I have been either closely following or actively involved in World and African political events for the last 56 years. In those 56 years, I have noticed many happenings, behaviours, etc. One of the groups that I have observed with interest are the Western “Liberals”, “Leftists”, etc. In particular, I have noticed the confusion, ingratitude and, therefore, danger of these groups. Liberals are supposed to be people who are not conservative and hardliners in economic, political and social issues. Leftists are supposed to be progressive as far as the same issues are concerned.
In order to keep this piece brief, I will not go into the history and details of Western Liberalism and Leftism. That should be for another day.
Suffice it to say that the freedom fighters from Africa, who have been fighting colonialism, neo-colonialism, slave trade and marginalization for the last 500 years, would have counted the Westerns Liberals and Leftists among our automatic allies because these should be people that should be fighting for freedom and justice for all peoples, including the formerly Colonized Peoples.
Instead, we notice confusion, ingratitude and, therefore, danger from these liberals and leftists. Let us start with the confusion. During the US campaign, I noticed President Trump using the words: “convergence rather than divergence”, while handling international affairs. That is exactly what the Western Liberals and Leftists should have been looking for. Instead, we would spend endless hours arguing with the Western Liberals on matters on which we cannot have convergence bearing in mind that our societies were still pre-capitalist and traditional while theirs have been industrial for centuries now. These are issues to do with family, forms of democracy, homo-sexuals, central planning versus economic liberalization, etc., etc.
One had to control irritation to politely get through these meetings. Yet matters of convergence were there and uncontested: fighting extremism and terrorism (narrow-mindedness and indiscriminate use of violence); modern education in natural sciences and social sciences; the emancipation of women; trade; democracy; etc. This is what, in brief, I regard as the confusion of the Western Liberals and Leftists. I do not want to say much on this because I want to get to the next two points and space is limited. Nevertheless, by the Western Liberals trying to impose all their views and values on everybody in the World, they generate not convergence but divergence and even conflict.
Owing to the confusion of these actors, it leads them to two other mistakes: ingratitude and, therefore, a danger to peace in the World. As colonized Peoples, the Africans were greatly assisted by two earth-shaking events in the last century: the October Communist Revolution of 1917 in the Soviet Union (Russia) and the Victory of the Communists in China in 1949. You should remember that by 1900, the whole of Africa had been colonized except for Ethiopia which Musolini would soon add on the list (in 1935). Colonized by whom? By the Western Countries (Britain, France, Portugal, Germany and Spain). The Communists, on the other hand, in both Russia and China, were totally opposed to Western Imperialism and were for de-colonization. They opposed Imperialism by word and action (support for the Liberation Movements).
The greed and flawed logic of the Western Imperialists soon led to two World Wars (the 1st and the second ─ 1914–18 and 1939 – 45). How? In 1453, the Ottoman Turks captured Constantinople (Istanbul) and, therefore, blocked the overland trade route opened by Marco-Polo in the years 1272 – 1275. The trade was mainly in silk and spices – very much in demand in Europe at that time. Now, the Ottoman Turks cut off this route.
The Europeans had, therefore, to look for sea routes either around the massive African Continent or through the unknown Western Oceans ─ the Atlantic and the Pacific. Frantic efforts by Western rulers to go by sea around Africa and over the Western Oceans, were soon rewarded. In 1492, Christopher Columbus landed in Cuba, discovering for the Europeans a new continent occupied by the American Indians. This new continent was North and South America. In 1498, Vasco Da Gama went around the Cape of Good Hope and spent the Christmas day at Natal. These two events should have been very beneficial to humanity if it was not for two weaknesses: the greed of the Europeans and the bankruptcy of the African Chiefs as well as the under-development of the indigenous Peoples of the Americans. The bankrupt African Chiefs would not organize us to resist slave trade and colonialism. In fact, many of them actually assisted both. Especially for Africa, both slave trade and colonialism would not have been possible, if it was not for the collaboration and bankruptcy of the African Chiefs. Owing to the social under-development of the Indigenous Americans (the American Indians), they were exterminated by “the Christians” from Europe, using war and disease. It is an amazing miracle of God when I go to the UN and see the very American – Indian face of Evo Morales, the President of Bolivia.
