Portrait of Mugabe on a wall somewhere in Zimbabwe Credit: AP: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi

Robert Mugabe has died at the age of 95 the sixth of September 2019.

After hearing this news, my instinctive reflex was to Google his name.

To my dismay, I found that his name is being associated with dictatorship and mainly that.

Some articles in European newspapers even compared him to Hitler.

To be honest, I did not expect less from them.

On social media, I have seen some journalists or fellow Africans sullying his memory or celebrating his death.

I could have been joining the celebration of Mugabe’s death, if I had not taken a different path that led me to question my biased views influenced by what the media wants me to think.

Some years ago, Mugabe was the reincarnation of the evil as the only portrait of him accessible to me was one of a racist dictator, killing his people.

They manipulated the public view through a well-orchestrated distortion of his image. For instance, we will see pictures of him in unfavorable moments:

Sleeping through important meetings, being in clownish poses or making sulfurous declarations.

They painted an image of Mugabe through a western lens as a dictator that lost his mind and we agreed to this illustration.

But do we know who Mugabe really is?

Mugabe of Africa with the clenged fist

Mugabe and Mandela Credit:John Parkin/AP

When I started reading the story of Mugabe, I was shocked to discover that he had a glorious past.

Mugabe fought for the rights of black people in Zimbabwe formerly Rhodesia.

During those years, in Rhodesia, the white minority ruling the country was ensuring the protection of their privileges, at the cost of the black majority.

Mugabe has been in prison several times for defending his people, the longest being for 11 years.

The dream of the white minority was to mimic the model of South Africa but they didn’t account for the fierce resistance of the Zimbabweans.

Their determination led to the independence of Zimbabwe in 1980.

Robert Mugabe played a great role in this achievement.

However, this glorious past is often unreported and unknown by many.

What is amplified and known is his last years of power that have been used and misformed to undermine his legacy.

Yes, the last years were not the most brilliant moments of Mugabe, I will readily concede that. But did he suddenly start “eating white people for breakfast for no reason? Did you know that he used to be the darling of British and was even was awarded an honorary knighthood by the Queen of 1994.

At that time, he was protecting the white minority land and were hunting the squatters out their property.

What caused the honeymoon to end?

The cause of the rejection of Mugabe by the west

Mugabe and queen Elizabeth Credit: Anwar Hussein—Getty Images 1

Mugabe inherited a country with blatant inequities due to the British colonization that was officially dedicated to helping the “primitive African societies” to develop into modern world states. (source But unofficially a legal way to expropriate the Africans from their properties.

The consequence of the colonization was, that the withe minority controlled the ressources of the entire country.

 In order to compensate this deficiency, Great Britain agreed to support the land reform in Zimbabwe, reform initiated by Mugabe after his election.”All was well, in the best of all worlds”

 In 1997, for unclear reasons, Tony Blair decided to stop supporting the process.The abrupt end of the contract, left president Mugabe in a delicate position and forced him to take” unpopular” decisions.

Here is what he (Mugabe) had to say about the back-pedaling of Tony Blair:

“We did not send away whites. We took away land in accordance with what the British and ourselves had agreed upon, Margaret Thatcher’s government. That commercial land reform programme, land shall be taken from the farmers and be given to the Zimbabweans. So, it was all constitutional.

“If Blair’s England was no longer willing to pay for the land, should we have just folded our hands and said, ‘Oh, Lord Almighty, I pray in the name of the father, the son and the Holy Ghost’?

“Goodness me, no! Blair, Blair, who was he? Just the prime minister of Britain. I’m president of Zimbabwe. So that is why we say ‘OK, it’s your money, keep it. It’s our land, we will take it.’ Balance.”

So, between Toni Blair who broke the promise to solve the problems created by Great Britain, and Mugabe who noticed and reacted accordingly who is to blame?

The IMF has also contributed to asphyxiate the economy of Zimbabwe and the European Union under the cover of human rights, applied targeted sanctions with the hope of bringing Mugabe on his knees.

Why all those attacks? How was he supposed to react?

Make no mistake, he won his “dictator’s star” because instead of turning the other cheek, he opposed resistance.

