Archive for the ‘African History’ Category

Walls Of Common Lies

August 21, 2014

The legitimate kings were Henry V and Henry VI, kings of England and France, Paris and London. The contender a teenager was promoting was both illegitimate, and a public enemy. Such is the true history of Joan of Arc. Don’t expect one French out of a hundred to suspect it, six centuries later. Too happy, or so it seems, to have enjoyed another four centuries of war between Paris and London.

It is so easy to slip into propaganda, when brandishing history. Let me illustrate this further.

Century of Disaster Riddles, Lies, and Lives — from Fidel Castro and Muhammad Ali to Albert Einstein and Barbie By Eduardo Galeano

[The following passage is excerpted from Eduardo Galeano’s history of humanity, Mirrors.] In an aphorism Galeano imbues some “walls” with malfeasance, while insinuating that the Iron Curtain was not such a terrible thing. He vastly underestimates the unjustifiable length and lethality of the Soviets’ fascist contraption (by orders of magnitude). To trick us Galeano confuses the “Iron Curtain” (thousands of kilometers long) and the “Berlin Wall” (part of the preceding, but just inside a particular city).

The Almoravide Empire Justifies Several Contemporary Walls

The Almoravide Empire Justifies Several Contemporary Walls

Here is Galeano:

Walls

“The Berlin Wall made the news every day. From morning till night we read, saw, heard: the Wall of Shame, the Wall of Infamy, the Iron Curtain…

In the end, a wall which deserved to fall fell. But other walls sprouted and continue sprouting across the world. Though they are much larger than the one in Berlin, we rarely hear of them.

Little is said about the wall the United States is building along the Mexican border, and less is said about the barbed-wire barriers surrounding the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on the African coast.

Practically nothing is said about the West Bank Wall, which perpetuates the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and will be 15 times longer than the Berlin Wall. And nothing, nothing at all, is said about the Morocco Wall, which perpetuates the seizure of the Saharan homeland by the kingdom of Morocco, and is 60 times the length of the Berlin Wall.

Why are some walls so loud and others mute?”

The answer is simple: different walls, different situations. The Berlin Wall was a thundering lie, for all to hear. Other walls can reveal very loud truths, whom nobody in position of intellectual domination wants others to hear.

Why, for example, if Europe is such an horrendous colonialist, and America such a terrible imperialist, are the multitude so keen to shred themselves upon rows after rows of ten meter high razor blades fences as in Ceuta and Melilla? We need truths to explain those facts. Why Africans such lemmings throwing themselves across the sea towards the land of their oppressors and enslavers? Why so suicidal?

To each offense, a defense. Tied up together by causality, offenses and defense are, nevertheless, exact opposites. Somebody’s unjust aggression is someone else’s just war.

I have never heard of Eduardo Galeano before Paul Handover and “Tomdispatch”. I will try to get his book, I love different perspectives, challenges, and, especially, questions I can answer.

Writing about history is a heavy fate. It’s indeed easy to slip into commonality, Common Wisdom, that is, most often, propaganda. Unknowingly.

For example, Galeano implies that Alan Turing committed suicide because of the victimization he was submitted to, as a homosexual. Sounds good on the surface, and it is Conventional Wisdom (so Galeano repeats it, like a good, book selling parrot).

However, a more refined knowledge of what really happened reveals that Turing’s death was probably an accident that befell the already-at-the-time hyper famous Alan Turing, MBE, Member of the British Empire. Verily, Turing had left well behind his condemnation for unwise relations with someone all too young in his employ, whom Turing had imprudently accused of theft.

Some will say: “Why are you so vindictive about the innocent lemmings who love to allege that Turing was forced into suicide, for his homosexuality? Is not that a pretty tale? Does not that help homosexuals? Even if it’s false? Can’t you leave pretty tales alone? What do you have against homosexuals and Joan of Arc?”

Well, truth is my religion. From history, lessons are to be drawn. Correct ones are best. Incorrect ones, and deliberately so, criminal.

I partly draw my uncommon morality from meta-history (that’s the history of the systems of thought that made history).

First, if Turing died accidentally, there is a moral to it: accidents happen. Turing had long played with dangerous chemistry. Since childhood. he went one game with cyanide too far.

Second: whereas Turing was legally harassed for homosexuality, it’s important to realize that, at the time, that was not perceived as an intolerable injustice (even by Turing himself!). There is a higher, meta-lesson in this: the intolerable can look sufferable.

Parrot, repeating history, often engage in Thought Crime. TC: Though Crime, or Terrible Catastrophe.

Recently, some important guy from Hamas was saying something about Jewish children being bathed in blood (an old lie from Middle-Age Christian fascism). Common leftists and other vulgar intellectuals did not protest… Another Thought Crime.

