The Africans on The Eve of Needed Reforms
By Paul Japheth Sunwabe
September 5, 2001
Since the end of the Cold War, the world has experienced unprecedented economic growth and political stability. From Asia to Latin and Central America, economic revivals have turned dilapidated cities into enclaves of hope, political stability and economic prosperity. Meanwhile, the Continent of Africa, which is endowed with vast natural resources, continues to experience economic decline, political instability and poverty of unimaginable proportions. The African Continent has 24.6 million people infected with either Aids or the virus that causes Aids (BBC News 2001). The World Health Organization predicts that more than four millions Africans will die of Aids related illnesses in the next two years. Twelve African nations are embroiled in civil wars, and African Governments spend 12 billion dollars annually on the importation of weaponry projectiles (Dr. George Ayittey, 2000 George Washington University panel discussion). Millions of Africans live off one US dollar daily and cannot meet their basic needs. The continent's problems have reached apocalyptic proportions, and there is now an international outcry for political, social and economic reforms. But are the Africans up to the task?
Today, there is a consensus among Africans that their continent is in a serious predicament, and there is a need to find a lasting solution to the continent's political, social and economic quandaries. In the search for predictable solutions to the African Continent's problems, foreign governments, African Heads of States, African intellectuals and pundits have resorted to the annual hosting of conferences in efforts to devise, promulgate and implement policies that would extricate Africa from societal ills. Unfortunately, some of the recent African National Conferences have been idealistically bankrupt and have failed woefully; resulting in doomsday scenarios across the African Continent.
There is nothing wrong with the noble idea of a group of people congregating to discuss, and find solutions to what is internationally known as the "dilating African economic and political crises". In fact, conferences have played pivotal roles in the resolution of most of the world's political and ethnic crises. America and its European allies met frequently during the Second World War to strategize and coordinate military efforts with the express intent of defeating Nazi Germany. The Marshall Plan, which rejuvenated and reconstructed post WW II Europe was a result of well thought out European-American Conference. Similarly, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and other founding fathers of African nations met in 1960 at an African conference in Ethiopia, and established the Organization of African National Unity to preserve and protect Africa's independence and to challenge Western imperialism and intellectual dishonesty. Tom Mboya a Kenyan student attending Dr. Kwame Nkrumah's All Africa Congress Conference in Ghana in 1958 summed the importance of an African conference in these words: "Europe is yesterdayAfrica is tomorrowHands off AfricaEuropeans get out offAfricans have had a belly full of Europeans!" (Africa Betrayed 1990 p; 110). Then, an African conference had a place and purpose in the lives of the oppressed populace of Africa. Today, however, the story is a lot different: African National Conferences serve as forums for the advancement of deliberate deceptions, and self- congratulatory hackneyed. On July 12, 2000, African Heads of States met in Lome, Togo at the grandiose, but unproductive Organization of African Unity Conference. Then, the goal was to advance Nkrumah's Pan African ideology, and to empower the organization's conflict resolution committee.
But before the conference proceeded, Togo's life long dictator, Gnassingbe Eyadema was crowned the OAU's new President, and for what was termed his exemplary and courageous show of incisive and visionary continental leadership. But while the buffoons congratulated Eyadema for thirty years of thievery, grotesque corruption, and even employed mimicry such as the chief arbiter of disputes in Africa, the renewed African democratic icon and an apostle of peace all in fervent efforts to sell their man to the World and their victims, the indigent African population, the United Nations indicted the career West African crook for illegal diamonds trade and arm shipments to Dr. Jonas Savimbi's UNITA rebels. Even then, respectable African leader like Thabo Mbeki of South Africa was mute, and refused to comment publicly on the indictment against the continent's new redeemer. After all, in this place we call Africa; one does not criticize his brother even when the case and evidence against him are irrefutable. Dissenting from this continental tradition of complicity, Angola's Government, which was under tremendous military pressure from Savimbi's rebels, boycotted the conference and derided President Eyadema in these words: "Mr. Eyadema has transformed his country into a major logistical, political and diplomatic rear-base for the murderous war led by Mr. Jonas Savimbi (BBC News July 2000 p, 3). My fellow Africans, should we continue to waste our time and energy on the unproductive OAU Conferences taking place on the African Continent?
With our penchant for conferences bordering on idolatry, charlatans and emissaries of Africa's thieving dictatorial regimes are exploiting our ignorance and stupidity by organizing conferences, which portray the listless, garrulous and gangster Presidents of Africa as saviors of the African Continent. Often, these national conferences whose adopted policies do not forestall corruption, thievery and banditry, are conducted behind impregnable walls and fences, shielding the inept and imperious charlatans from Africa's intrepid and impudent democratic forces. In March of 2000, Leonard Robertson an African American who once lobbied for one of Africa's arch dictators, the late General Sani Abacha hosting "The African National Submit" in Washington, DC in a desperate attempt to put Africa on the radar screen of US Economic, Trade and Foreign Policymakers. In the usual flamboyant African style, African intellectuals and students residing in the West, as well as some of Africa's criminal parliamentarians, an African President, and the many nefarious Africans perambulating the streets of America under falsehoods (i.e. Ph. D. holders, etc) descended on Washington DC to participate in a national submit intended to extricate Africa from continued economic ruin and grotesque plunder. Again, the African conference goers failed to do one fundamental thing: that is, to check the backgrounds of the conference organizers and panelists.
