This summit is a summit of equals,” said Portuguese Prime Minister, Jose Socrates, on December 8, 2007. “We are equals in our human dignity…but also equal in terms of political responsibility.”
The Portuguese were courting African presidents who know neither equality nor human dignity. No African president that I know of knows much about ‘political responsibility.’
Socrates made this moronic statement at the European Union (EU)/Africa summit in Lisbon as he tried to explain to a cynical world and to world democracies, in this case the EU, why they always accommodate, welcome and invite murderous dictators to their functions.
The man at the center of the storm was none other than Zimbabwe’s notorious dictator, Robert Mugabe.
Some EU countries did not want the tyrant anywhere near the summit because of his deplorable human rights record. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and a few others went as far as boycotting the summit in protest against Mugabe’s invitation and presence.
It was not, by any stretch of our imagination, a summit of “equals” as Socrates announced. And those nations in attendance were not ‘equal in their human dignity.’ Portugal was hosting thieves, murderers and human rights abusers. And, contrary to what Socrates told the world, they were not “equal in terms of political responsibility.” None of the African presidents in attendance felt bound by any “political responsibility” in their countries.
Which African president is bound or concerned about anything happening in Africa?
Serious conflicts of one type or other are always in progress in many African countries but not one African President consistently stands up to urge continental order and tolerance.
Botswana, Zimbabwe, DR Congo, Nigeria, Somalia, Ethiopia, Namibia, Swaziland, Sudan and many more African countries all have simmering, if not full blown conflicts in progress. “Equal in human dignity” indeed!
Tell that to the oppressed Swazis, who have their 17-year-old daughters always at the mercy of a shameless young dictator. Tell that to the Basarwa of Botswana who have a bone to pick with their compatriots. And the killing and economic mayhem in Zimbabwe?
Darfur and Somalia convict African leaders while Kenya disgraces them.
Africa has an ‘African Union’, a SADC, and a host of other useless organisations formed to milk money and sponsorship from Europe and America, money that is never used in the alleviation of local problems.
In the end, Mugabe’s attendance was a non-event while the embarrassing controversy over his invitation had been an unnecessarily big issue.
Shame on the so-called European Union. There is no union, like in the African countries they once subdued and shared amongst themselves. They are always arguing and violating their own regulations and agreements.
All over the world, kidnapping is a pretty serious offence. The world agreed on laws to protect children around the world.
To my dismay, a group of French “aid workers” collected over a hundred African children in Chad and attempted to smuggle them out of Africa for “a better life and education”, presumably in France.
They were a humanitarian organization, they said, and they called themselves Zoe’s Ark. They were collecting orphans, who they said were victims of the Darfur crisis, to take to France for their betterment.
Shortly, it became clear something was just not right.
It was found out that members of Zoe’s Ark definitely lied when ‘acquiring’ those African children.
In Chad, it was established that, contrary to what the French ‘Samaritans’ were saying, the children were neither orphans nor were they from Sudan. They were Chadians. The parents and relatives came forward to claim their off-spring and told a very different story from what the so-called benefactors had told the world. Africans get no respect.
Be that as it may, what about France itself, the supposed destination of these ‘orphans’? Instead of the nonsensical tirade, why didn’t the authorities of both countries simply check the destination of those “orphans” and see if the purported trip had been pre-arranged. It had to be for such a large contingent of children.
When a plane is chartered or flies legitimately, there has to be a paper trail. Among other things are flight plans and, in this case, the obvious mandatory necessity of notifying Immigration Departments of both countries, not to mention the participation of their respective Social Services Departments.
Painfully and typical of African governments, who, contrary to their daily rantings clamouring for sovereignty, the sovereign state of Chad, with hardly any prompting, ‘repatriated’ the convicted child thieves back to France “to serve their sentences in their own country.”
All it took was a phone call from French President Nicholas Sarkozy. Idriss Deby, our sovereign African president, put the white foreigners, who had clearly violated African children’s rights and the laws of Chad by attempting to kidnap or steal children, on the first plane out; as if he was actually protecting the perpetrators, which, in effect, he was.
Before we leave this most disgusting and deplorable event, please, imagine, if you will, if these children had been white, kidnapped by Africans. Oh, no, don’t roll your eyes to the heavens. Imagine if these children were white and had been abducted by people from outside Europe or America.
Tell me another story please. The world is repulsive.
In July, that notorious autocrat from Libya, Muammur Gaddafi, sold out on more than 400 African children who had, according to Gaddaffi’s own courts, been deliberately infected with the AIDS virus. Again by foreigners, including a Palestinian doctor.
The trial was long and acrimonious. Sentences were passed, upheld and reviewed. And upheld again. The foreigners were guilty, Libyan courts emphasized.
And the Europeans, hypocritically reviled as they may be and ever watchful and protective of their compatriots, responded. Millions of dollars were paid to the relatives of the Libyan children.
Our African presidents accept money in exchange for their citizens’ lives.
Sadly, in the end, however, all the culprits, including Ashraf Juma Hajuj, the Palestinian doctor who was literally rewarded with Bulgarian citizenship, were let to leave Libya to ‘serve’ their sentences in Europe. Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov pardoned them as soon as their plane touched down in the capital Sofia.
For goodness’ sake, why do Africans always elect morons to the presidency or tolerate illiterates from the military when they stage coups?
Why do we put up with this kind of drivel? When will we ever learn? It is beginning to appear as if the rest of Africa was better off under colonialists than under ‘indigenous’ African leaders.
Who is there to protect Africans since our presidents are keener on protecting foreigners who abuse locals?
Who are these people who call themselves presidents and have their ugly photographs pasted in every office in Africa?
What relationship do I have with my president? Something binds us to our presidents and it better not be blood because these African presidents spill our blood.
Can’t I be blessed with one, just one visionary African president who can infect Africa?
Meanwhile in South Africa, the situation looks very bleak.
Jacob Zuma is precariously perched to take over that country after the hapless Thabo Mbeki. Is this the best we can do? Considering how important South Africa is to Africa and to the world, are we already doomed, lacking, as appears we do, clean, strong and noble leadership?
Zuma must, however, sit down and map a foreign policy that is progressive, a policy that props up South Africa as the most important player on Africa’s economic and political landscape.
But busy going into court more often than the judges trying him, will he have the time to look at all things Mbeki did wrong and see how he can improve or change course?
I applaud Zuma for his resilience and for the people who stood their ground for whatever its worth.
But I also worry about Zuma’s own safety; he should note that he embarrassed and angered many people who did not expect him to go as far as he did and against as much powerful odds.
Zuma must remember that this is Africa and that we have shoulders so we can look over them.
*Tanonoka Joseph Whande is a Botswana-based Zimbabwean journalist.