I was listening the other day to a very educated French teacher, a biologist, telling a swarm of little French children, aged five to nine, the beautiful history of the victimization of Joan of Arc. Except that, as taught in France for the last 200 years, it’s sheer propaganda.

The bad “Anglais” were actually themselves French… The would-be French king, later Charles VII… was not the legitimate French King, and thus he was not keen to be sacred king…  The Queen of Four Kingdoms manipulated Joan and Charles behind the scene, fatally opposing the legitimate kings, Henry V and Henry VI, kings of England and France, Paris and London.

Thus history is not joke, and nationalistic pitfalls, let alone plutocratic ones, everywhere.

Telling false history to little children teaches hatred.

I do view my activities as those of a historian, because I interpret history. I take some facts that are generally ignored, and point out that they demolish Conventional Wisdom, or the Politically Correct, let alone their vicious embrace. (Nietzsche did nothing different, and most philosophers have, indeed, re-interpreted history. Some of these reinterpretations have become Common Wisdom.)

Yet, I try to exert maximum honesty: when I say something, however controversial, it’s backed up, by serious logic and facts, to the best of my knowledge.

And I avoid historical salad: putting together obviously unrelated things, as if there was a logic to it.

Interrogating all these walls, as Eduardo does, is an excellent question. Yet there is an obviously huge difference between walls that keep people in, and those which keep them out. Blame is pointing out in directions opposite. One of them is right, not both.

The very fact that Europe and the USA have to build walls around themselves, as Rome did for five centuries, is a testimony to their success, not to their failure. And those walls are also a testimony to the failure of more general systems of thought (anti-“colonialism”, global plutocracy, pseudo-leftism, over-exploitation of the planet, crazed demographics, etc.)

Another example: I detest the Moroccan regime (supposedly directly descended from Mahomet, actually just a full blown plutocracy). Yet, one has to visualize the local conditions before crushing it with blanket blame.

And the EU will get some of the blame: the EU haughtily decreed that “Morocco was not European“. That is insulting. Moreover, it is false geographically, genetically, and according to deep history. To boot, it’s not wise, economically self-defeating, politically stupid and strategically dangerous.

All this, because European leaders are arrogant twerps with not much knowledge where it counts.

Knowing long term history (last 1,000 years), shows that the area claimed by the “Polisario” was long Moroccan (for want of a better word, as past empires, extending all the way to Spain, wore different names).

One such empire was that of the Almoravides, true founders of the present Moroccan regime. The Almoravides empire extended from Senegal (where a founder of the empire was killed by a poisoned arrow), to Alger, Lisbone, and the Baleares islands.

Thus the long grudge of Algeria’s FNL (or whatever it wants to call itself) against Morocco becomes something nine centuries old. It explains the FNL’s hostility against Morocco, its support of the Polisario… And the Moroccan wall does not sound as silly, and outrageous anymore.

Empires are not always wrong in all ways. By definition, they order (imperare), and they can order, because they can defend themselves. The best defense being, often, of course, attack. Thuse when Hannibal had taken residence in Italy for more than a decade, the Patrician who came to be known as Scipio Africanus, suggested to the Roman People to attack in Africa itself, and that audacious strategy was entirely successful: precipitously recalled to Carthage, Hannibal hastily gathered forces were soundly defeated just south of the Punic capital, soon to be punished.

With Mexico, the USA has two choices: build a wall, or impose order (imperare), all over Mexico. The latter was tried a bit in the past, more than once. Next time it could well be more thorough, and definitive.

For the USA, letting 100 million Mexicans in, is not really an option

As it is Spanish is already the second language of California, and, extrapolating some trends, could become the first someday. (I do speak Spanish a bit, BTW, so I am no rabid Spanish hater.)

However, as they are immigration flows in Europe and the USA are sustainable… As long as the dominant European and American civilization is successfully imposed. In France, by some estimates, 95% of anti-Judaic attacks are attributed to persons of Muslim ancestry. This is symptomatic of borderline dangerous assimilation situation (more than ten people have died because of it, some little children, directly targeted in an elementary school, for being Jewish, and other French people… including at least one Muslim French paratrooper… a natural victim of anti-Semitism!)

What was particularly grotesque about the Iron Curtain is that it was to keep in workers who were supposed to be living in a paradise made for them. In other words, it was a lie.

The walls between Europe and Africa are not a lie. At least 50,000 have already died trying to cross them in the last ten years (the EU officially says 35,000 drowned in the Mediterranean alone). If one includes the Algerian Harkis of 1962, one speaks about hundreds of thousands dead… trying to get to Europe.

This is testimony of another lie: the standard anti-colonialist discourse. According to it, colonialism, whatever that was, depicts the ultimate evil. Clearly, the regimes that succeeded have been worse, by many measures. And that was entirely predictable: removing the colonialist administrations was equivalent to removing most of the anti-plutocratic safeties.

