Thursday, March 3, 2011

Africa for Africans?

i watched a very interesting and informative documentary last night (just got Netflix. yea. it's on like Donkey Kong...) titled Mugabe and the White African. i didn't read any commentary on the film, i just watched it because i was curious about the title.

the documentary is about a white family that is in the process of being kicked off their land in Zimbabwe by a new law president Robert Mugabe made making all land transactions void, although the only ones being effected are the land-owning whites. Michael Campbell (shown in the photo on the left with his son-in-law in front of their farm workers), owns a mango farm he purchased after independence from the government. the farm is equipped with 10 to 15 black workers whom they claim will lose their jobs if the farm taken over by the government. the Campbells consist of a couple, with their son, his wife, and their two kids. apparently, Mugabe is against the ownership of African land by whites, even if they self-identify as "African" and have been there since their birth. and most importantly, even if they purchased their land legally and have no history of mistreatment or wrongdoings against their workers.
the film follows Michael and his son-in-law from their farm in Zimbabwe to court to challenge Mugabe, who is in the habit of postponing the court hearings. the film dances around questions of whether or not a white person can be an "African", whether or not a white person should or shouldn't own land on the continent and the moral implications of being white and owning land in Africa.

i don't know much about Robert Mugabe, but the little that i do know is all negative. from the film, they have audio clips of him saying "Zimbabwe is mine", he's shown admitting on camera to operating a corrupt government, and the video details his ruthless political standing. he "won" his most recent (supposed democratic) election in which he was the only candidate and he's notorious for stifling any opposition (his political opponents and citizen uprisings are usually beaten, jailed or suddenly disappear). the film paints him as a callous, racist dictator who, while saying he wants to return the land to "peasant blacks", is really looking to take over the land himself (or a close family member) and sell the parts and resources for profit. and this is aside from him comparing himself to Hitler and sporting a mustache that looks as though it is inspired by the genocidal authoritarian.
i'm not sure about the validity in these claims against him, considering the way the western media distorts facts. however, it is a fact that the 30+ year reign of Mugabe has left the country in a far worse state that when he took office, although his wealth has continued to build (he has taken over at least 3 of these farms he's seized).

at one point in the film, a black man thats come to Michael's farm to intimidate him, says "we want you out! OUT! you come here, you take our land! i cannot go to UK, to Britain, to England and get land!" to which Michael Campbell responds "yes and we are less than 2% of the say want this land for black peasants?? you come here in a new vehicle every time. and you're worried about the peasants?"

what i found interesting about this film was that, for one, it was obviously from the white perspective. the reckless use of the word "racist" was thrown about so much that i'm not sure the users actually knew the weight or the proper definition of the word. Mugabe and his "African for Africans" mentality was called racist many a times. but is he?
every white person living on the continent that was born there is more and likely a descendant of a colonist. and i think most people have come to the agreement that colonists have pretty much destroyed...the world. and while they populate less than 2% of the Zimbabwe population, they (according to Wikipedia) own more than 70% of the farm-worthy land. and i doubt this is the case for just Zimbabwe. so how "racist" or even "wrong" is it for Mugabe to want to give the land back to black people whom these whites' grandfathers and great grandmothers took it from? i don't believe he's wrong at all. if they're in the minority, they should be holding as much land as they do population. at this point in history, as i've been discussing with a friend of mine, is that Africa, Africans and all colored people need to abandon Europe. in order for colonized people and their countries to get back to a state of stability, they need to take measures, firstly, to assure that the people that have been disenfranchised in the past have an economic foothold to get back to stability. if that means kicking the whites out, or taking their economic standings from them, then so be it.
that being said though, i don't agree with Mugabe's means of kicking these people off the land and misusing the land by giving it to his family in a nepotistic giveaway. workers of Mugabe's often move these white farmer people off the land using violence, usually resulting in death.

in the film, after the farmer's case was postponed a second time, workers for Mugabe (i'm guessing??) attacked the couple and their son in the streets and beat them almost beyond recognition. and considering they were, in a sense, occupying land that wasn't their's, they couldn't legally retaliate. eventually, they won their case. unfortunately, the farm was burned to the ground soon after by the same people they were beaten by. what that case says for Zimbabwe, Zimbabweans, and Mugabe was not all that clear at the end of the film, and it probably isn't in reality either.

should other nations be doing something similar (that is, forcibly taking economic leeway away from the white minority and/or kicking them out of the countries they've come to call home)? should all African nations at least encourage whites to "go back to Europe"? what repercussions would that have between African countries and western ones (importing; exporting; job outsourcing; alliances; treaties; etc.)? can white people born and raised in Africa be "Africans"? is the removal of the economic stronghold that whites have in certain African countries instrumental in the recovery of Africa from its colonial past?

criticize. think. comment. watch the film and tell me what you think about it. watch the trailer.


  1. I agree to some extent that land should be returned to the "Africans" that the land was taken from.
    However, I do not believe YOU understand the weight or the proper definition of the word "racist." You need to step out of your 'black box' as much as any other person of any other color needs to step out of their box.

  2. elaborate please.
    how exactly do i not understand the proper weight of the term "racist"?
    racism is a systemic oppression of a group of people, not to be confused with racial prejudice (which is a typically negative feeling, judgement, or a set of beliefs held against a particular group of people). black Africans cannot be racist because they have not historically, and still (in Zimbabwe) do not have the economic and social power that many whites living on the continent have.

    can you also elaborate on what exactly a "black box" is?