Newt Gingrich: The Big Bad Bwana in Congo and Harlem

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[Black Star News Editorial]

Turns out that Newt Gingrich, the self-professed intellectual giant is also a Big Bad Bwana after all.

For readers unfamiliar with the term Bwana, it can be an honorific Kiswahili term. When applied to a White man in colonial Africa, it meant overlord or master. A Bwana Mkubwa is a "lord of lords."

Bwana Gingrich toured Africa in the 1970s --through osmosis we've learned. He's also made recent comments about inner-city natives in America.

Gingrich earned a doctoral degree from the University of Tulane in 1971. His dissertation was on the Belgian Education system in Congo between 1945 to 1960; the period covering the last 15 years before "independence" for the Central African country.

In reality, even though Congo went through several post-colonial name changes, depending on its political misfortune of the day --Belgian Congo, Congo Kinshasa, Zaire, Democratic Republic of Congo-- the Belgians, or Belgian and outside control over the country, never diminished.

Congo became a killing field. Outside powers, including Belgium, the United States, the Soviet Union, Uganda, Rwanda, vied for influence over Congo's real estate; fertile agricultural lands, rich timber, gold, diamond, oil, coltrane. Last week the country held only its second presidential election in the 50 years since formal colonialism ended. The results are disputed; therefore political instability and even escalated civil war may be the reward in the short term.

But back to Bwana Mkubwa Gingrich.

Why did he choose to examine Congo's education system under the Belgians? What was Gingrich's motivation? To show that the Belgians were exploitative and, as he found out, spent 10 times more on the education of White students than on Africans?

But if Gingrich really wanted to highlight Belgian exploitation of Africans, why not write about the genocide committed under King Leopold, when as many as 10 million Congolese were murdered during the Belgians' insatiable quest for rubber? Come to think about it, why the focus on Belgium's Congo education policy when the Belgians committed a genocide there?

Since he promotes himself as a renowned historian, Bwana Gingrich must have known about this. After all, Mark Twain was instrumental in exposing the Belgian barbarity in the U.S. and around the world through his 1905 pamphlet "King Leopold's Soliloquy."

So Bwana Gingrich's attention on education, given the Belgian genocide, is comparable to writing a dissertation on the Khmer Rouge's "education" policy without mentioning Cambodia's killing fields.

Bwana Gingrich also conducts his research in a most curious manner. He wrote the dissertation, reportedly, without ever traveling to Africa to interview any of the Congolese to get their views. (This is also a reflection on Tulane's dissertation committees).

Right here in the U.S., Gingrich recently revealed his soft spot for the condition of natives in places like Harlem and Bed-Stuy. Here again, there is scant evidence that he's done any field research.

Yet, he claims "children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works." What's more "they have no habit of, I do this and you give me cash; unless it's illegal..." So, one solution Gingrich proposes for these U.S. natives is to make them assistant janitors and let them "mop the floors and clean the bathroom."

Why not, instead, provide them with job training and mentoring with Wall Street firms and corporations? Wouldn't it be good if they too became big money-makers and consultants who made millions like Bwana Gingrich did? Too good for the natives?

But U.S. "native children" should rest easy when it comes to Gingrich. In Belgian Congo, children who didn't produce enough produce for Bwana Leopold had their hands cut off Taliban-style.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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