So walls there are. Contemplating them is good. But the hardest walls to remove are in those erected with the minds which harbor them.

Patrice Ayme’

 

Camus Mudified

August 1, 2014

I read on an Academic site in the USA that: “Albert Camus supported French colonialism”. That struck me as grotesquely incorrect. An horrendous statement. (And I am not particularly in love with Camus’ work.)

Unsurprisingly, my retort was not published. Amusingly the initial essay was called “Stifling Discourse On the Left”.

Why was I stifled? Because it’s obvious to all “bien-pensants” (well-thinkers) that the stifling French rule in Algeria was a terrible, colonial thing.

Once a citizen of the USA expressed that opinion, that the colonial French deserved what had happened to them in Algeria. He was a geologist, an old friend of my dad. You know, the way friends are made in the USA: fair weather, and not too deep, politically correct in all American ways.

My dad an Algerian born geologist who discovered Algerian oil and gas (while employed by an Algerian oil company). He found the verbal trashing of his homeland inspiring. He retorted: “Certainly, there would have been no civil war in Algeria, if the French had killed all the Natives, the way it was done in the USA”.

The American “friend” was not amused at all. He and his family ceased all and any contact with ours. So much for the great American friendship. His name was Birdstall.

Camus was brought up by his mother in Algeria, where he was born, under extremely modest circumstances. Poorest of the poor. Saved by the Republican educational system (when it still worked). To call Camus’ family background “colonial” is an insult.

The excuse to trash Camus is always the same. After he got the Nobel in literature, a student called on him to take a stance about the civil war in Algeria. Camus retorted, off the cuff, that: ”Si j’ai a choisir entre ma mere et la justice, je choisirai ma mere” (or words to this effect). “If I have to choose between my mother, and justice, I will chose my mother.”

Well, “justice” is a social construct. One may well find oneself in conflict with it. Just ask dozens of millions of Mitteleuropa citizens, in the 1930s and 1940s. Or any country, just before a revolution. Algeria was in a revolution in the 1950s, justice was taking a back seat to motherhood.

It has become common opinion that the good guys were from the Front National de Liberation. The opinion was all the more common as it advantaged the USSR… and the USA.

However, most people living in Algeria did not support the FNL. How do I know this? Among other things, there was a vote! In the early 1960s, more than 60% of the Algerian population voted for the new French Constitution.

That was the first, and last free vote Algerians would get.

As The Economist put it in 2001: ”… given that the French army by the end of the 1950s had more or less won its war in Algeria, why did Algeria nonetheless gain its independence? If Mr Stora is puzzled, Mr Wall is not… French public opinion was sickened; the French intelligentsia was outraged by the practice of torture; and, “just as important”, America could not accept French policy.

Did Charles de Gaulle, summoned back in 1958 to meet France’s constitutional crisis and end the Algerian war, realise all this? Conventional wisdom is that he was France’s far-sighted saviour, accepting almost from the outset that the loss of Algeria was inevitable. Mr Wall, having trailed through both French and American archives, disagrees. De Gaulle’s acceptance of Algerian independence was a belated pragmatism, forced on him by his failure to win over the Americans, first under Eisenhower and then under Kennedy.

…pessimistic implications for the future… the United States was a critical force in pressing France to accept Algerian independence.”

That’s also my opinion. To make matters worse, the average French population was anti-Algerian racist (both against Muslim and Pieds Noirs)… And so was De Gaulle (who made very clear racist statements).

That was not just criminal, but thoroughly idiotic.

Why? Because it made a travesty of reality under the guise of political correctness, when all it was reflected a subjugation to the USA’s White House, and its attached plutocratic Congress.

What was the idiocy?

Most people in Algeria who did not support the FNL. (Nor did they support the French colons, who were a small, distinct class… And they did not support those colons for the same reasons that they did not support the FNL).

Sartre, and many “intellectuals” support of the extremely cruel FNL was an offense against civilization (later pursued with Sartre’s support of hard core “Maoism”).

The FNL advocated publicly terror torture of toddlers. That some elements in the French army used torture on some terrorist suspects is a separate issue. The French army never advocated publicly to torture toddlers.

Do you want to live in a country where the leaders have advocated torturing toddlers? Few would. So, when De Gaulle, on orders from the USA, gave Algeria to the FNL, he was being treacherous and stupid: of course most Algerians wanted to move to France, as being overruled by blood thirsty tyrants had little appeal.

So De Gaulle did his best to prevent that mass exodus. Still, the pressure is still on, and 52 years later, it’s much easier for an Algerian to immigrate to the USA, than to France.

And guess what? The present president of Algeria, Bouteflika, a corpse in a wheelchair, is an ex-general from the original FNL.