At various occasions, he spoke up for the interests of Africans without hesitations.

When the France of Sarkozy attacked Lybia, a war that brought the country from the economic pride of Africa to the no-man land we know today, he was the only African president to openly defend Gadhafi.

By refusing to bend backwards, he has signed his death warrant.

Overnight, he has left the category of political genius to join the club of dictators. An online campaign to reshape people’s perception was cleverly constructed.

The truth is, if we based the opinion of a person on a segment of history, we will be surprised that even Jesus could be labeled as violent, if we refer strictly to the episode of the cleansing of the temple.

In order to form an accurate opinion, one should consider the entire story and actions of an individual.

Why we, Africans,should celebrate Mugabe

That the westerners demonize Mugabe is understandable but that Africans follow their path without adding some perspective is unfortunate.

Bob Marley sang:“How long shall they kill our prophets, While we stand aside and look?” Killing does not necessarily mean physical elimination; like in the case of Thomas Sankara or Patrice Lumumba. Tarnish a reputation can also cause many damages.

As long as we base our opinions on the classifications of the western (made in their interests) of who is a dictator or not, who is approachable or not, we will participate in the lynching of our leaders and the celebration of theirs.

“Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter”

 Valery Giscard d’Estaing the former French president who had his presidency punctuated by various scandals, the Diamonds Affair of Bokassa being one them, is still celebrated in Africa. Cote d’Ivoire has a boulevard named after him.

We can still find schools in Africa with names of people we barely know about but who were considered heroes by the settlers.

In the Oxford dictionary, they define a hero as: “A person who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities”. In my eyes, Mugabe certainly met those requirements.

He was a hero, with dark sides for sure nevertheless, he remains an African hero who has spoken up for our rights and fought racial oppression.

We need to emancipate ourselves from “mental slavery” and tell our story.

Rest in power Mugabe.

The reign of buttocks on social networks: like an air of Sara Bartman

Do you know the story of Sara Baartman?

That young South African girl who was displayed in Europe like an animal?

Captured or freely brought to Europe?

The versions differ, but they converge on one essential matter, the life of this woman, has been a succession of gradual sufferings that made her the symbol of scientific racism.

Even in death, which is supposed to be the ultimate deliverance, her misery could not end.

Who was Sara Baartman? How did she get to Europe?

Sara Bartman was a young Khoi- san woman (a mixture of nomadic Khoikhoi herders and San hunters). She was born in 1789 in South Africa, where she spent her life in the service of her masters.

Although her life in South Africa was far from being quiet or peaceful, things took a dramatic turn when Alexander Dunlop, her employer’s friend Hendrik Cesar, saw in her a potential that could be exploited in Europe, and convinced the latter to take her with him to London.

 At the time, the freak shows were a growing attraction in Europe, and Dunlop saw her as the ideal candidate.

In fact, the explorers had already spread, through their writings and stories, a fascination around the “extraordinary” physical attributes of the women of her tribe:

Developed buttock (steatopygia) and hypertrophy of the labia minora (elongated labia).

So much so, that they had gone from myth to obsession.

The two friends made her sign a contract, selling her a life of a star.

In 1810, when Sara boarded that boat for London, she had no idea that she would become the object of so many voyeuristic fascinations.

She didn’t know that her uniqueness would be scrutinized, analyzed, dissected.

Saraatje didn’t know that the notoriety she was promised would be at her expense.

Sara Baartman, a “Venus Hottentot” in London

Once in London, she performed in various shows, in which she was presented as a circus freak.

She was not naked during her performances, but dressed in light and suggestive ways, leaving little room for the imagination. The advertising posters representing her, highlighted her generous forms and her “hottentots” origins, the derogatory name given to the khoi Khoi by the Dutch settlers. She was called “the Venus of the hottentot” on stage, to accentuate the mockery.

Sara’s performances were popular in England. Was she forced to perform? Was she paid under the terms of the contract? Difficult to say even if it is easy to doubt.

A small glimmer of hope arose when her working conditions were noticed by the African association, which sued her masters/impresarios for exploitation.

