Films on African environmentalism

This is a compilation of  films on conservation/environmental issues showcasing African people in a positive light. Mostly Africans are cast as poachers, deforesters, population explotionists, as rangers following instructions of white conservationists, etc. These films showcase African agency,  they show Africans reflecting about their environments in complex ways, and they show Africans intervening to protect their landscapes and livelihoods. Through the links you can watch the trailers, full films, or purchase instructions for those that are not free.  I will keep adding to this list. If you come across new film, please let me know.

1. A place without people

This  film that challenges the fortress model of conservation in Serengeti/Ngorongoro and other areas. It details the farce of the National park model of conservation, and features strong community voices about land dispossession and destitution at the had of CONservationists.

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2. Taking root: The vision of Wangari Maathai

This film details the ecological restoration work of Wangari Maathai and the Green Belt Movement. It provides a historical account of the roots of destruction of forests in Kenya. It also illustrates the linkage between environmental issues and governance in very concrete ways. Featured in the video are formidable women doing massive environmental conservation work at the grassroots. This film just makes your spirit soar!

Taking root screen shot

 

3. Honey at the top

This is a film about the eviction of the the Sengwer people from the Mau forest for CONservation. The most beautiful thing about this film is the fact the community members have filmed some of the footage. The film humanizes the struggles of this community that is caught in the grip of an unsympathetic state and the larger international CONservation movement.  Beautiful piece of work.

 

Honey at the top

 

4. Let us gaze towards Nyandarwa

This film showcases Agikuyu people-forest relationships through a focus on : Water as a sacred artefact, the politics of naming, the Kenya Land Freedom Army (Mau Mau) and forests,  land rights,  and community -based ecological restoration.

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5. Kisulu: Climate diaries

The is story of one man doing everything he can to fight climate change in Akamba land. Hugely inspirational. He is doing incredible community mobilization and ecological restoration work.

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6. Mabingwa

This is a  film about youth involvement in conservation in Kenya. It details the struggles of conservation in urban settings, and other challenges youth face in accessing conservation areas in the county.  It also shows their undying spirit and commitment to protect their landscapes.

7. Milking the rhino

This is a really interesting film about the highs and lows of establishing conservancies. It focuses on a conservancy in Namibia and Kenya. Some of the issues highlighted include: how communities navigate the regime of greedy and racist tour operators, the conflict between indigenous and foreign conservation strategies, the underbelly of tourism and its association with conservation, and internal disagreements on land use practices at the community level.

 

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Photo credit: KPBS

8. A time there was: Stories from the last days of Kenya colony

This is a good film to help you get an understanding of the Kenyan colony (then and now). It presents good visual understanding of the following: The intersection between trophy hunting & colonialism in Kenya, Major Ruku, the Kenya Land Freedom Army (Mau Mau) veteran in who is interviewed in the film provides a very good understanding of how the Mau Mau manufactured guns using trees, and other issues related to forests as sites of self-determination.  The mound where Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi was captures has been maintained as memorial by the community. Nothing grows there.

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9. The rain water harvester

Excellent film about one man’s effort in turning his barren land into an oasis of hope. Mzee Phiri from Zimbabwe shows us diverse methods of soil and water conservation. He also trains other people on how to restore their lands.

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10. Senegal’s Sinking Villages 

“We spent our childhood between the river and the sea. There was no real distance between them. We worked in fishing and agriculture for many years when the farms were planted with vegetables,” she says. ” Now it’s all gone because of the channel project. Even fishing which was once easy, is now difficult. Fishermen used to fish here. Now they use boats with engines to fish elsewhere.”

This is a very good film on how “global climate change and an engineering ‘quick fix’ have created an ecological disaster on Senegal’s Atlantic coast.” Many interesting topics come forth through the course of the film: attachment to ancestral lands, politics of naming, colonial occupation, ecological restoration, the direct link between environmental issues and livelihoods, environment and migration, indigenous knowledge systems, etc.

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11. Deforestation: 48 years of Kenya’s unspoken disaster 

A short film on the history of deforestation and excision of forest lands in Kenya.  A honest account of how the forests have been plundered, and how people have continued to resit this plunder.

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12. Culture Quest: The Tugen

When Liu Jiaqi, a Chinese national called Kenyans, including His Taxellency Ushuru Kenyattax Monkeys, people were LIVID.

NOW, in many African cultures, communities structure their social organization around wildlife, including monkeys. This practice is known as totemism, and is not unique to African cultures. A totem is considered to have great spiritual significance among that particular culture. For example, if your totem is an elephant, you cannot kill an elephant and so on.