So, some American – Indians survived in sufficient numbers to generate a President from among themselves!! How great God is even in the face of evil!! I have never had a chance to talk to him. What language do these Indians speak? Do they still speak their indigenous languages? Therefore, in the four centuries between Columbus landing in Cuba and 1900, three most terrible things had happened to the non-European children of God: the indigenous People of the Americas had been exterminated and their land had been taken over by “the Christian” Europeans; millions of Africans had been up-rooted, taken into slavery in the Americas or perished in the process; and the whole of Africa (except for Ethiopia) and much of Asia had been colonized by European Countries (Britain, France, Spain, Holland, Portugal, etc.). The Europeans had polluted the efforts of the explorers that were looking for the sea routes to the East. Unlike Marco Polo who opened a trade route to the East for the flow of silk and spices, the Europeans now unleashed conquest, slave trade and even extermination on the People of the three continents: Africa, Asia and the Americas.
Nevertheless, the Colonized Peoples, initially betrayed by their bankrupt chiefs, were beginning to organize themselves. The ANC of South Africa was, indeed, founded in 1912. I attended their Centenary celebrations in Bloemfontein in 2012. In the USA, by around 1905, people like Du Bois, later on joined by George Padmore, started agitating for Pan-Africanist ideas. It is this re-invigorated resistance by the African and other colonized peoples that formed the first pillar of our ability to regain our freedom. Indeed, Mahtma Ghandi was also in South Africa as a young lawyer when this awakening was taking place.
It is at this stage that the 2nd pillar of our freedom took shape: the sparking of the inter-imperialist war of 1914-1918. What were these imperialists fighting for? They were fighting over us ─ we the Colonized Peoples ─ the property of the imperialists. The Germanic tribes inhabiting the forests of Northern Europe, had defied the Roman Empire and contributed to its decline and collapse in 450 AD. By 1870, these tribes were still governed under 39 Kingdoms, Principalities etc. On account of the growing Junker pressure in one of the Kingdoms, Prussia, a war took place between Prussia and France in 1870. France was defeated by Bismarck and the German Kingdoms were united. A United Germany now cried foul on account of being “cheated” by the other European countries in the enterprise of having “Colonial possessions” – i.e. us. Germany demanded a “fairer” redivision of the World Colonies. That is how Bismark organized the Congress of Berlin in 1884 – 85 to solve this “problem” ─ the problem of being “cheated” as far as we the “possessions” were concerned. That is how Germany now joined the League of the Imperialists by being awarded: Tanganyika, Rwanda, Burundi, Cameroon, Namibia, Togo, etc. It seems, however, that Germany was not happy with the redivision.
That is how, eventually, the 1st World War broke out in 1914. The results of the 1st World War did not please Germany and Germany, now under Hitler, started the 2nd World War. The good thing was that the Imperialist Countries had been so weakened by their criminal wars, that the anti-colonial movement grew in strength. The Imperialists tried to re-establish control, but they were defeated in Indonesia, Indo-China, Kenya etc. This, therefore, was the second pillar that enabled our emancipation.
The third pillar was the emergence of Communists in the Soviet Union in 1917 and in China in 1949. These groups were anti-capitalist but also anti-colonialist. To the advantage of the Colonized Peoples, a big anti-imperialist camp had emerged by 1950. They opposed imperialism morally and also gave material support to the liberation Movements. Genuine freedom fighters in Africa can, therefore, never forget this history
Changing solidarity. When “Christian” countries from the West were enslaving us, these atheist communists supported our freedom and they never interfere in our affairs even today. These communists, especially the Soviet Union, did not only support our freedom, they also defended, at a great cost to themselves, the freedom of the imperialist countries themselves. Although the imperialist countries had intervened in the Soviet Union so as to defeat the new communist power, which efforts had failed between 1918 and 1920, by 1938, the pragmatic Stalin was calling on the West to form an Alliance with him to oppose German aggression. The Western leaders, on account of their narrow interests and myopia, refused. Soon Hitler attacked Poland and overrun it; he had gobbled up Czechoslovakia in March 1939. He overran the whole of Western Europe except for Britain and Sweden.
