Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Celebrating deaths

I was almost determined not to write about Brother Gaddafi, there are too many fires raging already...but my mind is endlessly debating the matter and won't let me sleep.

It's 12.15am now and I see no end in sight. I have a 12hour school day ahead so I'm humouring myself so I can get some rest. Pardon me for this looong post and if my thoughts are all jumbled, I'm sleepy.
I just read Gaddafi's last speech (and commented on it, see above) and I cannot believe that I feel so much sympathy for someone who was probably one of the worst tyrants of our time. I have no doubt in my mind that he had his country's interests at heart and was working towards them. I went as far as wishing some of our politicians could take a cue from his focus. His personal excesses are another matter altogether but now, most of what I have are questions. Hence this boxing match in my mind that's keeping me up right now.

I can't help but think of Nkrumah and Gaddafi, Ghana and Libya and draw parallels. We also had a visionary who had the dream of uniting Africa and turned rogue too. I can't help but think: What if it has been Ghana in Libya's position? We have oil (and a couple of other things) too. If we were supposedly being 'terrorised' by a visionary despot would the world rush to our aid and intervene? Would the level of development that Nkrumah would have probably achieved be enough to keep us happy? Would we have rebelled at all, instead of being Ghanaian and grumbling in our bedrooms and smiling outside them? Would we have literally stuck a stick up his ***e in the end?? :(

I can't help but see the irony of the Libyan situation:

Gaddafi got to power by removing a monarch and then proceeded to establish his own by grooming his son(s) for the hot seat and ruling for over 40 years.

Gaddafi was relentless against his enemies, some were tortured, killed, some disappeared others fled. The result of absolute power is absolute corruption, so are we surprised? In the end he was pursued by NATO and its allies in a similar fashion: relentlessly.

Gaddafi hated foreign intervention and yet he has meddled in the destinies of many African countries, helping many leaders to and out of power. Yet he yelped the loudest about the foreign invasion in his own country. Or because his interventionist tendencies were towards Africans it doesn't count?

But who has helped his people (and other Africans) immensely? In Libya electricity was free. There was no interest on loans, banks in Libya are state-owned and loans given to all its citizens at 0% interest by law. A home considered a human right in Libya –Gaddafi vowed that his parents would not get a house until everyone in Libya had a home and he lived in a tent for most of the time. All newly weds in Libya receive $60,000 Dinar (US$50,000) by the government to buy their first apartment so to help start up the family. Education and medical treatments are free in Libya. Before Gaddafi only 25% of Libyans were literate. Today the figure is 83%. Libyans who want to take up farming career,would receive farming land, a farming house, equipments, seeds and livestock to kick-start their farms –all for free. If Libyans cannot find the education or medical facilities they need in Libya, the government funds them to go abroad for it – not only free but they get US$2,300/mth accommodation and car allowance. If a Libyan buys a car, the government subsidized  the price by 50%. The price of petrol in Libya is $0.14 per litre, the cheapest in the world. Libya has no external debt and its reserves amount to $150 billion – now frozen globally. If a Libyan is unable to get employment after graduation the state would pay the average salary of the profession as if he or she is employed until employment is found. A portion of Libyan oil sale is, credited directly to the bank accounts of all Libyan citizens. A mother who gave birth to a child receive US$5,000. Gaddafi carried out the world’s largest irrigation project, known as the Great Man-Made River project, to make water readily available throughout the desert country
The same Gaddafi. hmmmm.

The Worst West hail freedom and democracy but no single state in the West has been able to take care of their people to the extent that Libya could. In fact, aren't they all facing financial meltdowns of various proportions or recovering from them? All I see are pots calling the kettle black. At least Gaddafi was balsy enough to do his dirty work himself. The West does theirs with diplomacy and legalised wars. But who are they really accountable to? The UN and ICJ?? They have very flexible precedents, making it hard to predict...actually, rather easier to predict outcomes: if you're 'against' them you will lose.

And what about Somalia, Ethiopia and Rwanda? and other problem spots on our continent? Hasn't the UN seen them? Hasn't the US and France seen them?? Or must they dye and pour all their cooking oil into a hole before they can get the world's attention?

What is the AU doing?? what do they even do??

Ghanaians hail Nkrumah as a hero now, there's even a holiday in his honour now. But if I understood the historical accounts correctly we drove him away amidst celebrations. So now we have managed to separate the visionary from the (potential) despot, haven't we? Can't this be done for Qaddafi? There seem to be as many sides of Qaddafi as there are spellings of his name. So could there have been no good in him?? Why do I forsee Bra Qaddafi being hailed (universally) as (more of a) hero in the future?

What exactly is freedom??

Is it the right to say and write what you damn well like and damn the consequences? Do as you please with no repercussions?

Would you consider responsibilities a freedom?

More of a burden than wings,no?

Which would you rather be: an uneducated man making his way through life, as free as a bird.

Or an educated-for-free, housed man with access to free healthcare, a well paying job, unemployment benefits, etc in a gilded cage?

Can humans really be pleased?

Or ever satisfied?

It seems as if the more that is done the more we realised we lack.

All I have are questions.

Gaddafi was obviously not a perfect man but who is? He was a brutal man, but don't judge so quickly, do you know what potential you have to be cruel? Be careful not to judge too harshly. In primary school if you were ever allowed to write names of talkatives in class didn't you slyly eye that boy in your class who, the day before, shoved you from behind, sending you sprawling into the sand. As you remembered your humiliation and the sand grinding between your teeth, the thought that you could punish him with your new found power must have been very,very satisfying. Wouldn't you have written that name down? Now multiply that power by a million, visualise your enemies and tormentors and tell me you don't have the potential to be a despot.
You's not that straightforward is it?

I subscribe to the view that Africans need benevolent dictators as leaders. (do not start picketing yet, wait and listen)
Not the kind who will murders us in our beds and keep us cowering but the ones who will crack the whip to keep us in check. Make the hard decisions needed to move us forward. So democracy may not be the best vehicle for political activity in Africa, where many societies are not yet solidly united for a common purpose. We're still polarised; divided along ethnic and tribal lines. The levels of literacy alone will make if difficult for the least amongst us to understand why we're tightening our belts. All that man knows is that he must eat. And come election time out the leader goes. So what's the way forward? Think about it. What other system could possibly work? But with the kind of politicians we have there seems to be no other safeguard except get rid of them when they oppress us. But what is oppression? and who defines it? not having enough to eat or wear is oppressive, no? *sigh*
All I have are questions.

The world is a very scary place as far as I am concerned right now. All I have is questions and every answer can be argued a hundred ways, raising a hundred other questions along the way. There is something to be said about people who celebrate the deaths of others, I just don't know what it is, but I know it's not good. There must be a reason why ill should not be spoken of the dead, has their judgement not come to them?

All I want to do now is sleep and hope intervening thoughts and similar nightmares will vanish.

Muammar bin Mohammad bin Abdussalam bi Humayd bin Abu Manyar bin Humayd bin Nayil al Fuhsi Gaddafi enigma, despot to some, redeemer to others, undeniably the driver of development in Libya, relentless pursuer of his enemies, 'mediator'/meddler in affiars of African countries, pushed to the wall and murdered in the worst fashion...perhaps not dissimilar to treatment meted out to enemies, but undeserved nonetheless. RIP