Bush's Message to His "Bushmen"
By Tom Kamara
October 30, 2000
Africa's obsession with the defeating notion that the United States of America holds the keys in solving the Continent's multiplying catastrophes may soon come to rest if George W. Bush captures the American presidency. The Texas Governor has made no secret of where his heart lies around our troubled world. He is warning, in all honesty, that his global priorities will not include Africa and the 'darkies'. This, indeed, is an honest message Africans must appreciate if they are serious about gaining a respectable place on the globe. The sooner Africans begin to see their problems in the eyes of Bush, the better prepared they are in emerging from the bush to tackle the biting socioeconomic and political problems minus blessings from White House.
Colbert L. King, writing in the Washington Post on the 2nd debate between Mr. Bush and the Democratic candidate Vice President Al Gore, gives us a glimpse of what to expect from President Bush:
"Asked by moderator Jim Lehrer of PBS's 'NewsHour' 'Why not Africa?' when it comes to U.S. intervention overseas, Bush invoked--unknowingly perhaps--the 'Pinky' foreign policy doctrine.
"For those too young to remember, 'Pinky' was the 1949 film about a black girl, played by actress Jeanne Crain, who was able to pass for white. For many years following the movie's release, a line in the film seemed to get quoted without fail at every black dinner table and in black barber shops and beauty parlors across the country whenever talk turned to race.
"In 'Pinky,' a black character, angrily commenting on the state of race relations at the time, told one of his friends that in America: 'If you're white, you're all right. If you're brown, stick around. If you're black, git back!' "
"Those words, or at least the thought behind them, were put into play by Bush."
A similar warning is emerging in Britain, where the Conservatives, like-minded bedfellows of the Republicans, are being charged with racism for allegedly ignoring black issues or downplaying them. Struggling to win over blacks and other minorities, Margaret Thatcher's children are preaching "compassionate Conservativism," as if qualifying Conservatism with the word "compassion" will make a difference. That "Conservativism needs such qualifier means that it lacks compassion or that it is just beginning to inject compassion into its political programs.
But the truth is that Africa will remain on its knees as long as it continues to blindly look to the West, expecting and accepting all Western solutions to its nightmares. African-Americans, still at the bottom of the economic ladder, are feeble allies in this fight for survival even if they wished to enlist in Africa's struggle. With more African-Americans found in prisons than in US colleges, the role played by the Jews in placing Israel at the forefront of American policy is far beyond their capability. They must first deal with the inequalities at home, where charity begins, before thinking about far away dubious relatives.
And even where compassionate leaders like Clinton have identified with the Continent's plight amidst odds at home, African-American brethrens empowered to help chart new directions have opted to side with evil and destructive forces bent on keeping Africans in subjugation. It took a Republican, Senator Judd Gregg, to advance a moral and practical position on dying Sierra Leone while President Clinton's trusted African-American lieutenants were horrible singing songs of deception. Until the Senator emerged with a moral position denouncing insane killers of that country's Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels, and their backers in Liberia under Charles Taylor's command, African-Americans like Jesse Jackson and Donald Payne, for whatever reasons, sold these James Jones characters as nation-builders deserving respect and support. Mr. Jackson went further to equate RUF leader Foday Sankoh with South Africa's Nelson Mandela, contending this man, whose trademark is amputation of limbs for economic objectives hidden under political demands (and who stole over $10m worth in diamonds in no time when he was named Vice President in a lousy and unjust peace deal again sold by Mr. Jackson), was "a positive force" in Sierra Leone's difficult search for peace.
Many of the voices of compassion have been those of non-African-Americans of US UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke selflessly diagnosed West Africa's woes by pointing fingers at thieves like Taylor and Blaise Compaore, the architects of destabilization who Jackson and other African-American leaders are selling as serious men for continental leadership. Departing from deception, Holbrooke declared:
"The Governments of Liberia and Burkina Faso, including through the actions of their presidents, are fueling the war in Sierra Leone and profiting from the arms-for-diamonds trade.