Spain, Portugal and Italy were Hitler’s allies. Fortunately for the West and for us all, Hitler made the mistake of attacking the Soviet Union on the 22nd of June, 1941. It is the Soviet Union that defeated Hitler after a lot of sacrifices with over 60 million people dead etc. Hitler, had to deploy 195 Army divisions against the Soviet Union compared to only 75 divisions in the West against the Western allies ─ the USA, Britain, France’s De-Gaulle, Canada, Australia, New-Zealand, South Africa, not forgetting the hundreds of thousands of African soldiers fighting for the Colonial Masters. The Western countries only opened the second front with the landings in Sicily in July 1943. This was after the defeat of the Germans by the Russians at Moscow (1941 – December), Stalingrad (1942-43) and Kursk (July, 1943).
It is this Soviet Union, that did not only support the freedom of us, the Colonized Peoples of the World, but saved the whole of humanity by defeating Hitler, that is ever the target of the ungrateful, confused and, therefore, dangerous groups in the West. These groups were against the Soviet Union after the October Revolution in 1917, throughout the inter-war period (1918 – 1939), during the Cold War and even after the Cold War. It is unfair, it is wrong and it is dangerous for World Peace.
True, the Soviets made their own mistakes. Why did they occupy Western Europe after the defeat of Hitler? Would the mighty Red Army not have earned more admiration from the Peoples of the World if they had withdrawn from Eastern Europe in 1946 and left those People’s to shape their own destinies? They would not have, then, involved themselves in Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968 and there would have been no Berlin Wall. Why did Brezhnev invade Afghanistan in 1979? I was part of the massive anti-Soviet demonstration in Dar-es-salaam in 1968 following their invasion of Czechoslovakia. However, to me, who is not biased, those mistakes neither compare with the mistakes of the West, past and present, nor do they deem the great historic contributions of both the USSR and China to the cause of humanity in general and the African Peoples in particular.
The Soviet Union broke up to the wild acclamation of the groups in the West. They welcomed the break up but did not bother about the how. You, therefore, had residual and consequent issues to the break-up. If the old internal borders of the USSR were now to become the new international borders of Sovereign Countries that were successors to the old Russian Czarist Empire and the USSR, was it not necessary to discuss that phenomenon frankly and fairly? How about the mixed populations ─ Russian and Non-Russian? How were they to live thereafter? No, all that was none of the business of the Western governing circles. What was crucial was that the “enemy” was down. Moreover, all the positive contributions Russia made to global peace or can make now are of no consequence to these Western circles. Russia must submit to the dictates of the West. This is where the danger of these groups comes in. Russia is a very powerful country even after the break-up of the USSR. It is (17,021,900 km²) seventeen million square kilometers in land area ─ that is like almost combining the USA and China.
The Communists developed Russian technology and it can develop more. To think that you can trample on Russia like they have been trampling on other unfortunate Peoples, is to be very reckless and dangerous to World peace. Yet there are so many issues on which all of us (Africa, the West, Russia, China, India, Brazil, etc.) agree: universal education; improved health; industrialization; freedom of Peoples; the emancipation of women; anti-terrorism; etc. Why not take advantage of these convergences? We who were colonized and brutalized by the Western Countries forgot and forgave those mistakes. Why can’t these countries of the West have a just and balanced attitude to the countries of the East that are growing in capability and getting millions of Peoples out of poverty?
This is where Mr. Trump comes in. He says: “Why do we not examine the possibility of working with Russia against common threats, such as terrorism?” The liberals then shout that Mr. Trump must be having a secret agenda with Mr. Putin etc. This is why we could think of looking into the possibility of talking about the Trump Therapy for strategic myopia and recklessness in the West.
Gen. (rtd.) Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF UGANDA