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A Brief History Lesson for Americans on Zimbabwe from Delta Ndou [VIDEO]

3:53 pm in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

More than a week ago, I attended the Netroots Nation 2011 conference. I had the privilege of interviewing Tim DeChristopher and Lt. Dan Choi. Both DeChristopher and Choi are brave and courageous individuals but not as brave and courageous as Zimbabwe feminist blogger Delta Ndou.

Here in America as part of the Washington Foreign Press Center (FPC) reporting tour on Blogging for Social and Political Change, Ndou had the task, as she describes in a blog post, of deciding whether to “silently endure whatever remarks were made about Zimbabwe (which remarks would naturally reflect on me) or whether [to] stand in defense of [her] country and consequently in defense of [herself].”

She had to bear the burden of talking to Americans (who likely had no clue where Zimbabwe is located on a map let alone anything about the social or political culture/history in the country). When talking, she had to choose between displaying “fierce patriotism”  or “a desperate desire to repudiate and disassociate” herself from Zimbabwe.

I heard Ndou deliver a keynote speech at Netroots Nation 2011. Her personality came through. There was something authentic about her. When she declared, “When I write, nobody can shut me up,” and added, “I blog because I know I cannot be ignored,” her passion and spirit resonated with me deeply. It reminded me of why I have always had a special place in my heart for anyone who comes from any country on the Africa continent.

Unlike people here in the United States, rarely do you meet someone from an African country that is afraid to defend freedom and actually wage a battle or struggle to reclaim dignity, liberty or rights in society. Americans just think they’ll go out and vote and it will all get better. We buy into the idea that you can export democracy and either people will get it and become democratic or they won’t. If they don’t, they are ungrateful or a culture incapable of understanding democracy. And, we Americans assume our model of democracy is the only model for a just and properly civilized society.

But, as we’ve seen with Egyptians, Tunisians and Libyans, there is a conviction and dedication to struggling for justice and liberation. In countries like Morocco, Sudan, Gabon, Ivory Coast and Cameroon there are our movements that seek radical change in their country. Many of these countries have young leaders with passionate minds like Delta Ndou and are taking steps to correct injustice.

Africans have roots in a history of colonization. White Europeans colonized Africa.

Americans have roots in a history of colonization too. We colonized America and drove the Native Americans from their land.

That may be why a person from Zimbabwe would have such a starkly different perspective than an American. Zimbabweans (especially black Zimbabweans) have historically been expected to be subservient to a colonial, white power structure. We Americans (especially whites) have been able to throw power around and get anything unless a minority challenged the colonial nature of white power.

Ndou participated in a panel at Netroots Nation, “Changing of the Guard: Youth Leading Democracy.” She was gracious and granted me some time to talk to her after the panel.

I noted that during her keynote she mentioned that people all over the world had a lot of stereotypes about Zimbabwe. I asked her if she could tell me about what some of them might be. She gave me a look of pity and disbelief and said, “Okay, but you’re going to have to bear with me. This is going to be a bit long.”

Her answer was a narrative of the recent history of Zimbabwe told with great energy and genuine candor.

One of the things that Zimbabwe has received a backlash for is the landgrabs that that took place some years ago when war veterans just invaded farms and took over. That incident, I think, in many cases it has been reported without giving a background or a context to what happened and why it happened and what led to that.

She explained that after Zimbabwe attained independence in 1980 the British promised Zimbabweans a land redistribution program in ten years. Why? Because 2,000 white people owned 70% of the land and a population of 13 million owned 30% of the land, most of it not arable.

I’ll stop there and let Delta finish the story for you in the vibrant way she communicates it in the video.

She ends saying, “Americans have a sense of justice and fairness so it always baffles me that they don’t understand the issue is the land, not Mugabe.”

*

Ndou’s blog can be found here – It’s Delta.

After you watch the video, read her take on President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

My stay in America presented me with numerous opportunities and platforms to correct a few misconceptions about Zimbabwe and it was gratifying to realize that my views found a receptive audience in the persons of senior, high-ranking US Government officials because the meetings had an exciting no-holds-barred atmosphere that allows for candid dialogue.

