Opening address by keith harmon snow
6th Annual International African Students Association Conference
Yale African Students Association (YASA)
Yale University, New Haven, CT.
April 13-15, 2001.
I have seen terrible suffering in Africa. Profound human suffering. The suffering of people who have never harmed anyone. Children whose innocence has been crushed by an indifferent world. Were that it were merely indifferent.
I believe that individuals are responsible for the actions of their government. I must then begin by apologizing for the history of abuse and mistreatment of Africa by the people of the United States. For ours is a history of oppression and violence.
Africans had been freely trading with native Americans long before the European invasion of the Potomac River Valley in 1608. But the Europeans brought deceit and cowardice and greed and the eradication of the Algonquian nations followed. It continued with the Middle Passage and the slave trade, which inhumanely lacerated the African continent. Here are the roots of deracination in Africa.
Even as the Founding Fathers of the United States – the Jeffersons and Washingtons and others -- delineated their noble principles of human freedom and justice and truth, black Africans suffered horrible atrocities on the plantation land expropriated by these conquerors. And that is why I chose to call it HIS-story, and not HER-story.
I am humbled to be here, speaking to all you people, and very privileged. It is ironic that it is I -- a white man from a small Massachusetts town -- who has been chosen to share some of the things I intend to share about Africa now. It is ironic because most of what I have to say is about privilege. It is sad, because so many, many, many people are suffering. And it is all completely unnecessary.
It is sad because little has changed, in 400 years of United States’ history, in how my government and my people manifest their existence in the universe. It is sad that we are still fundamentally complicit in the overwhelming death, despair and dying in Africa. It is sad that most North Americans suffer such extreme mental illness that they cannot begin to admit this, never mind take steps to change it.
What is particularly sad is that most North Americans do not even recognize their role in this. Ignorance and denial is the subject of my work. It is about consciousness. It is about unconsciousness. I suppose it is as powerful as it is sad and ironic that I am here, in contradistinction, because the forces of the universe, or God, or Goddess, or mother earth, have deemed my ideas worthy.
I find it particularly remarkable that the diamond exports from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were some US$897 million in 1997. Now this is a “country” which was in a major war. And then in 1998, DRC ranked second in diamond production at 25.7 million carats. Again, a country in a brutal war where hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people – and I guess it is millions of people -- suffered the consequences through disease and despair and displacement and rape and hunger and robbery and often death.
Now based on my research, this is a western syndicated proxy war, and like Sierra Leone, Angola and Sudan, it is war-as-cover for the rapid and unrestricted extraction of raw materials. Diamonds, gold, columbium tantalite, niobium, cobalt, manganese and petroleum, natural gas and timber – and possibly uranium -- are a few of the major spoils being pillaged behind the scenes as war ravage DRC.
Barrick Gold provides a convenient example. According to testimony I took in November, Barrick Gold is operating in the Kilo Moto mines near Bunia. These mines are reportedly protected by UPDF. An Israeli General was awarded another Kilo Moto concession and UPDF and RCD operate others. Now Barrick Advisory Board member George Bush and his CIA connections certainly play into these mining deals and lay the groundwork – a.k.a. slaughter if necessary – to get the product.
Another Barrick boardmember is former Prime Minister of Canada Brian Mulroney, and it is no coincidence that he is also a boardmember for Archers Daniels Midland, one of the world’s largest and most exclusive multinational agribusiness corporations. Now ADM’s advertising royalties dictate the sanitized content of National Public Radio. Like Continental Grain, Cargill and Monsanto, Archers Daniels Midlands has the capacity to feed the hungry. Instead, and in concert with governments and quote humanitarian unquote organizations, they use food as a weapon.
Another Barrick boardmember is Edward N. Neys, a director of Burson-Marstellar, one of the world’s largest and most secretive public relations firms. And that is where the “perception management” comes from, which continues the falsification of history, which is falsifying the present. “To manipulate history is to manipulate consciousness,” says Amos Wilson. “And to manipulate consciousness is to manipulate possibilities; to manipulate possibilities is to manipulate power.”