As the conference goers departed Washington, DC, the Washington Post Newspapers did the unthinkable: it carried an article accusing Mr. Robertson of lobbying for the treacherous regime of Abacha, and voiced the opinion of a few visionary Africans who now suspect black on black colonization with some African Americans and native African totalitarian leaders serving as the new colonizers (Washington post July 2000). As expected, Mr. Robertson refuted and challenged the veracity of the Post's article, distorting African history with insolence and barrage of anachronisms. Among other things, the opportunistic Black American sycophant argued that a colonizer physical resides in a colony and since he was not residing in Africa, he could not be considered a colonizer. Isn't it a shame for this self-proclaimed African pundit to distort history in this despicable fashion? Isn't it true that local administrators, without the physical presence of the colonizers, administered some of Europe's African colonies? Mr. Robertson we are fed up with your invectives, and your conferences, which abate, plunder and inundate over people with tyranny.
When the Liberian Civil War ended in 1997, The Rev Jesse Jackson hastily put together the Chicago-Liberian Conference on reconciliation and political stability. Liberians marched into Chicago wearing three-piece coat suits, beautiful African attires, riding in Limousines and with the traditional line-ups of concubines the OAU style. Liberia's criminal President Charles Taylor joined the conference via a satellite phone from his Executive Mansion office on Capital Hill in Monrovia. Rather than discussing the root causes of Liberia's Civil Madness, Taylor launched a tirade, accusing the USA of fomenting seas of discords in Liberia. When a conference attendee inculcated Mr. Taylor to state how Liberia would be re-built, Taylor craftily circumvented the question and went off on a tangent, making vain promises that are yet to be fulfilled, almost four years after the intransigent martinet was imposed on the Liberian people by a failed regional policy. You see, native Africans have gotten the wrong diagnosis and prescriptions for their continent's woes. The majority of the problems Africa faces lie within Africa, and the protagonists are Africans; hence the solutions to our problems should be sought in Africa. Why too often opt for solutions crafted by Western ingrates like Jesse Jackson and Leonard Robertson? Isn't it true that solutions sought in the corridors of the World Bank, the IMF, the US State Department and the British Foreign Office have all failed us? To be blunt, isn't it fair to say that the likes of Samuel Doe, IBB, Yoweri Museveni, Laurent Kabila; the continent's huge debt crisis and its ubiquitous civil wars are all results of the foreign solutions. Why do we keep wasting our time on these conferences?
The chicanery of the likes of Jesse Jackson, Leonard Robertson and the Congressional Black Caucasus need to be exposed: in 1997, James Bird Jr., an African American was dragged to death by Taxes' neo-Nazi racists and Jesse demanded prompt justice. In the same year, Nowah Flumo a spokes-woman for the Liberian Marketing Association was dragged from her Paynesville suburban Liberian residence and bayoneted by Taylor's elite criminal ATU forces. But Jesse, and the Congressional Black Caucus were nowhere to be found. Shortly after General Sani Abacha executed Nigerian playwright and Ogoni activist Ken Saro Wiwa in 1995, Senator Carol Moseley Braun, then the US only black senator, flow to Nigeria on a trip that her critics thought bolstered tyranny to the detriment of Nigerian democratic activism. When asked why she was visiting a nation whose venality and political brutality were contrary to the US quest for democracy and respect for the rule of law in Africa, the senator lashed out at the predominately white journalist accusing them of racism, and arguing that had she been a Jewish American senator visiting Israel on the eve of an Israeli military clampdown on Palestinian activists, nobody would have questioned her trip.
On the eve of Charles notorious Taylor ascendance to the Liberian Presidency, New Jersey Congressman Donald Payne sent a letter to US President Bill Clinton urging the American President to receive Mr. Taylor with ardor and US developmental Aid. A few weeks later, Taylor ordered the execution of his wartime ally and comrade Samuel Saye Dokie and his entire family. Again, Congressman Payne, Rev. Jesse Jackson and the entire Black Caucasus were mute. When the Revolutionary United Front rebels of Sierra Leone marched on Freetown on New Year's Day of 2000, and slaughtered thousands of women, children, innocent men and African Peacekeepers, Jesse clandestinely departed Washington for Lome, Togo, where he surreptitiously negotiated the laughable "Lome Peace Accord", which placated the perfidy and immutable murderous policy of the rebels. After General Sani Abacha jailed Nigeria's democratically elected president Mushood Abiola and orchestrated the execution of his wife, K. Abiola, Nation of Islam's intractable leader Louis Farrakhan traveled to Nigeria where he hailed the "craven African beast," General Sani Abacha as an African hero. As an African child ponders on the involvement of North America's black leaders in Africa's pervasive civil unrest and carnage, he is nonplussed, agitated and faced with several questions: Are the civil rights and liberties of blacks in the Americas different from those of their brothers and sisters perishing under the roofs of Taylor, Bongo, Comporare, etc.? Is Rev. Jesse Jackson a true follower of the noble ideas and visions that epitomize Dr. King's humanity? Or is Jesse just an opportunity poster boy for America's television political talk shows? If black unity, Pan Africanism, and the universal declaration of human rights are ideas the black race is truly dedicated to, than why have Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Congressional Black Caucasus and Africans residing in the West turned blind eyes to political oppression, human rights abuses and the looting of Africa by its demonic leaders?
So, here we are again my fellow Africans. We have had more conferences since the advent of the tumultuous decade of the 1990s. Despite this, our continent's future remains bleak, and our people are now inured to poverty and economic cruelty. History now entreats us all to do what is right: that is, to transform Africa for our grandparents, our parents ourselves and the un-born generation of Africans. Let us rise to the challenge, plan conferences rooted in our African tradition and allow the voices of indigenous Africans to be heard at these conferences. The best African conference is one that involves all of Africa. Let us now put our people at the heart of our reform efforts, always bearing in mind that, our strengths lie in African Unity.
Editor's note: Paul Japheth Sunwabe is a co-founder and President of Freedom and International Justice, a Washington DC, based political organization seeking justice and democracy in Africa.
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