Nowadays We will Respond in Kind

Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga speaking at the UN General Assembly (Source: DW – South Africa)

I have listened to the Malian Prime Minister’s speech again and again. Colonel Abdoulaye Maïga stated quite a few things which are not only worth restating, but also mark the beginning of a new era for relationships with Africa. For me the clear message was that, faced with the West’s insults, defamations, and aggressions, we will no longer respond with fear, we will stand up and respond in kind; we deserve respect and will be treated as such! France, the west, uses Africa to become 4th world gold producer (without a single mine), yet France walks on Africans, and insult us… the era when our backs were broken, and we held back how we felt by fear of retaliations, or by fear of the master, that era is long gone! We will respond in kind. We are human beings too, we are proud sons and descendants of long generations of great kings, we deserve respect, and we will fight to be treated respectfully. Abdoulaye Maïga honored Malians, and Africans as whole; he said openly what we have all been feeling in the depth of our bellies.

In his speech, Maïga called France’s government, a junta, which by the way is how the French government has been referring to the Malian government… but I ask you, is it not what France’s troops and allies have been doing in Mali? in the DRC? in Libya? That is nothing new for France’s behavior (and the West) in Africa. Isn’t neighboring Ivory Coast a recent example? He added, “The French junta has damaged universal values and betrayed its long tradition of humanistic thought,” … [Paris has acted] “in service of obscurantism” and engaged in “neocolonial, condescending, paternalistic and revanchist” politics.

Move on from the colonial past and hear the anger, the frustration, the rejection that is coming up from the African cities and countryside, and understand that this movement is inexorable,” Maïga said, addressing France.

Your intimidations and subversive actions have only swelled the ranks of Africans concerned with preserving their dignity,” he said. Why, because Africans have all had enough! How can anybody understand that Africa is funding Europe! up to 500 billion Euros per year goes to France through the  FCFA, and yet France leaves abject poverty in its wake? and then France (and the West) treats Africa with the greatest condescension? We are not looking for love in these relationships… we just want what is owed us, respect and dignity!

At the United Nations, Outstanding Speech by Mali PM who Slams France, Praises Russia Ties

Flag of Mali
Flag of Mali

Last week, Mali new interim Prime minister Abdoulaye Maïga gave a speech at the United Nations’ Tribune. It was an amazing speech detailing Mali’s battle for its freedom and its struggle against France and its commies. Excerpts below are from Al-Jazeera.

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Abdoulaye Maiga lashes out at the former colonial ruler, the UN as he praised the ‘exemplary’ cooperation with Russia.

Mali’s military-appointed prime minister has lashed out at France and the United Nations in a grievance-filled address over his nation’s deteriorating security situation while praising the “exemplary” cooperation with Russia.

Map of Mali with its capital Bamako

Addressing the 77th session of the UN General Assembly on Saturday, Abdoulaye Maiga slammed what he called France’s “unilateral decision” to relocate its remaining troops to neighbouring Niger amid deteriorating relations with Mali’s two-time coup leader Assimi Goita.

… “Move on from the colonial past and hear the anger, the frustration, the rejection that is coming up from the African cities and countryside, and understand that this movement is inexorable,” Maiga, who was appointed prime minister last month, said.

Your intimidations and subversive actions have only swelled the ranks of Africans concerned with preserving their dignity,” he added.

The Malian prime minister also offered a grim assessment of the UN peacekeeping mission, known as MINUSMA, while openly praising the “exemplary and fruitful cooperation between Mali and Russia” and the influence of mercenaries from the Wagner Group.

… “We must recognise that nearly 10 years after its establishment, the objectives for which MINUSMA was deployed in Mali have not been achieved,” Maiga said. “This is despite numerous Security Council resolutions.”