So what of Camus? In truth Camus begged to differ with most of the French intelligentsia, which was more into being a well thinking herd, than really thinking, and this is why he got trashed. Still is.

Camus wanted the Algerian Civil War to stop. Camus wanted the Republic to be strong, and motherly. But the Republic is relatively weak, and getting weaker. Those who conquered entire continents (Anglo-Saxons, Russians) are stronger. Their reasons are thus better. If nothing else they sit on all that oil and gaz. Even if the ground explodes cataclysmically, nowadays, with all that warming:

http://mic.com/articles/95232/those-massive-black-holes-discovered-in-sibera-are-even-more-alarming-than-scientists-thought

(Thanks to Alexi Helligar for informing me of this!)

It does not matter. The ground explodes? War is their friend. Let there be war. It’s just a matter of not being on the losing side. A chorus of well-paid intellectuals singing their praises, is most helpful. Yesterday the Bible, today those who recite their well honed version of history.

Dragging Camus in the mud by modifying his beliefs is deeply dishonest. So was the devastation of 1962, when many populations which lived in Algeria before Islam was invented, and Arabic written, 3,000 kilometers away, found themselves in a worse tyranny than they were under Paris’ boot. (Only the Jews could flee in majority; many ended in Israel.)

The future of Algeria? Just wait for the oil and gas to run out. Then the other shoe will drop.

Patrice Ayme’

Pluto’s Dictators & Their Enablers

February 3, 2014

Plutocracy is bad, but it can be bent. Even some plutocrats develop hearts and minds. An example is the Warner Brothers (who were of Polish-Jewish origin). Their anti-Nazi campaign, started as early as 1933, and, no doubt, helped, for the best.

Sadly, Warner Brothers’ under order from Washington, would produce “Mission to Moscow”, which depicted Stalin the monster as a benevolent uncle. Stalin had invaded Poland, with his friend and ally Hitler, and proceeded to help massacre 15% of the population.

Never, ever, will we forget, or forgive, what happened. Thankfully German TV mentions Nazi horrors several times a day. (In the next part of its enlightenment, Germany may want to explain 1933 with the messianic fascist dictatorship it lived under 1918). This is how to terminate Plutocrats, when they go too far:

French Air Force Terminating Qaddafi’s Henchmen, 11/7/2011, Sirte, Libya.

French Air Force Terminating Qaddafi’s Henchmen, 11/7/2011, Sirte, Libya.

The Nazis ordered the arrest of 22,000 Jews in Paris during the Raffle du Velodrome d’Hiver (July 16, 1942). Because of help from the population only 13,000 were killed.

However, 4050 children were deported, and after months of torture, executed. Some of these children, while in detention, wrote heart breaking letters. Factual letters, full of dignity, asking for help, and the most basic decency. They did not get it. All they got was French adults horrified by the tortures the children were submitted to. Those adults narrated what they had seen, and it no doubt helped in the Nazi rout, two years later.

Reading from a ten year old girl, Marie, asking her papa, gently, to send a picture of him, and her mom, because she did not see them for so long, and wanted to be with them. Unbeknownst to all, the Nazis had already assassinated her mom in Auschwitz. How, why, so much evil?

Some will say, it cannot happen today. Sorry, it does. Maybe not quantitatively, but qualitatively.

Just have a good, cold look at what Bush and Obama have been doing. (Hitler was very good at claiming he had nothing to do with it, whatever it was; Adolf was all for peace, and excellent for posing as a victim: naive idiots, all over, still repeat word for word what Hitler was saying about the Versailles Treaty, and nearly cry.)

When Obama proclaims himself judge and executioner of civilians by drone, worldwide, and add that “ordinary people” are safe from the secret services, that’s the same inhumanity that he is projecting. OK, it’s less industrial. Less industrial at this point, but more obvious.

No wonder Obama’s popularity is low, in spite of the booming economy (in his stupidity, he does not know why he is getting so unpopular, because he does not understand he crossed a moral Rubicon, for all to see. And all have seen, precisely. Something wrong with a giver of lessons that acts in the exact opposite manner.

If we want to avoid the return of horrors such as Nazism or Stalinism. We have to be vigilant, and have tolerance zero for leaders showing patterns of abuse, against anybody whosoever.

The USA, at governmental level has, not just cooperated with infamy, but even organized it: see the complicated four way war set-up by Reagan, ordering Saddam Hussein to attack Iran, while selling to Iran weapons paying for Contra weapons transferred to Nicaragua, thanks to the airport of the governor of Arkansas (skirt chaser Bill Clinton).

A more recent example was the three way deal between Tony Liar Blair, George W. Bush, and Libyan dictator and torturer, Muammar Qaddafi. (The deal left France mostly out, and that proved a mistake, at least for Qaddafi.)

