"Open Letter to the African People
Source: All Africa 04/24/2007
Kampala, Apr 24, 2007 (New Vision/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) --
DEAR brothers and sisters, the violent events of April 12, 2007 on the streets of Kampala were sad. Though regrettable, they were not different from what is going on in the rest of continent. On the face of it the demonstrators and rioters were simply criminals who deserve no better than the gates of Luzira prison.
But what about those in Zimbabwe who are fighting for fair distribution of their land that was stolen from them by colonial and imperial masters?
To be fair to the African people, this is a continuation of the struggle for freedom, justice, independence and self determination. The underlying factor, among others, is the failed promise of independence and the pretence and utter arrogance of our former masters - the imperialists, colonialists and slave traders.
Nobody should be proud of demonstrating and rioting or spilling human blood - whether coloured, white or black. Every person, whether that person is a former slave owner, an imperialist or colonialist, deserves descent humane treatment. I believe in the right to live and the right to justice. I don't believe in mob justice. To me there has never been mob justice because the mob lacks the capacity to pass fair judgment and the victim is not given an opportunity to be heard by a competent and neutral jury.
Why have our African brothers and sisters been forced to act the way they are acting today, be it in Uganda, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Somalia, Liberia or Sierra Leone? Why have our people allover the world been reduced to acting along lines of race, tribe, ethnicity, religion and regionalism? This is due to the failed promises of independence, which has resulted into bad leadership.
When our fore fathers fought for independence, all the people of Africa were united and the battle line was clearly drawn. The slogans were the same: independence and self determination. At the time of independence some 40 years or so ago, some wise men like Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda and others warned us, in their own words, that "we have achieved political independence, what remains is social and economic independence of which those two elements will greatly influence our political life as a continent".
They further said this would lead to neo-colonisation of the African continent. The repackaging of this concept of neo-colonialism is a complicated one for an ordinary African. I am therefore not surprised that the new breed of African leaders seem not to appreciate that neo-colonialism is just on our doorsteps, if not on the dining table.
Neo-colonialism, imperialism and slavery have been repackaged in form of foreign investment, development partners, donor communities and clubs, NGOs, the new breed of African leaders, western model of education, religious services, Commonwealth organisations and the globalisation movement. The leaders of this skillful scheme are the members of the G8 through the World Bank, IMF and other humanitarian agencies. What we are seeing today is a continuation of the struggle of African people for independence and self determination. The Africans have got to stand up and say no to neo-colonialism, the new wave of imperialism, monetised slavery and depletion of African resources.
Take for instance the destruction of the water catchment areas of which Mabira Forest is a part. The architects of this proposed destruction know very well that this will eventually destroy the only fresh water in East and Central Africa. They know that in 50 years to come a litre of water will be more expensive than litre of fuel. How do they expect us to surrender this wealth of our children on a silver plate?
The events of 40 or 50 years ago are still fresh in our memories. The independence agenda promised us to erase these bad memories of the era during which Africans were treated as the underdogs, when we were deprived of meaningful life (through slave trade) by those whose descendants are now the investors, when productive land was taken by those whose descendants are the current donors or development partners.
How am I expected to explain to my children that Mehta can be given to one agent of neo-colonialism at the expense of poor peasants who could earn a living as outgrowers and suppliers of Mehta?
How do I explain the violent eviction of poor peasants from Mpokya Forest Reserve by the Government only to be given away to an agent of neo-imperialism? How do I explain that Kananathan can be given huge amounts of public funds and cheap African labour, run down the partially people's enterprise and get away with it when millions of Ugandans are going hungry? On whose behalf is my government acting? This alliance with neo-colonialists must be questioned.
Most of the big hotels in Uganda are not owned by Ugandans but the poorly-paid workers are Ugandans. Exploitation of the African worker is not what political independence promised. Our governments led by the so-called 'revolutionaries' has kept weak investment and immigration laws on our law books. And corruption in those departments has ensured that Africans live under exploitation.
The selective economic interventions by governments, such as tax holidays to the so-called investors, at the expense of the African people, is a time bomb. How is it possible for every entrepreneur, including Ugandans, to access these subsidies? For instance, when will RDCs recruit labour for RECO Industries in Kasese the way it was done for Kananathan?
Most African governments are agents of neo-colonialism, imperialism and slavery. African governments struggle to fulfill the conditionalities of the IMF/World Bank in total disregard of the conditions in which their people live, thereby leaving the people in abject poverty.
As governments try to attract foreign investments, they should avoid acts that remind our people of colonialism, imperialism and slavery. The memories of the above evils are still fresh in our minds and the promise of independence was to erase these memories from our minds, which has not yet happened.
I don't hate foreign investment, neither do I hate partners in development. I recognise the role the World Bank, IMF and other donor agencies are playing in developing Africa. But I also know that Africans know what is good for Africa and that Africa will never again subject herself to servitude, imperialism and colonialism.
The writer is the MP for Busongora South, Kasese District "