A Praise to the Great King Shaka, the Founder of the Zulu Empire

Sketch of King Shaka from 1824 (found in Nathan Isaacs’ book ‘Travels and Adventures in Eastern Africa,’ published in 1836)

To celebrate South Africa’s Heritage Day which used to be known as ‘Shaka Day‘ before 1996, we share with you this beautiful praise for the great king. KwaZulu (“Place of the Zulu” in Zulu)-Natal is an important province of South Africa, and the birthplace of the Zulu kingdom.  It is the second-most populous province in South Africa, after Gauteng, and the land of the Zulu people. Before 1996, 24 September was known as Shaka Day, in commemoration of the Zulu King, Shaka, on the presumed date of his death in 1828. Shaka kaSenzangakhona (Shaka, son of Senzangakhona) was the Zulu King who played an important role in uniting disparate Zulu clans into a cohesive nation; he is known as the founder of the Zulu Empire. . Each year people gather at King Shaka’s grave to honor him on this day.

King Misuzulu ka Zwelithini (Source: yahoo news)

King Shaka was murdered by his two half-brothers Dingane and Mhlangana at kwaDukuza in 1828—one date given is September 24. Dingane assumed the throne after the assassination. Thus, September 24 is known as Shaka Day, and nowadays has become ‘Heritage Day’. This year’s celebration will mark the official public coronation of the new Zulu King, Misuzulu Siqonbile ka Zwelithini, who inherited from his father, King  Goodwill Zwelithini ka Bhekuzulu (Traditional Coronation of a New Zulu King).

Shaka Zulu

He is Shaka the unshakeable,
Thunderer-while-sitting, son of Menzi
He is the bird that preys on other birds,
The battle-axe that excels over other battle-axes in sharpness,
He is the long-strided pursuer, son of Ndaba,
Who pursued the sun and the moon.
He is the great hubbub like the rocks of Nkandla
Where elephants take shelter
When the heavens frown…

Traditional Zulu praise song, English translation by Ezekiel Mphahlele

Portrait of Shaka, the Great Zulu King

Sketch of King Shaka from 1824 (found in Nathaniel Isaacs’ book ‘Travels and Adventures in Eastern Africa,’ published in 1836)

King Shaka, Shaka kaSenzangakhona (Shaka son of Senzangakhona), or Shaka Zulu, is known today as the founder of the Zulu Empire or Zululand. He ruled from 1816 to 1828, and was one of the most influential monarchs of the Zulu, responsible for re-organizing the Zulu military into a formidable force via a series of wide-reaching and influential reforms; thus he was responsible for uniting small Zulu clans to form an impressive Empire which was a real threat to European advances in the region. Shaka was a master military strategist who revolutionized the Zulu military by dividing his army into components, sometimes on the basis of age and fighting strength. For example, he tasked young boys, perhaps in their early teens, with transporting military supplies. This allowed his fighting machine to move very quickly during raids or conquests. When Shaka first became king, the Zulu were a cluster of tribes of less than 2000 people; by the end of his reign, the population was 250,000 people, an impressive growth for a 12-year reign.

Nathaniel Isaacs, a British explorer met King Shaka. Below is a portrait he made of King Shaka found in N. Isaacs, Travels and Adventures in Eastern Africa Vol I, 1836.

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Reception of the Zulus for Chaka from Isaacs’s book Travels and Adventures in Eastern Africa. Descriptive of the Zulus, their manners, customs, with a sketch of Natal.

“In the evening, at the request of the king, we joined in their amusements, and could not … avoid singing: we commenced with ‘God save the King.’ On our explaining its literal meaning, Chaka was highly pleased; in fact, there was nothing but good humour to be observed in the countenances of every one present. The party broke up at a late hour; and, as is usual, in the morning we paid the king an early visit. We now expressed a wish to see him in his war dress; he immediately retired, and in a short time returned attired: his dress consists of monkeys’ skins, in three folds from his waist to the knee, from which two white cows’ tails are suspended, as well as from each arm; round his head is a neat band of fur stuffed, in front of which is placed a tall feather, and on each side a variegated plume. He advanced with his shield, an oval about four feet in length, and an umconto, or spear, when his warriors commenced a war song, and he began his maneuvres. Chaka is about thirty-eight years of age, upwards of six feet in height, and well proportioned: he is allowed to be the best pedestrian in his country, and, in fact, during his wonderful exercises this day he exhibited the most astonishing activity.”