Anyway, the Oblabla administration is trying to make as if it wanted to clean house a bit. Here is the Wall Street Journal, February 3, 2014:

Probe Widens Into Dealings Between Finance Firms, Libya

Justice Department Joins Probe on Possible Violation of Antibribery Laws by Banks, Funds

The Justice Department has joined a widening investigation of banks, private-equity firms and hedge funds that may have violated antibribery laws in their dealings with Libya’s government-run investment fund, people familiar with the matter said. 

The criminal investigation, which has intensified in recent months, is proceeding alongside a civil probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission that began in 2011 and initially homed in on Goldman Sachs Group Inc. GS -2.62%  The Justice Department’s involvement hasn’t been reported previously. 

In addition to Goldman Sachs, federal investigators are examining Credit Suisse Group , J.P. Morgan Chase, Société Générale, private-equity firm Blackstone Group and hedge-fund operator Och-Ziff Capital Management Group these people said…

Authorities are examining investment deals made around the time of the financial crisis and afterward, these people said. In the years leading up to Libya’s 2011 revolution, Western firms—encouraged by the U.S. government—raced to attract investment money from the North African nation, which was benefiting from oil sales and recently had opened to foreign investment.

Investigators are trying to determine whether the firms violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act…The 1977 law prohibits U.S. companies and companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges from paying bribes to foreign officials. U.S. authorities consider employees of state-owned investment funds, such as the Libyan Investment Authority, to be foreign officials.”

Qaddafi ran one of the world’s worst regimes. I am happy to have, hopefully, contributed to his demise, by being the first philosopher to call for the dictatorship’s demise.

(Present troubles in Libya are pretty much part of the on-going liberations struggles, some from populations with their own 3,000 year old civilization, which have been oppressed for at least 13 centuries).

Next, of course, should be the butcher of Syria and the dictator of Ukraine. The former ought to be executed, as a matter of principle. Same overriding principle as with Hitler, and the like (too bad Stalin died in his bed; if he had not, maybe Putin would be more careful, and, thus, considerate!)

Notice that the definition of corruption according to today’s Washington, is very narrow: paying “bribes”, whatever that means. When Bill Clinton goes to Nigeria, one of the world’s most corrupt and poorest nations, and he is paid $100,000 for one hour of blah blah blah, is that a bribe? According to Washington, no. According to me, yes.

A bigger example? In 1933 FDR cracked down on Wall Street. Wall Street had provoked the 1929 crisis by speculating in finance instead of investing in the real economy, as its fiduciary duty should have been. In 2008-2009, though, Bush & Obama, instead of cracking down on Wall Street in a similar crisis, crawled down under Wall Street’s jackboot. Same crisis, opposed solution. The first moral, the second as plutocratic, thus immoral, as can be. No wonder We The People is starting to see through Mr. Obama mellifluous homilies.

In other news, New York City has authorized the construction of 15 square meters apartments. That’s a bit less than ten feet by 17 feet. We The People is not just treated like sardines, it will now live as sardines do, inside the cans.

Patrice Aymé

Civilisation Sénégalaise

April 12, 2012

AFRICAN PHILOSOPHY CAN BE SUPERIOR IN IMPORTANT WAYS

Abstract: The republic of Senegal demonstrates that many of the conventional wisdoms are as wrong as wrong can be. Sénégal is a country with a very old civilization, even its own secular civilization (some of it disguised as the local Sufi Islam).  

That Senegalese civilization,  is more advanced, on many important markers, than the Euro-American block. So say Senegalese philosophers, including yours not so humble servant (now flaunting his African hat).

The West ought to support and defend Sénégal, because it’s about supporting and defending the essence of the West’s civilization. Much can be done, at little cost, while bringing enormous gain. The first of which being to gain great African wisdom.

Oh, and did I mention my dad led the team which found lots of very thick oil off Casamance? It was too expensive to extract at the time, but will be profitable some day. That ought to interest the West’s plutocrats.

Last, but not least. Readers may think I am “Islamophobic”, but, besides being afraid of nought, what I truly despise is the myth of Abraham: tying up a child, telling him one will cut his throat, just to please the “jealous” boSS, who glorifies in his “jealousy” (see the Second Commandment in the Bible).

As it turns out, not only I do not have a problem with Islam, Senegalese style, but I even approve of it, as it has great social virtues. (I also fear that Saudi Wahhabism, propelled by oil money, and the feudal conspiracy born out of world plutocracy will succeed to kill Senegalese Islam, which has been gaining adepts throughout the world.)

African philosophy has two main advantages:

1) It is closer to the original main philosophical operating system Homo Sapiens operated by, and evolved under. In full. It has not be led astray, constrained, mutilated, put into a box.

2) People raised in Africa have, close at hand, a cultural jump that spanned 3,000 years of history. So they can not just compare diverse cultures, but diverse places in history.

