THE PAN-AFRIKAN LIBERATOR

Agitate until we create a stable society that benefits all our people.

Instigate the nation until we remedy the injustices of society.

Motivate our people to set a meaningful path for the coming generations.

Educate our people to free our minds and develop an Africentric consciousness.


VOL. 1 NO. 8    $1.00    Monthly Newsletter of KiMiT     MARCH 1993

THE VOICE FOR AN INDEPENDENT MONTSERRAT

Published by Chedmond Browne, P.O. Box 197, Plymouth, Montserrat


DEPENDENT TERRITORIES SPEAK OUT

HONG KONG SEEKS INDEPENDENCE

Emily Lau, a Legco representative of the Hong Kong people says, the jury is out. Hong Kong has been let down many times by the british.

Q. Why are the Hong Kong people asking for democracy now? They did pretty well without it for the past 150 years.

A. People began to become interested when britain and China started their secret negotiations on the future of Hong Kong from which Hong Kong people were excluded.

So we were simply saying what we want. We don't have tanks and machine guns to confront the Chinese government, so all we are asking is that Hong Kong people run their day to day affairs and the central government in China be responsible for foreign affairs and defence. That was promised in the Sino- british declaration of 1984.

Q. Is Chris Patten genuinely committed to pushing these reforms through?

A. I'm not sure. I think the jury is still out on Chris Patten. I'm very cynical, like a lot of Hong Kong people, because we've been let down so many times by the british. Why should we believe that this time britain is really looking after our interests?

Q. What do you think britain should do?

A. They should make Hong Kong completely democratic, have all 60 Legco seats elected by the voters. And they should offer all their colonial subjects full british nationality so that in 1997 China will be able to take over the land of Hong Kong as agreed but not the people.

Q. But surely britain, in the middle of a recession, does not want to be swamped by 5 million refugees from Hong Kong?

A. We understand it would be difficult but britain has obligations to her subjects. We're british citizens. They may not regard us as such because we're yellow, we're Chinese.

But there is an important moral case here. Britain went to war over the future of 1,800 white sheep farmers in the Falkland islands, but they are preparing to hand over 6 million people to China. Newsweek Feb. 22, 1993


ST. MARTEEN PROTESTS DUTCH IMPOSITION ON EXECUTIVE COUNCIL

The political leadership in St. Marteen is seeking a United Nations solution for the Dutch government's new policy of control over the local legislature.

The leaders of the small country contacted and had dialogue with the United Nations committee on decolonization to explore what can be done to counteract Dutch interference in local affairs.

A statement released by the National Reformation Party says the measures taken in the Hague (Netherlands) is a slap in the face of the Executive council, the Island council, the Lt. Governor and the people of St. Marteen.

This is no time for partisan politics, it is time for all political parties represented in the island council to form one front. It is time to make the necessary sacrifices and compromises and form a National Government.

Reports coming out of the Dutch Antilles indicate that the people have gone beyond rhetoric and have now mobilized.

A demonstration was led by the opposition against the ruling coalition in St. Marteen. The demonstrators maintained that the government did not take a strong enough position in talks with the Dutch government.

They claimed that only the softest issue was discussed. A management board for the oil companies which was only supposed to serve for six months was still in operation. The demonstrators are demanding that the harder issues including autonomy be brought to the table and that issues discussed be made known to the public.


Keithstone Greaves, Radio Antilles interviews Mr. Hughes

ANGUILLA'S OPPOSITION LEADER SPEAKS FRANKLY

Q. There was a recent economic review done by some specialists on the Anguillan economy. What are your thoughts and feelings as the leader of the opposition and as an Anguillan on the present state of the Anguillan economy?

A. Well the Anguilla economy has been deliberately destroyed by the british. It seems as if the british have some secret agenda for taking over Anguilla. I don't know about Montserrat, Turks & Caicos and Tortola, but whatever goes for one of these colonies seems to be going for all the others.

The british government has an agenda for these islands which has nothing to do with the populations of these islands and this whole business about the economic review teams is one of the other big jokes that means nothing to these islands. They are not objective and they want to make us bankrupt so that they have a good reason for taking us over.

