skyscrappers

Babylon is all around me

concrete and steel,

right before my eyes.

Babylon is all around me

Confusion, I cannot see.

Extract from Babylon

by Ife Piankhi

I wonder how the freedom fighters; Nelson Mandela, Patrice Lumumba, Walter Rodney, Toussaint L’Overture, Nanny of the Maroons, Paul Bogle, Yaa Asantewa, Nyabingi felt, when they realized they had to break the law in order to liberate their people?

We’re taught to be obedient. It’s a desirable thing. Instilled in us is a respect for authority, hierachy and all things Western.

Rastafari speaks about Babylon but what exactly is it?

In Biblical times Babylon was referred to as the table of nations as it traces the descendants of Noah’s three sons. In the genealogy of Ham, “Cush was the father of Nimrod, who grew to be a mighty warrior on the earth” (Genesis 10:8). Nimrod founded a kingdom that included a place called “Babylon” in Shinar (Genesis 10:10).

In English it is easy enough to make the connection between “Babel” and “Babylon,” but in Hebrew it is the same word. This chapter cements Babylon’s reputation as a city of rebellion against God. From then on, the biblical writers consistently use Babylon as a symbol of evil and defiance.

For me Babylon is not just a place but a mindset which is based on the exploitation of people and resources.

This mindset uses fiscal structures, trade agreements, polices, politricks, business and media to dictate the destiny of the majority of the global population.

According to Noam Chomsky in Profit over People-Neoliberalism and Global Order, Haiti was one of the worlds richest colonial prizes along with Bengal and the source of a good part of France’s wealth. Haiti was the first colony in the Caribbean to gain its independence from colonial rule.

In the 18th century, Saint Dominigue, as Haiti was then known, became France’s wealthiest overseas colony, largely because of its production of sugar, coffee, indigo, and cotton generated by an enslaved labor force.  When the French Revolution broke out in 1789 there were five distinct sets of interest groups in the colony. There were white planters—who owned the plantations and the slaves—and petit blancs, who were artisans, shop keepers and teachers.  Some of them also owned a few slaves.  Together they numbered 40,000 of the colony’s residents.  Many of the whites on Saint Dominigue began to support an independence movement that began when France imposed steep tariffs on the items imported into the colony.  The planters were extremely disenchanted with France because they were forbidden to trade with any other nation.  Furthermore, the white population of Saint-Dominique did not have any representation in France.  Despite their calls for independence, both the planters and petit blancs remained committed to the institution of slavery. The three remaining groups were of African descent: those who were free, those who were slaves, and those who had run away. There were about 30,000 free black people in 1789.  Half of them were mulatto and often they were wealthier than the petit blancs. The slave population was close to 500,000. The runaway slaves were called maroons; they had retreated deep into the mountains of Saint Dominigue and lived off subsistence farming.  Haiti had a history of slave rebellions; the slaves were never willing to submit to their status and with their strength in numbers (10 to 1) colonial officials and planters did all that was possible to control them. Despite the harshness and cruelty of Saint Dominigue slavery, there were slave rebellions before 1791.

Led by former slave Toussaint l’Overture, the enslaved would act first, rebelling against the planters on August 21, 1791. By 1792 they controlled a third of the island.  Despite reinforcements from France, the area of the colony held by the rebels grew as did the violence on both sides.  Before the fighting ended 100,000 of the 500,000 blacks and 24,000 of the 40,000 whites were killed.  Nonetheless the former slaves managed to stave off both the French forces and the British who arrived in 1793 to conquer the colony, and who withdrew in 1798 after a series of defeats by l’Overture’s forces.  By 1801 l’Overture expanded the revolution beyond Haiti, conquering the neighboring Spanish colony of Santo Domingo (present-day Dominican Republic).  He abolished slavery in the Spanish-speaking colony and declared himself Governor-General for life over the entire island of Hispaniola.

Aerial view of La Citadelle Laferriere

It recent times Haiti has been largely under US control and tutelage since Wilson’s marines invaded 80 years ago.

By now the country is in such a catastrophic state that it may uninhabitable in the not too distant future. What was once rich has now been stripped. The people of Haiti live in abject poverty as the natural resources of their country have been taken by private business in collusion with government, under the guise of ‘free trade’ and Globalisation. Most of these workers are women who suffer under a regime which cannot invest in social objectives because it has received loans which prescribe the minimization of services such as employee rights, health and education.

differences in haiti landscape with graphics haiti

Now I know this is not Uganda. The Pearl is lush but steadily we are cutting down our trees to feed an urban population and who knows what is happening behind closed doors and under the table.

uganda trees UGANDA LANDSCAPE

Babylon now uses a fiscal system instituted over 100 years ago to monopolize the resources of the planet, which has been sliced, diced and defined by geo-political borders and so called democracy.

I believe in power for the people by the people but what we have now is wealth creation for a Silent Minority.

Babylon chooses profit over people. It doesn’t matter how much blood is shed and how many people are lost to disease, war, malnutrition as long as shareholders get their dividends. Our minds will continue to be filled with propaganda. There is no good news on Aljazeera, it would seem the whole world is at war.

What is going on in our country exactly? I know the electioneering has began in the slums, loud speakers blast partisan messages, people are gathering in local meetings to listen to politicians advocating for themselves.

Democracy is now beyond the people. The real power resides in the IMF, World Bank, UN and corporations.

Do our votes even mean anything? or are they just engineered to make us believe we have a say?

Humans like to feel like they have a choice, this is why God gave us free will.

But most of us are not free. Not mentally anyway.

‘Its a diplomatic procedure. Because see, my songs is hard stuff which politicians don’t want on them radio station because they still want people to live in ignorancy. While all people especially black people are divided, the world will keep on functioning in fantasy and bullshit’. Peter Tosh 1978

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Posted in Activism