It was this atmosphere of candor that allowed me to quiz the Under Secretary of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Judith McHale on the great amount of blame that I felt America should take for the systematic demonizing and distortion of Zimbabwe and its image internationally that has prevailed in recent years.

My query had been prompted by the fact that she had informed us that, “US Diplomacy involves making efforts to reach out and strengthen relations between the US government, its citizens and people all over the globe. Both President Obama and Secretary Clinton appreciate and understand the importance of engaging people and having conversations with them that will move us forward. They are both exemplary by going out and listening and learning and sharing ideas with people everywhere”.

I had wondered whether either President Obama or Secretary Clinton having understood the “importance of engaging people and having conversations with them” had ever held such dialogues with President Mugabe prior to kicking off their administration’s foreign policy by declaring that the US Government intended to extend sanctions in Zimbabwe.

I wondered whether they had afforded President Mugabe the simple courtesy of hearing him out before falling in with the stance assumed by the Bush administration and being aware of the fact that President Obama had given Prime Minister Tsvangirai an audience – I wondered why the same invitation was not extended to President Mugabe – if only to hear both sides of the story.

I wondered too, how President Obama or Secretary Clinton could then authoritatively comment on or form opinions about President Mugabe when they had never even met with him, spoken to him or engaged him in anyway.

I wondered all these things because it is my strong feeling that I will not give credit to the views or opinions anyone expresses about on the basis of hearsay when they have never once sat down to have a dialogue with me.
In my view they become unqualified to comment by virtue of their ignorance of the subject matter – in this case the subject matter would be me.

We Americans often wonder what to do to correct the deeply entrenched problems in American society. I don’t think we need to look any further than young people like Ndou. They’ve been fighting oppression for decades and know what it means to suffer and how to fight to be free.

100 Revelations to Mark the 100th Day of Cablegate

11:12 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

*Special thanks to C-Cyte for recording my tweets and posting them online in a post for people to view if they do not normally use Twitter.

One hundred days ago, WikiLeaks began to release the US State Embassy cables. The release event, which continues, became known as Cablegate.

A future post will include a look at Cablegate and what its impact on journalism, international diplomacy, and human rights has been and what its role has been in world events like the uprisings and revolutions the world that are currently unfolding. For now, it is worth recounting what has actually been revealed because of the release.

One common denominator can be found in a majority of the cables: corruption. For all the talk of this country and that country being corrupt and that country being so corrupt it’s gone, the plain fact is that between all the countries of the world, perhaps as a result of American coercion and/or threat of force, the world is one corrupt planet.

Point blank, the fallacy that these cables revealed nothing new is utter bullshit. And anyone who says they have revealed nothing we didn’t already know deserves to hear you say or tweet that to their face.

WikiLeaks has managed to partner with 50 media outlets over the course of the past months. 5,287 of 251,287 cables have been released so far. This not only means there will likely be a 200th, 300th and 400th Day of Cablegate but also means there will be many more revelations to come in the next year.

The following are 100 revelations, which this author tweeted this morning consecutively to mark the 100th Day. The one hundred tweeted revelations are dedicated to alleged whistleblower and hero Bradley Manning, who is currently being abused and humiliated in a military brig in Quantico, Virginia. He has been denied a right to a speedy trial. He has been issued charges but yet the military and government has taken its time with his case. And so, he has been detained and imprisoned since June and, most recently, the military started to force him to sleep naked at night.

If Manning released the material (and he is charged by the military with releasing the cables), it he who has given us the privilege of reading about what the US government and foreign leaders have been up to for the past years. Manning, if he is the whistleblower, has helped usher in an era of openness and transparency that has shaken the world of diplomacy, international relations and journalism.

