Pope Francis Tells Paul Biya that Suppression of Freedom & Abuse of Human Rights is a ‘Path to Peace’

What would Jesus Do? This is the question that many have asked and keep asking in many different situations.

Yes What would Jesus do if he were to meet with Paul Biya, the Dictator who has clung to power in Cameroon for 35 years?

What would Jesus do if he were to meet with Paul Biya, at a time when millions of English-Speaking Cameroonians have been without the internet for 65 days and counting?

What would Jesus do if he were to have a one-to-one discussion with Paul Biya, after receiving hundreds of tweets from English-Speaking Cameroonians asking for his intervention?

What would Jesus do if presented with the case of millions of English-Speaking Cameroons who have been suppressed by successive Cameroonian governments?

If there is one person in the best position to answer these questions, it would be Pope Francis, the Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. The Pope received Paul Biya of Cameroon and his Wife Chantal Biya at the Vatican, after an official state visit to Italy.

English-Speaking Cameroonians and well-wishers across the world held their breath as they expected the Pope to use it as an opportunity to preach a life-changing sermon to Biya. To say they were disappointed would be an understatement. Despite receiving hundreds of tweets with gruesome images and videos of the atrocities being committed in Cameroon by Biya’s government, the Pope chose to treat Biya as if he were a Saint, much to the chagrin and disappointment of millions of Catholic faithful who look up to the Pontiff to be the voice of the voiceless.

In a video released by The Rome Reports TV News Agency,  the Pope can be heard telling Biya after receiving a sculpture of an Elderly Cameroonian that “The Memory of elders is the Wisdom of a Country”.  As one tries to grapple with understanding what memory, or which elders or which wisdom, the statement is refering to, the pope goes on to present Biya with a sculpture that sybolises peace and then drops the bombshell “I Wish for Cameroon to Continue Walking on the Path of Peace”

Really? Cameroon where freedoms and personal liberty is suppressed, Cameroon where a 17-year-old University student is raped by the police and nothing is done about it; Cameroon where leaders of the Civil Society have been in prison for over 2 months, facing the death penalty, for peacefully demanding an end to the suppression of English-Speaking Cameroonians; Cameroon where hundreds have been arrested from their homes in the North West and South West Regions (which practices the Common Law system) and taken hundreds of miles to prison in Yaounde (a Civil Law jurisdiction); Cameroon, the country that has been world champion of corruption on two occassions; Cameroon in which any form of dissension against the corrupt and incompetent dictator is punished with a very lengthy prison sentence?

Is the Pope referring to another Cameroon or the same Cameroon where there is a genocide brewing and in which English-Speaking regions are under threat of extermination?

Anyone familiar with the Bible would not be in doubt about what Jesus would do if he met Biya. Jesus would have told him exactly what he told the Pharisees of his day. In Matt 12 33-36 Jesus had this message for the Pharisees

Make a tree sound and its fruit will be sound; make a tree rotten and its fruit will be rotten. For the tree can be told by its fruit   

 You brood of vipers, how can your speech be good when you are evil? For words flow out of what fills the heart.

Good people draw good things from their store of goodness; bad people draw bad things from their store of badness.

So I tell you this, that for every unfounded word people utter they will answer on Judgement Day

This is the type of message anyone would have expected the Pope to tell Mr. Biya. If I understand verse 35 above correctly, there is no way someone like Biya can bring about peace in Cameroon when he is not at peace with himself. A man whose hands are filled with the blood of innocent Cameroonians cannot be the one the Pope is wishing could be the architect of peace. A bad person as Biya is can only bring forth bad things from his store of badness.

The Pope, therefore, encouraged Biya to go on doing the horrible things he has been doing in Cameroon for the last 35 years, by insinuating that Biya was leading Cameroon on a path of peace.

I am sure even Jesus Christ would be disappointed that the Pope did not use this unique opportunity to preach the gospel to one man who needed to hear it the most. One thing though is clear, Cameroon is nowhere near the path of peace and unless Biya is told the truth by those whose responsibility it is to uphold the truth, then the journey to peace will be a very long on for Cameroon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What

CPDM Midlands: The Celebration of Failure & Mediocrity

The past week has been the most challenging week I have had in many years. I happened to be at two places that ultimately challenged my sanity. First, it was on Monday at the Cameroon High Commission in London and Second, it was at an event, which turned out to be meeting of the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM – which happens to be the ‘ruling’ political party of Cameroon) in Birmingham.

Let me begin with the High Commission.

Deplorable Home Away from Home

I was unfortunate to have lost my Passport in Birmingham a week ago and so against my best wishes, had to make a trip to the Cameoroon High Commission to apply for a replacement.

First, I went to the website to get the information I needed. As expected, it was an eyesore and seemed to carry information mostly about President Paul Biya and his speeches, and very little about the Country and its people. I grabbed a phone number from there to make a call to confirm what documents I was to carry along since there was only a poor copy of a PDF on the Website which was dated February 2, 2010. The phone rang many times over a period of a few days that I tried but either no one took it, or I was passed through an extension, to which there was no one to respond. I therefore made the trip armed only with the information gotten from the website.

High Commission Front View

Upon arrival, my worse fears were confirmed. First, I was greeted in French (absurd because Cameroon is supposed to be a Bilingual Country and given that the UK is predominantly English Speaking, I assumed naturally English should be the first language).

Secondly, I noticed the place was as run down as most places in Cameroon. There was no order, and the person in charge of processing applications could barely manage English.

Thirdly, I discovered nothing about the information provided on the website were accurate. The amount of money I had to pay was higher and they did not take any other form of payment other than cash, so an ATM I noticed on the way there became handy; there was no photocopier there so I had to go on the High Street to make copies of documents; there was no photographer as indicated, so I had to go and get photos elsewhere.

