The third World War has begun and, as a friend of mine once said, the only statistics that matter are the available ones. We don’t have the stats of the people who died in Syria, so it doesn’t matter. The bombs that have been dropped by the 65 or so countries fighting in that country are smarter, kinder, humane and more righteous than the ones that rang in Paris every few years.
Writers like to tell us that in war there are no winners. The soldiers lose their lives and families lose their loved ones. The victors, we are told, have an air of sadness, a sense of cheating because they get to live while others paid the ultimate price.
There are victors in war, which is why so many countries have joined the Syrian bomb bonanza. If you had bought shares in Lockheed Martin back in 2005, they would have cost you $60 a piece. Today, you’d be able to sell them for a cool $220 (R3 126) each. The killing business has never looked brighter. Britain, which has so far stayed out of Syria, is now looking for an in. Every dropped bomb needs to be replaced.
I remember sitting on my bed in California reading the LA Times, wondering whether I should continue working in the US or return home to South Africa. As I went through the daily news, I came across an advertisement from an arms manufacturer. The ad said something to the effect of: “Now that the Berlin Wall has fallen, we need someone who will find new markets for our weapons.”
The whole idea had a putrid smell to it.
My world-view was formed at a time of extensive human conflict. Locally, white people were at war with black people, voting every five years to keep their own countrymen oppressed.
On the SABC, the word ‘terrorist’ referred to the ANC, the Pan-Africanist Congress, but mostly to the Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu), led by the greatest “terrorist” of the time, Robert Mugabe, and all the while the South African police and soldiers were terrorising us in our homes. Africans were at war with themselves: Zanu against Zapu; Frelimo against Renamo in Mozambique; MPLA against Unita in Angola. The wounds of the Biafran War were still septic, and Nigerian leaders seemed to change with the weather – there were coups after coups.
We lost Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah to the guns of Emmanuel Kotoka. Our hope died by the hand of Joseph-Desiré Mobutu when he overthrew and then killed Patrice Lumumba in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In both cases, the hand of the West was palpable.
After the sun set on the British Empire, and the last colonial outpost, Rhodesia, was liberated, Africa ceased to be the focus for most of the Western countries, which had to quickly fix their economies now that the colonial cash had stopped coming.
Only France remained with the French Foreign Legion, which is stationed in various countries in Africa, such as Djibouti.
The legion, with all its marketing prowess and fearsomeness, is like the Rhodesian Selous Scouts – a strong military unit in a dying country, because France’s future is worse than its history. There is no more money to fund French chivalry and other luxuries of the Western world.
We are reaping the consequences of the Berlin Conference, which regulated imperialism among the European powers and sowed the seeds of hatred among nations and their various religions.
The continent that spoilt its children with money pillaged from the Third World, and by installing dictators as its puppets, is experiencing what the devil calls “payback time”.
“The chickens,” as Malcolm X said after John F Kennedy was assassinated, “have come home to roost.”
War talk will not save us; only leaders who are willing to invest in peace will. Kuzwayo is the founder of Ignitive,
an advertising agency