in 1973? Can one say that the leadership in charge today has carried on, with fidelity to humanity (as envisioned by Fanon in his conclusion to The Wretched of the Earth) from where Amilcar Cabral and others left?

Land grabbing in various countries is taking place as if cued by some sort of virtual replay of the Berlin Conference (more than a century later) aimed at dividing up the Continent according to the new configuration imposed by capitalism. If it is not land grabbing, laundering of the money made through drug trafficking is ensuring that capitalism does take root by any means necessary. The dispossessing or dehumanization of humanity has received a new lease of life on the continent thanks to a renewed process of aggression against the most precious treasure held by all human beings: conscience.

5. Conclusion

For emphasis, let it be said that the focus on African history and not on history has led to a failure to understand humanity and its history as a whole. By creating area studies for the sake of producing expert knowledge on areas like Africa, the US and its allies (mostly former colonizing countries) created a way of looking at African history that prepared the ground for the repeated stumbling that prevented a complete and total eradication of the consequences of enslavement and colonization. When looking at the history of Africa and Africans by only concentrating on the continent, one ends up distorting that history. In turn that distortion leads to a distortion of the history of humanity especially if, in the process, the humanity of Africans is systematically denied.

From within the emancipatory tradition, there are more voices of conscience than the ones referred to in this text. At the same time, what is not sufficiently appreciated is the degree to which capitalism has come to dominate humanity’s conception of itself, and its reliance on its conscience to keep coming back to its senses. Whether it was from Fanon, Ruben Um Nyobe, Biko, Sankara, Lumumba, Nehanda or Kimpa Vita, these voices expressed what humanity has in common: conscience. While it may have been eroded to the point of giving the impression that it has disappeared, I would suspect that it never will, but if it is going to succeed in reversing the current process, then there has to be a conviction that conscience is humanity’s most powerful weapon in resisting its ongoing liquidation.

If Césaire’s questioning of whether Nazism had ended (Discourse on colonialism) had been pursued systematically, one of the possible results could have led to an understanding of capitalism as a system that modernized Nazism so that it would automatically generate mechanisms (ways of thinking) aimed at getting rid of those members of humanity that are considered worthless: the poor, the Africans, the old people, the indigenous people, street children, the handicapped, the terminally ill, etc. In other words, what can be seen today (through so-called globalization, but not only) is a modernized form of Nazism in which there is no Hitler to point at as a scapegoat, but capitalism seeks the same lebensraum that Hitler was aiming at. The difference is that capitalism has been slowly transforming humanity into its opposite by occupying all of the spaces that were once considered sacred if fidelity to humanity was going to be maintained.

J. Depelchin (Hugh Le May Fellow at Rhodes University, July-December 2012—Visiting professor history department, Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana, Bahia Brazil)

Dr Denis Mukwege’s Presentation to the United Nations 25/9/2012

Your Excellencies, Mr. Ambassadors,

I would have liked to begin my speech with the usual formulation, “I have the honour and privilege of taking the floor before you.”

Alas! The women victims of sexual violence in Eastern DRC are in dishonor. I constantly with my own eyes see the elder women, the young girls, the mothers and even the babies dishonored.

Still today, many are subjected to sexual slavery; others are used as a weapon of war. Their organs are exposed to the most abhorrent ill-treatment.

And this has been going on for 16 years! 16 years of errancy; 16 years of torture; 16 years of mutiation; 16 years of the destruction of women, the only vital Congolese resources; 16 years of destruction of an entire society. Certainly your respective countries have done much during this time to address the consequences of this barbarity. We are very grateful for that.

I would have liked to say “I have the honour of taking part in the international community that you represent here”. But I cannot.

How can I say this to you, representing the international community, when the international community has shown its fear and lack of courage during these 16 years in the DRC.

I would have liked to say, “I have the honour of representing my country”, but I cannot.

In effect, how can one be proud of belonging to a nation without defence, fighting itself, completely pillaged and powerless in the face of 500,000 of its girls raped during 16 years; 6,000,000 of its sons and daughters killed during 16 years without any lasting solution in sight.

No, I do not have the honour, nor the privilege to be here today. My heart is heavy.

My honour, it is to be with these courageous women victims of violence, these women who resist, these women who despite all remain standing.

