Gold The True Motor Of West African History: An Overview Of The Importance Of Gold In West Africa And Its Relations With The Wider World

Slave Trade

Slave Trade

While the prime sources of gold remained more or less where they had always been, hidden from the outside world, along the headwaters of the Rivers Senegal and Niger (Wright 2007: 21).

Towards a Longer Time Frame for African History
Slavery and African slaves have dominated historical perspectives of Africa and its relations with the wider world. Yet, it is gold which has been the most important and enduring element that has shaped and determined West Africa and its interactions with the wider world. For at least 1,500 years gold and not slaves has been the commodity determining not only the region’s economy and history, but also West Africa’s links with the wider world.

Beginning in the late 1700s, understandable humanitarian concerns and philanthropic motives ensured that the focal point within public discussion and history, when dealing with West Africa, came to be centred on the issue of slavery. Focussing on slavery to the detriment of gold and other commodities to some extent ensured that the export of slaves from West Africa came to be halted in the course of the nineteenth century. The persistence of slavery within Africa, as well as the continued smuggling of slaves out of Africa, in many instances served to legitimate the intervention in, and subsequent occupation of, West Africa by Europe’s imperial powers. Ironically, those opposed to colonial rule made grateful use of the historical trope of slavery that existed within European discourse to hasten the end of colonial occupation in West Africa. Thus the discourse that had in many instances been used to legitimate the establishment of colonial rule, was also used to oppose colonial rule. But, and this is the important issue, in both instances it was the trope of ‘slavery’ that determined the manner in which lay and professional observers looked at West Africa’s past. In both instances it was a dehumanising and debilitating view of history that effectively robbed, and continues to rob, West African historical actors of any agency beyond being mere pawns in the West’s insatiable thirst and desire for slaves. The persistence of this negative history continues to rob West Africa of its rightful place in global history.

The focus on slavery has overshadowed and driven from both public and scholarly perception the realisation that West Africa’s history is far more than slavery alone; it is indeed a sad irony of history that the incessant focus on the dark past of slavery has managed to eclipse the bright history of gold in West Africa. A refocus of West African history, away from the past three hundred years to the longer perspective of nearly two thousand years, brings into focus a far more constructive and less passive history of West Africa and its inhabitants. Far from being merely the subject pawns of the deeply exploitative and dehumanising trade and economic systems initiated outside of Africa, a refocus on the role of West African gold in its relations with the wider world, brings to the fore a far more energetic and virile history in which West Africa’s relations with the rest of the world are based on a far greater degree of equality and shared interest.
This essay has been written with the express purpose of drawing to the fore the long history of gold in West Africa so that a new beginning can be made to refocus views of Africa and its people away from a debilitating and ultimately nihilistic focus on slavery. A focus on the long-term history West African gold will bring to the fore an interesting history in which Africans are not merely acted upon but ultimately determined the course of global history and humanity as a whole. Read more

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Hunter S. Thompson: His Last Shotgun Art. No More Fear And Loathing In Woody Creek.


Uncle Duke
From: Gary Trudeau – Doonesbury

Hunter S. Thompson, the counter culture ‘gonzo’ journalist, died on February 20, 2005 by a weapon of his choice. The inventor of Shotgun Art and Shotgun Golf fatally shot himself at his Owl Creek farm in Woody Creek, Colorado. He was 67.
‘Prince of Gonzo’ he called himself, ‘Doctor Gonzo’, ‘Doctor of Journalism’, ‘Outlaw Journalist’, ‘Doc’, ‘The Duke’: Hunter Stockton Thompson (Louisville, Kentucky, 1939).

Rock star of the written word.
And as with rock stars meeting one is never an easy task. But we managed, once, after endless waiting and drinking our way into the local bar, The Woody Creek tavern. The sun was already sinking behind the Rocky Mountains, bathing the area around the Tavern in a chill and cheerless light, when finally the great Doctor made his appearance. Five in the morning would have been a more approriate time.

Word had it that Thompson was burned out. That, battle weary, he’d given up on the Gonzo cause. Gonzo comes from the French-Canadian word gonzeaux which means something along the lines of shining path. Hunter Thompson was that path; the only fully fledged grand master of Gonzo. His Gonzo style was often confused with New Journalism, made famous by Tom Wolfe and Gay Talese. But that is quite incorrect. Wolfe and the like attack the truth with the techniques of the novelist. They lose themselves in the minds of their subjects. Thompson lost himself in his own mind, and traced only his own madcap, hallucinatory journey through the many events in his stories. “It’s essentially a ‘what if’,” as P. J. O’Rourke, another Rolling Stone celebrity, quoted Thompson. Read more

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POEM: The Vrije Universiteit And South Africa, From 1880 To The Present And Towards The Future: Images, Practice And Policies

VUCoverThe Vrije Universiteit (Amsterdam) and South Africa share a long history together, dating back to as early as 1880. At times this history has been a turbulent one. The year 1994 marked the beginning of a new period in the relationship between the VU and South Africa. Currently, nearly all VU-faculties are actively cooperating with South African colleagues. But what type of academic knowledge and cooperation is the ‘new’ South Africa actually waiting for?
Gerrit Schutte, supported by the Faculty of Arts, together with Savusa (South Africa – Vrije Universiteit – Strategic Alliances) organised a mini-conference in October 2004 (called a Publication Oriented Expert Meeting or ‘POEM’ in Savusa jargon). The purpose of this POEM was to look at the future of the relationship between the VU and South Africa, and to investigate whether further continuation or even expansion of the relationship would be in the interest of both VU and South African academics.
SAVUSA POEM Proceedings, Volume 1 – Rozenberg Publishers,  2005

