Hacked By XwoLfTn
Long life for Tunisia
long life to Palestine
Hacked By XwoLfTn
Long life for Tunisia
long life to Palestine
Vibrer c’est vivre. Prendre les choses au sérieux quand elles vont mal, c’est s’indigner. Etre indifférent, le “je n’y peux rien, je me débrouille”, la tiédeur, c’est mourir à petit feu. Sommes-nous fiers de notre société congolaise actuelle?
Une société ou il y a la misère criarde de la majorité de la population? Avec 40 a 60% ou plus des gens capables de travailler sans emploi? Une société dans laquelle la femme est réduite a une chose, dans laquelle les femmes sont sans sécurité: 5000 femmes ou plus sont annuellement violées et beaucoup d’entre elles rendues stériles? Une société, dans un laps de moins de 20 ans, a vu jusqu’à au moins 6 millions de ses filles et fils massacrés; et qui continue de voir des massacres se poursuivre? Et surtout par ceux-la même qui sont payés pour les sécuriser! Une société dans laquelle jusqu’à 80% des gens vivent en dessous du seuil de la pauvreté, dans un pays, potentiellement le plus riche du monde? Une société où il y a 18 millions d’analphabètes, et dont le nombre d’écoles médiocres ne fait que croitre? Avec une absence notoire d’écoles républicaines soustraites du marché non régularisé? Des écoles qui, bien que trop au service de la communauté de l’argent, ne développant pas assez l’esprit critique et créatif, et qui produisent des chômeurs.
Un pays dont le gouvernement brille par des arrestations arbitraires, le remplissage des prisons, de la négligence des villes criminellement polluées, insalubres et des constructions gigantesques pour le plaisir des étrangers et d’une minorité insignifiante, du report continuel du social, tout en célébrant les taux élevés de la croissance économique? Un gouvernement ethno régionaliste se moquant de la cohésion sociale et nationale, faisant de la corruption une méthode de gouvernement? Qui considère les morts des pauvres comme s’il s’agissait des déchets? Et qui n’a donc aucun respect de la vie humaine constitutionnellement proclamée sacrée? Qui laisse des milices étrangères, envahir son territoire et qui considère les héros militaires des batailles comme ennemis? Bref, qui considère son peuple comme le premier ennemi.
Une société pour laquelle les médias sont entre les mains des nantis et des apologétiques du régime, rendant la possible presse indépendante inexistante et se moquant de la liberté de presse constitutionnelle? Etes-vous fiers de cette société?
Une société dont ne cesse de croitre le nombre des enfants de la rue? Un niveau de plus en plus élevé d’émigration pour faire la diaspora. Qui observe, de loin, ses savantes et savants travailler pour d’autres sociétés. Une société qui hait l’intelligence, la méritocratie, l’éthique et l’excellence.
Une société dans laquelle l’intérêt général ne prime plus sur l’intérêt particulier. Une société minée par la privatisation et la personnalisation de ce qui reste de l’Etat. Une oligarchie s’empare des ressources en accord avec les diktats des entreprises transnationales. Avec une absence de la Sécurité Sociale assurant a tous les citoyens des moyens d’existence, dans tous les cas ou ils sont incapables de se les procurer par le travail.
Devant cette société, Congolaises et Congolais, il faut vous indigner!
Les “représentants” du peuple, élus dans des conditions et circonstances obscures, ne se soucient qu’à augmenter leurs hauts salaires et s’empêchent de passer des mesures citoyennes en faveur de tout le peuple. Ils ne trouvent pas honteux de voir le gouffre entre les plus pauvres et les plus riches qui ne fait que s’élargir et s’approfondir. Ils permettent au gouvernement de laisser les pays qui nous entourent faire n’importe quoi pour nuire au pays jusqu’a lui enlever des parties territoriales, sans parler des pillages de ses ressources. Par la seule fraude fiscale entretenue, plus d’une fois le budget national se sont envoles. 15 milliards de dollars américains subtilisés dans un pays dont le budget national est moins de 9 milliards de dollars et où des individus possèdent plus d’argent que tout l’Etat!