While we can be impressed by England’s avant-garde approach to human rights, given that this trial was held in 1810, it must be said that Sara was given two choices:

Either return to her home country and be a slave or stay in England to do her shows and be at the mercy of her managers.

She probably thought she was choosing the lesser of two evils.

On the stand Sara admitted to consent. According to her, her conditions were fine except for the lack of warm clothes. So she then remained in Europe.

What if she wanted to stay in England and have a revisited contract? Or build a life as a free woman? Sadly she didn’t have these options.

Sara Bartman’s resistance against scientists

Her shows in England grew unpopular as time went by, so she found herself in France, where she fell into the nets of Reaux, an animal trainer. Once again, she was exhibited for her anatomy, again under even harsher conditions than in England.

To make matters worse, she crossed paths with scientists Georges Cuvier and Geoffroy Saint-. Hilaire, as they were in search of guinea pigs to support their racist theories.

For them, this woman “hottentot” was a scientific manna, which they were eager to take advantage of. They were hoping to see this famous “hottentot apron”, the name given by Europeans to Khoi san women’s genitals, because of the lengthening of their labias.  When they thought they could have access to her body and use it as they pleased, Sara refused to give-in to their unhealthy curiosity. She categorically refused their request to reveal her private parts. They even tried to convince her, by offering her money, but nothing worked, she remained firm on her decision. Which left them wanting more.

Sara’s remains stained with scientific racism at the hands of Georges Cuvier

Torn apart by her living conditions, unfortunate cocktail of spirit, prostitution, abuse, and broken dreams, Sara’s star faded away in Paris in 1815.

For every human being, the journey to the afterlife means the end of suffering on earth, but for Sara this was not the case.

Her death was a godsend for the scientist Cuvier, who now had the freedom to continue his research without having to undergo her protests.

After dissecting her body, the father of comparative anatomy wrote her a eulogy, which earned its rightful place in the records of scientific racism.

This report entitled « Extract of observations made on the body of a woman known in Paris and London as Venus Hottentot. » although despicable as it was, it is only a reflection of that era.

Dehumanizing the other even if it means using shortcuts, arbitrary and confusing classifications.

Contrary to what is read everywhere, Cuvier did not describe Saraatje as a missing link since he was not an evolutionist, but he did no better. He finds in her similarities with primates.

In his report( )the reading of which has left me with a heavy heart, the young woman is described in a simian way.  « Her movements had something sudden and erratic that were reminiscent of those of a monkey. »

 Her physical features did not escape the subjective judgment of the scientist « The most repugnant thing about our Bushman was her physiognomy.. (…) I have never seen a human head more like apes than hers …. »

The scientific prosecutor Cuvier pronounces his sentences :« they were no exception to this cruel law which seems to have condemned these races with depressed and compressed skulls to a never ending inferiority. »

After a perilous exercise supported by craniometry, he took the opportunity to say that blacks could not be at the origin of Egyptian civilization (supreme blasphemy!) as the Scottish explorer James Bruce stated « What is already clear is that neither these Gallas nor these Bushmen, nor any race of Negroes, gave birth to the famous people who established civilization in ancient Egypt, and from which one can say that the whole world has inherited the principles of law, science, and perhaps even religion… »

Even if he recognizes her intelligence. She spoke three languages and had a good visual memory.

The renowned professor will remain faithful to the racist dogmas conveyed

The danger is that these words from scientists were considered as gospel words and distilled in public opinion.

They were even taken up in later years by other researchers brought up on scientific racism and written in textbooks.

This passage was not Sara’s last suffering. Her remains were exhibited as a war trophy at the Musée de l’homme in Paris. until 2002, when she was finally returned to her native land.

Sara Baartman in the age of social media

Nowadays steatopygia still fascinates, it is no longer the distinctive trait of the “bushmen” but extends to all regions, all cultures around the world.

It even generates income, so the less fortunate do not hesitate to resort to surgical interventions or miraculous creams.

Freaks shows have moved from the real world to the virtual world.

In this world, it is difficult to distinguish the real from the fake,the free from the oppressed, as the illusion and the pretending is the norm.