Now online:

Albert Grundlingh – Some Trends In South African Academic History: Changing Contexts And Challenges. (incl. the Introduction of the Proceedings by Harry Wels and Gerrit Schutte)
Tom Lodge – Political Studies In South Africa. A Personal Perspective.
Ena Jansen – A ‘new’ literature.
Flip Smit – ‘New’ Scientific Practice In South Africa With Special Reference To Land Reform.
Gerrit J. Schutte – The Vrije Universiteit and South Africa: 125 years of sentiments and good faith

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occupyShe smiles happily. She dances against the backdrop of a red banner that says Anticapitalista in Coca Cola letters.

About an hour later I walk home.
I used to work for an antiquarian bookseller and one of his infamous statements comes to mind. “You can also know too much”, he would mumble grumpily whenever anybody was too eagerly displaying knowledge.

Not that a lot has changed. Don’t give me a pen and paper in order to make a list of what’s wrong with this world. I know I’m not supposed to, but secretly I still smile sometimes when the news shows images of shattered windows and smoking cars.
But I know more now. The revolution often aims wrong. The cars and the stores, they are innocent.
That’s the least of it.
It’s even sadder. I know now that summer comes after spring if you’re lucky. More often, nature throws a curve ball and goes straight to fall. Skips summer, just like that.

The beauty of revolution is in that one minute, that tiny spark, the core that starts it, wrote Canetti. It contains the sole ingredient we get to work with. Hope. No matter how naive. Without hope, nothing ever changes.
The sound of a bluesy piano drifts from an open window. “Of course”, I think to myself and smile.
If I was 18 years old, I would be standing right there, up front. At present time, I don’t want to crush the flower as it’s just starting to open her eyes.

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From The Web – The Innocence Network

innocencenetwork-logoThe Innocence Network is an affiliation of organizations dedicated to providing pro bono legal and investigative services to individuals seeking to prove innocence of crimes for which they have been convicted and working to redress the causes of wrongful convictions.

We invite you to use this site to learn more about our members and exciting news, our annual conference and our membership guidelines and as a resource for past amicus briefs on post-conviction innocence claims. If you are interested in having the Network submit an amicus brief in a case, please fill out this request form.
You can also see who is on the Network Board, learn about the history of the Network, and contact the Network Support Unit.

In 2012, the work of Innocence Network member organizations led to the exoneration of 22 people imprisoned for crimes they did not commit

Read more:


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Hezbollah: From Nasser To Nasrallah ~ A Historical Context

South Lebanon – Photo by Nicolien Kegels

“National liberation, national reawakening, restoration of the nation to the people or Commonwealth, whatever the name used, whatever the latest expression, decolonization is always a violent event.” – Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 1.

In order to understand Hezbollah’s political and social project it is crucial to start by placing the movement within the wider context of Middle Eastern conflicts. The Palestinian cause and the failure of the Arab nationalist experience of Gamal Abdel Nasser in the 1950’s and 1960’s in addition to the colonial experience which determined the region’s maps, borders and current political identities are all necessary components of Hezbollah’s political discourse. To this day, Palestine remains central in Arab political concerns and being Arab remains a political and ideological position that is in constant flux.
I will argue that the emergence of Hezbollah and subsequently their political discourse must be understood in relation to three main issues of contemporary Arab history:
a. the post-colonial liberation struggle for the establishment of independent political entities and identities (with Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Arab Nationalist experience as its most salient example);
b. the resurgence of Islam as a political force after the failure of secular Arab nationalism;
c. and the specifically Shiite political experience from the Iranian Revolution to the emergence of Hezbollah out of the Lebanese Shiite condition.

South Lebanon

South Lebanon

In this essay, written in 2012, I will present the context for the emergence and development of Hezbollah’s political discourse. The preceding three conditions will be investigated in order to better understand the discourse and identity that this Islamic movement is promoting  in Lebanon and the Arab world. After exposing the context of emergence and decline of Arab nationalism, the rise of political Islam as a response, and the specific experience of Shiite political movements in Lebanon, I will show how Hezbollah’s political discourse transformed from an uncompromising Shiite militia in the 1980’s to a Lebanese political party and resistance movement in the 1990’s and with the liberation in 2000, to a regional force after the 2006 war.
Looking at the political landscape in the Middle East today, one can notice that the same political divisions of the early post-colonial time remain at the heart of current conflicts between the pro-Western “moderate Arab states” and the anti-Western “axis of refusal”. In fact, since the end of European direct colonial rule over the Arab world, two opposing camps emerged that were to mirror the global division of the Cold War between a revolutionary socialist pro-Soviet camp and a reactionary pro-Western one (Kepel 2006, 46). The first group adopted a revolutionary rhetoric refusing western influence and preaching armed resistance against the Israeli occupation of Arab lands and a refusal of the Western post-colonial influence. This group led by Nasser’s Egypt in the 1950’s and 1960’s was mobilizing the Arab masses with a discourse of Arab nationalism and socialist reforms. On the other side, were the monarchical regimes of the Gulf, Jordan, pre-revolutionary Iraq and Tunisia. This pro-Western camp was concerned in preserving the status quo and curtailing the advancement of Arab nationalism and socialism into their societies. Read more

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