Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Gestures of Power

I well remember as a callow youth our Bible Class teacher, (and saint) Laurie Crosby, agonising with us about Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence. It is now a long time ago (1965).
Laurie was wanting us 12 and 13 year olds to think about whether it was better to have seriously stable but white government with associated white privilege, or to have genuine democratic government which at that time the Commonwealth was trying to foist on its former colonies, often with disastrous economic and violent consequence.
Ian Smith and his government resented what was being foisted upon them and declared themselves Independent.
This dilemma continues today, with the inheritance of Robert Mugabe being a current world focus. His leftist government in Zimbabwe ( formerly Southern Rhodesia of course) has wreaked havoc in trying to bring about "democracy".
One person's democracy is another person's tyranny! And Mugabe's particular version doesn't need me to outline it here.
This week Archbishop John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, himself a native Ugandan but now England's second senior Church leader...cut up his clerical (not dog...pleaaasse!) collar on BBC Television saying he would never wear it again until Mugabe had been dealt with.
His major thrust that the world is tentative about critiquing black African leaders is worth noting, and Sentamu as a black man is uniquely placed to make that comment.
Will it be a meaningless gesture? Certainly he has got lots of air play out of it, and that is part of the purpose...to bring it to the front of consciousness.
Hopefully the world will listen.

Sentamu on You tube here

3 comments:

Arthur_Vandelay said...

Mugabe is a despot and a thug, and his regime certainly does need to be dealt with. But Mugabe's despotism should not be read as an argument in favour of disenfranchising (or keeping disenfranchised) black Africans--as if they "can't be trusted" with democracy. (Post-apartheid South Africa has demonstrated otherwise.) There is opposition to Mugabe within Zimbabwe that deserves international support. The other question, of course, is the extent to which Zimbabwe under Mugabe can really be considered democratic anymore.

stephen clark said...

I think Sentamu's point is that we should not be guilty of reverse discrimination ie using the argument that he is black to not allow any fair critique
Mugabe certainly can't be trusted with democracy neither could Ceausescu, Franco, or for that matter Verwoerdt or Ian Smith!

Arthur_Vandelay said...

I think Sentamu's point is that we should not be guilty of reverse discrimination ie using the argument that he is black to not allow any fair critique

He's right, of course, but who would really make that kind of argument (a kind of reverse ad hominem) anymore?