If Sara Baartman had been on social media, we would have been there with our gravely comments, shared her photos, participated in her public dissection, as we do today for many women, who believe they are free but who are in fact prisoners of their buttocks and the role we want them to play. A role they think they can capitalize on, but one that goes far beyond them.

What if we were cautious not to be accomplices of the Cuvier, Reaux, Dunlop and many others lurking in the shadows?

Rest in Peace Sara Baartman and may the world learn from the sufferings that were inflicted on you.

“The insult made to a book lover”

One can plan a day carefully but predicting the future is a fool game.
Yesterday, we went to Paris with as intention to visit the “classics “.The day started out great!As planned. But what we did not know was that in the Metro a beautiful encounter with a pickpocket would force us to shorten our one on one with Paris.
The irony of the story is that before being robbed, I was the one telling everyone to pay attention.The good thing is,robbery does not know discrimination. As long as one has a bag,one is eligible.The action took place in a record time to be included in the Guiness book.
Among the items in my bag, there was a book of Yasmina Kadra” the insult made to Sarah Ikker”(own translation)
The pickpocket had carefully avoided this treasure and picked something as mundane as a wallet!He could have had at least the decency to take the book as well.It would have more useful than this catch all .
He would have read it, shared with his colleagues,told stories to his friends while reviewing their booty in the evening…
I dream of a world in which pickpockets read, quote verses to their victims to numb the pain.
I advocate for educated pickpockets.

Racism,a mental disorder

Dr Mamadou Barry

It’s official! Racism is a mental disorder.
If you suffer from it ,I strongly urge you to have yourself admit to a psychiatric hospital.A treatment with electroshocks could restore your brain. For the worst cases a lobotomy could be considered.
Mamadou Barry a brilliant young man ,an academic doctor was murdered in front of his wife and 2 years old daughter.His only crime was to be born with the wrong color .
His agressor officially recognized as “mentally unbalanced “used racism slurs before delivering mortal blows against him.We are in 2019, and being born black can be a cause of death,and I am afraid that will still be the case in years to come.
What can we tell his wife?What will we tell his daughter when she will be old enough to understand?
A young man full of projects,a young man with a promising future ahead…
The circumstances of his death are aberrant, repugnant…
I wonder how many of those racists oups…”mentally unbalanced ” are walking in the streets.
Rest in peace Dr Mamadou Barry.My sincere condolences to your family and to those who carry you in their hearts.
Mine is bleeding when I see your pictures.

A splash of Blue to blanket the Sudanese red blood

Credit:Umit Bekta

A splash of Blue to blanket the Sudanese red blood

On June 03, we witnessed the monumental horror of an emerging dictatorship. The peaceful protest of the Sudanese people was brutally and viciously repressed by the military junta. More than 100 people were killed, excluding rapes and kidnappings.

#Blue for Sudan

The answer in response to this barbaric attitude was the birth of the hashtag #Blue for Sudan. Social media donned blue sheets to support the brave Sudanese.

And yet a few weeks earlier, amidst the fast-food media and the ensuing “follow-others blindly”, we celebrated the dismissal of Omar al-Bashir, which was but ringing the bell of deceit, heralding our naive belief that the troubles of the Sudanese have come to an end. We soon found another piece of ephemral distraction to munch on.

While we were devoting our time and attention to our mundane occupations, the Sudanese — under other conditions, were still vigilant and servaillant. A great depiction of the old saying “That who was bitten by a snake is wary of the caterpillar”. Bashir had indeed been removed from power, but power was not yet in civilian hands, a sine qua non condition for achieving democracy.

Revolution of awareness

An awareness-raising revolution has been set up to bring the military into compliance. The Sudanese people, stood up in unisson against the military and evinced their defiance to the soldiers, who, short of arguments, brutally reprimanded them.

How is it possible to conceal such schizophrenia among the soldiers who massacre a people they claimed to support?

Perhaps the thirst for power? Perhaps we ought to allow the Sudanese a chance to speak out for themselves — and to better assess the big picture?

