Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A Few Moments in History...

On the last show Guy spoke about the history of the Democratic Republic of Congo as a nation and how it came about. Before the advent of colonialism, there stood a Kingdom at the mouth of the Nzadi River. The Kongo Kingdom . European interest in the area started as early as the 1400s when the Portuguese sent their 'explorers' and since then the Congo has had a long history of dealings with European nations at times joining forces with them; at other times fighting them off.

(courtesy of www.fistfulofeuros.net)

In the late 1870s explorer Henry Morton Stanley rediscovered the Congo River Basin. He is invited to join the International Africa Society which was a group which sought to research and civilize the people of Africa. Over time the groups imperialist goals began to surface. By the 1880s unbeknownst to the people of the Kongo Kingdom there was a plan devised to secretly form a Congo State (without the consent of the natives). As the Belgians looked to form the Congo State, the French claimed Brazzaville and the Portuguese claimed other portions of the Kingdom. This was the catalyst for what is commonly known today as The Scramble For Africa. It was labeled a scramble because at this time several European nations literally scrambling sending their 'explorers' and troops to different parts of Africa with hopes to secure land with no regard for the boundaries already set by the native people. The conference set out to avoid conflict between the European nations which sought to colonize Africa. The boundaries that fence in the nation of the Democratic Republic of Congo we know today, are the same boundaries that were set at the Berlin Conference. At this conference not a single African was present as the different nations of Europe grabbed pieces of the Great continent cutting up already existing empires at will.

(courtesy of wikipedia)

In order to procure these pieces of land there was a great deal of deception that had to take place as well as bloodshed and war. A condition of the treaty which was signed at the Berlin Conference was that European nations had to have agreements with the Chiefs of the different areas they wished to possess. They also HAD to exploit the land (as that was the whole point of possessing it) or else another colonial power could come and take it from them. The Berlin Conference was essentially a business deal of which Africans had no real say. The freedom to own and trade was taken from the majority of Africans because of this conference.

The steps towards this conference had already been in the works for centuries as evidenced by the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and Portugal's early occupation of the Congo, etc. Africans did not take these actions sitting down but their attempts to retain freedom were too little to late. The imperialists had been planning their offense for much longer than Africans came with their defense the brutal force with which the imperialists struck was too much for the unsuspecting people whose weaknesses as people were being used against them. As they brutalized Africa they also trained their people back home who never encountered Black people, to think less of them for various ridiculous reasons. They even twisted bible passages to back up their theories. One needn't look any further than Tarzan to understand their view of the lowly cannibal savage in need of civilization that was the African. This was their vision of the African and therefore any atrocity committed against them was excused.

Imperialism is a dirty industry which still exists today under different more politically correct terms such as Globalization. Imperialism has wreaked havoc on whole empires, nations and cultures for resources, such as oil, diamonds, rubber, labor, etc. and has been the cause of many many wars. In several parts of Africa there are wars that are mere continuations of independence struggles and conflicts over resources that were supposed to have ended decades ago. Imperialists still own many of the industries in these nations that control and instigate conflict in order to continue their exploitation of the people and land. This hand of imperialism still has a strong hold on most of the nations of Africa. The Democratic Republic of Congo is an area that is deeply effected by these imperialist powers to this day.

As I write this blog entry I am listening to the masterpiece 'Mabele' by Franco & TP OK Jazz. The song talks about the troubles of the World (Mabele means the Earth, World in Lingala). The singer towards the end of the song says something that stood out to me, one because it's one of the few lines I understand in the song and two because of what the line actually says:

Mindele asala mandoki akoboma batu
kasi akoboma verite, mindele akoki te...

Which loosely translated means:

"The white man does evil and kills people
but can they kill the truth? The white man can't."

That line in my opinion, speaks to the importance of history and understanding our conditions, how we got caught in them and the key to removing ourselves from them (the truth). The truth is the world is suffering because of colonialism and imperialism (the only thing 'neo' (new) about imperialism today are the methods used to implement it; the idea is centuries old). There have been attempts to hide the truth but ut can not be taken away from us once we've attained it and we all know the saying, "The Truth Shall Set You Free."


Mabele (Ntotu) - Franco

***Historical information courtesy of Wikipedia. Click the various links for more indepth articles. All other words are Ms Bazu's opinion of said historical information and a reflection of lessons learned as a student of Guy and also Howard University***


Dave said...

hi thanks for the history. i've been enjoying the radio shows for about a week, and last night we had a barbeque (I live in Maputo, Mozambique) where I streamed the tunes. everyone loved it, especially the Mozambican guys, who loved the vibe but had never heard the old stuff before. keep up the good work!

dave email: writerboard@gmail.com

ms bazu said...

wow. that's great to know! thanks a lot for listening and exposing the show to other people! it is definitely appreciated. i will pass your email on to my father (Guy Angrand). you're very welcome for the history. thanks again!