Some clans among the Tugen people in Kenya consider monkeys and baboons to be their totems. In this video, one of the interviewees says: I am a baboon. That is his/his clan’s totem. That means he/they treat baboons with the utmost respect. They do not consider the monkey to be inferior. They are one with the monkey or baboon. Just like the case would be with an elephant or any other animal. In these cultures, animals are not seen as signifiers of brain underdevelopment. They are seen as part of the larger web of life, along with human beings and everything else.

That is African indigenous environmental thought. That is African environment consciousness. That is African philosophy. It is absolutely sophisticated and complex. It is beyond the understanding of what racist like Liu and his ilk can ever comprehend.

So, my fellow Africans, when somebody calls you a monkey – embrace it. While it is meant as a racial slur, you can turn it on its head and transform it into a beautiful, intellectually and culturally appropriate thing. Liu called us monkeys because somehow, people believe monkeys are not intelligent. Actually, monkeys are more intelligent than many people. We can learn a lot from monkeys. Have you ever heard of genocides, racism, Hitlerism, Trumpism, and such-like things in the monkey kingdom?

I am really beginning to like monkeys!!
I need to study more about monkeys.

 

13. Kingdoms of Africa 

This is a wonderful series of documentaries or films about Africa. There are 8 docus in total focusing on Nubia, Great Zimbabwe, West Africa, Asante, Ethiopia, Morocco, and Bunyoro and Baganda kingdoms in Uganda.  The docus show the various connections Africans with their landscapes through water, land, diversity of cultural expressions, food, dress, etc.

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Ethiopian Highlands

14. The mystery of Namoratunga

This film showcases the rock art heritage of the Turkana people in northern Kenya. The elders in the film tell us what the art means. Conservation strategies, including community-driven conservation are discussed.

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The rock art of Namoratun’ga in Turkana. Photo credit: Trust for African Rock Art

15. Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan on African Rock Art

Kofi Annan and Nelson Mandela speak about the important of conserving Africa’s rich rock art heritage.

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16. Africa

This is a series on African history.  It is written and presented by Basil Davidson, one of leading historians on Africa. He tackles a diverse array of subjects. One of the most important arguments he makes is that one of Africans’ most impressive achievements is the mastery of a continent – in an environmental sense. The film showcases Africans interacting with their environments through diverse ways. It also links cultural and natural diversity into one concrete while.

 

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17. Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) videos on people-forest relationships in west Africa.

This is a series of four short videos on the multiple dimensions of people-forest relationships in west Africa.

Film 1: Trees for the grandchildren: Talks about community-based forest conservation

Film 2: Losing farmland and forest to a National Park: How communities are dismantled from their lands through the national park model of conservation

Film 3: Keeping the peace in a national park buffer zone?: Troubles of accessing national parks for pastoralist communities

Film 4: Trees and wildfire worries: Trees and accessing of non-timber forest products and the importance of local ecological knowledge systems

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18.  Film on indigenous food processing and technologies in Rwanda

Excellent, excellent film (34 mins) produced by Dr. Chika Ezeanya Esiobu on indigenous food technologies in Rwanda. It features women involved in indigenous wine production (using bananas and sorghum), and production of fermented milk. Dr. Chika makes a case for investing in indigenous technologies and knowledge systems as a foundation for development in Africa. A woman after my very own heart.

Here is her amazing TED Talk on the need to focus on Indigenous Knowledge Systems

 

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Women making banana beer in Rwanda: Image Source: AllAfrica.com

 

19.  We want out lives to be like a spring 

This film (24 min) showcases  the intricate relationships that Maasai people have with water in its various dimensions in the Amboseli Tsavo Ecosystem, southern Kenya

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20. ToxicBusiness: The Food Challenge

This is a series of three films (each 25 mins) that explores the topic of seed and food sovereignty in Kenya. They delve into the rampant use of pesticides, many of which have been banned in Europe, but still in use in Kenya, and the impacts that this has on the environment, health, food security, and livelihoods.

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21. Victims of the WWF

This film does not focus on Africa, but it is an instructive case of the power of NGO’s in conservation. The film examines human rights abuses around the  Karizanga National Park in India. The film is 40 minutes long.