***

Sénégal is bounded on the north and east by the river with that name. To the west lays the Atlantic ocean. Three quarters of the country is in the Sahel zone, which has been heating up, and drying. The country had only one significant resource: fishing. However international trawler fleets have been devastating the ocean, ruining the diet of the Senegalese.

A country such as France would send gun boats (as she did against foreign fishers in the last ten years). But now Sénégal is independent… Of France.

Sénégal did not ask for independence from France, France just wanted to make economies, as one of the ministers involved admitted… 40 years later: it was too expensive to maintain a full hospital every 100 kilometers, so France threw independence at much of black Africa, to get rid of it ASAP (and open Africa to plutocrats).

Some have said it’s better to die standing up, rather than to live on one’s knees. But, if Sénégal runs completely out of fish, Senegalese will not been able to do either, as they will lay in the dirt, dying of hunger, or, at least lack of proteins.

Reading this, armies of vegetarians will utter that one can survive with plants alone. It is true that West Africa has its own rice, evolved there, and it is grown in southern Sénégal. However neither beans, nor potatoes can be grown in lowland equatorial Africa (too warm). And milk is not a possibility either: local cattle gives meat, not milk (nor has cattle a realistic future as the country is strangled by a slow and steady, terminal drought).   

Sénégal is the most democratic country in Africa: not only the country has been independent for longer than Kenya or Tanzania, but it has been continually ruled by universal suffrage. (By contrast, most other African countries were not only dictatorships, but nationalistic to the point of racism, racist (South Africa, Rhodesia/Zimbabwe) or theocratic (Egypt), monarchies, etc. )

So Sénégal is a democracy, in spite of being one the poorest countries. This shows that democracy and wealth are independent notions. One does not need to be well off to have the People in power. Democracy is not a luxury.

Sénégal is very poor, but also very smart in its own special ways. Some of these ways are on the forward edge of global civilization. For example Sénégal is less sexist in some ways than its ex-administrator, France. This shows that anti-sexism is not exclusive to Western civilization. This also shows that not having sexism is not a luxury.

Democracy and having no sexism are no luxury, because they are natural states of Homo Sapiens.  

Anti-sexism in the West originated from the Etruscans and the Germans. The Greeks and Romans, let alone the Jews (who originated the Abrahamist disease), were awful sexists.

France, a merger between Gaul, Rome and Germania (“Inferior“) pretty much invented a lot of anti-sexism: Merovingian queens could reign, and at least seven did as much as any king did (one of them outlawed slavery for the Franks, and everybody had been a Frank for a century). The Salic law allowed girls to inherit fully, just as a man, including the throne, as long as no brother was left (hey, Salic law was written 17 centuries ago).

By contrast in England, for another millennium, husbands appeared in court in the stead of their wives (however they were not roasted in their place).

While in France noble women studied more refined ways of handling inter-gender relationships in the “Courts d’ Amour” (that gave birth to “common courtesy”, as we know it), much of French culture, as the rawness of the Franks got diluted, returned to the old demons of Roman sexism (for five centuries from about 1320 CE to Napoleon’s infantile sexism, and grotesquely misogynistic  legislation).

Thus one sees that sexism has a long and complicated history in the West. In non sexist Crete, girls with very little clothing fought bulls, for a profession, but thirty centuries later, Jeanne d’Arc was condemned to burn alive, for having worn pants in jail (to avoid rape, she said). This shows that erroneous mental systems have huge inertia.

This also shows one of the interests of Black Africa. Differently from North Africa (which is fundamentally Western Eurasia, culturally and genetically), Black Africa is philosophically independent. Black Africa, by staying out of the convoluted history of the Middle Earth, was able to stick to a more fundamental philosophy, which, per its fundamental nature, is often more correct.

Sexism in the Middle Earth is very complex. But complexity is not veracity.

Until very recent times, not only Senegalese women did not cover their face, but, whenever working, or exercising, not much of their body either. Why? Well, why not? Ah, and a little detail: temperatures can reach 50 Celsius, 120 F in the interior.  

One can compare the Senegalese tradition of women dressed like the Olympic athletes of old, with that of the Middle East. There, traditionally, women have been turned into tents. Thus they are unable to go outside much, or to do any significant work there. Thus they stay inside, turning stupid… And not turning the children they bring up inside into the brightest bulbs, either. 

Sénégal has its own version of Islam. Something crucial about Senegalese Islam is that it is non sexist. In some ways, it was significantly less sexist than anything found in Europe or America (for example, women did not have to be more covered with more clothes than men).

Overall, Senegalese society is less sexist, because it worships less at the foot of the difference between genders. Or let me rephrase that; coming out of Sénégal, and watching the Euro-American circus of civilization pretense, I was struck by how much was contrived to increase differences. For example Western men are enticed, and train themselves, to avoid high pitch sounds. It’s something that is pretty obvious when one lives in West Africa.