Here are the one hundred, which were tweeted this morning:

100. Murdered Ugandan gay rights activist was mocked by Uganda politicians at UN-backed debate http://bit.ly/fEiSh8 #cablegate

99. US’ secret list of Allied countries it thinks should contribute more to Afghan war http://bit.ly/fLqsHI #cablegate

98. Panama president wanted US to wiretap his political rivals http://bit.ly/hS2M23 #cablegate http://bit.ly/fLqsHI

97. New Zealand did about-face on troops to Iraq, feared missing out on lucrative Oil for Food contracts http://bit.ly/i4rZES #cablegate

96. Obama pushed Spain to implement law to crack down on illegal Internet downloads http://bit.ly/iflhWB #cablegate

95. US pressured Spain to investigate Islamic centers http://bit.ly/fgzLZz #cablegate

94. Libya bought infected blood then accused Bulgarian nurses of infecting AIDS patients http://bit.ly/fVbB7i #cablegate

93. US thinks Sweden will play critical role in cyber warfare in future http://bit.ly/f4vhFm #cablegate

92. Sec. of Defense Robert Gates thinks Russia is oligarchy run by security services http://bit.ly/fEyqaJ #cablegate

91. US lobbied Russia to amend draft law so it would not disadvantage Visa, Mastercard http://bit.ly/gAtUbf #cablegate

90. Russian Orthdox Church pervades all aspects of Russian society and politics http://bit.ly/ighsI7 #cablegate

89. Saudi Arabia asked US to halt lawsuit against state company being sued for oil price fixing http://reut.rs/f6cCxq #cablegate

88. Libya placed billions of dollars in US banks http://reut.rs/i3rR1Y #cablegate

87. Revelation on Ivory Coast election that divided the country and has created civil war http://bit.ly/g0aE3M #cablegate

86. Deposed president of Madagascar “recruited mercenaries’ http://bit.ly/hzpDNC #cablegate

85. Egypt military had a ‘Plan B’ in the event of regime change http://bit.ly/dU4iWc #cablegate

84. Chamber of Commerce head in Nicaragua used his position to undermine President Daniel Ortega http://bit.ly/gNSHoU #cablegate

83. Rice wanted US diplomats to gather intelligence on Israeli communications tech & Palestinian leaders http://reut.rs/fSV4R1 #cablegate

82. Japan launching first post-war foreign spy agency http://yhoo.it/fJHISP #cablegate

81. China used US debt to pressure US on Taiwan http://bit.ly/gorONi #cablegate

80. Uribe authorized clandestine ops against leftist FARC in Venezuela http://bit.ly/dSWI6L #cablegate

79. US, UK & France considered delaying Internat’l Criminal Court investigation into Bashir http://bit.ly/gIjJbJ #cablegate

78. Karzai warned it would be near impossible to hold credible elections in Afghanistan http://bit.ly/e0PVwp #cablegate

77. A Baghdad zoo with booze-swilling bears and laser-enhanced fish http://bit.ly/ePGi3G #cablegate

76. Mubarak warned Cheney not to go to war in Iraq http://bit.ly/gwb4LI #cablegate

75. How Coca-Cola got embroiled in a feud between Gaddafi sons http://reut.rs/gsenWH #cablegate

74. Fighters in Eastern Libya willing to ‘die hard’ in Iraq War, fueled by Gaddafi-US link http://wlcentral.org/node/1369 #cablegate

73. Paraguayan president is a US agent http://bit.ly/fwz3It #cablegate h/t @MatrixWikiLeak

72. US concerned with Berlusconi-Putin tie http://reut.rs/id24oy #cablegate

71. Berlusconi entertains escorts at ‘Bunga Bunga’ parties http://bit.ly/hpHelx #cablegate

70. Russia a mafia state http://bit.ly/dJBhNP #cablegate

69. Impossible to prevent cartels from financing candidates in Mexico elections http://bit.ly/gAbjrl #cablegate

68. US cheered on Operation Cast Lead in Gaza http://bit.ly/dFwv1C #cablegate

67. Obama tried to persuade Saudi Arabia to sign Copenhagen accord http://bit.ly/ewaPHt #cablegate

66. Canadian officials were afraid Obama was too gung-ho on renewable energy http://bit.ly/dMQAr7 #cablegate

65. U.S. and China conspired to block reform on climate change at Copenhagen talks http://bit.ly/eu6l9o #cablegate

64. Dalai Lama thinks climate change should take priority over politics in Tibet http://bit.ly/fTuINF #cablegate

63. Late president of Gabon Omar Bongo embezzled funds, channeled $ to French political parties http://bit.ly/he008Y #cablegate