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22. Second nature 

This is a 41 minute film showcasing the interlinkages between people and ecological restoration.  The film is informed by two socio-anthropologists, Fairhead and Leach. They thoroughly deconstruct the narrative that Africans do not understand conservation, and are degrading everything. They demonstrate that the people in this region have been establishing forests around their settlements.  These forests are in a transition zone between the savanna and the Sahel, and according to western scientists, policy makers, etc the people were degrading the landscape. In actual sense, the people have been managing this landscape sustainable through an array of indigenous knowledge systems.

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23.  Bitter Harvest

This is a 45 minute film focusing on food sovereignty in Kenya.  The follow a couple of farmers in different parts of the country and interrogate the pros and cons of industrial agriculture and organic farming. The bottom line is that the food system is heavily compromised and we are seeing the impacts of that on the healthy system.  A good examination of imperialism and a government that does not care about its citizens.  A ray of hope shines through from farmers who have been engaged and deeply committed to organic farming practices despite all the odds.

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Reading Adam Hochschild’s ‘ King Leopold’s Ghost’

Our fathers were living comfortably….They had cattle and crops; they had salt marshes and banana trees

Suddenly they saw a big boat rising out of the great ocean

This boat had wings all of white, sparkling like knives

White men came out of the water and spoke words which no one understood

Our ancestors took fright; they said these were vumbi, spirits returned from the dead

They pushed them back into the ocean with volleys of arrows

But the vumbi spat fire with a noise of thunder

Many men were killed. Our ancestors fled

The chiefs and wise men said that these vumbi were former possesors of the land….

From that time to our days now the whites have brought us nothing but war and miseries

 Excerpt from King Leopold’s Ghost

I have just finished reading ‘King Leopold’s Ghost’, and I am filled with SORROW! How come I have never been taught about this massive brutalization of Africans in all my many years in the education system!?? I was never been taught about this, but I was taught about the likes of Henry Morton Stanley, Ludwig Krapf and Livingstone! What injustice! I first learnt about this book and the injustices in the Congo via Facebook. I have learnt more about Africa from what people share on FB than from the school system. I WANT my MONEY back!!! Aki.

Our system of education needs a complete overhaul!

Another point: I hear our lousy uncle Tom/homeguard politicians saying subjects like history and anthropology are not important. This is a historical/anthropological text. These kinds of subjects are more critical than anything – especially for those that Fanon referred to as “The Wretched of the Earth”.

 

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King Leopold’s Ghost  is a deeply moving book. It  is a historical account of the colonial enterprise in the Congo; very good entry point into understanding why Congo continues to unravel today. The book is about unparalleled greed personified in the figure of King Leopold of Belgium. It is about underbelly of white supremacy, resistance to injustice, and about the triumph of the human spirit.

About Henry Morton Stanley

As I have said above, I remember being taught about this “explorer” somewhere in the pipeline of the still very colonial school system. We were told that Stanley was great. No mention was made of his reign of terror in the Congo. It was Henry Morton Stanley (HMS) who helped King Leopold lay the foundation for conquest in the Congo. HMS was an absolute tyrant. He was a murderer, a slave driver, deeply racist, a maniac, a person who was running away from his own demons. He saw this life of exploration as the avenue through which to build his severely damaged self esteem. Africa is where you go to feel good about yourself/to discover yourself. It still happens today – rife in the Lords of Poverty Industries – Conservation and the Humanitarianism.  The books he published following his exploration(s) include: ‘Through the dark continent’, ‘In darkest Africa’,  and my ‘ Dark companions.’  A keen reader will not fail to see which word he thought was the best descriptor of African peoples. When I posted about HMS on FB my fellow African said “But surely, he must have done something good.” You can always count on Africans to make great concessions to their tormentors. It is tied to education systems and Christianity. We are supposed to forgive all and turn the other cheek! What did the people of the Congo then think about HMS?

His name produces a shudder among this simple folk when mentioned; they remember his broken promises, his copious profanity, his hot temper, his heavy blows, his severe and rigorous measures, by which they were mulcted of their hands.

Russell E. Train Africana Collection, Smithsonian Institution Libraries.
Henry Morton Stanley. Source: The Wilson Quarterly 

The above was reported by George Washington Williams, an African-American, who bothered to ask Africans what they thought of Stanley.  Other writers and Europeans who went to the region did not think that Africans had any thoughts about anything.  After all, the Europeans belief about Africa at the time was that it was a:

dreamscape, a site for fantasies of the fearsome and the supernatural. Ranulf Higden, a Benedictine monk who mapped the world about 1350, claimed that Africa contained one-eyed people who used their feet to cover their heads. A geographer in the next century announced that the continent held people with one leg, three faces, and heads of lions. In 1459, an Italian monk, Fra Mauro declared Africa the home of the roc, a bird so large that it could carry an elephant  through the air.