Queen Elizabeth II’s Legacy in Africa: What Africans have to Say

Queen Elizabeth II (Source: ForeignBrief.com)

Queen Elizabeth II passed away on September 8th, 2022. The world mourns the monarch who reigned over the United Kingdom for over 70 years, thus winning the merit of having the longest reign of any British monarch, and the supposedly longest recorded reign of any female head of state in history. During her lifetime, she was queen regnant of 32 sovereign states and 15 at the time of her death.

British Empire in 1921 (Source: Wikipedia)

Queen Elizabeth II’s reign started in 1952, at the tail end of the ‘colonization’ era, leading into the independence or decolonization of former British colonies, and then the new era of neo-colonization. The 1960s and 1970s saw an acceleration in the decolonization of Africa and the Caribbeans. More than 20 countries gained independence from Britain as part of a planned transition to ‘self’-government. Newspapers would give the polished version, but it is clear that under her reign, major events rocked nations and particularly the third-world, as we, ‘not the West’ used to be called. She started her reign while in Kenya (i.e. learnt of the passing of her father while in visit of Kenya, and that she was to become queen). She inherited a vast empire spanning the African continent upon becoming Queen, her reign saw all 14 African British colonies gain their independence, starting with Ghana in 1957. And yet the Queen managed to maintain warm relations with them, partly through the creation of the successor organisation to the empire, the Commonwealth. One could argue that the relationship between the British monarchy and post-colonial Africa was a complicated one. 

In a prison camp during the Mau Mau rebellion (Source:The Guardian)
In a prison camp in Kenya during the Mau Mau rebellion (Source:The Guardian)

Who can forget the Mau-Mau massacre in Kenya by British forces (The British Government apologizes for Mau Mau atrocities)? Or then Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe)? or Sudan? or the wars of independence in different parts of Africa?

The president of Kenya where her journey as Queen started, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, mourned her passing in a statement, describing her as “a towering icon of selfless service to humanity and a key figurehead of not only the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth of Nations where Kenya is a distinguished member but the entire world“.

The traitor Mnangagwa, even though the Queen granted knighthood to President Robert Mugabe to later revoke it, and the relations between Zimbabwe and Great Britain were bad for many years, was quick to tweet that his “deepest condolences” were with the Royal Family and “the people of the United Kingdom, and the Commonwealth“. Zimbabwe held some services.

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa has, on behalf of the government and people of South Africa, expressed his profound and sincere condolences to King Charles III on the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, saying, “Her Majesty was an extraordinary and world-renowned public figure who lived a remarkable life.  Her life and legacy will be fondly remembered by many around the world. The Queen’s commitment and dedication during her 70 years on the throne remains a noble and virtuous example to the entire world.”

Flag and map of Nigeria
Flag and map of Nigeria

The leader of Nigeria, the biggest of Britain’s former colonies in Africa, President Muhammadu Buhari wrote a long tribute to her on Twitter, saying The story of modern Nigeria will never be complete without a chapter on Queen Elizabeth ll, a towering global personality and an outstanding leader. She dedicated her life to making her nation, the Commonwealth and the entire world a better place.”

However, the younger generation of African leaders, and leaders around the world are saying they cannot mourn the passing of the Queen of England.

Uju Anya, a linguistics professor at Carnegie Mellon University on Thursday described the late queen as the monarch of a “thieving raping genocidal empire” in a series of tweets. “I heard the chief monarch of thieving raping genocidal empire is finally dying. May her pain be excruciating,” Anya said. Referring to Great Britain’s conquest of Nigeria in the 19th and 20th century, she added, “If anyone expects me to express anything but disdain for the monarch who supervised a government that sponsored the genocide that massacred and displaced half my family and the consequences of which those alive today are still trying to overcome, you can keep wishing upon a star.”

Julius Malema, Leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (Source: TheSouthAfrican.com)

Julius Malema, of the South African Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), South Africa’s third-biggest political party, criticized the queen, who ascended to the throne in 1952, for reigning for 70 years as a head of an institution “built up, sustained, and living off a brutal legacy of dehumanization of millions of people across the world.