Q. Mr. Hughes I know recently there has been a lot of discussion on this new, what originally was called a board of management for the dependant territories and now it has been changed to the committee on dependant territories. What are your thoughts and feelings?

I know you have been very vocal on that issue. Have your thoughts changed or has there been any change in your stance?

A. No. My situation is like this. If you check on the behavior of the governors over the years in the dependant territories they have all been identical in behavior in that the role of the british government was that the governors should live in harmony with the elected government and they, as a matter of fact, condoned corruption in every dependant territory among the local political governments whether it was in Turks & Caicos or whether it was in Montserrat or in Anguilla, they condoned the corruption.

I have written letters to the Secretary of State time and time again about governmental corruption and as a matter of fact the british governors were here tolerating it. So what they have done is to make us look corrupt and then justify coming in to say they come to clean up a mess which they created.

Q. What sort of plans do you have from your party's standpoint? What ways and means do you think things can be improved both economically and in the other areas of life in Anguilla?

A. From my party's point of view I intend to take the decisions and not allow the british governors to take the decisions about development.

For instance Anguilla has a large tourism potential which has been wasted. Wasted because the british deliberately caused it to be wasted in that if you were to come to Anguilla and see the Mondes Bay area for instance, if we were to sacrifice one of those large beaches in Anguilla we could have found enough jobs on this island for the people and the economy of Anguilla could have been strong, very, very strong.

But they have given out 70, 80, 100 acres of land for 70 or 80 rooms and basically we have wasted our resources. We do not have oil or gold or diamonds.

We have some beach land which is not infinite and I believe you have to maximize the development benefits from that land which the british government has sacrificed its destruction and I personally believe that I will go for complete internal self government and ultimate self determination as well.

Q. How soon do you see that taking place in Anguilla?

A. I am not putting any time limit on it because you see, the british government says that if you want any more say-so in your own hands, you should set a timetable for independence.

I'm prepared to sit down with the british government and the Anguillan people and set such a timetable as requisite to our ability to carry ourselves financially and administratively because none of that administrative infrastructure is in position and this too has been a deliberate attempt of the british to make us look as not being able to do our own thing.


THE BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS ON NO REPRESENTATION

In an address to the BVI Legislative council, Chief Minister, Mr. Lavity Stout complained that the Board of Management set up by britain, (now changed to a committee) would have no representation from the territories and there had been absolutely no input from the dependant territories into the decision to set it up.

The british government's call for partnership, he said, has a very hollow ring to it. He went on to say, we will certainly not be dictated to.

If there is to be a board, we will have to be represented thereon. Depending on public opinion, it will very likely be necessary to request a constitutional conference on this matter.

The government, he stated, was very determined that any decisions relating to the offshore financial sector would require full consultation. The government would not allow them to be forced upon the territory unilaterally. Caribbean Insight, Jan. 1993


MONTSERRAT GOV'T HOLDS FORUM ON "CONSTITUTION"

On Wednesday, March 4th, a forum on the 1989 Constitution Order was held at Montserrat Secondary School, Church Rd. campus.

The panel members were Dorothy Greenway, Peter White, Hogarth Sargent, Kenneth Allen and Chedmond Browne. The panelists were all in agreement that all authority pertaining to governance lay in the hands of the administering power of the crown and her emissary, the governor.


BRITISH TESTS FOR COLONIAL MENTALITY

The islands of the Caribbean are being currently visited by the husband of Queen Elizabeth. One day was spent in Montserrat.

Besides the officials who had to attend, there was no large crowd visible at the waterfront.

If this was a case of testing the waters to see how much control the colonial mentality still has on the minds of "british subjects" it was definitely encouraging to see the complete lack of interest displayed by the large majority of the populace.

This was the sign that greeted those who felt that they were obligated to visit the ship that the visitor is sailing on:

Her Majesty's Government accepts no responsibility for any loss or damage to persons or articles who are visiting the royal yacht. All visitors board at their own risk.


THE GOVERNOR MUSES ABOUT OUR FUTURE... OVER DINNER

That evening I was invited to dinner with the governor of Montserrat.

Recruited by the Thatcher government to help put things back together in the Falklands after the war, he did such a good job, that he was rewarded with the governor's post in Montserrat.

