quinta-feira, 15 de outubro de 2009

So what happens when the brute confronts the druid?

Conheci Henry Mujunga no ano passado num encontro que a Frente 3 de Fevereiro participou na África do Sul (http://www.frente3defevereiro.com.br/blog). Artista de Kampala, Uganda, Henry nos concedeu uma entrevista naquela situação sobre imigração dentro da África. Um trecho desta primeira entrevista foi o ponto disparador para o projeto Standing on the Shoulders of Giants. Este ano convidei Henry para participar do projeto com um "provocador". Também, compondo a equipe de reflexão, convidei Felipe Teixeira da Frente 3 de Fevereiro. Juntos pensamos em algumas questões. Estas são observações do Henry sobre os eixos da pesquisa.

British Empire in Africa:

In your opinion, what was the importance of the development of the western modern science for the British domination in Africa? And in what way this kind of knowledge relates to the knowledge produced by the African people?

Of course britain’s advances in science had alot to do with its desires to expand beyond its frontiers. The industrial revolution had produced weapons of mass destruction (maxim gun!), bigger and faster ships, as well as an insuciable need for raw materials. The imperial british east african company played a big role in this search for raw materials. They played the trade card until they realised that actually they needed some form of political guarantees . and so did the missionaries, they too needed protection from their government.
There was also the need to explore new frontiers in geography. In Eastern and Central Africa, explorers like Henry Stanley and David Livingstone, under the patronage of the Royal Geographic Society, did a lot to open up the interiors to trade and colonialism.
It is generally acknowledged that the british had superior fire power and that this was why they occupied vast territories with relative ease. But my view is that they did not meet any serious resistance. Africa was immensely under populated at this time . mostly sedentaly and isolated communities of peaceable and highly spiritual people (rastafarian?) so these white ghosts appear and are met with mixed feelings. Are they ancestors risen from the dead coming back to haunt the village over some abominable communal sin?? But you know the brits have always been famous for embroidaring the truth . So I guess they were all smiles and nice nicy! Africa was far advanced in medicine, nutrition and intra person politics. They had reached a level where they were tapping directly into universal energy to solve medical problems! There was hardly any need for grand conflicts requiring weapons of mass destruction! The tongue was the main weapon of defence. There was little that a decent conversation would not solve! Or ignite for that matter!
So what happens when the brute confronts the druid?

How do you think the rivalry of England with the other European powers reflected in the African colonies, like for example Uganda?

There were many people taken from the colonies to fight in the colonial wars of 1914-1918. In Uganda we had the Baseveni (war veterans). In fact both wars! And the Poor old chaps are very proud to have faught for their colonial masters too! I think there is still some kind of pride among the Francophones as well. They think they are more french than the french. Those of us in the former british colonies take pride in this history. I have heard some say that Africa would be more prosperous and organised if the whiteman was still ruling! And our fathers talk with nastalgia about the good old days when a university graduate would be assured of a job, a house and a brand new car! But to address your question directly, i don’t think the average african really understood these struggles for power among the europeans! Most anti colonial movements in Africa were headed by people who had travelled to europe to fight in the wars and had learnt about the true nature of their colonial masters’ wealth. So perhaps these conflicts were a blessing in disguise for the africans...hhhmmmm?

What do think would be the difference between the domination of the British “white colonies” and the other British colonies in Africa?

Are you refering to the colonies as opposed to the “protectorates”? The british chose parts like Kenya, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa for settlement as colonies. These were there prime areas of interest and they invested a lot in terms of time (they left in the eighties!) and infrastructure. These areas had a favourable climate and were more suitable for agriculture. They were also rich in minerals (esp. SA) . I think that the settlers were under the impression that they would stay in Africa for ever. So they devised ways of siphoning resources from countries like Uganda (a former british protectorate) to bolster Kenya (a former british colony)! Up to now Uganda is under some unjust obligation to supply Kenya with hydro electricity despite its own domestic power shortage! There was an element of self rule with in the protectorates but i am not sure how much it helped given the current political and economic quagmire.

In which way the population in Uganda resisted to this domination?

Upon the advent of colonialism, the territory known as Uganda today was populated with relatively small communities of fishermen, cultivators, cattle herders and hunter/gatherers. There were three or four better organized societies in the name of Buganda, Bunyoro, Ankole and Toro. These had centralized systems of gorvernance under a monarch. They had enormous control of the trade with the arabs from the east african cost. As such, they were better armed than their neighbours.
Buganda, under its king, Mutesa I, welcomed the agents of colonialism in antispation of trade in arms which would help her overcome her eastwhile enemies the Banyoro. It is my opinion that this pitched the Banyoro against the British colonial army under Fredrick Lugard (you know the saying, my enemy’s friend is my enemy too). So Bunyoro’s king Kabalega formed the early forms of resistance against colonialism. Later, Daniel Mwanga, a king of Buganda who was undecided about his spiritual inclinations, met challenges from the Christians (who had consumed and confused his court-chiefs, pages and all), formed an alliance with Kabalega. These two faught a protracted Guerilla war until their capture and subsquent exile to the Sychelles.
Buganda played a big part in the colonisation of the rest of the country as they were used as administrators. One Muganda man, Semei Kakunguru, established an army and helped bring most of eastern Uganda under colonial rule.


What do you think was the role of the resistance movements in the independence processes in Africa?

