Friday, January 30, 2015

Central African Republic

When we condemn nations for colonialism and imperialism, we always forget to condemn the Church on the same grounds. After all, it was Christian ideology as much as economics that drove the European countries into imperialism and colonialism: the determination of the one to convert all the "heathens", by force if necessary, into believers in the One True Faith; the determination of the other to rape the world’s resources for the betterment of their own people. It was the church, too, which provided the intellectual justification for slavery. One of the great ironies of history lies in the fact that African leaders provide most of the subjects in the dock in the International Criminal Court in The Hague, usually charged with over-doing it in their attempts to resolve the mess which is the legacy of post-colonial and post-imperial Africa; while those who created the mess in the first place - the church and the governments of Europe - are the ones hosting and administering those trials.

80% of the population of the CAR are Christians. Why? Because the church sent missionaries to destroy the heathen and pagan cultures and civilisations of Africa, to bring Africa into its world "caliphate". The consequences remain today: poverty, deracination, economic dependence on the First World post-colonialists and post-imperialists, subservience to Rome as much as to the IMF, and a vast population of missionaries maintaining that subservience - Lutherans, Baptists, Catholics, Grace Brethren and Jehovah's Witnesses. Though there is compulsory education for children between the ages of six and fourteen, and it is free, a half of the adult population remains illiterate. Cassava, peanuts, maize, millet, sorghum and maize are the major crops, and agriculture the major source of work in this landlocked country; limited resources on which to build an independent state. Though with the Church so powerful, independence is always a limited term.

Chasing-down Mistah Kurtz?

The CAR became independent from France in 1960, but French remains the national language, not Sangho, a Ngbandi-based creole, though the existence of this last suggests roots have endured from which to grow back an indigenous identity. There are vestiges of Ubangian languages too, plus a few Bantu languages in the extreme south, and several Bongo–Bagirmi languages in the north; there is also a Luo language, Runga. For any African country to get out of the post-colonial mess, it will first have to recover its national identity, for which language and culture are the starting-points, and ridding itself of the continuing imperialism of foreign religions an absolute necessity. The new faith of Democracy, which the West is determined to impose in Africa, is a form of imperialism too. Inside those ancient languages there exist the societal structures which employed them, and the traditional beliefs and rites ceremonies that gave them expression. That, it seems to me, is where the source of real independence lies, for the CAR, for all of Africa, and for the descendants of the slaves too, who have not yet achieved full and genuine independence in lands that theoretically abolished slavery.

Independence from France was followed by the brutal regime of Bokassa until 1979. Coups followed, each leading to theoretically free elections. A new constitution was adopted in 2004, and multiparty Presidential and Parliamentary elections in 2005, with François Bozizé Yangouvonda declared the winner after a run-off vote. Two years later, the CAR became a member of that special group of nations in which armed rebellion within the government, and revolution against it, are taking place simultaneously. Widespread violence in the north, including the systematic killing by government troops of men and boys suspected of cooperation with the rebels, led to thousands of refugees, caught up in the crossfire between government and rebel forces. Seven thousand of these ended up in Chad. The French military supported the Bozizé government.

In March 2010, Bozizé signed a decree approving Presidential elections, but they were postponed, and then again; presumably the government needed more time to check the vote-rigging machinery, or so it seems from the documents of the international blind-eye-turners, who noted that “serious organisational problems” were involved. What took place in January and March 2011 was a farce, despite the presence of the "Observatoire National des Elections", and so Bozizé remained in power, a "stable regime" in French eyes (when Third World governments are considered "stable" by First World governments, it is always a euphemism for corruption, despotism, brutality and extreme poverty outside the ruling elite, all to the continuing influence and benefit of said First World country). What was actually happening in the CAR? Deep corruption, rife with nepotism, authoritarian; underdevelopment because the aid money was being siphoned off into the bank accounts of the ruling oligarchy. In 2012 the Séléka Coalition began a bush war, and in 2013 overthrew the Bozizé regime. Bozizé fled to Cameroon via DR Congo while the rebel leader Michel Djotodia proclaimed himself President; the first Moslem President of this predominantly Christian country, endorsed by the police and the military, so it makes little difference that the general population does not support him and other African leaders refuse to recognize him.

The situation today is described by the UN as "complete chaos". Both the President and the Prime Minister resigned in January 2014. A French-trained lawyer, Catherine Samba-Panza, is now in interim charge. The number of refugees is reckoned to be well over a million, and Christian groups have taken up the Jesuitic challenge that He brought "not peace but a sword" by massacring Muslim civilians by the thousands, while forcing thousands more to flee. What is going on is not yet genocide, though where exactly the line gets drawn between ethnic-cleansing and genocide is not that clear. I cannot help noting that the continued presence of the Christian missionaries, and the arrival of the Moslem ones, has exacerbated the problem, not assisted it. As I have noted elsewhere, multi-culturalism is a secular philosophy for promoting human tolerance and respect; multi-religionism is generally a war-zone.

Economically, the CAR is on life-support-systems provided by the First World, which means that independence is not really independence, and post-colonialism and post-imperialism are not really post-colonialism and post-imperialism. The CAR is a perfect illustration of the disaster of First World imperialism five hundred years ago still reaping its grim harvest today - and the CAR is only one of a dozen similar tales in Africa. What the CAR needs is for First World countries to ban missionaries from travelling to the CAR, churches and mosques to close, First World Aid to cease, and let the CARians suture their own wounds, which will be bloody and painful, for the next several generations, until an African nation speaking its own languages can emerge and start to grow out of those remaining roots. I will not repeat these remarks on every African page of this blog; but yet they apply, on almost every African page of this blog.

Marks For: 0

Marks Against: 10

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