Archive for June, 2009

This murder…

یہ قتل قتل کسی ایک آدمی کا نہیں
یہ قتل حق کا مساوات کا شرافت کا
یہ قتل عِلم کا حِکمت کا آدمیت کا
یہ قتل حِلم و مُروّت کا خاکساری کا
یہ قتل ظلم رسیدوں کی غم گساری کا
یہ قتل ایک کا دو کا نہیں، ہزار کا ہے
خدا کا قتل ہے قدرت کے شاہ کار کا قتل
یہ شام شامِ غریباں، ہے صبح صبح حُنین
یہ قتل قتلِ مسیحا یہ قتل قتلِ حُسین

مخدوم محی الدین

yeh qatl qatl kisi ek aadmi ka nahiN
yeh qatl haq ka musaawaat ka sharaafat ka
yeh qatl ilm ka hikmat ka aadmiyat ka
yeh qatl hilm-o murawwat ka Khaaksaari ka
yeh qatl zulm raseedoN ki gham gusaari ka
yeh qatl ek ka do ka nahiN, hazaar ka hai
Khuda ka qatl hai qudrat ke shaahkaar ka qatl
yeh shaam shaam-e GhareebaaN hai subh subh-e hunayn
yeh qatl qatl-e maseeha yeh qatl qatl-e husayn

This murder is not the murder of any one person
This is the murder of truth, of equality, of decency
This is the murder of knowledge, of wisdom, of humanity
This is the murder of tolerance and kindness, of humility
This is the murder of sympathy with the most oppressed
This is the murder of not one or two, but that of a thousand
This is the murder of God, the murder of the masterpiece of providence
This evening is the evening of desolation, this morning the morning of Hunayn
This murder is the murder of Christ, this murder is the murder of Husayn

Makhdoom Mohiuddin

(My translation)

Update: This poem was translated into Persian by Eskandar. Makhdoom wrote this poem upon the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr (in 1968). It is the first of three parts, but I’ll leave the other two for later.

Shaam-e-Ghareeban is literally, “evening of the poor,” but I learned from Eskandar’s translation that this refers to the commemoration of the martyrdom of Husayn (see below) on the 10th of Muharram (Ashura), and so, following Eskandar, “evening of desolation” it is.

The Battle of Hunayn was fought between the Muslims and certain tribes after the conquest of Makkah. In the opening part of the battle, the Muslims were ambushed and in disarray despite their strong numbers, which resulted in the slaughter of many of them. The battle was later turned around for Muslim victory, but apparently after great loss.

Husayn ibn Ali was the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad and the son of Ali ibn Abi Talib, Muhammad’s cousin. He was killed (martyred) by Yazid’s forces — many considered Yazid to be a usurper of the caliphate — at the Battle of Karbala.

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Writing on Mozambique, pt. 7: Forming an argument

I think, after over a year, and having read widely (to say the least) on Mozambique, I think I’ve arrived at a point where I can write a paper that answers the question that was posed by Saul — though perhaps not according to his framework:

Assess the nature of the chief liberation movement (Frelimo) in [Mozambique], trace that movement’s development in the post-colonial period (including an assessment of any meaningful opposition it has faced), and assess the prospects that that movement has offered and now offers for realizing the meaningful development of the people for whom it professes to speak.

I want to address the question of the relationship between the economic and the political in Mozambique, in the terms of bourgeois scholarship. A good way to get into this is Peter Lewis’s article on the paradox of “growth without prosperity” in Africa. Lewis takes, as his starting point, the notions that a) economic liberalization (market economy) and political liberalization (liberal democracy) share an “elective affinity” because they both rely on openness, transparency, and such, b) that economic liberalization should lead to economic growth, c) that political liberalization should lead to redistributive measures. The paradox is that, despite economic and political liberalization, sub-Saharan Africa as a whole might have seen economic growth (in Mozambique, one of the highest sustained rates of GDP growth in all of sub-Saharan Africa), but human development indicators has not matched up (in fact, is awful) and inequality is high as poverty persists massively.

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Fanon and Nkrumah on négritude and African socialism

As early as 1961, Fanon critiqued in general the movements and leaders of newly independent African states, whose main concern seemed to have been staying in power and aggrandizing themselves or the elites (the underdeveloped “bourgeoisie of civil servants”) on whose support they relied. Fanon also critiqued the concept of négritude as espoused by Senghor — in particular the idea of returning to a pristine past. “We should not … be content to delve into the people’s past to find concrete examples to counter colonialism’s endeavours to distort and depreciate.” Similarly, Nkrumah repudiated the term “African socialism” in 1966, noting that

the realities of the diverse and irreconcilable social, political, and economic policies being pursued by African states today have made the term ‘African socialism’ meaningless and irrelevant. It appears to be much more closely associated with anthropology than with political economy.

Like Fanon, Nkrumah rejected the call for a return to a pristine pre-colonial Africa, noting that no such pristine, classless or non-hierarchical Africa ever existed in the first place. Fanon and Nkrumah were both asserting that there was nothing unique about Africa that immunized its societies from class conflict. Reaching a proper, socialist Pan-African culture was a matter of political practice, not retreat into an imagined culture. Fanon notes that

The problem is knowing what role [African politicians] have in store for their people, the type of social relations they will establish and their idea of the future of humanity. That is what matters. All else is hot air and mystification.

Nkrumah called for a turn toward socialism focusing on the particular conditions facing particular countries, recognizing that “there is only one nature, subject in all its manifestations to natural laws and that human society is, in this sense, part of nature and subject to its own laws of development” — scientific socialism. Fanon called for the creation of a new national culture based on a collective consciousness reached through the mobilization of the masses (particularly the lumpenproletariat and the peasantry), led by a revolutionary party, to stamp out the “useless and harmful bourgeoisie” — class struggle. In other words: revolutionary theory and practice.


Fanon, Frantz. The Wretched of the Earth. Translated by Richard Philcox. New York: Grove Press, 2004.

Nkrumah, Kwame. “African Socialism Revisited.” In The Africa Reader: Independent Africa, edited by Wilfred G. Cartey and Martin Kilson, 200-208. New York: Random House, 1970.

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