Foreign cultures distract youths from real issues

Somebody seems to be practising a kind of psychological transplant surgery on many of our youth, filling their heads with memories of other people's oppression under colonialism. They should know that transplants often don't 'take' and even if they DO seem to take roots in their new place, they can produce some strange effects. Sometimes I think the memory transplanters only want to make life more difficult for us all. We have enough bad memories of our own without adding oth

For example, why do we have to look so far west to find our 'revolutionary' music? Dead BC bombard us with North American and Jamaican music, most of it expressing the reaction of those people to their oppression. That may be OK for them, but it doesn't relate to our experience. In North America, and possibly the Caribbean, slavery meant a total break with the victims' history.

Very few black people there who are descended from Africans taken as slaves know where their ancestors came from, or what language they spoke. Even in Brazil, black people know that much about their African roots and their most popular religion, although it used some Christian disguise, came with their ancestors from Angola.

The violence that spills out in US and Jamaican music comes from a sense of loss that is not so intense for the Brazilians. It speaks to a different world from ours. Our colonialists did not succeed in denying us our history. But it seems our 'liberators' want to deprive us of it. Grafting a foreign protest culture is meant to replace our roots.

Jamaican gangsterism and a superficial Rasta culture are far from our history. Our Rastas declare their Messiah is the man who gave refuge to Mengistu, who murdered the true Rastas' black Messiah, Haile Selassie.

This all serves to distract youth from the real questions, like getting back the land where their ancestors are buried. When in their mbanje-induced confusion they do talk about the land, they are meant to accept any scrubby little field the bosses let them grab – until some boss decides he wants it for himself.

Mbanje helps to keep them from asking who is growing rich on our diamonds, our gold, our platinum? – God's gifts to the people of Zimbabwe, or from enquiring who owns the kombis we travel in and how he got them. Mbanje is truly the opium of our people.

As a result of all this, we find our cheerleaders move further and further from the concerns we share with our African neighbours. Would our voices not be stronger on the world stage if our bosses had not cut us off from them?

And there are, if we can forget skin colour for a moment, other peoples who have had similar struggles for their land and identity against the same colonisers. They might make allies in our unfinished struggle. For example, Herbert Chitepo, towards the end of his life, met Seán MacStiophain, military commander of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, to explore possible co-operation.

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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