He admitted that it was an anachronistic (out-of-date) job. There are only 14 british dependant territories left, and Hong Kong is about to go. Pitcairn is hardly worth the taxonomy.

His vision of the future of Montserrat lay in tourism, but of the small scale up-market variety.

"We'll never attract or accommodate mass tourism and that's fine with me. I think we should concentrate on improving our services, our restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and in making the place tidier.

To be truthful, I am against the rock star gimmick, and I can't see catering to the beach set. We have so few white beaches. Or the cruise set, we have no deep water harbour.

We have to be very careful about the quality and the numbers who come here. We need to preserve the scenery, charm and character of Montserrat.

"Television has rather corrupted the people here. They don't play cricket the way they used to.

They would rather watch the Bulls play. They now see things they shouldn't. Nudity, drugs, violence. They see things they don't have. Fashionable clothing, makeup, VCR's, and they want them. They are no longer content."

Excerpted from Caribbean Travel and Life. Vol.8 #1 Jan/Feb 1993


THE GOVERNOR SAYS ALL WE DID WAS SIMPLY HAVE DINNER

Dear Sir,
I am always anxious for Montserrat to achieve good publicity in tourist magazines but I was most concerned at the various comments attributed to me in the article "Green, Serene Montserrat" reproduced on page 2 of The Reporter last week.

The comments are quoted in inverted commas as though Mr.Bangs had tape recorded an interview. He did not. He and his photographer simply came to dinner.

I certainly discussed the subjects to which he referred, but not in the terms in which he wrote.

The remarks about the influence of American television attributed to me are particularly insensitive and patronizing. I hope that those who know me will understand that I would never have spoken in such terms.

Indeed, I do not know who or what "the Bulls" are. I certainly worry about the impact of American television on young people here, as, I think, do many Montserratians, but it is a complex subject which should not be dealt with in a few simplistic throw-away phrases.

D G P Taylor Governor

Montserrat Reporter 2/5/93


TENSION AND FEAR IN THE C&W WORKPLACE

By Cudjoe cb

In 1989 just before hurricane Hugo, Cable & Wireless began to restructure its organization in Montserrat.

The first move that they made was to remove some of the established support staff and the local manager. Soon after the reorganization process started, Hugo came and destroyed a large portion of the telephone infrastructure.

This gave Cable & Wireless the opportunity to import personnel from the UK to assist in the rebuilding of the external network. Local staff seemed to openly welcome the new infusion of workers as they anticipated acquiring knowledge and experience from the temporary help and a quick return to normal operations.

Within six months Cable & Wireless in Montserrat was fully operational but the temporary staff which initially came for about six months lingered on indefinitely.

The majority came as ordinary working personnel and in every instance left with higher grade levels and pay scales.

The incentives offered to these workers included tax free income, rent free residences with swimming pools, free transportation, UK salaries that tripled that of locals working at the same level and automatic position at the top of any department that they were assigned to.

Senior local personnel found their positions being usurped without notification. Some of the temporary staff that came arrived with their tools and were ready to go into the field as working personnel.

Instead they were immediately promoted to supervisory positions and in some instances there was more than one supervisor for the same group of workers.

Without seeking any advice from local workers the new supervisors seemed to apply book theory instead of experienced practice and in many instances found that they had to revert to the local way of doing the job.

In fact the local personnel with many years of practical experience were much more knowledgeable in the field than their new supervisors. A gang from Barbados and one from Trinidad proved extremely effective and the need to bring workers all the way from the uk seemed unnecessary.

However, every one of these workers from the UK is now well placed in a higher ranking position in Cable & Wireless' overseas operations and the Chairman of the board of the company was quoted in issue # 7 of Cable & Wireless World as saying,

"We have strengthened our management team of Cable & Wireless people around the globe."

Within six to twelve months of Hugo, the complexion and mentality of management to its local staff seemed to have changed drastically.

Early in its reorganization, the british colonial mentality began to show itself and workers began to feel the frustrations that come from the famous divide and rule policies of western corporate structures.

During this same period high-level local personnel began to be undermined and replaced by inexperienced outside staff. This created a high level of tension within the organization and it seems to be the atmosphere that british management desired from the start.