62. US played a role in a coup in Honduras that was illegal http://lat.ms/gnFJV5 #cablegate

61. US resentment toward unions uncovered in Mexico cable http://wlcentral.org/node/1351 #cablegate

60. Tunisia cables uncovered rampant corruption on Ben Ali or ‘The Family’ http://to.pbs.org/er6pSn #cablegate

59. US lied in cable about Michael Moore’s film ‘Sicko’ being banned in Cuba http://bit.ly/hSrdgZ #cablegate

58. Revelations on 9/11 gang that fled to London http://bit.ly/e50Om4 #cablegate

57. European feudalism in Azerbaijan no problem for US, oil makes risk of embarrassment worth it http://bit.ly/gQUscn #cablegate

56. UK secretly advised Libya on how to secure release of Lockerbie bomber http://bit.ly/iccGIa #cablegate

55. The Libyan frogman that couldn’t swim (truly, a cautionary tale) http://bit.ly/eHpFoK #cablegate

54. Bangladeshi death squad trained by UK officers http://bit.ly/gDlCUO #cablegate

53. Baby Doc Duvalier’s return to Haiti was a ‘concern’ for US http://bit.ly/eRj4hF

52. Saudi Arabia can’t pump enough oil to keep prices down, reserves 40% overstated http://bit.ly/e9774n #cablegate

51. US maneuvered to ensure Spanish High Court wouldn’t investigate Couso, Guantanamo & CIA flights http://bit.ly/igUQZ0 #cablegate

50. Gordon Brown was concerned about use of bases for US spy planes http://bit.ly/dSOdtQ #cablegate

49. BP had a blast similar to the Deepwater Horizon disaster in Azerbaijan http://bit.ly/fabXL8 #cablegate

48. Pfizer used “dirty tricks’ to force Nigeria gov’t to drop legal action against controversial drug trial http://bit.ly/hDWjeI #cablegate

47. US, Nato & Red Cross colluded, downplayed number of Afghani civilian deaths in Bala Baluk massacre http://bit.ly/fM1TD2 #cablegate

46. US threatened military action against China during secret “star wars” arms race http://bit.ly/fRIzOT #cablegate

45. Libya pressed oil firms to reimburse terror costs http://reut.rs/gOVobd #cablegate

44. US wanted derogatory information on Bahraini royals http://bit.ly/i0VWVD #cablegate

43. Coca Cola revealed corrupt Israeli tax collectors http://bit.ly/iiDEfu #cablegate

42. Egyptian torturers trained by the FBI http://bit.ly/fY8eHO #cablegate

41. David Letterman does more to dissuade Saudi youth from militancy than US propaganda http://bit.ly/dLzfqJ #cablegate

40. US suggested India send Bollywood stars to Afghanistan to help stabilize country http://bit.ly/gvq3bg #cablegate

39. McDonald’s tried to delay US legislation to aid lawsuit in El Salvador http://bit.ly/eNr0tQ #cablegate

38. Shell Oil in main ministries in Nigerian gov’t, knows everything http://bit.ly/fJlnpq #cablegate

37. Foreign contractors hired to train Afghan police paid for young “dancing boys” http://bit.ly/gu4b32 #cablegate

36. US, UK conspired to get around British cluster bomb ban http://bit.ly/hJb9sj #cablegate

35. US maneuvered to ensure Spanish High Court wouldn’t investigate Couso, Guantanamo & CIA flights http://bit.ly/igUQZ0 #cablegate

34. Millions in US military aid for fighting Pakistani insurgents diverted to gov’t coffers instead http://bit.ly/gZe2HB #cablegate

