Saturday, October 27, 2007

One people, different colours.

Taken from Pambazuka News :-

Adam Hochschild, writing in King Leopold’s Ghost, estimates that 5 to 10 million Africans died as a direct result of Belgian colonization in the Congo in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. And chopping off hands, quite literally, was a form of public control. And between 1904 and1907, 65,000 Herero (80 percent of the total Herero population) were systematically eliminated by the Germans in Namibia. In Algeria, during the war of independence (1954 to 1962), the French routinely tortured and 'disappeared' FLN freedom fighters. One nation cannot occupy another and seek to control its resources without detaining, torturing, assassinating and terrorizing the occupied. A modern day example of this principle at work is Iraq today where torture and killings under the occupation of the United States are rampant, even though the U.S. wants to sell an image of spreading democracy. In Kenya, British colonialism followed this same principle. Caroline Elkins’ Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag and John Anderson’s Histories Of The Hanged: The Dirty War In Kenya document tortures, hangings rushed through kangaroo courts, detention camps, internments, and assassinations, not to mention psychological warfare through fear and intimidation.

Independence however did not bring justice for Kenyans - certainly not for the Mau Mau veterans. Kenyatta, even before being sworn as president in1963, had denounced the Mau Mau as terrorists. Contrary to British propaganda, Kenyatta was never a member of the Mau Mau. He wanted the Mau Mau platform of Land and Freedom erased from Kenyan memory.

"On coming to power, Kenyatta proceeded, through the land ownership policies(and practices) of his government (and himself), to betray everything that the Mau Mau had stood for and to entrench the landholding patterns established under the colony" - Muthoni Wanyeki, Executive Director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission .

In the words of politician J.M. Kariuki (assassinated in 1975), Kenyatta created a nation of ten millionaires and ten million beggars.

In 1978 President Moi took over when Kenyatta died and continued with the same dictatorial policies. Irony is such that in 1982, Mau Mau historian Maina Wa Kinyatti was imprisoned by the Moi government in the same Kamiti Prison where the British in 1957 hanged and buried the leader of the Mau Mau, Dedan Kimathi, in an unmarked grave. It was not until the Kibaki government took over in 2002 that the colonial ban on the Mau Mau was removed. Finally in 2007 a statue of Kimathi stands on Kimathi Street, something unimaginable under the Kenyatta and Moi regimes. The past and current Kenyan governments have as yet to ask the British government to at the very least issue an apology for the atrocities committed against the Kenyan people. The Moi and Kenyatta governments, dependent on Western aid and while maintaining a vicious elite system, were not in a position to pressure Britain for an apology. Or even to pressure HMG to reveal the exact location of Kimathi’s grave so that his widow, Mukami Kimathi, can bury him.

This dependent relationship has allowed the British to commit crimes against Kenyans with near impunity. Forty plus years since Kenya’s independence, the British Army still uses Northern Kenya for military exercises. As a result of leaving unexploded munitions behind, “hundreds of Maasai and Samburu tribes people - many of them children - are said to have been killed or maimed by unexploded bombs left by the British army at practice ranges in central Kenya over the past 50 years” the BBC reported

The article goes on to demand reparations for the exploitation and oppression that those under British colonialism suffered .

South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission undermined the very concept of forgiveness and justice it espoused because it did not demand that the perpetrators address in word and deed the question of restitution... the irony of the TRC – the perpetrators go home to their mansions, the victims back to the township.To put it differently, after the TRC hearings the victims go back to a life of poverty, they remain without the means to feed, cloth or educate their children. Freedom comes without the content – it’s just a name – it has no meaning. Under these circumstances, forgiveness, healing and justice cannot exist without restitution...

We of the World Socialist Movement would rather that instead of restitution , the peoples of Kenya and all the world demand a new world society where instead of compensation for past crimes we bequeath a society of common ownership of all resources and free acess to all wealth to our future generations .

No comments: