WaBun-Inini: A true American hero
Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2008
By Obi Egbuna
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July 29, 2008
ONE of the most tragic lessons that continues to be overlooked in the history of the United States is that the country is nothing, but a settler colony.
This means the so-called founding fathers, such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and the rest of their gang, should be referred to as the first thieves.
When we as Africans at home or abroad begin looking at US history with the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights or the Articles of Confederation, we must realise we are slapping the indigenous inhabitants of this land in the face, which is not culturally or politically acceptable.
On October 13, 2007, the international fraternity of freedom fighters who believe in solidarity and world peace lost a brave and devoted comrade.
His colonial name was Vernon Bellecourt but his "warrior" name was WaBun-Inini, which means "Man of Dawn".
The Native American community compared this loss to when the Palestinians lost Yasser Arafat, when the African-American community lost Dr Martin Luther King Jnr and Malcolm X and when the Asian world lost Mao Tse Tung, Kim Il Sung and Ho Chi Minh.
What made WaBun-Inini special was his commitment to internationalism.
While he was very culturally grounded and was proud of his indigenous roots, he never hesitated using whatever platform to lend support to other oppressed people's struggles in every corner of the world.
Because WaBun-Inini was one of the founding members of the American Indian Movement/International Indian Treaty Council and served as the spokesperson of that branch that dealt with world affairs, he took that responsibility very seriously and it made him a brilliant and passionate ambassador of the rights of indigenous people throughout the Western hemisphere.
At the time of his death, he had just returned from Venezuela where he was discussing developing a long-term relationship with President Hugo Chavez.
WaBun-Inini, while in Venezuela, was informed that President Mugabe was one of the more recent recipients of the Simon Bolivar Award – Venezuela's highest political honour.
WaBun-Inini had already planned a trip to Zimbabwe to meet President Mugabe face-to-face.
One of his reasons for wanting to come was to let Cde Mugabe know that George W. Bush's sanctions policy did not have the support of indigenous Americans.
He also wanted to establish official ties with Zanu-PF.
WaBun-Inini was personally impressed with the courage President Mugabe and Zanu-PF demonstrated by pursuing the land reclamation programme in 2000.
More so, he felt Nelson Mandela should have been using his stature as an internationally acclaimed freedom fighter to both defend Zimbabwe and insist South Africa do the same thing for its people.
He also felt Cecil John Rhodes was the one man who he felt came closest to matching Christopher Columbus in terms of criminality and genocidal behaviour.
Cde WaBun-Inini felt that President Mugabe was one of the world's key voices on land reclamation and he not only spoke for Zimbabweans and Africans, but for all people ruined by colonialism.
He was greatly delighted when he heard President Mugabe tell former British prime minister Tony Blair in South Africa: "Blair, you keep your England and let me keep my Zimbabwe."
WaBun-Inini was very disturbed when he found out that David Livingstone had named Mosi-oa-Tunya after Queen Victoria and compared this to when Christopher Columbus claimed to have discovered America.
WaBun-Inini also was not pleased that the majority of the Congressional Black Caucus in the US were in support of the Bush-sponsored sanctions against Zimbabwe and felt this continued the disastrous legacy of the mercenary Buffalo Soldiers that killed his people.
In the 1980s, WaBun-Inini coined the phrase: "We are the Palestinians and the Palestinians are us."
He said on meeting President Mugabe he would also start saying: "We are the Zimbabweans and the Zimbabweans are us," as an expression of his solidarity and goodwill.
WaBun-Inini had also begun looking at the National Economic Development Priority Programme and wanted to begin a dialogue with President Mugabe on how trade agreements between Native Americans and Zimbabweans could get off the ground.
He felt solidarity in the political arena should translate into economic ties so Africans and Native Americans could weather the storm in a world still dominated by European imperialism.
WaBun-Inini wanted to tell President Mugabe that while he thought the Look East Policy was brilliant and revolutionary, also trading with the very same indigenous peoples that America exploited would be a real blow.
WaBun-Inini had held talks with the former Zimbabwe ambassador to the United States, Dr Simbi Mubako, and with the current Zimbabwean representative to the US, Dr Machivenyika Mapuranga, during which expressions of solidarity were exchanged.
WaBun-Inini wanted to invest time and energy in defending Zimbabwe in the same way he defended Libya and President Muammar Gaddafi in the mid-1980s following Reagan's bombing of that country in 1986.
WaBun-Inini and the late pan-African leader Kwame Toure of the All-African People's Revolutionary Party helped mobilise over 150 organisations to defy Reagan's travel ban on Libya.
WaBun-Inini called the failure by the British and US governments to honour commitments made to Zimbabwe at Lancaster House a continuation of the colonialist and imperialist tradition of lies and deceit.
When protesting atrocities in Guatemala against indigenous people by the CIA-backed government, he threw his own blood on their embassy in Washington and said he would do the same to the British Embassy because of their continued interference in Zimbabwe.
WaBun-Inini felt President Mugabe's pardoning of Ian Smith and his Rhodesian cohorts in 1980 was one of the greatest acts of compassion ever displayed by a freedom fighter towards the enemies and oppressors of his people the world had ever seen.
WaBun-Inini was also impressed with how Zimbabwe always paid tribute and homage to its iconic warriors like Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi and felt is was similar to the way his people acknowledged their great warriors like Sitting Bull and Geronimo.
WaBun-Inini was inspired by how President Mugabe and Zanu-PF helped Mozambique fight against Renamo and also by Operation Sovereign Legitimacy in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He would often cite an old Native American saying that goes: "You fight for your brothers with the same courage you defend yourselves."
WaBun-Inini felt because of Zimbabwe's commitment to education, which he said was only matched by what he saw in Cuba, he would have wanted the two ministries that deal directly with education to incorporate the history of indigenous Americans in the national syllabi.
In 2001 when the US protested slavery reparations and to recognise the need for a Palestinian homeland, WaBun-Inini stated that all who were surprised by this position must have either forgotten or overlooked the barbaric manner in which Native Americans were colonised.
He said that the Zimbabwean and the Native American questions deserved equal emphasis.
WaBun-Inini also signed a resolution highlighting Zimbabwe's fight against HIV and Aids and the manner in which the Global Fund was treating the country was akin to Lord Jeffrey Amhurst injecting smallpox in the blankets of Native Americans.
WaBun-Inini compared the courage of the Zanla and Zipra fighters during the Second Chimurenga to what he saw when he visited the Zapatistas in Mexico with whom he subsequently established strong relations.
Were he alive today, he would have celebrated President Mugabe's position that the US and Britain should not be involved in the current talks between Zanu-PF and the opposition MDC.
After all, treaties between the US government and the indigenous American peoples were always violated.
It would be good to see the American Indian Movement/Internatio nal Indian Treaty Council continue the work WaBun-Inini started and realise the establishment of official ties with Zanu-PF.
Long live Cde WaBun-Inini! Long live AIM-IITC and the Native American Revolution!
Long live Cde Mugabe and long live Zanu-PF!
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