The Voice of a Sudanese

Mugtaba is 25 years old. He graduated from Sudan University’s Faculty of Science and Technology with honors in Engineering in 2015. Last year, he had to travel to the Arab Emirates after being unable to secure a job in Sudan.

For the first time during a revolution, he was outside his country. Sudan has experienced several resistance movements. Mugtaba was involved in those of 2013 and 2016. Unhappy with his position as a spectator, he became active on social media 24 hours a day to share and spread news. Since the Egyptian revolution, social media have proven to be a significant catalyst for shaking up lines. It is no coincidence that Internet access has been disrupted in Sudan. # internet blackout sudan.

I spotted him thanks to his online dynamism. Without hesitation, he agreed to answer my questions.

Mugtaba’s brother was held in Sudanese jails a few weeks ago before being released.

“The military and Omar al-Bashir are both sides of the same coin. They overthrew him for the sake of power instead of supporting the people.” declared Mugtaba. “We are not fools and we will not let them succeed” he continues.

“We have no desire for Bashir nor his henchmen. The Sudanese people will never compromise their fundamental rights.”

The resilience of the Sudanese people is apparent judging by my discussion with Mugtaba. A people weary of tyranny that neither rape, kidnapping nor murder can stop in their quest for freedom.

“It’s a peaceful revolution… to secure justice”

“It is crucial to emphasize on the peaceful nature of this protest” hammers out Mugtaba Despite the bullying, we will only respond with peace as a sole weapon. “The blood of the Sudanese people has already been spilled enough and we will do everything we can to prevent it from spreading further.”

“If a protester dares to brandish a stone, he/she is sidelined, to guns, we reply with flowers.” continues Mugtaba. Change takes place in non-violence.

In response to the question of what the Sudanese people expect from this revolution, he replies: “Justice, democracy, peace. This is a revolution of awareness. The people no longer want a military regime and want the freedom to shape their own destiny We have not stood up to Omar al-Bashir to stop at this point.”

Supporting the Sudanese revolution

This is such a noble cause that you can only want but to be part of it. However, in what way?

“Everyone can help in their own way by reporting the unfortunate situation, sharing information about the revolution, making people aware of the plight of the Sudanese people” says Mugataba

“We are moved by the support we receive from all over the world. We hope to see this continue. We on our side will not surrender. Even if the world has only one Sudanese left, he will carry the torch of the revolution.” add Mugtaba.

Mugtaba made it clear during the meeting that he was not interested in being allocated any space from the article. I had to insist in order to mention his name. It is not out of fear of retaliation : “between death and losing his soul” his choice is free from ambiguity. Rather lest stealing the spotlight from the revolution as he wants it to be the star of the topic. “I want us to talk about the Revolution, it’s the biggest breakthrough. I can’t simply overshadow it by my presence. It is the revolution and not myself that needs to be the focus of attention.” he concluded.

Sudan, our collective well-being

Our eyes must not drift away from the fate of the Sudanese people.

Setting it free must be a our responsibility. Sudan is our common heritage.

By immersing ourselves in the dense history of this country, we realize first-hand that it should occupy a prominent place in the hearts of all Africans.

Formerly Nubia, this great African country not only because of its vastness but also because of its history, which has sheltered the most glorious part of the black civilization. From its core emanated the greatest kingdoms, Kush, Kerma, Napata, Meroe, a dynasty of black pharaohs like Piye, Taharka and a bloodline of kandaces, the famous warrior queens.

The Meroitic empire was highly evolved with a model of gender equality that would make modern feminists blush in shame. Women had the right to lead on an equal basis with men. In light of this system, great queens like Amanirenas were able to rise. This article alone is unable to cover the rich history of Sudan… This is but a preliminary sketch to demonstrate that Sudan is the cradle of our long-denied civilization… Supporting this country means protecting our heritage.

Contributing to a successful outcome of the revolution by disseminating information is our common duty. The Sudanese people’s blood will not be spilled in vain.

Let us all carry their message!

Together, let us support them!

This is My Sudan, Your Sudan, His Sudan, Her Sudan, Their Sudan, Our Sudan.