Malema added “We do not mourn the death of Elizabeth, because to us her death is a reminder of a very tragic period in this country and Africa’s history,” …

Britain, under the leadership of the royal family, took over control of this territory that would become South Africa in 1795 from Batavian control, and took permanent control of the territory in 1806.

From that moment onwards, native people of this land have never known peace, nor have they ever enjoyed the fruits of the riches of this land, riches which were and still are utilized for the enrichment of the British royal family and those who look like them.” … the royal family’s leadership “has been one of pain and suffering, of death and dispossession, and of dehumanization of African people“.

During her [Elizabeth II’s] 70-year reign as Queen, she never once acknowledged the atrocities that her family inflicted on native people that Britain invaded across the world. She willingly benefited from the wealth that was attained from the exploitation and murder of millions of people across the world.

The British Royal family stands on the shoulders of millions of slaves who were shipped away from the continent to serve the interests of racist white capital accumulation, at the center of which lies the British royal family. If there is really life and justice after death, may Elizabeth and her ancestors get what they deserve,” the statement concluded.

The atmosphere I would say then is nuanced in Africa, some, particularly the heads of states mourn, while the younger generations cannot be bothered to mourn the life of a monarch whose reign caused a lot of pain, suffering, and dehumanization to millions.

Zambia and its Colorful Contribution to the World

Twin Rivers, Zambia

Have you ever heard of Twin Rivers in Zambia? Do you know that humanity came in contact with pigments, color, 300,000 years ago in the area of Twin Rivers? In this area of Zambia, located southwest of the capital Lusaka, is where the most extensive prehistoric mineral pigment collection in the world is found.

Language is not the only way of communicating, color is also part of it. Humanity communicated using pigments and color hundreds of thousands of years ago. Africa has some of the earliest evidence of the use of earth pigments. Evidence includes engraved ochre nodules and ochre processing areas and tools at sites such as the Blombos Cave in South Africa or Porc Epic in Ethiopia; the extensive processing of ochre at sites such as Sibudu in South Africa or Twin Rivers in Zambia, and the extensive mining of shiny bright red ochre in Eswatini (subject for another day). In 2006, in Twin Rivers, Zambia, archaeologists found that early humans used paint for aesthetic purposes much earlier than previously thought. The team found pigments dated between 350,000 and 400,000 years back. As a comparison, the oldest pigments previously found were 120,000 years old (still in Africa) and the oldest known painting is about 35,000 years old.  Huge quantities, about 70 kg or more, were found in a cave, thus implying a systematic use of pigments indicating a purposeful and repeated activity, perhaps linked to a material expression of self-awareness, displayed in the form of body paint/body decoration. Throughout the years, different rocks were excavated, ranging from limonite, hematite, specularite, and different kinds of pigments. The work done by Pr. Barham and his team, shows that even though a variety of colors of ochre were used at Twin Rivers (such as yellow, brown, red, a dark sparkly purple shade of red (specularite), pink, and blue-black) the most predominant color at the site is red.

Enjoy the article below from Colorful beginning for humanity on the BBC, Newsbriefs Archaeology, and check out the extensive work of the Liverpool team.

Zambia Sovereign Debt Crisis

Zambian flag
Zambian flag

When we talk about Zambia these days, there is no way to avoid the elephant in the room: its debt. In 2020, Zambia became the first African country to declare bankruptcy (possibly worldwide) as the pandemic had brought it to its knees: the coffers were empty, and the country owed China, its main creditor, over $3 billion with no clear way to pay it back. This past Tuesday, the IMF announced that Zambia was seeking as much as $8.4 billion in debt relief in preparation for discussion on restructuring foreign liabilities. African debt as Thomas Sankara pointed a while back is a tricky subject… so there is already that fundamental question of debts owed to European countries (like France) which milk Africa via fake currencies such as the FCFA, and treacherous partnerships signed decades ago which benefited only the West. For today though, how did Zambia get here in the first place?

