Friday, October 28, 2011



By Sokari Ekine
27 October 2011

Sokari Ekine takes a look at what 'African bloggers had to say about Gaddafi's demise and Libya's freedom celebrations.'
'All evils including Gaddafi have vanished from our beloved country!' - Mahmoud Jibril, Prime Minister of Libya.
In thinking about writing this piece the thought crossed my mind 'The tyrant is dead, Long live the tyrants!' We all agree - well almost - that there is cause for celebration now that Muammar Gaddafi has passed to the beyond, so what else is there to say?

We can talk about the imperialists role in facilitating his demise and their future role in Libya - Firoze Manji describes his death as symbolic of 'the final re-colonisation and occupation of Libya' and reminds us of the importance of the huge water resources in Libya. What about the various Libyan militias for whom extrajudicial punishment has become part and parcel of the 'revolution'? Is the TNC really in control - and the question which has bothered me for months: Who are they really? Reactionaries, monarchists, Islamists or a mix of all three? I've also wondered about Gaddafi himself and how despicable he was or was not, and what his death means for other dictators and tyrannical leaders.

Horrified at the manner of his death and that of his son, particularly the abuse beyond death, I was tempted to go down the self-righteous route because I am weary of actions of hatred, weary of killings, militarism and scenes of young men wielding automatic weapons as third arm extensions of their masculinities in the name of liberation and freedom - a word which means different things to different people. To the Libyan people, maybe freedom means the end of Gaddafi. But the notion that one will be free in an environment awash with weapons and blood lust now that he has gone escapes me.

On the verge of ambivalence I read Spiked editor Brenden O'Neill's excellent critique of two sides of the Libyan coin - 'The leeches and legalists squabbling over Gaddafi'. O'Neill asks who comes out worst: Is it western leaders trying to make 'moral momentum' and attempting to boost their failing 'political existences'? Or is it the UN and liberal press who complain about the illegalities of his killings, forcing us all to witness the ensuing debate for the next '500 years'. His conclusion - that 'it's a close thing':

Recent Gaddafi cartoon made for Cartoon Movement.
'We may never decide upon a winner in this competition of degraded responses to Gaddafi's demise. But one thing is certain: the post-Gaddafi debate has exposed some serious rot at the heart of the Western political class. On one side, we have prime ministers and presidents leeching off the killing of a tinpot tyrant in the hope that it will secure them a paragraph or two, maybe even a mugshot, in future books on world history. And on the other side, we have an army of naysayers, risk-averse pen-pushers dolled up as men of principle, for whom no earthly event can be allowed to pass without becoming the subject of an interminable inquiry.'

Perhaps Gaddafi preferred the 'literal lynch mob' to the judicial one which surely awaited him, thinking that the former would be less humiliating. Perhaps he preferred to die at the hands of his own people in his own country, thus depriving the imperialists and self-righteous from 'advertising their moral pre-eminence by interrogating him for years and writing endless articles about his evilness'.

I am not sure where this leaves me but I am thankful that across the world the 'Occupy' movement is spreading, as thousands and thousands of people engage in an awakening through peaceful but determined protests for change. At the same time there is much hypocrisy as Syria, Bahrain and Yemen remain under the rule of tyrants and murderers - yet the imperialists remain silent.

Here is what a few African bloggers had to say about Gaddafi's demise and Libya's freedom celebration:
From Cameroon, Innocent Chia of the Chia Report argues that when African leaders begin to respect limited terms in office, then they and Africans will earn the respect of peers in the world:

'As Libya disposes of the remains of the Libyan autocrat, Muammar Kaddafi, and Cameroon ironically crowns dictator Biya in the days ahead, it cannot, nor must it, be lost on any right thinking person that it is easier to figure out one person than it is figuring a number of people.

'Paul Biya has been representing (selling) Cameroon interests for 29 years! The upside of it is that he should be great at it because experience "is the best teacher". Or is it not? Before we consider the question of whether experience/longevity is not the best teacher, it must be said of it that nurtures stability and continuity.

'But stability and continuity, in business like in politics, are double edged swords. Opponents get to know very well who you are - including the strengths and weaknesses of the leader or regime. Such knowledge, in the hands of the enemy, becomes extremely important during negotiation.'

West Africa Democracy Radio (WADR) interviewed Cameroonian political scientist, Guy Parfait Songue who believes Gaddafi was a great leader. If you can bear it listen to the full interview here.
'Gaddafi spent most of his time, energy and money to unify Africa.
'He says for some on the African continent, Gaddafi's legacy is his struggle to create the United States of Africa, but to no avail.

