The world has focused its attention on Zimbabwe where a military coup has effectively overthrown Robert Mugabe, although Mugabe refuses to resign. Thousand of Zimbabweans have taken to the streets to celebrate the end of Mugabe’s reign. There have also been a number of articles from American and European media sources that have condemned Mugabe as a tyrannical dictator, but there is also great deal of hypocrisy involved in the condemnations of Mugabe because a lot of people ignore the fact that there was a period of time when Mugabe was very well respected by Western governments that were willing to overlook his atrocities. Both the United States and the United Kingdom knew about the Gukurahundi massacres in which an estimated 20,000 Zimbabweans were killed by the military, but they continued to support Mugabe while remaining silent about this. They were so willing to overlook this crime that Mugabe was knighted in 1994. This seemed to have been a source of embarrassment for Douglas Hurd, who was the foreign secretary at the time that Mugabe was granted knighthood. When questioned about Mugabe’s knighthood, Hurd attempted to deny that such an award was ever granted to Mugabe. The United Kingdom was okay with Mugabe exploiting Africans in Zimbabwe, but the backlash against Mugabe began when Mugabe began targeting the white farmers in Zimbabwe and forcibly taking their land away.
The way that the West has treated Mugabe is representative of the way they deal with issues concerning African people. Faure Gnassingbé is largely free to suppress and massacre his own people in Togo because the people that he is massacring are African people. Millions of people have been killed as a result of the ongoing conflict in the Congo, but Joseph Kabila does not receive the same international condemnation that Mugabe has received. And Gustavo Envela wrote a letter to President Barrack Obama in which he expressed his disappointment that Obama had not done more to condemn the dictatorship of Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo in Equatorial Guinea. These are just some examples of the various dictators in Africa that have escaped being denounced in the same manner that Mugabe has been.
The issue that African Americans are fighting for in the United States is the same issue that our brother and sisters are fighting for on the African continent, and that issue is that our lives are not valued. We see the same problem in Brazil where people of African descent are killed at alarming rates. When Haiti was hit by a hurricane last year they did not receive the outpouring of support that France received after it was struck by tragedy. That countries such as Togo and Haiti receive much less attention than France is especially profound given that French colonialism is largely responsible for the continued suffering of African people who live in former French colonies. And Africans that live in overseas French territories such as French Guiana, Martinique, and Guadeloupe continue to be neglected by France. The protests in French Guiana earlier this year was the latest example of France’s neglect of their own territories. It seems as though unless African people are protesting in large numbers, rioting, or engaging in sex strikes, our suffering is otherwise ignored. This is why global solidarity among people of African descent is so important because the most effective way to ensure that our voices are heard is to speak collectively.
wayne is the author of several books on the history and experiences of African people, both on the continent and in the diaspora. His books are available through Amazon. You can also follow Dwayne on Facebook.