Today, thanks to the report of the UN experts, the Mapping Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations, and many other credible reports, no one can continue to hide behind the argument of the complexity of the crisis. We know now the motivations behind this crisis and its different actors. What is missing is the political will.

But until when? Until when must we continue, helpless, to witness other massacres?

Excellencies, Mister Ambassadors ; it is with great humility that i tell you this.

We do not need more proof, we need action, urgent action to arrest those responsible for these crimes against humanity and to bring them to justice. Justice is not negotiable. We need your unanimous condemnation of the rebel groups who are responsible for these acts, we need concrete actions with regard to member states of the United Nations who support these barbarities from near or afar. We are facing a humanitarian emergency that no longer has room for tergiversation. All the ingredients are there to put an end to an unjust war that has used violence against women and rape as a strategy of war. Congolese women have a right to protection just as all the women on this planet.

Shelving all these credible reports wil harm the credibility of the various UN resolutions requiring the protection of women in times of conflict and will entirely discredit our dear institution, which is supposed to ensure the non repetition of genocide.

The great principles of our civilization decline; they decline through new barbarities, as in Syria or DRC; but also through the deafening silence and the lack of courage of the international community.

We cannot silence the truth as it is persistent. We should rather confront it to avoid betraying our ideals.

I have the honour to say that the courage of women victims of sexual violence in the Eastern Congo will in the end overcome this evil. Help them restore peace!

Thank you.

Denis Mukwege
Medical Director
Panzi Hospital

Tentative d’assassinat de Dr. Denis Mukwege à Bukavu, Joseph Kabila ne connait pas non plus le docteur des femmes violées?

Par Freddy Mulongo–Vendredi 26 octobre 2012. Un gouvernement responsable protège tous ses citoyens. Et il veuille à ce que l’élite du pays ne soit pas décapiter. Or que voyons-nous en République démocratique du Congo, on tue, on assassine, on zigpouille l’élite congolaise: activistes des droits de l’homme, journalistes, acteurs politiques de l’opposition. Et le gouvernement d’Augustin Matata Pognon, le Vuvuzélateur Lambert Mende et autres apparatchiks Joséphistes s’en pressent pour se disculper: Joseph Kabila ne connaissait pas Floribert Chebeya, il ne connait pas non le docteur des femmes violées Denis Mukwege revenant d’un séjour en Europe qui a été violemment agressé le jeudi 25 octobre dans la soirée à Bukavu ? Nous avons à faire au Congo à une bande mafieuse, des usurpateurs-imposteurs qui ont pris les institutions de la République en otage et ils nous soulent avec des discours mensongers, des balivernes à dormir debout. Après Floribert Chebeya, le soldat des droits de l’homme au Congo, originaire de Bukavu, assassiné par le régime dictatorial de Joseph Kabila en juin 2010, faut-il assassiner le Dr. Denis Mukwege à Bukavu ? Ses prises de position contre la guerre dans l‘est de la RDC et ses critiques répétées à l’encontre des groupes armés qui y font régner la terreur ont-elles failli coûter la vie au docteur Denis Mukwege, directeur de l’hôpital de Panzi ? Les agresseurs, qui ne portaient pas d’uniformes, se sont introduits dans la maison du docteur alors qu’il était absent, rapporte l’ONG.

Quand une heure et demie plus tard, celui-ci est arrivé chez lui, un des hommes armés a tenté de le forcer à sortir de son véhicule. Un agent de sécurité posté devant la demeure du docteur a alors tenté d’intervenir, mais le gardien a été abattu d’un coup de feu tiré à bout portant. Les assaillants ont ensuite visé Denis Mukwege, sans parvenir à l’atteindre. Le médecin ne devrait son salut qu’à la mobilisation des habitants du quartier qui se sont portés à son secours alors qu’il avait été brièvement ligoté par les assaillants.

Discours aux Nations Unies du 25 septembre 2012 par le Dr. Denis Mukwege

Excellences Messieurs les Ambassadeurs,

J’aurais voulu commencer mon discours par la formule habituelle : « j’ai l’honneur et le privilège de prendre la parole devant vous. »

Hélas ! les femmes victimes de VS de l’Est de la RDC sont dans le déshonneur. J’ai constamment sous mes yeux les regards des vieillardes, des filles , des mères et même des bébés déshonorés. Aujourd’hui encore, plusieurs sont soumises à l’esclavage sexuel ; d’autres sont utilisées comme arme de guerre. leurs organes sont exposés aux sévices le plus ignoble.