Un pays qui ne se souvient pas des résultats et gains de ses mouvements de luttes; pour le Dipanda, pour l’amélioration de l’enseignement par les combats et protestations au sein de L’UGEC (l’Union Générale d’Etudiants Congolais), pour les intérêts des ouvriers au sein des syndicats républicains. Qui laisse dans l’oubli, et sans tombes, les fils et filles audacieux du mouvement de la Deuxième Indépendance encore non acquise. Où sont les tombes de Patrice Emery Lumumba, Maurice Mpolo, Joseph Okito, Pierre Mulele, Léonard Mitudidi, Thomas Mukwidi, et j’en passe? Une société qui fête les héros morts et en fait un fonds de commerce évitant de reproduire leurs actions, pratiques et convictions?
Africaines et Africains de la République Démocratique du Congo (RDC): trouvez votre motif pour s’indigner, ne démissionnez pas, ne vous laissez pas impressionner par la dictature internationale des marchés financiers et des entreprises transnationales—les 85 entreprises transnationales qui pillent vos ressources en ne vous laissant que des miettes que votre oligarchie savoure. Devenez militants, forts et engagés: exigez plus de justice, plus de liberté et plus des dirigeants responsables et défendant la population entière.
L’histoire de notre pays a toujours été marquée par deux visions opposées: Une Eglise d’apologie coloniale (et maintenant, néocoloniale) s’opposant à une Eglise de la résistance et de la libération; un Manifeste de la Conscience Africaine sollicitant les colons de préparer les Congolais pour l’indépendance contre le Contre-Manifeste exigeant “l’indépendance immédiate”; pour un programme gouvernemental des reformes coloniales contre le refus d’endosser ce programme; une démission/soumission à l’indépendance octroyée néocoloniale contre une poursuite militante de l’effort pour l’indépendance; exiger d’être responsables en tant qu’individus (Remise en Question) contre l’authenticité néocoloniale: « olinga olinga te, ozali kaka membre du MPR » pour la promotion de la faculté humaine d’indignation, d’engagement et de la palabre contre la perte de cette faculté et le suivisme docile; pour une politique des principes contre une politique de manipulation, d’intrigues, d’assassinat et de la mangeoire; pour l’élévation des anti-valeurs (“yiba na mayele”) contre l’exigence des valeurs positives; pour un cheminement irrésistible, allant de catastrophe en catastrophe, de fait accompli en fait accompli, de crise en crise sans fin—contre les volontés populaires d’indépendance, d’autonomie, de paix, de stabilité et de liberté; pour un vrai dialogue entre fils et filles du pays contre des monologues, des concertations sélectives et des mises en scène lamentables; pour une vraie réconciliation nationale contre un arrangement au sommet entre manipulateurs politiques; pour un Etat digne pour tous contre un semblant d’Etat géré à partir d’ailleurs… pour une mise sous tutelle du pays contre la promotion de l’autodétermination; pour l’organisation souveraine des élections contre une inféodation à la “communauté internationale”; pour une démocratie endogène a partir de la base contre une démocratie civilisatrice imposée du sommet; pour une vraie armée nationale républicaine contre des milices personnelles et des mercenaires…; à la CNS, pour “le départ de Mobutu, le mal zaïrois avec son Mobutuisme” contre “Mobutu reste, règne et ne gouverne pas”; pour un fédéralisme démocratique contre une “géopolitique régionaliste.” Ce qu’on observe dans la pratique, c’est une marche incertaine, dans la nuit sans aucune étoile…; pour un fractionnisme politique allant jusqu’a la formation de près de 500 partis politiques contre la nécessité de l’unité de la classe politique; pour les élections, sous l’occupation, respectant les délais constitutionnels contre les élections libres après la libération du pays de l’occupation; pour la parité femme/homme en politique contre l’élévation incrémentielle sélective de la femme; pour la balkanisation du pays contre sa balkanisation; pour la reconnaissance publique des tribus comme sujets politiques contre la manipulation clandestine du fait tribal… La vacillation entre ces divisions complique l’avancement du peuple…l’aiguisement de sa conscience politique pour ses levées de masses créatrices…
Une politique sans principes depuis 1960—contre les droits des gens, contre la justice juste, contre la vérite politique, contre la justice sociale—même contre les mots, ouvrier, paysan, étudiant et intellectuel. Les ouvriers en grève ont été réprimés sauvagement; les paysans ont été privés de la modernité, bien qu’accablés d’impôts et opprimés par des agents de l’Etat; les étudiants en marches pacifiques de protestation ont été massacrés. Cette politique a toujours été sans considération de la plupart des gens du peuple.