We would like to believe that we waged a war against our opressors and won! But alas! This is far from the truth. The powers that be have a grand scheme on a magnitude incomprehensible to the most competent African! The talk now is post colonial colonialism! From the pan into the fire kind of arrangement if you please!
The enlightened Africans I mentioned earlier (in Uganda we had Ignatius Musaazi), vowed to make this continent ungovernable if they did not take charge of their destiny, but looking at the ease with which independence was granted all most parts of Africa, one can’t help but wonder if we grabbed independence or it was shoved upon us!
Which business man would want to hold onto a bad business deal?
At the time of independence colonialism was untenable. Kwame Nkurumah, Milton Obote, and so on were just some of the well intentioned and passionate Africans who graced the British Grand Charity for Africa Ball!

In your opinion, what were the great hopes that the Africans had regarding their life after the independence? Were these hopes achieved?

What was the true meaning of independence to the African? In Uganda it was an opportunity to have a direct share in the national wealth. The assumption was that if the cook was handing out such delicious tit bits to the people hanging outside the kitchen, how much more awaited the ones who entered the kitchen and did the cooking themselves! They forgot one thing though, the previous cook left with her cook book! But you see, in Uganda the challenges started straight after independence. Buganda kingdom wanted a federal system of government that guaranteed her a semi autonomous status . this led to her direct conflict with the central government. Consquently, monarchism was abolished in Uganda ! this angered many loyalists who had hoped for a return of the old kingdoms.
Then came the benevolent but feeble-minded dictator Amin Dada. He tried to fulfill the people’s dream of sharing the national wealth by kicking out the Asians, who owner most businesses in the country. Many africans (mainly moslems) grabbed property and shop. But in this case too the cook had left with the cook book! Most of these departed Asians have amassed enormous wealth in the UK and Canada where they sought refuge!
Where are we today? Still dealing with the same old problems of lack of recipe!
Civil war, genocide, dictators, tribalism, poverty, disease, and the list goes on and on!
But all is not lost. There is some form of middle class emerging in the capitals of Sub Saharan Africa who can afford to watch Big Brother on flat screens, send their kids to posh schools and sustain the beer and mobile phone companies!

You said, in the interview for Frente 3 de Fevereiro, that the transition process in South Africa was characterised by Mandela's pacifism, that the hatred of the people was contained and that that made the people hate themselves, hurting themselves and attacking the weak targets. But what would be the alternative to that process for you?

Rugby is very good for South africa! Let everybody play. Not just the elite teams!
I can confidently say that the reason why Ugandan traditional healers (Sangoma) are prospering in South Africa is because they provide a much needed service. Shrinks, Taoists, Yoga instructors, the Dalai lama please run to the aid of traumatized SA!

Contemporary Migration:

What do you think would be the main cause for migration between African countries today?

Imbalance in wealth created by colonialism and misrule is the main cause for migration. But we should not forget our history . we were always moving across tribal boundaries in search of trade, adventure and change long before the present boundaries were set. In fact some tribes along these artificial boarders were split into two. Boundaries are there to keep people apart but you know man has did innate need to socialize! So terms like migration are just dislocative and not proactive at all.

In your opinion, what is the impact of this migration in the countries that receive these immigrants?

There are over five times more people in the UK than is Uganda despite the fact that these two countries are almost the same size. As a matter of fact africa is under populated. So the issue of population explosion in the cities of the richer african countries is superficial. These people should be welcomed , screened and sent to the relevant areas in the spirit of ‘Obuntu bulamu’. This earth is for everyone!
There is also this concern about competition for scarce resources. This is the nature of the market place. The so called migrants always fix themselves in unoccupied facets of the economy. Sometimes they are more skilled than the indigenes and on other occasions they simply take on the jobs that the indigenes find ‘demeaning’.
There is some talk about ‘foreigners’ being seemingly more motivated than the indigenes (Prof. Mazrui). which brings to mind the fact that many an african leaders (including my own) have been accused of being foreigners in the countries they rule!
The Indians (east africa), the Lebanese (west africa), the Igbo and so on have all brought prosperity where ever they have gone.

What would be the mechanisms that the African States use to stop that movement?

The point i am making is that you don’t try to stop the river from flowing down stream! You harness it ! you tame it and exploit its energy potential.


Henry Mzili Mujunga
b.1971 - Present


Mzili is an eclectic artist who enjoys painting, printmaking and conceptual art. Most recently, he has been exploring intuitive ways of reviving indigenous- expressionism among artists. He is a strong believer in the importance of networking amongst artists in order to share cultural content and create an interesting dialogue with the art being produced globally. 

Mzili is a member of the East African Art Group Index Mashariki, which seeks to re-establish relevancy for art in the local community by propagating its Volongoto style. He is also a member of the Pan African Circle of Artists (PACA) that links artists working for the integration of Africa through art. He is currently a member of the board of directors of Goethe Zentrum Kampala/ Uganda German Cultural Society (GZK/UGCS) and General Secretary of Kampala Arts Trust. 

Mzili is the prestigious winner of the coveted Royal Overseas League (ROSL) Art Scholarship 2003 and has exhibited extensively in galleries in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Ghana, UK, Germany, France, Italy and The Netherlands. Mzili is currently working with groups of marginalized urban dwellers in his country Uganda.

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