Mwalimu George Ngwane*
The magnitude of mayhem meted out on Libya by the Western Allied Forces under the mask of an emasculated United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) for the last three months has been unprecedented in recent times.
Pulling the wool over the eyes of the world into believing that Libya is undergoing a homegrown liberation catharsis akin to the genuine pro-democracy revolution in Tunisia and Egypt, NATO has succeeded in massacring innocent civilians and in shelling the towers of Tripoli into ruin and rubble.
It is estimated that by September 2011 America would have spent a whooping 1.1 billion US dollars on a war aimed at smoking out Muammar Gadaffi and sharing the spoils among its coalition of the willing. Deaf to the African voice of peaceful conflict resolution through the African Union and defiant of the proposals by the Pan African Parliament for a negotiated settlement of the Libyan crisis, NATO has continued to arrogantly stretch its mission in Libya beyond the breaking point.
Meeting on the 4th ordinary session in Addis Ababa last month, the Pan African Parliament “condemned the military aggression of NATO forces, requested the international community to stop the aggression so as to allow the people of Libya the chance for better understanding, condemned the media’s evil propaganda which Libya is facing and encouraged the convening of the UN General Assembly to consider NATO’s action of overstepping all boundaries with regard to the Security Council Resolution on Libya”. NATO’s naked carnage and its subtle transposition into a force of occupation has had the tacit backing of the UN thereby not only reenacting the Patrice Lumumba scenario during the Congo crisis in the early 60s but rubbishing Article I (i) of the UN Charter which “obliges member states to refrain from threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state and to further oblige states to settle their international disputes by peaceful means”.
June 26, 2011 shall turn the UN sixty-six and it might well spend time during this anniversary answering the question whether her complicity or complacency in the war in Libya has “saved succeeding generations from the scourge of war”.
In February 2010, I was in the company of students studying Conflict Prevention and Resolution in the UK whose field trip to The Hague took us to the trial of Charles Taylor in the International Court of Justice in the Netherlands. Before watching the trial, we were given lectures on the concepts of “crimes against humanity, genocide, war crimes” and the fact that part of the reason why Charles Taylor was in the dock was his alleged sponsorship of rebels in the Sierra Leonean war (blood diamond) which took place between 1993-2004. What are the Western Allied Forces doing adorning Libyan rebels with diplomatic garbs, collecting a war chest for the rebels, opening offices and recognizing a rebel outfit as well as encouraging the oil for arms trade with the rebels (blood oil)?
I sometimes wonder how useful the Chevening Fellowship Certificate offered me by the British Government at the end of my course on Conflict Prevention is when the same Government defies the logic of peaceful settlement in preference to a large scale orgy of state violence. And international human rights organisations, Eurocentric scholars and their African lackeys, the International Criminal Court and all the international moral crusaders are keeping mute waiting to raise their ominous voices each time Robert Mugabe kills a fly. Brazen double standards and outright hypocrisy.
In July 2009, I was among some panAfricanists including the Chairman of the African Union, Jean Ping, who were invited by the Senegalese Government to a Symposium on African Unity that held in Dakar. In his opening speech, President Abdoulaye Wade electrified the audience when he declared that he and other progressive leaders like Muammar Gadaffi would ensure that the United States of Africa becomes functional in 2017. Only six years away from his pet dream, Wade is on record to have been the only African Leader at the time of my writing this essay to have broken ranks with the African Union by visiting the armed rebels in Benghazi and inviting them to open office in Dakar. I am at loss at the relevance of a just published book titled “Century of Change- Symposium on African Unity” which is a compilation of essays by some of us in support of the vision of a United States of Africa which Wade passionately articulated in the Dakar symposium only two years ago. Brazen double talk and outright treachery.
When the Western Allied forces would have by their combined military prowess eliminated Muammar Gadaffi will they still have the moral mettle to condemn military coup d’etats in Africa? When NATO would have captured the soul of Libya through their wanton destruction and annihilation will they create a Marshall plan for the reconstruction of this prosperous and beautiful Libya that I visited in the year 2000? Will they get rid of the small arms and light weapons that will be hiding in Libya and her neighbours? All of this is not to lend credence to the tenacity syndrome or longevity in power status that has become the stock in trade of African leaders including Muammar Gadaffi. That is another debate which itself is neither the motivation nor the justification for the Western Allied Forces’ occupation of Libya.
The gem of leadership resides in the quality of service a leader gives out not in the quantity of years he or she puts in. Curiously enough Gadaffi is a blend of the two. If it were a simple indigenous and people’s uprising in Libya then Gadaffi like Ben Ali of Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt would have gone, but the “Gadaffi must go (die)” battle song resonates more in the warped trajectory of the Western belligerents and their surrogates than in the patriotic hearts of ordinary Libyans.
I am not in support of President Biya taking another term of office after close to thirty years at the helm of the state in Cameroon nor am I in support of his handpicking his successor be it his kin or kith, but were NATO and its coalition to turn their arsenal of ammunition on Biya for this purpose, I will be on Biya’s side.
After fifty years of nominal Independence, Africa’s malign or benign despotism cannot be replaced by Western malevolent or benevolent imperialism. The endgame of any malign African despot shall in the short or the long term be engendered by genuine homegrown people power which fortunately is now witnessing a groundswell from the anti- one man rule to the anti-monarchy stance.
But in times like these, the Afrocentric wave of democratic development should not be short-changed for an illusory Eurocentric support. The liberation of Libya lies in the hands of the resilient Libyans as a people and in the initiative of the African Union as a continent’s spokesperson. But were the Western Allied Forces to go against the grain of democratic common sense and in the event enlist Gadaffi into the martyrdom pantheon of Nkrumah, Lumumba, Cabral and Sankara then Africans and Africanists and hopefully the international community should consider the war on Libya as the watershed in a new world disorder.
*Mwalimu George Ngwane is Senior Chevening Fellow on Conflict Prevention and author of the book “Settling Disputes in Africa”