This high level of tension in the work place and intimidation and fear play a large part in the silence of workers who would normally speak out. Due to economic insecurity, many of the workers who have been relegated to lesser positions are forced to remain silent.

It would appear that the divide and rule policies have also entered into play at the union level.

An agreement was made between the union and management for a raise over two years. Management paid the staff a percentage lower than the agreed rate and rewarded those workers who they considered worthy with the balance.

To do this, Cable & Wireless singled out workers from crews doing equal work for equal pay, and paid some more than it paid others. This simply added more confusion to the situation as those workers who did not get what their union agreement called for complained.

Management's response to the workers complaint was that they should get their union representative to explain things to them.

At that point in time the majority of the workers in Cable & Wireless were paid- up union members who had authorized union dues to be deducted from their wages. Even so, Cable & Wireless saw fit to circulate new forms for union members to sign authorizing the deduction of union dues.

Many union members did not sign the new forms and as a result are not paid-up members of the union. This in effect dissolved much of the unity among the workers and effectively removed the strength of the group to negotiate as a unified front.

With labour negotiations due soon, management has had circulated among workers a suggestion that due to the current economic situation negotiations be postponed for one year.

The reward for accepting this suggestion is that those members of staff who management considers to have contributed the most will be given a raise in pay.

This will continue to perpetuate the frustrating atmosphere which already exists among the workers. Some of the expat managers seemed to have misinterpreted the easy going ways of the Montserratian and have adapted an air of superiority manifested in the methods they use to control and pass down their operational decisions.

Decisions which appear to be in the best development of the company usually turn out to be a smoke screen designed to ensure that an expat extends his stay on the island.

It would appear that Montserrat, right now, is serving as a training school for those chosen from the UK to move on to higher positions and to strengthen their team around the globe.

There does not appear to be any great difference in know-how and ability between local and regional personnel and those being brought over from the UK. In fact, local personnel are highly trained in their specific fields and are highly professional.

It would appear that the only skill that the general manager has is the skillful application of the undermining and disruptive policies that make the work-place of Cable & Wireless today inhospitable to local managerial staff.

No matter how oppressive a corporate organization becomes, there is always an element of support for management policies by selfish people with no vision.

It should come as no surprise that Cable & Wireless has its staff of local "yes men" who are willing to carry out without question the orders of management. These "yes men" are Montserratians who are quite willing to sell out their brothers and sisters in order to insure that they can live on easy street.

Who are these "yes men"? To be continued.


WOMEN'S DAY CELEBRATED

An amazing display of creativity and productivity greeted the eyes of all who passed by the evergreen tree circle on March 8, 1993. Local products made by the industrious women of the land were on display and available for sale.

Items ranging from local dolls in local dress, foreign dolls, bags, embroidery, knitted hats, kinte hats, assorted baked goods, clothing, books, local fruit juices and local preserved fruits made for a dazzling and enjoyable day.

In an interview aired the same day on Radio Antilles, Clarice Barnes, Princess Sherrin Carlos, and A-Dziko Simba, three of the ladies involved in organizing the display, spoke at length about the role of women in today's society.

Each of them showed an acute awareness of the current social conditions that affect the entire community and a keen understanding of the historical distortions that have helped to keep us tied to a system that perpetuates our condition.

The items on display proved that the ability to create and produce has not been removed from the mindset of the community, and that our women who have always been our backbone and strength still continue to live a creative and productive life in the face of real and imagined adversity.


QUEEN NZINGA THE UNCONQUERABLE

By 1600 the Portuguese were deeply involved in capturing and moving Africans on the west coast of Afrika to be sold into slavery in the Caribbean.

Many treaties were made and broken by the Portuguese in the region that was then called Kongo. Today, it is called Angola. In an effort to manipulate the rulers of the region the Portuguese attempted to impose European religious and cultural values upon the rulers of the region.

The Portuguese christianization of the Kongo created something more than chaos. It was a revolting mess, no matter from what angle it is viewed.

To begin with, priests were not only among the leading slave traders, but they also owned slave ships to carry the "black cargoes" to distant lands. Priests also had their harems.

From 1608 a resistance movement began in the region. As the years passed the entire region sunk into total disarray. Afrikan leaders began to get a clearer picture of the european's idea of slavery.

