Ndere Troupe

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Stephen Rwangyezi Speaks on African Issues

AfricaSpeaks.com and TriniView.com
Interview Date: August 05, 2008
Posted: September 05, 2008


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RAS TYEHIMBA: What are your thoughts on the present situation in Zimbabwe primarily Mugabe's attempt to reclaim land that was taken from indigenous Africans?

RWANGYEZI: You media people are the most dangerous creatures we have on earth because you can turn something good into something terrible and, conversely, you can turn something terrible into something that White Washington thinks is wonderful. The struggle for independence in Zimbabwe, in Zambia, in Mozambique, in South Africa in Namibia was primarily about land. The people who fought, who shed blood of both African and European human beings were fighting for their right to use land. Let's begin with Kenya. The Mau Mau Movement was fighting to get the Kenya highlands for the Kenyans. When they finally got independence in 1961 the leader, Jomo Kenyatta ... I am sorry, I hope I am wrong, but there has been a system when the colonialists saw an African that was aggressive, they arrested him, put him in prison and in so doing made him a hero and all the others who continued fighting fought for his release and liberation. But I think while in prison they worked on these people's mentality. So once they knew they had properly worked on their way of thinking they released them. When they came out of prison they were heroes. They inevitably took government. Everybody supported them. Everybody thought he was in prison on our behalf, he has suffered for us, when he comes out he becomes our leader. Wow, Jomo Kenyatta oye! The moment he took power the first sentence was, "Forgive each other. Everybody stay where you have been!" The Kenyans didn't understand.

And then the media said, "This is the right thinking person." He has averted a possible catastrophe. If he had gone along the revenge route there would have been a disaster. Now there is peace and production in Kenya. The Whites continued massively producing and creating an impression that all was okay. The calculation of GDP in countries is get the total wealth, divide it by the total number of people and then you get the average income of the people. But it's basically the income of one or two divided by the millions who have nothing. The fact that you have calculated it on paper does not mean that it goes to these people. So Kenya created this illusion that things were okay. The bloodshed that came after the recent elections was as a result of the problem that was not solved at Independence when Jomo Kenyatta said, "Forgive each other." The moment there was now this shift people said, "Ah ha, it's time now to get what we deserve," and they go to each other's throat.

South Africa: Nelson Mandela is now the icon of good politics in the world. But what did the South Africans die for? To stay in Soweto? Yes, he got into power and said, "Okay, the rainbow nation!" Wonderful, that's a great thing. But, for goodness sake, let's all, as a rainbow ... all the colours in the rainbow are equally important, let's all equally share what exists. The South African Black person who is still in Soweto, and is still seen as the violent killer; the White person is still in Cape Town on top of the hill, by the beach and is still controlling the economy. Zimbabwe, to come back to the question you asked ... what has happened in Zimbabwe, if the South Africans don't act now, will happen in South Africa. It's just a matter of time. When Zimbabwe got independence, Britain and Margaret Thatcher requested that Robert Mugabe give Britain ten years to progressively, and in a processed way relocate the White farmers and return the land for which the Zimbabwe people have been fighting. Ten years passed nothing happened. Fifteen, twenty, nothing happened. Nobody she sent; nobody paid the compensation. Then Mugabe said, "You people, we agreed, we fought for this land, we won the war. We didn't just give in. We won. But we agreed in the name of peace transitional prosperity that you return this. You have not done it."

RAS TYEHIMBA: The Lancaster House Agreement?

