Mugabe is Right, Whites Must Give Up the Land!

by Koigi Wamwere


Today, Europeans own almost all the land in the Americas, almost all the good land in Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania, and most of the best land in many African countries like South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Kenya. To acquire this land outside Europe, Europeans did not use law, justice or money.

They took it with the gun.

But the West does not want Africans to mention either this fact, or the fact that white people are wrong in wanting to own all the land and everything else in Africa.

And the West is the champion of free speech in the world!

When Africans in Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe and elsewhere fought for their independence, it meant two things to them - land and freedom. But when Europe conceded independence to African countries it was self-rule without land and freedom.

And so most Africans continue to be landless while Europeans continue to own millions and millions of hectares of the best land in Africa.

In Kenya, 10 percent of the population, both black and white farmers, owns 73 percent of all arable land. In South Africa, 16 percent of the population, made up of whites, owns 87 percent of all arable land. And in Zimbabwe, 4,500 white farmers - or a mere .03 percent of a population of 13 million Africans - own 12 million hectares or 73 percent of all arable land.

The African majority in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya live under this situation not because they like it or because it is right, moral, fair or just, but only because they are powerless to change it.

There can be no greater proof of lack of independence for, say, Zimbabwe, than this situation where a mere .03 percent is allowed to own 73 percent of all arable land, totally control the nation's agriculture, and own half the country's economy.

Mugabe is a great freedom fighter who fought for the independence of his country but at the behest of the West turned his back on socialism and stayed too long in power. At last, Mugabe has realised that he too is a victim of neo-colonialism and has decided not just to say "no" to the West but to redistribute land in his own country.

Whatever Mugabe's past mistakes, we must agree that on this one question of finally redistributing African land to African people, he is 100 percent right. Mugabe's only fault is that he took too long to do it.

But now that he is finally doing it, all people who believe in fairness and justice must support him.

From what one hears from CNN, BBC and other Western news media, the West stands as one against Mugabe. They accuse him of violating the spirit of reconciliation, and perpetrating racism against white people in Zimbabwe.

Rather than prove anything against Mugabe, the West's accusations only prove how little it thinks of Africans' right to own anything or have meaningful independence.

Could one even imagine a situation in which 4,500 Zimbabwean Africans were allowed to own 12 million hectares of land in Britain, France or any other country in Europe?

The West also accuses Mugabe of violating the spirit of reconciliation between white colonisers and black colonised that was agreed upon at the time of independence. But did this reconciliation mean that colonisers would continue to own everything they had grabbed before independence, and that the Africans who had been robbed of everything would continue to own nothing?

Finally, the very West that is restoring all the money, properties and works of art that it stole from the Jewish people and paying reparations for all the slave labour Jewish people did during the Second World War, is asking that colonial white farmers be paid compensation by Africans.

The British government admits that at the time of independence it made a promise which it never kept, to provide the money necessary to buy out the white farmers. Now it claims that the reason for its failure to keep its own promise is Mugabe's mismanagement of Zimbabwean economy. But the real reason is the British desire that the Zimbabwean and African economies be controlled by British companies and British citizens. What then must Africans do? Starve to death until the British agree to keep their promises?

I am truly surprised at the clamour that I hear for British farmers to be compensated for any loss of land in Zimbabwe. Between Africans who have been working for starvation wages on white farms and white farmers who have made millions of pounds out of their colonial ownership of land in Zimbabwe, it is the white farmers who should compensate Africans.

Africans are entitled to recover their stolen lands from white farmers. And the West has a moral duty to pay not just compensation to white farmers who will lose land, but to pay reparations to Africans now for all the millions of people they killed and kidnapped from Africa during the slave trade. What is good for the Jewish goose is good for the African gander.

Rule of law must mean rule of just law. Sooner or later, colonial wrongs must be corrected all over Africa. And they will not be corrected by substituting white robbers with black robbers. Colonial injustice will be corrected by giving land and freedom not only to Africans in power and government, but to all the people to whom God gave land.

Whether leaders like Moi like it or not, today it is Zimbabwe, tomorrow it will be Kenya, the day after it will be South Africa, and after that it will be the entire continent. The river of freedom and justice is unstoppable.

If white and black people of Africa are to live peacefully in future, the West must stop imposing white people as saviours of black people using arguments that in effect paint white citizens of Africa as either more able technically or less corrupt morally.

Going by the opposition from the West, Mugabe may not survive this war against neo-colonialism. But he is right, and he is bearing the standard for all Africans. Should he fall, other Africans must take up the mantle and fight on to victory.


Wamwere, a Kenyan political activist and former presidential candidate, now lives in Norway. He wrote this essay in April 2000 and it first appeared in The East African newspaper.