Africa must urgently stop Robert Mugabe

OPINION – THE imperialists who enslaved Africans and colonised their countries had one excuse for their evil project: that Africans were not exactly human beings but savages. The Africans were described as primitive animals that urgently needed to be civilised and enlightened.

European literary guru, Joseph Conrad even had the temerity to portray Africa as a “heart of darkness” and some kind of devil’s headquarters where all dark arts and sciences have found hospitable residence.

All serious observers and thinkers of African and European extraction understand that all these damning descriptions of Africa and defamation of Africans were just an excuse by the enslavers and colonists to steal Africa’s labour, minerals, forests, ancestral lands, waters, animals, and the sunny climate.

Dear reader, all the struggles by African men and African women in the Diaspora and the mainland to dethrone slavery and abolish colonialism were a defence of the humanity and peoplehood of Africans. From the abolition of slavery to the liberation of Ghana in 1955, and the emancipation of South Africa in 1994, Africans have lived and died to prove that they are human beings who must own their territories, govern themselves and enjoy the resources that their countries are gifted with.

It is a tragic misfortune, dear reader, that there are African leaders like Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe who in word and deed have worked over time to confirm slavish and colonist stereotypes that Africans are savages and that Africa is a “heart of darkness’’ where all the devilish projects from genocide to ethnic cleansing find wanton expression and fruition.

SADC and the African Union must, by all means necessary, urgently stop Mugabe’s violent extremism not only to protect the victims and survivors of genocide and ethnic cleansing in Zimbabwe but also to defend the history, the name and the future of Africa from being dragged into confirming the evil stereotypes, malicious assumptions and unfortunate conclusions of enslavers and colonists.

Mugabe’s recent disrespect of and insults directed at SADC and the African Union must not go unpunished, lest a bad precedence and unfortunate example is set. At a recent summit of SADC states in Zambia, the SADC leaders resolved that political leaders in Zimbabwe must urgently respect the rule of law and stop violence. 

Mugabe jeered back to say “never” will he take “prescriptions” from anywhere. His response is an indication of serious disrespect for legitimate African institutions whose voice and concerns must be taken seriously by all Africans, especially political leaders.

For a longtime now, Mugabe has managed to mislead Africa by selling a very false image of himself as a gallant son of Africa who has dedicated his life to fighting imperialism and western expansionism, unfortunately most Africans, including some leaders in the African Union and SADC, swallowed this false image of Mugabe without chewing and lended him support. Even young and vibrant leaders like Julius Malema found themselves supporting Mugabe.

Now that Mugabe’s true and indeed very ugly colours are coming out through his insult to SADC and a recent attempt to blame the mass graves of his genocide on Britain and the Rhodesian regime, the time has come for Africa to prove her humanity by not only disowning but stopping a deluded tyrant by all means necessary. As I write, Mugabe is unleashing a wave of violence in Zimbabwe and opposition political leaders like the brave Paul Siwela and John Gazi are languishing in jail for daring to tell the truth.

Mugabe’s attempt to hide behind the good name of Pan-Africanism, African nationalism and sovereignty while he commits genocide and ethnic cleansing has surely reached its limits as shown by SADC’s strongest yet statement that Mugabe must stop his violent extremism.

In the name of African brotherhood and African village patience, leaders in SADC and AU have tolerated Mugabe’s obnoxious excesses. Through quiet diplomacy, mediations and negotiations, Africa has pushed the extremes to live positively with Mugabe political madness.

If SADC and AU fail to clip Mugabe’s ugly wings now, observers and thinkers will be forgiven for taking the two organisations for nothing but a club of tyrants whose mission is to protect dictators and mass murderers from due justice.

Not only that, but SADC and AU will be conspiring in perpetuating the evil stereotypes of colonialists and enslavers that Africa is a “heart of darkness’’ where genocide and ethnic cleansing are not only tolerated but protected.

At this very moment, most Africans are celebrating as American and European bombs explode in Libya, destroying infrastructure and killing Libyans. It is a rude irony but one that goes to show that African dictators have injured and killed their people so much that the people of Africa will even celebrate imperial aggression against their own countries.

As I write, more than half of Africans in Zimbabwe miss the life they lived under Ian Smith compared to Mugabe’s political violent extremism and corruption. This alone is a painful paradox that Africa must not ignore. The million graves of ethnic Tutsis in Rwanda, killed by other Africans, are as bad a sign as the Sharpeville massacres by the apartheid regime in South Africa. Britain’s slaughter of Mau Mau guerillas in Kenya is the same as Mugabe’s massacre of the Ndebele people in Zimbabwe.

African leaders should stop pretending to be prophets of the anti-imperialist struggle when at home they sit on mass graves of their own people. Leaders like Mugabe should stop masquerading as champions of the African struggle when thousands of Africans are missing and some are under the soil thanks to his reign of terror and manslaughter.

Africa must urgently stand up against the killing of Africans by other Africans lest we risk perpetuating a bad image of Africa as the devil’s headquarters. So interesting and provocative was the indirect exchange between Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda who argued over the Western military intervention in Libya. Yoweri objected using nationalist reason while Kagame celebrated the intervention citing the dangers of inaction and sanctity of human life.

I believe that leaders like Mugabe forfeit their right to be respected by killing their own people in thousands so much that even Western military powers have a duty to intervene militarily to protect Africans from their lunatic despots. To avoid this Western “intrusion”, SADC and the African Union must themselves show teeth by intervening even militarily to protect African innocents from deranged despots.

Dinizulu Mbikokayise Macaphulana is a Zimbabwean student studying in Lesotho. He can be contacted on dinizulumacaphulana@yahoo.com