'Unfriendly to the word globalization and not fully convinced democracy is key to economic and social development, Cameroonian Political Science lecturer at the 'Douala University, Songue argues that Africa has slipped 50 years backward in its decolonization process, with the death of Gaddafi.'
Zainul Mzige of Dewjiblog is also not happy to see the end of Gaddafi and complains that the media has failed to 'show the kind giving Gaddafi we never heard'. A similar view to some depressingly misguided African Americans who took to the streets to mourn the man!
'Gaddafi unlike most dictators I will refrain from naming them [why?] has shown his humane side, the very side we dream of seeing in other dictators who just talk and talk...'

Mzige then goes on to list 'unknown facts' such as no interest loans, homes for all, gifts to newly-weds, education and medical treatment and cheap oil. This is like saying I should be grateful if a rich person throws me a few dollars for food everyday while at the same time choking me with their foot!
The Moor Next Door (The 'Brother Leader' is dead. Let us not say 'Long live the Brother Leader) quotes from the Economist:

'He ruled unsparingly. In his Libya, dissent was punishable by death. A private press was forbidden, and political parties banned. Several dozen deaths a year of political opponents were attributed to his secret police, acting on tip-offs from the surveillance committees to which around 10% of Libyans belonged. In Abu Salim prison, on one night in 1996, 1,200 political prisoners died. If his enemies fled abroad, his hired assassins found these "scum" and killed them. The colonel's writ, as recorded in his Green Book" of rambling political philosophy, replaced the rule of law.'

Egyptian Chronicles is unsympathetic to those non-Libyans complaining about the manner of his death or worse those who feel his provision of free health and housing somehow compensated for the violence he unleashed against his people.
'Please nobody teaches the Libyans about POWs rights. The NTC told Qaddafi's tribe that they can bury him as they want.

'The debate of the scenes of Qaddafi's capture and corpse is still on. The UN is having a probe in his death. The Libyan people are now branded as barbaric, of course nobody likes to remember what the Italians did to Benito Mussolini.

'The Libyans have kept Seif Al Islam alive because unlike his mental sick father knows everything. The NTC is officially demanding the rest of the clan from Algeria and Niger.
'Of course those who did not live under the rule of Qaddafi , who were not tortured or raped by Qaddafi's troops , who were not forced in to exile or who did not see their beloved ones executed or killed by the Qaddafi's regime in those bloody 42 years that sent Libya in to the dark ages , can say whatever they want. It is up to the Libyans not to anyone of us. Already I remember in my coverage for the Libyan revolution since February 2011, Libyans made it clear that he would not make it alive.

'Already I am glad that it is finished like that because we do not anyone to have sympathy with him if he was put in a cage and faced a trial like Mubarak. Speaking about sympathy, Mustafa Bakry yesterday was mourning Qaddafi in his TV show just like a good orphan.'
Moving away from Libya and Gaddafi, Belinda Otis published a refreshing and inspiring interview with Sada Mire, the only Somaliland archaeologist whose task is to report on 'Africa's forgotten stories':
'Many people have an image of Africa or parts of Africa being very much the way they see it today, and that image is projected into the past. Slavery is projected into the past, colonialism and inferiority mentality is projected into the past.

Poverty, drought and the problems we are aware of in the last two centuries are projected into the very far past. My research into heritage in Somaliland, Egypt and Kenya is about showing that this continent and the people living in the different regions may have not always been that way, good or bad. What I want people to know for example is that research is now showing that Africa was, if not the first place, one of the first places in the world to melt iron and be involved in iron production. We never had bronze, in other parts of the word, the typology is that first, you have Stone Age culture, then you have bronze and then iron.

But inAfrica, we moved from Stone Age to iron at the same time others were using bronze before they knew about iron. So, I want people to know that Africa was at the forefront of technological development in the world and contributed not only slaves but technology and knowledge to other cultures. It was not just always the recipient that we know it as today.'

Finally Black Looks has a short report on the highly disturbing plans by Japan to export food from the Fukushima region to countries in the global south under the guise of development aid:

Sokari Ekine blogs at Black Looks.
'NHK [Japan National Broadcasting] reported that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is proposing to purchase industrial and canned fish products from disaster hit areas, Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate as "a means to tackle harmful rumor against their products". The Ministry applied for a budget $65 million for this purpose under overseas development aid [ODA]. These products have a high risk of being contaminated yet the Japanese government are intending to send them to countries in the global south! Not done with killing their own people they now want to spread their nuclear death under the disguise of aid - in other words kill and make even more people really sick!'