[Marxism] The Empire in Africa

Bob Wood bobwood1 at btopenworld.com
Fri Dec 8 05:48:19 MST 2006

A couple of months ago, I went to see "The Empire in Africa" in Leeds, with 
my daughter, who was born in Sierra Leone, and you are quite right, Louis, 
it is a magnificent film, achieving a balance that none of the media seemed 
capable of during the civil war itself.

Earlier this year I wrote an assessment of the civil war which is consistent 
with the message of the filem and which concluded:

"The turning point in Sierra Leone's civil war was the period in the late 
nineties, when the army disintegrated. Both the government and the RUF 
appear to have lost control of the situation, and the traumatised country 
underwent what might be described as a collective psychotic episode. To 
blame Sankoh and the RUF for excesses carried out by ex-RUF forces probably 
makes even less sense than to blame Kabbah and the government for the 
excesses of ex-SLA forces.
A proper history of the RUF remains to be written, but it is clear that it 
did not stay static during the period from its inception to its demise. Much 
of what has been written about it assumes an unchanging character, and often 
fails to distinguish between its leadership and its base. There is nothing 
lumpen about, for example, Omrie Golley, who represented the RUF in the 
later stages of the war, and who is described by Gberie as an 'urbane and 
articulate British-trained lawyer'. And the global categorisation of the RUF's 
base as lumpen is problematic too. Petty criminals, high on drink and drugs, 
who also took an interest in the ideas of Nkrumah and Fanon? It hardly seems 

 The status quo ante has been re-established with the help of a huge 
deployment of UN and British troops, and it is business as usual for the 
unreconstructed 'colonial' state. The British are retraining the army for 
the umpteenth time. Proposals have been put forward for the privatisation of 
the company which provides Freetown's water supply. Political and economic 
corruption is once again widespread, and the country is only one place above 
the bottom in the UN's Human Development index. All the conditions that gave 
rise to the civil war are falling slowly back into place."

The full article can be accessed at:


Click on current issue, and then 'Civil War in Sierra Leone'.

Bob Wood

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Louis Proyect" <lnp3 at panix.com>
To: <marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, December 06, 2006 8:54 PM
Subject: [Marxism] The Empire in Africa

> Philippe Diaz's documentary "The Empire in Africa" opens at NYC, Los 
> Angeles and Madison, Wisconsin theaters this Friday. It is not to be 
> missed. Focused on the bloody civil war in Sierra Leone, it is the perfect 
> rejoinder to those who believe that the West has some kind of obligation 
> to provide law and order through a "humanitarian" military intervention of 
> the sort that NY Timesman Nicholas Kristof contributor calls for in Darfur 
> or that Harvard professor called for in Rwanda. Using interviews with the 
> Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a rebel group widely portrayed as the 
> Sierra Leone equivalent of the Janjaweed in Darfur, and the supporters of 
> military intervention against them, Diaz reveals that such a rescue 
> mission had more to do with rescuing profits in the diamond mines that it 
> ever did with rescuing lives.
> Full: http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2006/12/06/the-empire-in-africa/
> --
> www.marxmail.org

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