President Edgar Lungu (Source: AllInZimbabwe.com)

The country’s debts quadrupled between 2014 and 2019 amid a surge in infrastructure borrowing under Edgar Lungu, the former president, who lost elections last year to Hichilema. Needless to say that right before Lungu came into power, there had been a collaboration between Norway and Zambia to help the country get better hold of its revenues, via a mineral mining monitoring project aimed at boosting tax revenues. As we learned at the beginning of the week, Zambia is rich in minerals, particularly copper. However, upon arrival in power, president Lungu stopped the program (aimed at helping its country negotiate better deals for its mines), and went into an infrastructure shopping spree with no real regards for what was in his treasury’s coffers; no wonder he got the boots at the end of his first term. This, added to all previous debts, and the pandemic which hit just as the new president was getting into office, made for the perfect storm.

Excerpts below are from the Times talking about Zambia’s discussions this week, and hopefully the start of a better way to close on the debt. Let’s not veil ourselves though, since its creation has the IMF ever helped a single African country come out of problems? Hard to believe that it will – maybe the case of Zambia will be different? You can also read articles from Bloomberg, Atlantic Council, and Financial Times.

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Map of Zambia
Map of Zambia

Not that long ago Chinese credit was easy to get in Zambia. A government department could contact a Beijing lender directly without needing to get it signed off by finance ministers.

Millions of dollars were squandered or used to line pockets. Ministers campaigned in helicopters and the president had a Gulfstream jet. All the while the debts were racking up. It could not last.

We have lost an obscene amount of money on corruption — money that could have been used to feed, house, clothe and educate our children,” said Hakainde Hichilema, a man once mocked as “calculator boy” for his head for dry numbers.

President Hakainde Hichilema (Source: FaceofMalawi.com)

A year after securing the presidency — at his sixth attempt — in a landslide, Hichilema is unpicking the ruinous rule of his predecessor, Edgar Lungu, who threatened to turn Zambia into the new Zimbabwe.

Under Lungu’s administration, international debt quadrupled to more than 120 per cent of Zambia’s GDP. He failed to negotiate a lifeline from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after it became the first African state to default since the 2005 agreement to wipe clean the debts of 30 of the continent’s poorest states.

The $1.3 billion IMF bailout secured by Hichilema’s government last week was seen as a huge vote of confidence in his commitment to restraint and reform. A successful exit from default could make Zambia a model for other states in Africa, where China is the biggest lender and the threat of debt distress is high. China has overtaken the World Bank as the biggest foreign creditor to developing countries.

… Zambia’s debt of $6 billion to 18 different lenders was twice previous estimates.

… New laws on transparency and a cap on future borrowing will keep things honest, [Hichilema] said. “The only change we can probably say is that we have just raised the bar in terms of engagement.

Why the Name: Zambia?

Zambian flag
Zambian flag

Have you ever wondered about the name of the country Zambia? Think about it: ZAMBIA… so much power in the name. It is the second to last country in the alphabetical list of countries, before Zimbabwe. Just like Zimbabwe which was Southern Rhodesia, Zambia was formerly known as Northern Rhodesia; both countries shared the Rhodesia name.  Why bother changing names you might ask?

Kenneth Kaunda
Kenneth Kaunda, first president of Zambia

Well, Rhodesia was named after the infamous British Cecil Rhodes who committed atrocities in Southern Africa, while establishing British rule over the different countries. It only made sense that, when Zambia got its independence from the British on 24 October 1964, that the African rulers would want a name that represented them and their values, and not some man who killed them; moreover, being called ‘Northern something’ is like not having a real identity. Thus, in 1964, the country’s first president, Kenneth Kaunda changed the name from Northern Rhodesia to Zambia. ZAMBIA‘s name comes from the Zambezi River, where Zambezi means “grand river“, as it is the 4th largest river in Africa after the Nile, Congo, and Niger rivers.