By 1622 having suffered disastrously at the hands of the Afrikans the Portuguese sued for peace. The peace conference was held in Luanda.

The Afrikan delegation was headed by the country's ablest and most uncompromising diplomat, Princess Nzinga, the woman of power behind a weak king (her brother).

She was responsible for inspiring her people to continue the war of resistance when every hope was gone.

She faced the portuguese governor and spoke as the ruler of the land, and not as a subject of the king of portugal.

She did not recognize the man in the big chair as governor because she did not recognize the existence of a portuguese "colony of Angola".

She only saw before her what her people had seen approaching their shores over a hundred years before: pompous white devils bent on the destruction of the non- white world.

Within days of its signing the portuguese broke the peace treaty and began to attack villages to procure captives to be sold into slavery.

In 1623 with the death of her brother Nzinga became Queen of Ndongo. She took action at once and notified the portuguese that if they did not honour the treaty she would declare war.

What makes Nzinga stand out as a great leader was her decisive approach to solving problems.

In 1624, she declared all territory over which she had control to be a free country and all captives (to be sold as slaves) reaching her country to be free forever. She dispersed her soldiers to portuguese-held regions with instructions to join and infiltrate the portuguese mercenary forces.

Because of this infiltration, whole companies of mercenaries deserted the portuguese ranks and joined Nzinga's forces with arms and ammunition. Nzinga's armies were also strengthened by runaway captives who streamed into the region knowing that it was a haven that would keep them free from bondage.

By 1629 Queen Nzinga had become the Empress of two countries, Ndongo and Matamba.

She redoubled her efforts to destroy the trading in Afrikan captives and declared all territory under her control to be a heaven for all captives who reached no matter what means they used to attain their freedom.

All opposition was swept before her armies and the portuguese suffered defeat after defeat at her hands. Local leaders in the region close to her territory began to stand in awe of her and became fearful of dealing in captured people for the purpose of trade and eventual enslavement.

In 1639 the portuguese, once again sued for peace. It became more profitable, however, to break the treaty, as the only means of extracting free Afrikan labour from the land was through military action and social instability. By 1641 the portuguese had once again declared war on Queen Nzinga.

In 1650, after bringing reinforcements from Brazil, the portuguese fought one of the most savage battles in the annals of the region and recaptured Luanda.

Once again they sued for peace and Nzinga, toying with the treaty for six years, gave her war-torn land and tired-out people a period of rest and recovery.

In 1656 after forty years of warfare, Nzinga signed a treaty with the portuguese. In 1663 Queen Nzinga, leader, warrior, general and ruler crossed the threshold.

For forty years she gave her people the will to resist the destructive elements of an economic system that made the traffic in human beings of a particular colour the prime article of trade.

She was the first Afrikan leader to recognize that the colonial conquest, christianity and slavery were inseparably linked together and any solution had to be against all three:

The unholy trinity.

For further information, read The Destruction of Black Civilization by Chancellor Williams.


The PAN-AFRICAN LIBERATOR accepts articles & ideas from the entire community.


NEWS FROM THE MOTHERLAND

LIBERIA, West Afrika

All of Liberia, and a large portion of the capital city of Monrovia is still controlled by Charles Taylor and his NPLF forces.

The puppet government of Amos Sawyer, established by the western alliance controls only portions of the capital city of Monrovia. With the military support of a coalition of west Afrikan states a military offensive to recapture the country has begun. Senseless bombing and destruction of civilian villages and farms appear to be the means by which the western alliance intend to take back Liberia from Mr. Taylor.

GHANA, West Afrika

Work on the multi-million project which will make Ghana the world's largest employer of bacteria in the production of gold has already started at the Ashanti Goldfields Corporation, jointly owned by the government of Ghana 55% and the london-based trading conglomerate, Lonhro 45%.

According to Ashanti Goldfields officials, the new technology will increase the productivity of the company by 50% and enable it to produce some one million ounces of gold annually.

One of the richest gold mines outside of South Afrika, AGC mined 720,000 ounces of gold last year.