Cette politique a toujours réprimé, et empêché la capacité politique des gens de se former. Elle a toujours voulu diviser pour régner et étouffer toute tentative de solidarité entre les gens de partout.
Les filles et fils Katangais, nos compatriotes, doivent se distancer d’assumer la lourde charge d’étouffement de notre peuple: nos vaillants héros ont été torturés et tués dans les prisons du Katanga. La sécession du Katanga et celle du Sud Kasaï avaient permis l’arrêt de la vision d’une vraie indépendance. Les réactionnaires des policiers belges au service du Président Moise Tshombe s’étaient surpassés a scier en pièces les corps de Patrice E. Lumumba, Maurice Mpolo, Joseph Okito, et les faire disparaitre dans l’acide sulfurique—un vrai crime contre l’humanité; pas plus loin, un grand fils du Katanga a accepte de signer l’Accord de Lemera octroyant une partie du Kivu au Rwanda; en réclamant comme fils celui qui est au pouvoir qui supervise des assassinats, de traiter les morts comme des déchets, de tirer dans la foule des jeunes exerçant leurs droits constitutionnels…Bref, en organisant pour désorganiser le pays en faveur des autres que le peuple congolais tout entier, nous ne voulons pas que l’histoire vous responsabilise de cette charge. Et les tragédies de nos autres grands fils—Chebeya et d’autres…
Oui, Congolaises et Congolais de partout, n’est-il pas temps de vous réveiller? Votre sommeil donne l’occasion a tous les exploiteurs du monde de vous utiliser comme des choses sans que vous ne le sachiez. N’avez-vous pas quelque chose entre vos épaules? Vous n’avez que des héros morts, des gens audacieux auxquels on a empêché de réaliser leurs visions et leurs rêves. Une jeunesse qui ne rêve qu’a quitter le pays pour la diaspora représente une mort, dans l’œuf, du futur du pays. L’abaissement de l’intellectuel congolais est une injure à la science et à l’humanisme universel. Les hommes et les femmes de Dieu qui ferment leurs yeux pour ne pas voir la misère, l’injustice, la haine, la perte de l’espérance…font honte au Saint Esprit dont l’irruption dans les années 1921 à trace la voie vers la recherche de la liberté.
Laisse de plus en plus à la direction des transnationales et des hommes richissimes, le monde est devenu de plus en plus méchant et égoïste. L’intelligence virtuelle pousse les gens à être irresponsables et marqués par le “prêt-a-porter” ils donnent congé à l’imagination créatrice et l’esprit de la découverte. On ne voit plus ce qui ne va pas, hélas! Osez voir, Congolaises et Congolais, ce qui ne va pas! Osez crier votre indignation—pour espérer son retentissement chez ce qui reste d’humanistes dans le monde!
Un fils, un compatriote très indigné
15 June 2015
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.
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.
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
by CHARLIE HINTON
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 • email@example.com
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
Acceptance of poverty
As something akin to predestination
Calls for audacity
In liquidating misery
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)
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
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?
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.