Why that fear of having European men pass for women?  Is it because European men are supposed to be terrifying, and terrifyingly serious all the time? Is it because the roar of a low growl fills the inferior ones with dread? Thus, is the lack of high pitch related to empire?

Were African-American  musicians subversively undermining the Western empire by going high pitch occasionally? If Obama had exhibited early on his high pitch capability (which he discreetly showed to Mick Jagger recently), he would never have been elected president.

Indeed a few pop stars, since the 1960s, have neglected the interdiction against high pitch squeaking, and feminine voices. But certainly, many were not completely mesmerized by empire (and thus some were decorated by the empire to cover-up that fact).

In Sénégal, men have kept fuller voices, and are less afraid to pass for women (probably because, well, it’s hard to confuse a big strong Senegalese with a woman…). In Sénégal, the gender gap is viewed, in some important ways, as less important to society than in it is in Euro-America, and it is also viewed as something impoverishing society, because it puts both men and women, each, into their little box (and then Euro-Americans have all these rather comical gender identification problems).

A lot of contemporary music originated in West Africa, where the main instruments are obvious direct ancestors of those of jazz and rock.

Another important activity of Senegalese society is talking and debating. OK, at about 12 degrees of latitude, the most productive thing to do, mid-day, is to rest in the shade and talk. But talking is viewed as so important in West Africa that an entire caste specialized in it exists, the griots. Griots are in charge of talking, storytelling chanting, and no doubt incarnate the origin of what came to be known as rap.

Debating and talking was viewed as essential in a lot of European civilization at its most famous. This is another case of convergence between Sénégal and the best Europe ever offered.

So what is it about Senegalese Islam? Well one can put it in a rather striking way: Senegalese Islam is secular (!).

After hysterical laughter from those who do not know the meaning of some words die down, I will explain what secular means. “Secular” means living in one’s age. One can be to some extent superstitious, and secular, at the same time. Indeed, everybody is a bit of both. Even the most fanatical of fanatics has to live, to some extent, in his own time, be it only to be effective in his nastiness.

Thus Osama bin Laden studied civil engineering. (So one can see bin Laden was completely steeped in the world he had when he was three year: he believed thoroughly the superstition of his ancestors, he studied the knowledge of his father, an engineer, founder of the Binladen group.)

Senegalese Islam is viewed as “Sufi“. That means that Senegalese Islam has an important, even domineering, philosophical component.

The Wikipedia article on Sufism I linked to emphasizes the mystical character of some types of Sufism… as if Sunni Islam were not mystical; it is true that some forms of Sufism are very mystical… But it’s just the opposite in Sénégal. Senegalese Islam is a philosophical machine.

So what is the metaprinciple of Senegalese Islam?

One can put it this way: to inject into secularism the spirit that habitated Muhammad. So it’s not just about the Qur’an (which was written long after Muhammad’s death), nor is it about all what Muhammad was supposedly heard saying (Hadith), or supposedly seen doing (Suna). It’s about being inhabitated with the same spirit Muhammad had.

And what do we see in the spirit that habitated Muhammad? A strong will to change secularism by improving civilization along the lines of science and new possibilities. Thus in Senegalese Islam, wise religious figures can rise as high, or even higher than Muhammad himself… thanks to more knowledge and more possibilities.

That was the case of Amadou Bamba. After opposing (pacifically) a rather obtuse French administration (which deported him far away), this Senegalese holy man came to terms with it. Amadou Bamba understood that it was important to help France defeat racist Germanoid fascism. So him, a pacifist, help send an enormous number of  Tirailleurs Sénégalais. 200,000 saw combat in World War One, and 30,000 died, thanks in part to Amadou Bamba.

A few years ago, the Constitution of Senegal was changed to limit presidential mandates to two terms (as in France, itself following the lead, for once, of the USA). President Wade chose to interpret this as meaning that he could do a third term, as the change happened during his second term. The Senegalese were not amused, and demonstrated massively. Wade impressed on the Constitutional Court that his point of view was right. However, he was defeated by one of his own past Prime Ministers (initially an agronomic engineer), now president Macky Sall. One can compare with Russia, where Putin just said he envisioned to be president until 2024!

By American standards, massive demonstrations against the guys in power is too awful to contemplate, it’s not part of democracy as United States citizens are supposed to understand it. However, the Senegalese, just like the French, and, increasingly, other Europeans, view civil disobedience as a form of free speech. Yet, the Senegalese although friendly to great verbal energy, and even confrontation, are overall extremely pacific.

In general, there seems to be a complementary relationship between verbal violence, and real violence. And it’s understandable: verbal violence can address problems that, if left untouched, only physical violence can otherwise fix.