I am speaking of the Falsification of Afrikan Consciousness, and if you haven’t read this book, by Amos Wilson, you have important homework to do. This is homework which is essential. It is not something that you read during your summer break, at the end of the day, in your spare time. It is critical to understanding the history of oppression and deracination, and to rediscovering the identity of the black African people.
George Bush apparently telephoned Mobutu just prior to the first US supported invasion of Congo – August 1996 – on behalf of Swedish Financier Adolph Lundin to negotiate a deal over the Kilo Moto gold fields. The US Presidential Election outcome of November 1996 was completely irrelevant to the invasion of Zaire and the replacement of Mobutu. Democrat, Republican, it was inconsequential who won: Mobutu’s days were numbered.
The Swedish Lundin Group appears also to be involved in south Katanga, where they are into the Tenke Fungarume copper/cobalt concessions – and I think they were perhaps involved there for years. This is near where America Mineral Fields International and Anglo American are operating as well.
All these military programs like IMET and E-IMET, ACRI and JCET are designed to consolidate US hegemony. When young men in Africa tell me they want to become soldiers, and be soldiers for the US military, which has happened too many times to count, I have no illusions about the nature of propaganda in Africa and its concomitant mental illness. And it reminds me of boys and men fighting all over the continent who have no idea who or what they are fighting for. They are being used.
Is this what globalization means? Does globalization mean nuclear power will further bring radiotoxicity to the environment in Africa? For fifty years uranium has been coming out of Africa. Is it not a telling indicator that the material for Hiroshima and Nagasaki came from Shinkolobwe, in Congo? It is hardly possible for independent, non-industry funded, or co-opted, groups to assimilate and advertise the unmistakeable evidence of radiotoxicity in the United States. Who monitors the genetic damage, birth defects, cancers, and epidemiological disease associated with uranium mining in Niger? In Gabon? In South Africa? In Namibia?
Do you understand that the nuclear companies are paid billions of dollars to quote clean up unquote their nuclear pollution? That Westinghouse and GE own the media? That Bechtel is so tightly linked with the CIA and the US government that you cannoty clearly tell them apart? That these companies destroyed the emerging solar industry in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s? Is there abundant sunshine in Africa?
Do you understand the terrorist agenda of the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency? Does it matter that they are recruiting students right here at Yale? And these recruitments may end up directly complicit in the killing of innocent children in Sudan, or Columbia, or Congo.
The UPDF and RCD and SPLA have used child soldiers. Troops have been trained by US Green Berets and US military personnel have coordinated SPLA and RPF/UPDF/RCD Alliance campaigns with the respective militaries. This is according to Ugandan dissidents and/or Congolese refugees fleeing Congo and/or ex-patriots on the ground.
Weapons are reportedly shipped in through Entebbe. Again, people testified to seeing “American blacks” -- quote Negroes unquote – traveling in the area, both in Uganda and in Eastern DRC, but they are always very clandestine and they don’t mingle or talk to people. One refugee cited the locations of jungle camps where western – he said American – military advisors were training RCD or RPF or UPDF guerrillas in counterinsurgency and heavy artillery operations. Again, this was in November.
Note that the whole Tutsi contre-genocide against Hutus is off the radar screen of people in the US and that’s because the media has covered for the powerful interests and US agenda of consolidating power in the region by any means necessary. In fact that mean that the RPF have actually “turned” Interahamwe to their service in doing the dirty work of eliminating any dissidents and insurgents.
It was reported to me that UPDF will disguise themselves as their enemies and attack villages to provide justification to return and sweep – a.k.a. brutalize or rape or pillage – these villages. They have also reportedly used these tactics to substantiate their needs for international support – weapons and funds and military expertise – from US and UK backers; these funds and equipment were often diverted to the secret US-SPLA project in southern Sudan against Khartoum.
