In the 60s the majority of colonised countries witnessed their access to political independence. Such occurrence was mainly a result of historical factors which had assisted or strengthened a clear and deep consciousness about human rights among oppressed people across the world. Unfortunately, the joy for their new social status did not last longer. Soon the yesterdays’ oppressed people discovered at their own disappointment that what had changed was only the skin colour of their oppressors. More painful to admit was the fact that colonisers had not effectively left. Only their clothing had been redesigned. They continued their previous operations throughout the new political system by using local rulers as their proxies or agents.
And then there were military coup which flourished between the 60s and 80s, particularly on the African continent. This was the time of strongmen and Kaddafi had emerged in Libya as a young military officer through a bloodless coup in 1967. Some of these leaders of post-independence pretended to be very nationalist and patriotic but their practices did not reflect at all great empathy towards the well being of the citizens. In those times, that is when political leaders strengthened their stronghold on all instruments of power. In order to remain there they developed structures and mechanisms of oppression appropriate for that purpose. Those who got into leadership throughout the 80s and early 90s through rebel movements did even worst. They killed in the millions. In addition, they did not allow survivors to mourn their dead.
A friend called me on Thursday 24th February 2011 at 10.15 pm. He had just been watching on a British TV channel news about Libya and the seemingly atrocities being committed during the social uprising in that country. He wanted to know what I thought about those events. In January of this year I had been in Tripoli for an international conference where Colonel Kaddafi had convened the African Diaspora to discuss ways of living a decent life abroad and supporting Africa development. Before attending the conference I had been accosted by a Ghanaian victim of Libyan oppressive system inviting me not to go.
As my Ghanaian friend put it at the time, by attending the conference I would be supporting the Libyan political system. I resisted his call since I wanted to see by myself what the country was like. There was also the Africanist side of the Libyan leader I wanted to discover. Of course there was the human rights issue which I knew about but in my understanding had been hyped by western media because in the past the Libyan regime had vigorously attacked the West. In some sense I was interested in Libya just like the Westerners who have been exploiting the country’s oil as long as they could, while looking away on any negative local problem. Anyway, this has been a constant in the attitude of westerners in their relations with other countries where they have strong economic and political interests.
While the recent situation in Libya unfolded I read in the papers with an open mind, leaving aside the Western media’s xenophobia about the country. I purposely avoided watching TV for fear of being completely brainwashed and intoxicated. In fact, it is unfortunate that most people around the world today have to see, understand and interpret their world or the one around them or far away through somebody else’s eyes. Such people like the majority of us following the news constantly through those channels are not allowed to have their own opinion on what may be happening or not in places like Libya. I consider that we have become commodities for news producers, not people anymore capable of thinking by ourselves. And they make us pay to be treated in such manner. What a world we live in?
I would not want to appear to be an advocate of evil that the Western media has been calling Kaddafi for their own reasons, but clearly and fundamentally different or hidden from those that they tell their audience. When I saw the picture of Tony Blair, former British Prime Minister, on the front page of The Times on Monday 28th February 2011, I couldn’t resist siding with Kaddafi. The paper reported that ‘he (Blair) had spoken to the colonel twice on Friday 25th February 2011. The dictator repeated his public threat to stay in his country and die.’ ‘What is happening shocks everyone. We want to see it brought to an end,’ he added. The question here could be: ‘Are we heading towards another Iraq war with false allegations of weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein had? ’ Until proven otherwise, and since people are being told one side of the story by an interested media which is apparently on a public vendetta against an enemy of the West, there are strong fears that the picture which is being shown is half true or real.
We don’t know how many of his own people Kaddafi may have killed or continue to kill to remain in power. Because we are looking at the figures through Westerner media interested loops, we may never know the precise death toll or even the whole picture of what happened once the uprising is consumed whenever this will or not happen. It is not that those lives are worthless that they should not be cared about and Kaddafi brought to account for their loss if he is the one responsible. The important issue here is how far the West through its media is really caring about Libyan lives that the current uprising in the country is enabling to waste.
It is surprising that at a different time, especially in December 2010 Tony Blair stood firm and defended another dictator on the African continent. Blair told the Guardian newspaper: ‘I’m a believer in and a supporter of Paul Kagame – the Rwandan president. I don’t ignore all those criticisms, having said that. But I do think you’ve got to recognize that Rwanda is an immensely special case because of the genocide. Secondly, you can’t argue with the fact that Rwanda has gone on a remarkable path of development. Every time I visit Kigali and the surrounding areas you can just see the changes being made in the country.’ The former prime minister went on to excuse the role of Paul Kagame’s regime in the killing of Hutu refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo, though the crimes had been clearly and professionally investigated by experts who published the UN Mapping Report. From 1996 to 2007 International Rescue Committee estimated that Congolese wars where Paul Kagame’s army played a significant role had killed directly and indirectly almost five millions of people, mainly Congolese and Hutu refugees. ‘You’ve got to understand that it’s a very difficult situation in Congo because you’ve got the rival forces fighting each other and that’s spilling across into his territory,’ he explained. This narrative contradicts the reality on the ground which has been covered up for years by Paul Kagame’s sponsors in the West.
Calling the Rwandan president only a brutal dictator would be a gross understatement. It also does not make any sense of comparing Kagame’s and Kaddafi’s dictatorships, because they are at two different extremes for example in terms of death tolls they should be accountable for in front of courts. In the case of Paul Kagame, numerous evidence show today that he initiated the genocide of 1994 which killed more than 500,000 people, mainly Tutsis. His rule after the genocide was responsible of the death of hundreds of thousands of Hutus inside Rwanda. His army also committed apparently a genocide against Hutus refugees in DRC according to the UN Mapping report as published on October 1st, 2010. Seeing Paul Kagame indicted for his crimes is an arduous and ongoing work being pursued by many organisations and countries representing the victims. The task does not become easy when the Rwandan president is supported by Westerners for their selfish interests.
Maybe because of the way Kaddafi stood against the West in the past, today the West has a golden opportunity to get him pay back. He has also been among rare African leaders since Nkwame Nkrumah, and Thomas Sankara, who have categorically opposed US, UK and French economic, political and military hegemony on the continent, while doing everything to get established the United States of Africa. Having a united Africa would be a blow to the many exploiters of the continent since immemorial times. The West may today want to get hold of the country’s wealth, particularly the oil fields and why not Kaddafi’s assets which are in the billions of dollars in Western banks and countries according to The Times.
Western national interests will always be difficult obstacles that democrats from oppressed places will have to overcome constantly. Those interests do not care about lives that some time need to be lost or monstrous lies that must be said in order to fulfil them. As a consequence of such a permanent occurrence, we should stop from being fooled by Western double standards and not let them hijack our legitimate uprisings. No wonder that even those who may be protesting against Kaddafi have requested the West not to intervene in their internal affairs. They must know well their hypocrisy. You may disagree. If you do, please share with us your point of view.