 

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Top: George Washington Williams 

An African person was thought to be the product of a mindless state, full of coarse feelings, with rough passions, brutish instincts, proud and vain. Further:

The black man’s principal occupation, and that to which he dedicates the greatest part of his existence, consist of stretching out on a mat in the warm rays of the sun, like a crocodile in the sand…..the black man has no idea of time, and, questioned on that subject by a European, he generally responds with something stupid.

These images of Africa and African people have continued to haunt the continent and its peoples today. But the most painful thing is that Africans themselves have absorbed and legitimized this kind of deficit theorizing.  People who were running very complex societies, trading, cultivating crops, herding livestock, fishing, who had absolute authority over their lives were just lying under a mat without a plan?  If you want to conquer a people, you do not tell them how great they are. You tell them that they are a useless and hopeless lot.

 

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Lazy Africans carrying their very hardworking colonial master? Source: Sphere Influence 

Tendrils of Resistance

It must be pointed out that Africans did not acquiesce to their fate. When the slave and colonial marauders entered their land, there was resistance from the very beginning. Sample this:

Yet sometimes, event through those records, we can glimpse the determination of those who resisted the King [Leopold]. In Katanga in the far south, warriors from the Sanga people were led by a chief named Mulume Niama. Though the state troops were armed with artillery, his forces pit up a stiff fight, killing one officer and wounding three soldiers. They then took refuge in a large chalk cave called Tshamakele. The Force Publique [the King’s army] commander ordered his men to light fires at the three entrances to the cave to smoke the rebels out, and after a week he sent an emissary to negotiate Mulume Niama’s surrender. The chief and his men refused. Soldiers lit the fires again and blocked the cave for three month. When the troops finally entered it, they found 178 bodies. Fearful of leaving any signs of a matyr’s grave, the Force Publique soldiers triggered landslides to obliterate all traces of the existence of the Tshamakele cave and of the bodies of Mulume Niama and his men.

Yes, the lazy people who were just lying under the mat and answering questions in a stupid manner had the stamina to launch resistance, and even opt for death as an alternative to living under this vile regime.

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King Leopold and his victims. Source: African Exponent. 

The Apparatus of exploitation

The Congo, like other parts of Africa was conquered through the morally bankrupt notion of terra nullius/vacant land, and questionable treaties with real chiefs or manufactured chiefs. Once this was done, a reign of terror and horror was instituted. What is a better way to consolidate your presence in the colony than constructing a railway line through a slavery regime?

A slight clinking behind me made me turn my head. Six black men advanced in a file toiling up the path. They walked erect and slow, balancing small baskets full of earth on their heads., and the clink kept time with their footsteps….I could see every rib, the joints of their limbs were like knots in a rope, each had an iron collar on his neck and all were connected together with a chain whose bights swung between them, rhythmically clinking. These were the laborers starting work on Leopold’s Railway.

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Construction of King Leopold’s railway 

It is also important to note that when it became untenable for whites in America’s South to hold slaves, the Congo was thought of a suitable place to relocate the African-Americans. They did not want people of African descent in the South. Of what use were they if they were not slaves? How was this scheme to be instituted? Through Christianity.  The Presbyterian church in particular voted to begin sending African-American missionaries to Congo so that they could evangelize in the land of their ancestors. Wherever there is injustice, Christianity is always there – either to sanitize, or to entrench, or both!

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King Leopold’s slavery regime in the Congo. Source: KJ Vids 

The rubber regime

In addition to ivory, one of the most sought after products was rubber. Wild rubber. The machinery of extraction was instituted through extreme violence. When I read these sections, I was engulfed in sadness, and could not continue reading the book for days. Listen to this:

No payments of trinkets or brass wire were enough to make people stay in the flooded forest for days a time and to do work that was so arduous –and physically painful. A gatherer had to dry the syrup-like rubber so that it would coagulate, and often the only way to do so was to spread the substance on his arms, thighs, and chest. The first few times it is not without pain that the man pulls off the hairy parts of his body. ….the Native doesn’t like making rubber. He must be compelled to do it.

How was he to be compelled?

 An example of what is done was to….the office was to arrive at a village…, the inhabitants invariably bolted on arrival; the soldiers were then landed, and commenced looting, taking all the chickens, grains, etc  out of the houses; after this they attacked the natives until able to seize their women. The women were kept as hostages until the Chief of the District brought in the required number of kilograms of rubber. The rubber having been bought, the women were sold to their owners for a couple of goats a piece and so continued from village to village until the requisite amount of rubber had been collected.

