You can’t really figure out what’s going on in the conflict between Sudan & South Sudan, Uganda, Congo, Central African Republic, et al, from media reports. Without understanding the politics & sectarian differences between militant armed groups ostensibly propelling civil war, without knowing the history of ethnic or religious divisions, without a clear view of the pernicious legacy of colonialism & the insidious meddling of neoliberalism, most of us are lost. And that confusion is entirely intentional. The point of historical & media obscurantism is to make African peoples appear primitive, unable to resolve ancient conflicts peacefully, & renders justification for colonialism & neoliberalism–which are becoming indistinguishable.
Politics are complicated everywhere but not more so in African countries than European ones. Most don’t have the time to investigate, few have reliable sources, & the bonds of international collaboration with African social movements have long-since been severed by repression, ignorance, racism, distrust, & that ugly white savior crap of the Bono & Geldof sort. There are however important anti-colonial thinkers whose writings & lives are of the greatest consequence. Many became known in the 1960s with the tsunami of anti-colonial movements throughout the world–from the Caribbean to North & South America to Africa & Asia. Their time has come again & we need to again study them. To name only a few: Eduardo Galeano, Amilcar Cabral, Walter Rodney, Franz Fanon, Aime Cesaire, Steven Biko, CLR James, Jose Mariategui, Chinua Achebe–& many others & likely new ones.
For many without time for study, it’s only necessary to know where justice stands. They don’t need to know the entire geopolitical history; they just want to know why the conflict is happening & who to support. This is not a defense of anti-intellectualism but an acknowledgement of reality. People want to do the right thing without getting a PhD in colonialism.
Anyone who’s tried to sort through the current war in Central African Republic (CAR) & occupation by French & African Union troops comes up against a wall of scholarly deceits & media obscurantism. So until African writers & activists can unravel most of that for us, let us present what the occupation is really all about. CAR is a region immensely rich in natural resources & neoliberal predators want to get their filthy hands on it. Much of the sectarian conflict is fomented by disreputable & despicable agents of neoliberalism. We don’t have to invent conspiracies; there’s a long colonial history to draw on.
Here children gold miners, whose profound misery is etched in their faces & postures, are sitting just a few days ago next to a gold mine in the village of Gam, CAR, where gold mining is a primary business. When you want to know what that civil war is all about, think neoliberal plunder. And oppose the presence of foreign troops under the guise of stopping genocide.
(Photo by Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images)