"I recognize full well that this kind of candor and this
kind of explicit statement is not always welcome at the United
Nations and does cause controversy. And I know that both delegations
will ask for the right-of-reply in order to say that we are perpetrating
an injustice on their countries. Perhaps some of the countries
of Africa will criticize us for breaking the taboo of naming specific
names and specific people by title who are involved in this dreadful
event. But I think, Mr. Chairman, that in this regard our government
and our country feels that candor is required, and here we support
the kind of stand that Ambassador Fowler of Canada took in regard
to UNITA sanctions in Angola. Ambassador Fowler named names and
some countries, such as Bulgaria, took a subsequent hard look
at their export regimes and showed a commitment to fix the problems.
Other countries, including Burkina Faso, have raised the specter
of linguistic-based conspiracies and other forms of denial. But
I believe, Mr. Chairman, that the evidence is much too strong
"The United States intends to support measures against both Burkina Faso and Liberia unless they cease their support for the war in Sierra Leone. It's certainly true that some members of the Council may seek to dilute these measures or even consider vetoing such steps, but we urge them to reconsider. We have supported the proposal of a Security Council Mission to Sierra Leone, along the lines of the mission that you, Mr. Chairman, headed to Kosovo, Ambassador Anjaba headed to East Timor and I was privileged to head to the DRC and Ethiopia/Eritrea. I hope that this Security Council mission will take place and, when it takes place, that it visits the hospitals and camps housing the victims of this conflict".
The glaring indicators of questionable integrity have forced Congress to announce taking over key decision-making structures from the State Department's African section headed by the African-American Susan Rice through cutting funds for the services of men like Rev. Jackson.
Thus, whatever the goodwill needed from America and its Europeans partners for Africa's salvation, the crux of the matter is that Africans will have to take responsibility for their own successes and failures. Since independence in the 50s and 60s, the Continent has been torn between various models of Western solutions---Communism and Free Market Democracy. Both forces played decisive roles in what Africa has evolved---the "lost continent" in many Western eyes. Angola is still bleeding as a patient of the Cold War in which America and its Western allies saw Apartheid South Africa and its lapdog the rebel Unita's Jonas Savimbi as indispensable allies, while the Soviets were able to better read the problem by siding with the Front Line states but not without serious national dislocations. The result of this fight of the elephants is that Angola, one of Africa's wealthiest countries, has become a wasteland, a corrupt state relying on Western food aid although it exports more oil than many Arab states. Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) was a darling of the West as long as its late strongman Mobutu Sese Sako looted the country and served Western interests. Somalia's Siad Barre and Ethiopia's Mongistu were the chosen ones for the Soviet Union even if they were leading their nations towards disaster. Nigeria, a significant exporter of oil, is in economic and social ruins, with thousands of its citizens fleeing every year for illusive greener pastures around the globe. Liberia is left with the indelible imprints of the Reagan legacy in which con artists like Taylor became notable politicians by aligning themselves with a ruthless junta seen as agent against Communism. Tasting the fruits of mass theft, politics became as an inducement for theft on a grand scale, requiring a vicious war to seize the entire pile.
This is why Africans must take Bush's message to his "Bushmen" (Africans) seriously. Truth is preferable to deception. Governor Bush is warning Africa and other black nations that in his worldview, they could go to hell. With such knowledge, the challenge for Africans is to ensure that they do not go to hell and that they are determined to fit in the current global power configuration with all the respect. How to fulfill such a task with thieves and gangsters plundering the Continent in league with American and European freelance criminals is daunting. In Liberia, for example, Charles Taylor has brought in South African neo-Nazis, Ukrainians mercenaries, etc., to sustain his criminal enclave now taking roots within West Africa. The result is the death of socioeconomic development, spread of instability in the region, inept dependence on Washington to rebuild the destroyed state even as he transforms it into a Libyan backyard, continued killings to maintain his criminal grip on the country, and the more fleeing refugees with no where to run. Unfortunately, with such men at the helms of power and determining the fate of millions, Africans will continue to be regarded as "Bushmen" with no relevance in an increasingly competitive world.
Governor Bush's father, George Bush, sent American soldiers to Somalia in a genuine attempt to stop the bloodbath that continues to consume that country. That was a different era. A son has now emerged to right the wrongs of a father. Bush's America could make Africa rethink its place in the world with some positive dimensions. Perhaps Bush could haul Africa from the bush, placing it on a footing to understand its own importance, solve its own problems, and advance its dignity. The alternative is perpetual begging and humiliation.