Now, when you see someone like Professor Eric Reeves from Smith College getting major press – and he gets major national press – on the issue of the atrocities committed by the Khartoum government, you also see that he never mentions the CIA and the US support for the SPLA, and it is precisely his service as a propaganda agent which dictates his easy and prolific media access. And that is the nature of perception management.
But war doesn’t seem to be essential. Multinational corporations -- a very significant constellation of US companies and/or US citizens included – are everywhere stripping the resources, leaving pollution and disease and environmental disasters in their wakes. Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Togo, Niger, Madagascar and Burkina Faso provide examples, being massively exploited, where military repression and structural adjustment and the concomitant destitution suffice.
Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya and Ghana are a few more examples where I have similarly witnessed profound human suffering amidst huge multinational profits and SAP. I mean, 120 years after the British invasion of the Zambezi plain the people have absolutely no possessions. Compounding their plight, this is an area heavily burdened by refugee flows out of Angola and DRC and the concomitant insecurity of insurgent nomadic military forces. Basic education is non-existent. The schools don’t exist and even if they do there are no books. Now while Coca Cola is virtually everywhere, there are often no basic foodstuffs, no books, no medical supplies. You cannot imagine the suffering until you live it yourself. I’m sorry if some of you people, if your families and friends, have by necessity lived this hardship.
These wars are prosecuted by local warlords, military dictators and their elite intelligence and security networks, typically armed, funded and trained by western intelligence and/or ex-military and/or private security companies. These networks are particularly ruthless. However, again, they are directly associated with in-country western military and intelligence advisors and their programs. They are very misguided people. They have failed to mature in their hearts and minds.
Uganda is at war on three fronts and a significant percentage of the IMF/WB funding which has gone into Uganda has been diverted for military objectives. The banks which fund Uganda, through the international monetary institutions, are often associated with the same multinationals involved in the plunder of raw materials. Uganda has supported the SPLA war in southern Sudan, and I took testimony from Uganda dissidents who insist that US military advisors have worked with the SPLA and UPDF against Khartoum.
In Cameroon, Benin, Burkina Faso, Gabon and Niger in 1997, I found abundant evidence of unrestricted raw materials extraction by interests associated with the United States. Again, on the Niger border with Burkina -- famine, disease, despair, political repression for the most trifling reasons -- and right next door there is a Barrick Gold mining operation. And people in these countries know what is going on, but they can’t tell their stories because most westerners are completely caught up in the mental illness, which disallows the simple truth to be seen.
In Zimbabwe, the issue of land and elections and Mugabe’s intransigence aside, the lasting repercussions of the Mugabe “five brigade” genocide against the Ndebele people in Matebelelands North and South and the Midlands provinces are heartbreaking. Here was this scorched earth campaign from 1981 to 1987 where hundreds and hundreds of thousands perished, where food was used as a weapon and rape prevailed, and the United States diverted its eyes. And the media knew about it but the media diverted its eyes. And this is all very current stuff in Zimbabwe. And the Ndebele people have suffered untold injustice.
Meanwhile, there was plenty of mining and tobacco farming going on in Zimbabwe and the weapons for Mugabe’s closets of skeletons came from where? The IMF and WB funded Robert Mugabe, no matter, throughout his tenure and right up into the 1990’s. Again, these are big banks like Chase Manhattan and First Boston and the Morgan Banks and their directors sit on some of the media boards. And then of course there are all these supranational multinational corporations like Asea Brown Baveri (ABB) and Unilever and Royal Dutch Shell and Bechtel and Lonrho.
Lonrho is Buckingham Palace and I contend that very powerful US citizens are tied in through companies like Brown and Root and Halliburton to Lonrho and Lonrho interests. And US Vice-President Dick Cheney, for example, is a former Halliburton Executive. And Halliburton is directly connected to the intelligence operations and multinational mining companies.