In addition:

If a village refused to submit to the rubber regime, a state or company troops or their allies sometimes shot everyone on sight, so that nearby villages would get the message. But on such occasions some European demanded proof that the bullet had been used to kill someone, not “wasted” in hunting or worse yet, saved for possible use in a mutiny. The standard proof was the right hand from a corpse. “Sometimes, said one officer to a missionary, soldiers shot a cartridge at an animal in hunting; they then cut off a hand from a living man.” In some military units there was even a keeper of the hands.

 

The hand was not the only sought after body part. Heads were too. Some of the European officers used the severed hands of Africans as decorations in their gardens. This mirrors the current tussle between Africans like Herero people with museums in Germans over the skulls of their ancestors, which are stored there. And Germany is refusing to hand over these body parts because they are being used for “science” for the benefit of the world. Macabre! Just macabre! Stories about the  cruelty in the Congo are preserved in legend, stories and encoded in their language(s).

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A Congolese worker called Nsala with the severed hand and foot of his five-year-old daughter, Boali. Source: Libcom.org 
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Source: KJ Vids 

I weep for Patrice Lumumba

At independence in 1960 Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected prime minister stood on the podium and told the Belgians and the world that  we are no longer your monkeys.  Lumumba’s premiership did not last for long. How could it? Like all other sensible African leaders, he was killed by empire/white supremacists. CIA chief Allen Dulles referred to him as a “Mad dog”. Mobutu Sese Seko killed him with the support of the  full support of the USA. Following Lumumba’s death, empire installed their stooge Mobutu and the plunder of the Congo continued unhindered.

 

Lumumba potrait
Source: Aprecon

 

Mobutu Sese seko
Left: Mobutu Sese Seko. Source: BBC

Lumumba is immortalized in our hearts, especially those of us who care about the total liberation of African peoples.

Lumumba [is] the greatest Black man who ever walked the African continent. He didn’t fear anybody. He had those people so scared they had to kill him. They couldn’t buy him, they couldn’t frighten him, they couldn’t reach him. Why, he told the king of Belgium, ‘Man, you may have let us free, you may have given us our independence, but we can never forget these scars.’ The greatest speech — you should take that speech and tack it up over your door. This is what Lumumba said: ‘You aren’t giving us anything. Why, can you take back these scars that you put on our bodies? Can you give us back the limbs that you cut off while you were here?

– Malcolm X at a rally in the Audubon Ballroom June 28, 1964

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Mobutu Sese Seko and the farce of flag independence

Mobutu was a darling of AmeriKKKa. Ronald Reagan received him at the white house several times praising him as a voice of good sense and good will. George Bush thought of him as one of AmeriKKKa’s most valued friends.  This is how Africa is plundered:

Early on, the western powers had spotted Mobutu as someone who could look out for their interests. He had received cash payments from the local CIA man and western military attaches while Lumumba’s murder was being planned. Wearing dark glasses and his general uniform with gold braid and a sword, he later met President Kennnedy in the White House in 1963. Kennedy gave him an airplane for personal use and a US Air force crew to fly it for him……USA supported him with over a billion dollars in aid and thwarted attempts to overthrow him.

Mobutu lived a lavish life at the expense of the Congolese people and open up the country to empire. He, like other African uncle Toms/ betrayers of the people, believed he was white. His life and lifestyle mirrored that of Leopold. Massive wealth obtained through plunder, predisposition to extreme violence, narcissism,  and a deep disdain for Africans. Indeed, Mobutu’s villa in the French Riviera – mirrored those of Leopold.

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Mobutu with Richard Nixon in Washington D.C.  Source: Wikipedia 

Turning yourself into the victim

One of the things I found most bizzare is the capacity and capability of some of the white people who worked in the Congo, was their propensity to turn themselves into the victim. Here is a perfect example of this:

I had two sentries drag him to the front of the store, where his wrists were tied together. Then standing him up against a post with his arms raised high above his head, they tied him securely to a crossbeam.I now has them raise him by tightening the rope until his toes touched the floor…so I left the poor wretch. All night long he hung there, sometimes begging for mercy, sometimes in a kind of swoon. …At last when the morning came and my men cut him down, he dropped unconscious in a heap on the ground. Take him away, I ordered. Whether he lived or not, I do not know. Now sometimes in my sleep I think I am the poor devil and half a hundred black fiends are dancing…about me. I wake up with a great start and I find myself covered with a cold sweat. Sometimes I think it is I who has suffered most in the years that have passed since that night.

