Saturday, June 5, 2010

Churchill and The White African

There is a documentary called "Mugabe and The White African" that is being reviewed to death right now in the blogosphere and in the press. This documentary omits any background information, and then jumps right into the fray to discuss the travails of Zimbabwe's white farming community. Many people watching the documentary, and unfamiliar with colonial African history, will view the white farmers as victims of barbarism, if not outright savagery. Pity the white farmers! They would say.

Well, let me give you a historical analogy so as to show you that Zimbabwe is not what some documentary-makers make it out to be. What if a documentary-maker was to show a documentary on the (1945) Allied bombing of Dresden, Germany, to a group of Native-Americans. What if these Native-Americans had never been exposed to German or European history, and knew nothing of WW1 and WW2. What then would the Native-Americans make of President Truman, and Prime Minister Churchill? And what would they make of the Russian Red Army, fast advancing on Berlin? Well, they'd probably think that Russians were a warmongering race of barbaric brutes out to ruin the harmony of the peace-loving Germans. And they'd probably think that both President Truman & Prime Minister Churchill were cruel savages, intent on bombing the innocent Germans into oblivion.

Anyone who is even vaguely familiar with European/Western history will know that it was the Germans who were the aggressors and not the other way around. The Brits, Americans & Russians were fighting for dear life against a ruthless, German war-machine. A background study of this era would have begun with the Franco-Prussian war of 1870; followed by the horrors of WW1; and then moved onto The Treaty of Versailles and the rise of Hitler & The Nazis. Without this background info, any film, documentary, or book about WW2 is meaningless.

The same is true of the land situation in Zimbabwe. Any movie, documentary, book or magazine article that ignores the events of the previous 150 years, and just focuses on the present is especially meaningless to a public that has never been exposed to colonial African history. Any background info on the land issue in Zimbabwe will start with missionaries like David Livingstone; proceed to adventurers like Speke, Morton & Stanley; and then be followed by the biggest plunderer of them all, Cecil Rhodes. Then it would move to The Pioneer Column of 1890 (that planted the British flag on Zimbabwean soil); and then (most importantly) the hut and poll taxes that sucked the indigenous black Africans of Zimbabwe into the wage economy.

Following these hideous hut and poll taxes, were a series of Land Apportionment Acts that forced black Africans from the fertile highveld area of Zimbabwe. This area was (and still is) the area of greatest population density, and had been settled by a Bantu-speaking population since around 900AD. After the land Apportionment Act (of 1930) Africans were systematically shoved into overcrowded and barren "Native Reserves". It was the cruel land policy of the colonial Rhodesians that sparked the Chimurenga War for Independence from 1966-1979. The background information that I've just supplied is crucial to any understanding of the tumultuous land situation inn Zimbabwe. Any filmmaker, writer or thinker who omits such background information is really just waffling about nothing.

The so-called "land invasions" that are shown in the documentary, "Mugabe & The White African" are really the actions of a wronged people, taking back the land of their ancestors, which they (rightly) believe to be theirs, through historical precedence.

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