And all this is hidden by the US media. Even the village idiot, if he opens his eyes, can see that the directors of the media corporations are the same directors of those multinationals raping Africa. But too many people have a paycheck to worry about. And that includes humanitarian organizations and the United Nations and the OAU and the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda.
Special torture centers and death squads and massive repression of the population are the rule in Togo, Cameroon, Kenya, Gabon, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, and were so in Zaire. And these people – Eyadema, Biya, Bongo, Obasanjo, Abacha, Babangida, Mobutu, Compaore, Rawlings, Banda, Kaunda, Moi, Habyarimana, Kagame, Museveni, Garang, Ratsikira – they provide the environment for pillage, and they are duly rewarded, with power, with all the perks.
Charles Taylor was incarcerated in Charlestown Massachusetts circa 1983 or 1984 and he is the only person, I believe, in the history of the Charlestown jail to have been broken out. Apparently the records no longer exist of his stay there. And now he is President in Liberia?
The AIDS pandemic is fundamentally related to war and rape and dirty injections and unsterile surgical procedures -- including female genital mutilation -- and to the lack of basic medical supplies. Why do thirty percent of the people in Zambia not yet know that malaria is caused by mosquitoes? Evidence suggests that biological warfare was used in the 1970’s when Anthrax was intentionally released in Rhodesia. When the New York Times wrote in February about Ebola they did not mention that it is being spread by Ugandan soldiers coming out of Congo. What are the missions of US special forces personnel, who have worked on medical teams in central Africa?
And that begs the hundreds of questions about the whole misery industry, which profits from the wars and repression and population displacements, which their affiliated institutions and their funding banks and materials providing multinationals create. Again, you don’t need a PhD to figure out that hundreds of thousands of western AID workers would be out of a job if there were peace in Sudan. And who would buy the US made weapons? And all that business of feeding and clothing and camping the refugees would be lost by these multinationals who get tax write-offs or whose products are purchased by USAID or other government agencies.
So it appears to me to be a policy of depopulation in Africa. Because what I am really talking about is access. Access to the animals. Access to the game parks and trophy fishing. Access to the rare minerals. Access to the cheap and replenishable labor pool. Access to biological and pharmaceutical testing grounds. Access to markets. Access to dumping grounds for products that are now outdated, unsafe or illegal in the United States. It may seem contradictory, and at times it is, but it is all completely unethical, entirely arrogant, and very, very racist. It is driven purely by greed. And the profound human suffering is so totally unnecessary.
The most insane people on the earth today are used as models of sanity. Is this what globalization means?
The Amero-European societies have no monopoly on violence in Africa. I am not blind to the violence in Africa which is purely of Africa’s making. This is serious, ubiquitous violence against women, children, friends. Child sexual abuse is rampant. Wife beating is rampant. Sexual repression through female genital mutilation is rampant. This practice, correct me if I am wrong, was introduced by Arab societies, and is not at all indigenous to Africa. But one must understand sexual repression, patriarchy, authoritarianism, and the mass psychology of violence. Read Wilhelm Reich. It is no accident that he was persecuted in five countries and died in prison in the United States – jailed by the Food and Drug Administration! Read the Great Cosmic Mother.
I am speaking here of the violence and thoughtlessness which can be found on every continent. This is personal unconsciousness, the perpetuation of the woundedness we all carry out of our childhood. These cycles of violence from parent to child must be broken.
And so I close this by suggesting that kindness, patience, nonviolence and love are the institutions that should be used to truly challenge African youth. To read the New York Times is to perpetuate violence. To consume alcohol is to perpetuate violence. These are self-inflicted modes of violence. And they are then transferred to others. Without attending to one’s self, one cannot attend to the world. One then only perpetuates the madness. The noise. One then only perpetuates the violence, the hatred and the dis-ease. Africa has the opportunity to demonstrate to the rest of the world that this madness, this insanity is unnecessary. It means building bridges as well as shields. It means right livelihood. We must all grow and share our compassion. Only then will love prevail. Peace.