Skull of the homo Rhodesiensis or Kabwe skull found in Zambia

The capital of the country of Zambia is Lusaka. Zambia is rich in prehistoric vestiges including the skull of the homo rhodesiensis also known as the Broken Hill Man which is dated 100,000 to 300,000 years and found in a zinc mine in the city of Kabwe in 1921. The first inhabitants of the area, in more modern times, were the San and Batwa people until around AD 300. Later on, it has been the site of early Bantu settlements. These early Bantu settlers participated in trade at the site of Ingombe Ilede (which translates to sleeping cow in the Tonga language because the fallen baobab tree resembles a cow) in Southern Zambia. Ingombe Ilede was one of the most important trading posts for rulers of Great Zimbabwe. Zambia has been at the crossroads of populations in Southern Africa, seeing the rise of several large kingdoms over the centuries.

Zambia's national team, the Chipolopolo
Zambia’s national team, the Chipolopolo

Zambia is a landlocked country in southern Africa, with a tropical climate, consisting mostly of high plateaus with some hills and mountains, dissected by the great Zambezi river. Copper represents almost 70% of the country’s exports. It is the home of the Chipolopolos, rightfully named the copper bullets once led by the great Kalusha Bwalya. If you visit Zambia, do not forget to bask in the welcome of its inhabitants, try and find your way near the Zambezi River, visit the capital Lusaka, learn a few words in one of the local languages, and at least one find out why the country is so well-known for its copper. Enjoy the 10 best places to visit in Zambia (There are much more, of course)!

Africa’s Oldest Dinosaur found in Zimbabwe

Artistic reconstruction of Mbiresaurus raathi, which has been discovered in Zimbabwe (by Andrey Atuchin)

Scientists have unearthed in Zimbabwe, the oldest dinosaur ever found on African soil which lived 230 million years ago. As a parenthesis, dinosaur fossil hunting research is not big in Africa, so it is no surprise that on the cradle of humanity, people are still unearthing fossils. I am sure that if African scientists got vested in fossil hunting, the world will most likely awake to the era of the dinosaur, i.e. Africa being also the cradle of dinosaurs. Excerpts below are from the BBC; for more, also read the New Scientist. Enjoy!

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Scientists have unearthed in Zimbabwe the remains of Africa’s oldest dinosaur, which lived than 230 million years ago.

The Mbiresaurus raathi [love the name, named after Mbire in the Zambezi valley where the discovery was made, very African] was one metre tall, ran on two legs and had a long neck and jagged teeth. Scientists said it was a species of sauropodomorph, a relative of the sauropod, which walked on four legs. 

Flag of Zimbabwe
Flag of Zimbabwe

The skeleton was discovered during two expeditions, in 2017 and 2019, to the Zambezi Valley. When we talk of the evolution of early dinosaurs, fossils from the Triassic age are rare,” Darlington Munyikwa, deputy director of National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe, and who was part of the expeditions, told the BBC. He said that fossils from that era – which ended more than 200 million years ago – had been unearthed in South America, India and now Zimbabwe.

The find is expected to shed more light on evolution and migration of early dinosaurs, back when the world was one huge continent and Zimbabwe was at the same latitude as those countries, he said. Zimbabwe has been aware of other fossils in the area for decades and Mr Munyikwa said there were more sites that needed further exploration in the area, subject to funding availability [exactly, more African researchers need to delve into the field, and $$$]. It shows that dinosaurs didn’t start out worldwide, ruling the world from the very beginning,” Christopher Griffin, another scientist involved in the expedition, told the BBC. They, and the animals they lived with, seem to have been constrained to a particular environment in the far south – what is today South America, southern Africa and India.” He added that the find was the “oldest definitive dinosaur ever found in Africa“.

Prof Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan, a palaeontologist at the University of Cape Town, told the BBC that the discovery was important because it was part of the lineage that gave rise to the sauropod dinosaurs, which includes the diplodocus and the brontosaurus. … [Last July, she and her colleagues described a new iguanodontian dinosaur (Iyuku raathi) found in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province. Thus, this is the second dinosaur find in less than a month].

… The near-complete skeleton of the Mbiresaurus raathi is stored in a room in a museum in Zimbabwe‘s southern city of Bulawayo. It is thought to date to the Carnian stage of the Triassic period, when today’s Zimbabwe was part of the massive supercontinent Pangaea.