“In your youth you were taught to live according to the law of Christ, the law of love, purity, honesty and unselfishness. As a Christian, by this law you will be judged. Can you say that in your dealings with other men, particularly the Matebele king Lobengula, whose country now bears your name, you dealt justly and honestly? Are these charges against you true? Say now in this the Lord’s house, before your father in heaven as well as your father on earth and this congregation whether these evil things we hear about you are true or false?” These are the words or rather questions thrown at Cecil John Rhodes by his father, Reverend Francis William Rhodes before a congregation at Bishop’s Stortford, England. And this is how Cecil John Rhodes, one of the most successful sons of England’s history had to respond to questions imposed before him; “I believe that we, the British, are the first race in the world and the more of the world we inhabit; the better it is for the human race!” He went further to say; “In this parish, I was taught that while on earth, I had a duty not only to my God but also to my queen and country, and that I was duty bound to seize every opportunity to enlarge my Queen’s Dominions.
Unscrupulous dealings with African chiefs, cheating them out of their wealth and land, killing them and their subjects through raids and wars, were the order of the day during colonial times. All these barbaric acts lead to our hotly asked question, whether Robert Gabriel Mugabe was right in his dealings with the white farmers in Zimbabwe or Rhodesia, as it was called in the colonial era. And without any delays, let’s get to the gist of the matter. For a very long time, I have been toying around with this question. I now feel I am ready to answer it to the best of my ability. It is a very sensitive issue and one needs to apply one’s mind adequately on it, least they provoke and cause commotion. Yes Mugabe is right and at the same time wrong. But how could someone be right and wrong at the same time? Europe has been left alone for its natives to take care of its agendas, as we have seen with the latest referendum voting in Britain – to remove or continue their stay in the European Union (EU). That was solely for the British, and not a single state, be it African, Latin American, Asian or any other European state was asked for, or imposed its decision on the matter. So why shouldn’t Africa be left alone to take care of its business? It is time we took ourselves serious enough to handle our issues and only ask for interference if need be.
Let’s do away with imperials. Imperialism has never seized to exist in our lives, even after independence. Let’s unshackle the chains of bondage and further liberate ourselves, least we get stuck again in the mud called colonialism. People can’t traverse miles and miles of land and oceans to steal our land while we sit and watch. We have become spectators in our own land and why is it so? We have degraded ourselves to be second class citizens in our own backyard whilst the white man calls the shots. Yes, I call it stealing because the land that they claim to own was acquired by dubious means, most of it anywhere, if not all. As if that is not enough, they dictate how we should live and conduct our affairs. They steal our raw materials, take them to Europe, turn them into products then sell them to us at exorbitant prices, wouldn’t that hinder our economic growth? Even a kindergarten scholar would agree, we can’t prosper with this arrangement, we can’t prosper with this bondage – I call it bondage because we are not privy of these arrangements, they are imposed on us. These people have long exhausted their wealth and what do they do? Turn their vessels to Africa and preach lies. They come as wolves putting on sheep’s skins. They buy our poor, broke greedy leaders. They make them come up with policies that would favour and at the same time make them look like good Samaritans. People get hoodwinked into believing that without the whites, there is no life, aren’t we not intelligent as the whites, Are we not made by the same mould as them?
Africans, lets wake up. The time is now. We have failed to head this call a very long time back. Mugabe was right; all the fertile land is owned by the whites. All the factories, all the mines are controlled by the whites; all the decisions are made by the whites. An African mind has been indoctrinated into believing that a white man is superior to all. Some African leaders have tried to rise up, to sensitize other leaders, to sensitize their people but to no avail. All these achievements by the whites were made easy through the dangling of the carrot. Carrots tempt very easily if they are dangled before one’s eyes, especially if a leader comes from a poor background and if one lacks principles. But is Africa cursed like one former leader remarked? I guess we will never know. The last part – that is to say, yes Mugabe is wrong. Although the whites came with false pretenses, they have played a major part in our human development. It is a fact that could be exemplified in many ways. In short they have brought about civilisation in to Africa, though we had to pay for it expensively and painfully. They have failed us but even so let’s not avenge least we cause a stir. The approach Mugabe took in dealing with the land issue was barbaric and uncalled for. As a leader, one really needs to apply one’s mind thoroughly in such sensitive issues, because if not, they may break or crush the world. The white man was or he is still unjust to the African. But because he brought about civilisation on to us let’s all converge, let’s show him his shortfalls, let’s be civil with him lets teach him the civil mannerism which he was to uphold, after preaching the bible to us.
It is time we sat with the white man, be it on bonfires, be it in modernised conference facilities and map the way forward. Let’s show the white man the devil in him through peaceful dialogues. Let’s call for a coexistence that will last for eternity with no party feeling aggrieved and cheated at the end of the day. But above all, Africans should pull the strings a little bit more this time, because after all the land is theirs and it is very natural that in this case, the visitor must abide by the rules and regulations of one’s host – it should be so, but I warn that those rules and regulations must be made and exercised humanly and soberly. Nelson Mandela paved the way forward, so let’s try to emulate him and follow suit. And by so doing the world will be safe and more meaningful to us, like never before.
*The quotes by Cecil John Rhodes and Reverend Francis William Rhodes are extracted from Stanlake Samkange’s book, On trial for my country.