I was raised in Sénégal. Once after more than a decade, a taxi cab driver was assassinated. Something never heard before. It turned out that the assassins were two white French tourists!

There has been a secession war of sort in Casamance, in the equatorial south, separated from the rest of the country by (the English speaking country of) Gambia, religion, way of life (villages are full of black pigs). But the situation there is easily explained by the unfolding anthropogenic ecological disaster, some of which just arose from making roads through the giant mangrove forests, destroying them, with the teeming life they brought.  

Basically the problem with Casamance, or, in general, with the catastrophic turn of Senegalese ecology is too big for Senegal to solve alone. I was aghast when I saw recent photographs of entire regions that went from lush with towering trees, to moon like dried mud, from horizon to horizon.

In any case, let’s revert to the positive. How come is the  civilisation Sénégalaise so advanced? How does that fit with my Middle Earth centric view of the world? The Middle Earth is composed of the Indo-European ensemble plus North Africa and Arabia.

The Middle Earth centric view claims that the Middle Earth (in the middle of which is the Middle East) that most human inventions arose there, because the Middle Earth was the forum of the world. It is bordered to the west and north by the ocean, and to the east by the nearly completely impassable giant mountains of the Himalayas, Karakorum, Tien Shan, and their associated deserts.

Right now Black Africa is separated from the Middle Earth by the Sahara desert. But it was not always so. The Sahara was wonderfully wet at the very birth of Egyptian civilization. The Egyptians had to take refuge along the Nile and associated lakes, as the Sahara finally desiccated. That was about 7,000 years ago. But trade routes remained.

In the last 3,000 years, Carthage re-established the relationship between Middle Earth and Black Africa (so did Morocco later).

How come Europeans could not repeat in Africa what they did in the Americas? Steel. Africans had steel. Steel arrowheads would have been enough to stop Europeans. As a child, I saw some native hunters train with bow and arrow, and I was impressed. The penetration of arrows deep in solid tree trunks was astounding.

Africans had, have, developped their own steel technology. So who invented steel? It’s not clear. The Dorians showed up with it, and conquered Greece, thanks to it (killing all the men, causing a Dark Age). The Dorians came from the north, but I believe possible that steel technology actually arose in Black Africa first, and came to Greece in a circuituous route.

So was Sénégal part of the Middle Earth, in some ways? Of course.  First Senegalese, those the French were in contact with, had French citizenship, already in the seventeenth century (curiously, under the sectarian fanatic Louis XIV, probably desirous to make us believe he was not how he truly was). In the Nineteenth century, the French conquered all of Sénégal.

That meant that 5,000 Tirailleurs Sénégalais, armed with guns, led by ten French officers, yes, only ten, conquered all of Senegal, and beyond.

Senegal was thus created as a country. Senegal did not exist before that because it was actually made, at the time, of at least six different nations, each with its own language. These six “regional” languages are recognized officially: Wolof, Soninke, Serer, Fula, Maninka, Diola. (In a similar fashion, before Caear invaded gaul, three main languages were talked there… Latin became the new lingua franca, would I say, trying to be funy…).

The national language of Sénégal, of course, is French. One should not forget that France and Sénégal were long united. There were French Members of Parliament, or Senators, Senegalese born. Leopold Sedar Senghor,  Sénégal’s first president, was a prominent member of the French constituent assembly after World War Two. 

Senghor was a major French poet and philosopher. With other prominent French thinkers of non white skin, he thought one had to be proud of the word “niger” (the Latin for black). The fact that Americans think that “niger”, mispelled, is an insult means that the USA has not yet graduated out of racism 101. Senegalese make a lot of paintings where black dominates, it is unique, and extremely beautiful.

One can go back much earlier than the European period. Before the Europeans showed up on one ridiculously tiny volcanic island off the Senegal to trade slaves (and where I nearly got killed in an accident), Sénégal had, twenty century earlier, been in contact and trade with Carthage. Carthage, as a Phoenician colony, was fully a Euro-Mediterranean power. Although Rome hated and annihilated Carthage, Rome absorbed many of the Punic colony’s ways, from naval and agricultural engineering to other, more subtle moods.

Carthage got destroyed by Roman plutocrats, because they had come to fear its democracy. But the democratic ideal of that giant city survived (although those it inspired in Rome itself were destroyed in the next few generations, well, here we are, confronting the bankers and their ilk).

Civilization is not just about books, or even oral knowledge. It is also about moods. Long ago, may be as they traded with Carthage, and allowed Carthagenese to install a settlement, the Senegalese learned to be more open minded, and laugh about it. The West, and especially France, can do better than mildly forget about Sénégal, which incarnates so many of the good ways of the West, and sometimes does it better than the West can yet understand.

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Patrice Ayme