Et cela dure depuis 16 ans ! 16 ans d’errance ; 16 ans de torture ; 16ans de mutilation ; 16 ans de destruction de la femme, la seule ressource vitale congolaise ; 16 ans de déstructuration de toute une société. Certes, vos états respectifs ont fait beaucoup en terme de prise en charge des conséquences de ces barbaries. Nous en sommes très reconnaissant.

J’aurais voulu dire « j’ai l’honneur de faire partie de la communauté internationale que vous représenter ici » Mais je ne le puis.

Comment le dire à vous, représentant de la communauté internationale quand, la communauté internationale a fait preuve de peur et de manque de courage pendant ces 16 ans en RDC.

J’aurais voulu dire « j’ai l’honneur de représenter mon pays. », mais je ne peux pas non plus.

En effet, comment être fier d’appartenir à une nation sans défense ; livrée à elle-même ; pillée de toute part et impuissante devant 500.000 de ses filles violées pendant 16 ans ; 6000000 de morts de ses fils et filles pendant 16 ans sans qu’il y aucune perspective de solution durable.

Non, je n’ai ni l’honneur ; ni le privilège d’être là ce jour. Mon cœur est lourd.

Mon honneur, c’est d’accompagner ces femmes Victimes de Violence courageuses ; ces femmes qui résistent, ces femmes qui malgré tout restent débout.

Aujourd’hui grâce au rapport des experts des nations Unies , au Mapping report du haut commissaire aux droits humain des nations unies et beaucoup d’ autres rapports crédibles , plus personne ne peut se cacher derrière l’argument de la complexité de la crise. Nous savons donc désormais les motivations de cette crise et ces différents acteurs. Ce qui fait défaut c’est la volonté politique.

Mais jusques à quand ? Jusques à quand devons nous encore assister impuissants à d’autres massacres?

Excellences,Messieurs les Ambassadeurs ; c’est avec une grande humilité que je vous dis, vous savez !

On a pas besoin de plus de preuve, on a besoin d’une action, une action urgente pour arrêter les responsables de ces crimes contre l’humanité et les traduire devant la justice. La justice n’est pas négociable On a besoin de votre condamnation unanime des groupes rebelles qui sont responsables de ces actes, on a besoin des actions concrètes à l’encontre des états membres des nations unies qui soutiennent de près ou de loin ces barbaries.

Nous sommes devant une urgence humanitaire qui ne donne plus place à la tergiversation.

Tous les ingrédients sont réunis pour mettre fin à une guerre injuste qui a utilisé la violence et le viol de femmes comme une stratégie de guerre. Les femmes congolaises ont droit a une protection à l’instar de toutes les femmes de cette planète.

Vouloir mettre tous ces rapports crédibles dans le tiroir de l’oubliette sera porté une atteinte grave à la crédibilité de différentes résolutions des nations unies exigeant la protection des femmes en période des conflits et donc décrédibiliser toute notre chère institution qui pourtant est censée garantir la non répétition du génocide.

Les acquis de la civilisation reculent; ils reculent par les nouvelles barbaries comme en Syrie et en RDC; mais aussi par le silence assourdissant et le manque de courage de la communauté internationale.

Nous ne saurions pas taire la vérité car elle têtue, nous devrions plutôt l’affronter pour éviter de trahir nos idéaux.

J’ai l’honneur de dire que le courage des femmes VVS de l’Est de la RDC finira par vaincre le mal.

Aidez-le à retrouver la paix !

Je vous remercie.

Denis Mukwege, Médecin Directeur, Hôpital de Panzi, Bukavu-RDCongo

Vendredi 26 octobre 2012 à 13:07 :: radio :: #2984 :: rss
Transféré de Reveil-FM: http://reveil-fm.com/index.php/2012/10/26/2984-tentative-d-assassinat-de-dr-denis-mukwege-a-bukavu-joseph-kabila-ne-connait-pas-non-plus-le-docteur-de-femmes-violees