The nerve!! This completely twists everything around to make us start having empathy for the oppressor and not for man who was left hanging on a post overnight. It reminds of something I read in a book called ‘Slaveship’ by Marcus Rediker about the slave trader John Newton. He wrote the famous song ‘Amazing Grace’. Netwton  continued engaging in the slave trade even after his conversion to Christianity. He was in the slave ships. He saw all manner of brutality meted out to slaves and he participated in some of it himself. Then, he turns around and writes a song Amazing grace….how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me…I was blind, now I see.  He makes it all about himself and not the real wretched of the earth who were writhing with pain and sorrow in the ships. Newton creates his own narratives an centres himself as the victim. It is just fascinating – in a very twisted kind of way.

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Ivory trading in colonial Congo. 

Joseph Conrad

Conrad is referenced heavily in this book. I have not read his book ‘Heart of Darkness’, but I have read a variety of opinions regarding his work on documenting brutalities in the Congo. The most prominent of his critics is Chinua Achebe, who claims that Conrad represents Africans as people without heads. While this book uses a lot of Conrad’s narrative to weave the story together, it also provides a balanced perspective on who he was or what he stood for. Conrad felt that “liberty …can only be found under the English flag all over the world”. And at the very time he was denouncing the European lust for African riches in his novel, he was an investor in a gold mine in Johannesburg. Hochschild argues that Conrad was afflicted by the “white man’s notion that he is less savage than other savages.” Alas!

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Karma?

When Leopold succumbed to pressure and handed his solo colony to Belgium, he burnt most of the records, which would be incriminating. Anything that pointed to a whiff of violence, plundering of resources, greatly profiting from the wealth and sweat of Congolese people was burnt. This reminds of the burning of documents by the British when they were departing from Kenya colony in order to conceal abuse meted out to the Kenya Land Freedom Army (Mau Mau). Belgium was no much better a colonial power than Leopold.  Ofcourse, both Leopold and Belgium have gotten away with the massive human right abuses they committed in the Congo.  The only justice of sorts was to be found via the universe.

Leopolds mistress gave birth to a child with a deformed hand. A cartoon in Punch showed Leopold holding the new born child, surrounded by Congolese corpses with their hands cut off. The caption read: vengeance from the most high

 

Handless victim
Source: Libcom.org

The heartbreaking story of Ota Benga

EuroAmerican Exhibitions of human beings are a well  documented in history. The story of Ota Benga, from the Congo is the definition of sorrow.  He was put on display in the Monkey house of New York’s Bronx Zoo in September 1906.  Sharing his space was an Orangutan.

Visitors ogled his teeth- filed, newspaper articles hinted, for devouring human flesh. To further this impression, zookeepers left a few bones scattered on the floor around him. A poem published in the New York Times declared that Ota Benga had been brought:

From his native land of darkness

To the country of the free

In the Interest of science

And of broad humanity

The promoter who staged this exhibit was former Presbyterian missionary who abandoned his preaching for several business ventures. A delegation of black ministers finally rescued Ota Benga from the Zoo. He remained in the United States and committed Suicide ten years later.

Benga 8
Source: Readex

Europe’s Tower of Opulence

Ultimately, when you read this book, the words of Franz Fanon are put into sharp focus.

Europe today raises up her tower of opulence , there has flowed  out of centuries towards the same Europe diamonds and oil, silk and cotton, wood and exotic products. Europe is literally a creation of the Third World. The wealth that smothers her is that which was stolen from the underdeveloped peoples. The ports of Holland, the docks of Bordeaux and Liverpool specialized in the Negro slave trade, and owe their renown to millions of  deported slaves. So when we hear the head of a European state declare with his hand on his heart that he must come to the aid of the poor underdeveloped peoples, we do not tremble with gratitude.

And

Confronting this world, the European nations sprawl, ostentatiously opulent. This European opulence is literally scandalous, for it has been founded on slavery, it has been nourished with the blood of slaves, and it comes directly from the soil and the subsoil of that underdeveloped world. The well-being and the progress of Europe have been built up with the sweat and the dead bodies of Negroes, Arabs, Indians, and the yellow races.

Here is a compilation of images from colonial Congo. Heart-wrenching stuff.

We still live in colonial and slave-like conditions in most parts of the world. The overarching question is this: What will it take to make decency prevail in this world?

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