ANGOLA, West Afrika

Not satisfied with the result of the elections, in which he was declared the looser, Jonas Savimbi and his UNITA forces have returned once again to the guerilla tactics that have kept Angola destabilized since it won independence from Portugal in 1975. ,P> President Mugabe of Zimbabwe, who led an OAU mission to Angola has openly stated that there is a major South Afrikan logistical effort to keep UNITA supplied and assist it in its efforts to seize control of as much territory as possible.

Mugabe stated that South Afrikan military transport has airlifted arms to UNITA including armored vehicles and artillery.

South Africa has denied its involvement, but this has not stopped the Angolan government from declaring South Afrikan officials persons non grata in Angola.

Few frontline states (countries bordering SA) accept the South Afrikan denial as there is strong evidence of South Afrikan military flights crossing their borders.

There is tension between South Africa and both Zimbabwe and Lesotho over the attacks of the APLA (the military wing of the Pan Africanist Congress), inside South Afrika. The South Afrikan government appears to be using its military, once again, as an instrument to achieve political aims throughout the region.

The US government which has backed Savimbi for the last 16 years has warned him to steer clear of areas where US companies have vested interest, specifically the oil producing areas of Angola.

ETHIOPIA, North Afrika

The government of Ethiopia continues to support the referendum for the independence of Eritrea.

A statement issued by the Ethiopian government said the referendum is the only viable option for Eritrea. The only other option is going to war and that did not work for the past thirty years and it won't work now.

If there are still those in Ethiopia who still think we have to fight to keep Eritrea in, they are simply not realistic. There is a lot of interdependence between us, and there will be further economic integration and political cooperation as well. We have also secured access to the Red Sea ports.

Ethiopia has recently signed a defence and security pact with its neighbour Sudan. At a conference in Addis Adaba president Meles recognized the necessity for regional cooperation.

In reference to Somalia, he stated, "The problem of Somalia is first and foremost a regional problem. What happens in Somalia is bound, in one way or another, to affect the countries in the Horn of Afrika."

ETHIOPIA, North Afrika

The Ethiopian government has taken legal steps to make the Italian government honour a 1947 peace agreement and return to Ethiopia a four thousand year old obelisk.

This is just one of the many historical artifacts that Mussolini stole from Ethiopia in 1936. The obelisk now erected in Rome, once stood in the capital city of ancient Axum which controlled trade between the Red sea and Egypt.

SOMALIA, North Afrika

Not much has changed since the United States invaded Somalia under the guise of humanitarian aid. According to their original plan, they were supposed to be all out by January 20th, 1993. Warring factions are still fighting for control of the country and fire fights still take place daily.

One clear pattern has emerged, however. The Americans, French and Belgians have taken control of different areas of the country and are in the process once again, of repeating their old colonial tricks in the name of the New World Order.

ZIMBABWE, Southern Afrika

The government of Zimbabwe has denied that it has been providing training bases for the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC).

The foreign minister stated that the South Afrikan government was making false accusations to find excuses to resume cross border raids into neighbouring countries.

Zimbabwe's foreign policy towards South Africa would change only when the majority people of South Afrika were politically empowered. There is to be no cooperation so long as the majority have no power.

SOUTH AAFRICA, Southern Afrika

A UNDP report shows that South Africa received $343 million in foreign aid last year.The greatest contributor was the european community with $108 million followed by the USA with $80 million.

Other contributors were Sweden, Britain, Germany, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, France and Spain.

The report states that the aid was not targeted to address the numerous problems facing the poor in South Afrika. The report points out that Health, Trade Unions, human-itarian aid and business development all got less than 3% of the total.


HUMAN RIGHTS CHARTER REJECTED

Organizations still holding discussions with the south african government rejected a draft charter on human rights, claiming that it was a prescription for maintaining white privilege.

The charter fails to outlaw racism, the equality provision is extremely weak and condones the disenfranchisement of the majority. It provides for capital punishment and detention without trial.


WINNIE MANDELA SPEAKS

Winnie Mandela has accused the ANC leadership of lacking in integrity and of misleading the oppressed majority of South Afrika.

She remarked that some of the top ANC officials are in leadership positions because they suffered under apartheid or spent years in jail, and not because they have real leadership qualities.

Mrs. Mandela warned that negotiat-ions will not bring democracy to South Afrika, because they are being conducted between an elite of the oppressed and their oppressors.