RWANGYEZI: Yes. And so he said, "We are taking it. But we begin by willing buyer, willing seller." They refused. The next step was okay, we take it anyway. But the media demonized him. One should ask one's self the questions, "Are Zimbabweans fools?" Why are there still people who support him? One should ask the questions, "Are all African leaders fools? Why are they not attacking and condemning him? Why does the OAU still host him as a President?" It's because they know the truth. They know it's either we take it and suffer people have been asking me, "Will the Africans, with the right technology, produce the food?" How are they going to get the technology if they never get involved? There is a time when a baby is inside the mother's womb life is comfortable. It doesn't have to breathe, it doesn't have to eat. The mother feeds and through the umbilical chord the baby is feeding. But time comes and inevitably this baby must come out. If you insist on keeping it you will explode. So the baby comes out, and once the baby is out it has no more choice: it must breathe so it starts crying. It must learn to eat. When the baby cries the parents are happy, "Yeah, it's alive!" When it starts feeding they are worried that the system may not be working. When the baby defecates the first time, wow the parents are happy, they can even touch the feces. Time comes when you carry the baby and it urinates on you. Fine, it's okay. Time comes and the baby is wetting bed. Fine. But time continues to come and you grow to a certain age. If you insist to defecating on your bed or on people's laps, goodness me, nobody wants it. Time comes and you are independent, you have to go and look for your own food. You used to breast feed on your mother, but then time comes and you must go away and then life is hard. The African people must accept that if they are to be independent life must be hard and they must think of ways to solve their own problems. Not because the White farmer has the technology to produce the food, therefore, we sit back and he produces it for us. It's not sustainable. This, if properly managed, is a transition.

We had a President in Uganda, Idi Amin. First of all, Idi Amin would never have been in power if he had not been brought by the British. They thought they were bringing a buffoon, some fool they could put there and manipulate. Things backfired just like they did in Latin America, in Central Africa, in Congo. They thought they were bringing on fools. Now when things backfired and these monsters turned against them, they ran away, of course, to their safe countries and left the monsters for us to handle. But let's take Idi Amin. When the British were ruling in Uganda one of the projects they wanted was to build a railroad from Mombassa to Kampala. They tried to work with the Ugandans and East Africans and the Kenyans, but they were not into it. So they went to India and brought Indians as coolies, people to work. The promise was when the railroad was completed you will get citizenship. They built the railway and then they gave them citizenship in Uganda. But they didn't stop at citizenship. They also gave them monopoly in business. They were the only ones who were allowed to get bank loans. Africans were not allowed to get bank loans to the extent that even the smallest shop in the remotest part of Uganda was run by an Indian. Ugandans never got involved in business.

Now here was the situation where, as I said earlier, the land system: the ordinary person did not own land. The business system: the ordinary person did not own business. The education system: to be able to take a child to school, you need at least four or five hundred equivalent to US dollars, but the income of a person in Uganda is less than a hundred dollars a year and you have ten children. The ordinary Ugandan was not going anywhere: not in business, not in farming, not in education. Now, Idi Amin is put on the throne by the British and the first thing he does, (in 1971 he goes in) and in 1972 he said, "All Indians out!" But they were seen as British Indians. They were not going back to India, so they went to Britain. Britain had the responsibility of relocating them. They are the ones who brought them. And immediately, the British turn against Idi Amin. When they did that he said, "Okay, all of you out!" But what he did was give the businesses, the shops, the factories to the Ugandans. Of course, they didn't have any experience at all. I remember the first people who took the Indian shops would go in and look at the size of a shirt on the collar and that would be the price. If it was size six they sold it for six shillings. If it was size twenty they sold it for twenty. Naturally the business nose-dived. They didn't know how to run factories but they put their hands into it. Today, things have been reversed. The Ugandan is competing. He is into it, he is working and he is producing. So some of the so-called monsters in Africa are actually not as dark as they are painted. And what is happening with Mugabe in Zimbabwe people had better take a second look. People had better listen and try to find a solution working with him and the other Zimbabwe people. You cannot disregard him.

RAS TYEHIMBA: I am not sure how it is in Uganda but in Trinidad most of the information about Zimbabwe comes from the mainstream media who simply reproduce news from CNN and BBC. So we have been getting very bad news about Mugabe in terms of there being a deliberate attempt to demonize him in the local media. People generally have not been able to access accurate perspectives about him because of course BBC has a campaign to remove him from office. How is the media in Uganda?

RWANGYEZI: It's basically the same. If you have opinions like mine you dare not to bring them out. Some of us who have these opinions we keep them to ourselves. The best you can do once in a while when you are on stage throw a sentence or two there but nobody will capture it. So it's basically the same. That's why I am concerned. We are not yet starting the journey of emancipation. Emancipation should be by deliberate government policies to promote what is emancipation. We have not started because we have not invested in the media that is promoting our real values, we have not invested in the culture and we have not invested in the education of our children, on the real things that matter.


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