33. US diplomats ordered to spy on UN, obtain iris scans, fingerprints & DNA http://bit.ly/dE1mTt #cablegate

32. US pressured Germany to not pursue 13 CIA agents that abducted Khaled el-Masri http://bit.ly/i9qAmC #cablegate

31. Somali pirates blew cover off weapons deal between Kenya and Sudan http://bit.ly/i7LRsJ #cablegate

30. Iraq War provided few advantages for US oil but plenty advantage for Halliburton http://bit.ly/fbfxiB #cablegate

29. Chinese leaders ordered cyber attack on Google http://bit.ly/g1uBb0 #cablegate

28. Yemen President Saleh fights proxy war for US against Houthi rebels http://bit.ly/eD8Zvz #cablegate

27. Yemen covered up US drone strikes, claimed bombs against al Qaeda were own http://bit.ly/ifjG17 #cablegate

26. Blackwater flouted German arms export laws, transported aircraft to Afghanistan http://bit.ly/guBdwJ #cablegate

25. Omar Suleiman considered halting elections in Gaza to prevent Hamas victory http://bit.ly/gHrtCv #cablegate

24. US mole in NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s office uncovered http://bit.ly/gXNoVh #cablegate

23. Germany and US cover up Siemens shipment to Iran, 111 containers left at Dubai port http://bit.ly/ekzD8T #cablegate

22. Turkey’s role in CIA rendition flights to Guantanamo http://bit.ly/dL6oSO #cablegate

21. German communities fear loss of millions as US reduces troop presence http://bit.ly/ifHOZF #cablegate

20. President Kibaki of Kenya probably didn’t brazenly steal election http://bit.ly/gbyo9j #cablegate

19. Francis Mathaura described as being “shadow president’ of Kenya http://bit.ly/ea9mst #cablegate

18. US officials surprised at how easy it was to get Russia-Germany gas pipeline grant from Finland http://bit.ly/eDBZ8r #cablegate

17. Finland traded votes with Israel to get spot on UN Security Council http://bit.ly/hjlueQ #cablegate

16. GPS & detailed map feature made Nokia smartphones favorite for Iraqi rebels http://bit.ly/eQWsPf #cablegate

15. Sudan president Omar al-Bashir stashed $9 billion from Sudan in British banks http://bit.ly/hsYaCK #cablegate

14. Qatar adapts Al Jazeera coverage to suit foreign leaders http://bit.ly/hy96Sw #cablegate

13. Gaza wall, valued at $40 million USD, was to be completed December 2010 http://bit.ly/gL2hEu #cablegate

12. Egypt considered nuclear arms if Iran managed to acquire atomic weapons http://bit.ly/ifwKvq #cablegate

11. Uruguay linked to trafficking of arms to Venezuela to former guerrillas for possible coup http://bit.ly/dZlFco #cablegate

10. Danish gov’t played double game when pressured to investigate CIA rendition flights http://bit.ly/eomwJg #cablegate

9. US forced Denmark to have armed guards on airplanes http://bit.ly/dHGoMb #cablegate

8. Secret collusion between Swedish and US military and civilian intelligence http://bit.ly/dVFxX2 #cablegate

7. US Embassy in Costa Rica trained, funded security forces used at anti-FTA protests http://bit.ly/fGcN9Z #cablegate

6. Vertical Aviation disqualified from supporting Colombia forces in Afghanistan by State Dept http://bit.ly/hgIvj9 #cablegate

5. US suspected Brazil pres. Dilma Rousseff would “outlaw’ antiterrorism bill for “ideological’ reasons http://t.co/39bEb9E #cablegate

4. Peruvian Armed Forces still greatly influenced by drugs http://bit.ly/dLWHEo #cablegate

3. US pushed foreign govts to buy aircrafts from Boeing rather than European rival Airbus http://bit.ly/h6rmZi #cablegate

2. Israel’s plans for a big war in Middle East against Hamas or Hezbollah exposed http://bit.ly/eZN0Bu #cablegate

1. Monsanto fought off environmentalists/farmers in Argentina, got USG to represent interests http://bit.ly/hqKYrS #cablegate

If you would like to continue to mark the day, see Greg Mitchell’s blog on The Nation . He has been live blogging WikiLeaks and covering Cablegate revelations for the past 100 days. So, today, he marks his 100th day live blogging WikiLeaks (and writes about the day that Cablegate swung open).

The Nation has put together this slide show to also mark the day.

And, if that’s not enough, there’s WL Central, where you can get more of the latest news and updates on Cablegate, protests/uprisings, and more.

Follow me on Twitter @kgosztola to stay up to date on Cablegate revelations and WikiLeaks.