PAN AFRICANIST CONGRESS

In order to clarify any misunderstandings the PAC issued a diagram of its control structure which clearly shows that the organization has two branches.

One is internal and deals with political affairs of the country. The other is external and deals with military affairs.

The APLA operates outside of South Afrika and sends its soldiers on military operations inside South Afrika. Because of the DeClerk's regime refusal to make any concessions for the one man one vote position the armed branch of the PAC has stepped up military operations.


BOOK REVIEW

Harvests Under Fire by Carol Thompson Pub. by ZED Books

It has been instructive over the last few months, to see how the Western media covered Southern Afrika's recent agricultural disaster. The weather features highly, but when the human element is included, the attention has almost exclusively focused on local ineptitude and error.

What is of concern is the reluctance of the developed countries (USA and Europe in particular) to focus on their own contribution to the problem.

Both in terms of historical legacy and current practice, western nations are heavily implicated in many of the so called "natural disasters" that occur throughout the world. Unfortunately its own press generally shields the public from this fact.

Harvests Under Fire explores many different aspects of the food security situation in Southern Afrika. A section is also devoted to some of the local policy errors that have undermined agricultural productivity.

More interesting however, were those chapters that deal with the role of the international community in under-mining attempts at self-sufficiency.

What has not been so evident is admission of error by international aid and finance agencies which have been involved in Afrikan agriculture for over twenty years and must share the blame.

The problem of agriculture is not just a matter of the last few decades as western critics insist. This book provides a historical overview of colonial involvement in traditional farming activity and its role in undermining food production.

The destruction of the Afrikan farmer's ability to feed himself and his family was part of a deliberate policy to create a class of landless impoverished people.

These were to provide a source of cheap labour for industry and later to the commercial farmers who occupied those parts of the country from which the indigenous population were evicted.

If the sorry history of imposed taxes, and cattle dipping fees for Afrikan producers, prohibited markets for Afrikan maize, restricted access to fertile areas, large subsidies to european farmers, etc, is not sufficient proof of this aim, the words of a Chamber of Mines President make it clear.

"What is wanted is a policy that would establish, once and for all, that the ownership of the land must be in the hands of the white race, and that the surplus of young men, instead of squatting on the land in idleness and spreading out over unlimited areas, must earn their living by working for a wage."

The legacy of such policies has lasted to the present day. The promotion by the industrialized countries of cash-crop production at the expense of food echoes the colonial endeavour of creating a class of docile natives dependent on their master's whims and wishes.

Throughout the world this encouragement of cash-crop production has tied the economies of developing countries to the needs of western industry.

Imports of american grain now feed millions of people in countries which were once self sufficient in food. Imported technology, fertilizers, hybrids, pesticides and "experts" now bind countries to a market system which is never in their own interest.

They have become dependent on prices fixed by the industrialized nations and intimidated by foreign debt into political docility.

USAID's continuing advice to prioritise cash-crops needs to be viewed with alarm. The author states

"Eliminating hunger in Third World countries is not the major goal of US aid programmes. To justify aid to the american taxpayer, members of congress regularly cite that for every dollar of aid given, the US receives ten in return through sales of american products or savings from low cost materials."

The role of the US in prescribing agricultural policy has other disturbing consequences. Apart from the dangerous promotion of cash-crops the author goes on, advocacy of the creation of master farmers, the specialisation of production and the production of hybrid research.

This creates a small farming elite whose productivity depends on having large acreage of high-tech production and large masses of landless people.

Under this program, hybrids have greatly increased yields in India. It has also put control of farmlands in the hands of a few. The result, large amounts of grain and more land-less and hungry people.

In a food surplus world, there is no reason why anyone should starve. Droughts, floods, locusts, etc, only exaggerate human mistakes in agriculture and it is only a distortion or concealment of the facts that make us think otherwise.

This book concentrates on the politics of food production and clearly indicates that without change in policy. both at local and international levels, no amount of rain will solve the continuing food crisis.


EVERY MAN HAS A RIGHT TO DETERMINE HIS OWN DESTINY.

BOB MARLEY

EVERY COUNTRY HAS A RIGHT TO DETERMINE ITS OWN DESTINY.

CUDJOE CB

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