Southern Africa in the New World Order

By Mkhosana Mathobela Bingweni

THE STRUGGLES against colonisation in Southern Africa were in actuality struggles for another WORLD ORDER that was free from the oppression and exploitation of one by another on the prejudicial grounds of race.

True to Kwame Nimako’s erudite views about the workings of world orders and the need for Africans to participate in the re-orientation of the world, the solidarity of Africans and other peoples of the Global South embody the hope for a new Africa friendly World Order.

Inspite of the United States of America having fed fat on the economies of other countries over the centuries, at his inauguration Donald Trump inverted the truth and argued passionately that as America “for many decades, we have enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry”.

The promise that Trump gave was that “from this moment forward, it’s going to be America first”, as if it has not always been American interests first in world affairs. Ironically and paradoxically, Trump argued that Americans “must protect” their “borders from the ravages of other countries”.

When America, the oppressor and exploiter of the Global South, represented by Trump pretends to be the victim in the world, the real victims in the Global South have reason to get really worried.

With Donald Trump at large, Southern Africans and peoples of the Global South at large will miss humanist revolutionaries such as Fidel Castro, who died recently.

Trump and Castro embody and represent radically different world orders and human aspirations.

The Trump-led World Order must remind Southern Africa, and the Global South in total, of the coldness and violence of the present world.

The death of Castro exactly 16 days after Trump’s electoral victory is an epochally and also epically meaningful event.

Castro and Trump, as human beings, are diametrically contrasting personages that represent violently different models of humanity.

After more than half a century in the helm of Cuban leadership, having led a Cuban model of internationalism that mixed environmentalist activism, anti-globalisation, medical internationalism and communist/socialist humanism, Castro has been a global political iconoclast.

The death of Fidel Castro comes at a time when the thinking world was still ruminating the bomb like emergence of a Trump-led world system, the arrival of the true political antichrist for the Global South.

The death of Fidel Castro and rise to power of Donald Trump are events that signal the beginning of a new world history. For centuries now, the world has been at war.

At some points, the war has been hot and at other points it has been cold, but still it has been a war. This war has been called by many names; capitalism versus communism, the West versus the rest of us, the war against terror, Christianity versus Islam, and colonisation versus decolonisation in the Global South.

Looked at closely, this has just been one war for the Westernisation of the world versus the forces of resistance to this Westernisation.

This centuries old war for the control of the planet that has pitted the West against the rest of the world has been described by decolonial thinkers such as Argentinean semiotician Walter Mignolo as “world disorder” that presents itself through chaos and catastrophes in the world.

For thinkers and leaders of the Global South, especially in the liberation tradition of Southern Africa, the death of Fidel Castro and rise to power of Donald Trump are world events that call for deep thinking as the recolonisation of the Global South no longer appears to be as remote a possibility as it appeared 10 years ago.

One of the talking points that gave Trump his electoral victory is the declaration that Africa needs to be recolonised, allegedly for its own good, but in reality so that America can be great again.

A mixture of jingoistic Americanism and Eurocentric imperialism are combining to form an unapologetic political and economic force that is going to give new oxygen and impetus to aggression against the Global South.

Donald Trump has already started giving respectability to what had become embarrassing racism and bigotry in the world, a new international tradition of passionate hatred is in the offing.

Castro in Flesh and Metaphor

Fidel Castro was an intense human being. From the start, even the smallest things that he did, he did them with fierce seriousness.

The world knows the gravitas that Castro gave to the revolution and the seriousness with which he intended to change the world.

Little known is that Castro lived and enjoyed life. He lives behind a total of 11 children.

Besides children, Castro fathered many ideas and concepts of politics that will be part of the furniture of world liberation thought for generations to come. From 1959 to 1976, Cde Fidel was the Prime Minister of Cuba.

Up to 24 February 2008, from 2 December 1976, he was the President of Cuba, however, from 31 July 2006 he had placed himself on medical leave, leaving the reins of the country to Raul Castro, his brother.

In terms of intellectual discipline, Fidel Castro was a lawyer, and seemingly a capable one given his now legendary legal defence of himself in court on 16 October 1953.

The four-hour long relish of fine jurisprudence was titled “History will Absolve Me”.

He was on trial for treason after he led an attack on the regime of Fulgencio Batista, a regime Castro later toppled with the backing of his 26TH July Movement.

Politically and ideologically, Fidel Castro has dwelt on modified Marxist-Leninist ideas that have been applied in equally contextualised communist and socialist national projects that have had a thorough Cuban nationalist flavour.

In his life, Fidel Castro survived many assassination attempts, chiefly the 1961 Bay of Pigs CIA sponsored invasion of Cuba.

The long life of Fidel Castro and the survival of Cuba in the world have been proof that there is a world and life in the planet beyond what the West has defined.

Cuba, Russia and China have represented a strong Dewesternisation resistance against imperial Westernisation in the world.

If the rise of Donald Trump signals more westernisation does the death of Fidel Castro signify a weakening of Dewesternisation?

The Decolonial Utopia

Westernisation and Dewesternisation have been two forces that for centuries have been battling for the control of the planet.

Even our own African struggles for decolonisation that were supported by China, Russia and Cuba were struggles for Dewesternisation. It was a proverbial struggle of the left versus the right.

China, Cuba and Russia carried the promise of a humanism that was alternative to the one proposed by vampiric capitalism of the West.

Cuba, especially with its missionary medical internationalism promised another world and humanism.

As Walter Mignolo has effectively argued, communism and socialism were simply state managed capitalism that was being disciplined to serve nations not individuals or corporations.

In a way both Westernisation and Dewesternisation have been different arguments with one world political conversation or quarrel.

While dewesternisation has tried to change the content of the conversation from within, decoloniality seeks to change even the terms of the conversation.

As signaled in the Bandung Conference of 1955 and in other political and economic experiments, decoloniality seeks to create another hand for humanity beyond the left and the right hand.

What Fidel Castro and others have managed in the world is to hold and keep Westernisation at bay.

Dewesternisation has only been a step towards decoloniality that seeks to make westernisation and dewesternisation itself unnecessary.

Africa and Decoloniality

Those powers of the world that have enslaved and colonised other parts of the world and other peoples cannot be the same powers that create a new world and a new humanism.

Only the victims of slavery, colonialism, apartheid and imperialism hold the promise of imagining another world beyond the present one.

Africa, the loser of the centuries and the one continent that has found itself at the underside and the darker side of the present world has the promise and the capability to propose a new humanism.

Westernisers like Trump and Dewesternisers like Vladimir Putin will, beyond Fidel Castro remain locked in a political and economic quarrel that will not produce a winner.

Decoloniality, as a philosophy of humanism and liberation, proposes a planetary vision of co-existence, justice and peace beyond Westernisation and Dewesternisation. Decoloniality seeks to harvest the strengths of both the ideas of the left and those of the right to construct an inclusive vision of humanity beyond left and right and black and white.

Such events as the death of Castro and the rise of Trump should jolt African leaders and scholars into fresh imaginations of liberation beyond what the West and the East have told us.

Once again Africa must rediscover its prophetic voice and define in new ways what Thabo Mbeki proposed as the African Renaissance.

After centuries of Western political and economic hegemony, Africa might as well be having something to teach humanity, something learnt from its long years of bleeding victimhood.

From the enduring victimhood of Southern Africa, Africa and the Global South must raise a new struggle to re-orient the world and set afoot a new decolonial and liberated World Order. New Castros must arise in Africa and Asia.

*Mkhosana Mathobela Bingweni writes from South Africa

January 2017
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