Learning from a white Aussie
Writing on his website on January 31 of this year, John Pilger said of the manner in which Africa’s leaders have capitulated in subservience to Western interests on the continent:
“It is as if Africa's proud history of liberation, from Patrice Lumumba to Nelson Mandela, is consigned to oblivion by a new master's black colonial elite whose ‘historic mission’, warned Frantz Fanon half-a-century ago, is the promotion of ‘a capitalism rampant though camouflaged’.”
Pilger here is writing within the specific context of US and other Western military activities on the African continent.
The quotation he refers to is drawn from the paradigm-changing third chapter of Fanon’s “The Wretched of the Earth”, published in 1961.
More fully, the passage he is referring to from the chapter titled “The Pitfalls of National Consciousness”, says:
“The national bourgeoisie steps into the shoes of the former European settlement: doctors, barristers, traders, commercial travellers, general agents and transport agents. It considers that the dignity of the country and its own welfare require that it should occupy all these posts.
“From now on it will insist that all the big foreign companies should pass through its hands, whether these companies wish to keep on their connections with the country, or to open it up.
The national middle class discovers its historic mission: that of intermediary.
“Seen through its eyes, its mission has nothing to do with transforming the nation; it consists, prosaically, of being the transmission line between the nation and a capitalism, rampant though camouflaged, which today puts on the masque of neo-colonialism.
“The national bourgeoisie will be quite content with the role of the Western bourgeoisie’s business agent, and it will play its part without any complexes in a most dignified manner. But this same lucrative role, this cheap-jack’s function, this meanness of outlook and this absence of all ambition symbolise the incapability of the national middle class to fulfill its historic role of bourgeoisie…
“In its beginnings, the national bourgeoisie of the colonial countries identifies itself with the decadence of the bourgeoisie of the West. We need not think that it is jumping ahead; it is in fact beginning at the end. It is already senile before it has come to know the petulance, the fearlessness or the will to succeed of youth.”
This is Fanon at his very best, the revolutionary pen in fine fettle and his full intellectual and prosaic powers at work.
It makes me wonder why Fanon is not essential reading at every secondary school in Africa.
It should not matter that one is pursuing natural sciences, humanities or anything else: after all, Fanon’s area of specialty was in the realm of medicine.
Unfortunately, Fanon has become old-fashioned. Referring to him makes one look like a radical who is clinging to outdated ideas.
At least in Africa, that is.
But not for people like John Pilger: a white Australian who appears more passionate about Africa’s lot than African leaders themselves.
“Where,” asks Fanon through Pilger, “is the youthful fire of innovation and charting our own destiny?”
As we are watching, the national elite in just about ever African country has embraced the role of middleman for Western capital and politics.
Our leaders are midwives facilitating the plundering of our resources, the rape of our women and the murder of our children. From Mali to Marikana, a comprador business and political class is opening the doors to our homes for yesterday’s enslavers and colonisers to violate us.
A white Australian sees it, and invokes the timeless words of Fanon to draw our attention to it, but our leaders are nonplussed.
Perhaps they are emasculated, like that eunuch of a husband that Okot p’Bitek spoke of in “Song of Lawino/Song of Ocol”.
“There is not one single true son left/ the entire village has fallen into the hands/ Of war captives and slaves/ Perhaps one of our boys/ Escaped with his life!…
“For all our young men/ Were finished in the forest/ Their manhood was finished/ in the classrooms,/ Their testicles/ were smashed/ with large books!”
When we ask these middlemen calling themselves leaders to facilitate greater economic empowerment, greater security both existentially and in terms of food, greater control of our own destiny; they tell us to be patient, to follow accepted economic/legalistic/bureaucratic procedures. Because they are emasculated.
It is time ordinary people answered these middlemen of Western capital and politics who are masquerading as Africa’s leaders in the same way that Ariel Sharon answered General Gonen back in 1973 when the latter said a rescue mission to save fellow Israeli soldiers was too risky and he could not undertake it.
Sharon said: “You know, Gonen, if you had any balls, I'd tell you to bite them off and eat them.”
And after witnessing Libya, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and the DRC, it is evident that unlike Fanon and Pilger, these African middlemen-cum-leaders have no balls.