Then the worst happened, while I had been sitting there for over an hour waiting for my turn, the daughter of one of the employees came for her own application and she was ushered in and served while those of us who were there before her, waited. Nepotism or Premium Service?

Finally the forms I was supposed to fill out were barely legible. They seemed to be copies of an original document made in the ’70s with a typewriter. I found myself thrown back to Cameroon where every form of development and innovation seems to have been halted in 1982 when the current administration took power. High Commission Sign

The notion of a place being ‘home away from home’ most often carried a positive connotation for me but for the first time, I thought of it in a negative light. It was there with a sigh of relief that I walked out of that High Commission after many hours. I felt like I had just left Cameroon to London.

I thought my week will end in a good note and I will have that nightmare behind me after a friend invited me to a Cameroonian event in Birmingham. I was in for another shocker!

CPDM West Midlands: Sycophancy at Its Best!

I have lived under the mistaken assumption that no right-thinking young Cameroonian will support Biya’s government or the CPDM, especially those in the diaspora. I have always made the argument that the only people who will actively support a regime that has nothing to offer the Cameroon Youth other than fake promises. I was utterly wrong on all counts!

CPDM Event Hall

When I arrived the event venue and realised it as a CPDM affair, my first impulse was to get into my car and leave. Curiosity however got the better part of me. I went in to listen to the speeches that were being made. Two things immediately stood out!

First, the speeches were made, not for the audience seated in the hall but for another audience which a keen mind will easily decipher!

It was not surprising therefore that after salutations where made in English, the main speeches were in French and consisted in a large part of praising Biya and his ‘wonderful achievements’.

Speech

Many questions however went through my mind when a reliable source told me that the venue cost a whooping £1000 meaning it was about £100 an hour. The event started two hours later than intended yet no one was bothered about the money being wasted. So who was paying for this lavish praise-singing event? There was enough food and very expensive drinks, but I heard no one talk about contributions. Your guess is as good as mine – the Cameroon tax-payers were paying for this event as is always the case the every CPDM event!

While the night was full of many obscenities, one particularly made me sad. At a point, one of the leaders, after praising Biya for many things including making Cameroon one of the most peaceful countries in Africa (which happens to be the most naive thing to say), called on all present to stand and sing Biya a song of praise. Almost 90% of the hall stayed in their seats – when he asked everyone to stand for the anthem, he got a whole house! Question then is: if they do not believe in what they say and represent; if they do not think Biya is worthy of a standing praise; why do they still wear the CPDM uniform which carries nothing but Biya’s image? 

This question was answered by another reliable source before I left the event: IN CAMEROON, THE ONLY ACHIEVEMENT THAT WILL BE MOST RESPECTED ON A CV, IS TO WEAR THE CPDM UNIFORM AND PROFESS TO BE A MEMBER! 

I guess people like us will never get jobs in that country – unless we decide to wait for that time, very soon when all with change!

 

Attack on Syria likely before March?

After the Arab Leagues discontinuation of it´s mission in Syria, the closure of European and Arab Embassies in Damascus, and the non binding resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, all signals are set “Go” for the War on Syria and Iran. The remaining questions are, what will be the pretext to trigger the transition from the months long covert to an overt war, when will it be initiated, how is it likely to develop, and what will the outcome be.

Diplomacy: The discontinuation of the Arab leagues mission in Syria and the closure of European and Arab Embassies prompted the Russian UN Envoy Vitaly Churkin to interpret them as possible precursors of war. (1) The adoption of a non binding resolution by the United Nations General Assembly on Syria on Thursday came after intense US-American and Western European diplomatic pressure on politically and economically dependent nations, and following the Russian and Chinese rejection of a draft resolution at the UN Security Council on 4 February.

On Sunday Syria rejected the Arab League´s resolution that was calling for a UN-Arab Peacekeeping force in Syria, combined with the tightening of economic sanctions on Syria. The resolution was perceived as blatant interference into Syrian internal affairs. More over, the fact that several of the nations that sponsored the Arab Leagues resolution, and who would be the most likely candidates to volunteer “UN Peace Keepers”, are the very nations that are waging an illegal covert war against Syria; namely, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, with the aid of Turkey, USA, UK, and other NATO Member States. Both Syria, Russia, and China opposed the Arab League Resolution to prevent what they called a new Libya like scenario.

Vitaly Churkin stated, that the draft resolution was unbalanced and that it reflected the tendencies that cause Russia concerns. Namely, the attempt to isolate the Syrian political leadership, the rejection of any contacts with it, and the attempt to impose a political settlement formula from the outside. According to Churkin, Russia also rejected the draft resolution because non of the Russian amendments had been adopted. Churkin elicited, that Russia was especially critical of the failure to include a call on all armed groups to cease attacking residential neighborhoods and government institutions, as well as a call on government troops to leave cities and towns. Churkin also concluded that failure to adopt these points did not leave Russia with any other choice than to vote against the draft.(2)

On Thursday, the European Union adopted a resolution, urging the Russian Government to immediately halt the sales of arms to Syria. The E.U. resolution was widely perceived by analysts as meant for domestic consumption in the attempt to cognitively and emotionally prepare populations of E.U. Member States for a significant “freeze” in E.U.-Russian relations and a possible indirect or direct military conflict with Russia. Syria is the largest Arab importer of Russian arms. (3) However, seen from an objective perspective, the relatively modest Russian arms sales to Syria dwarf the heavy US and E.U. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Israel and other regional countries.

On 2 January, nsnbc reported that the US will deliver 84 new F-15 Boeing Fighter Jets to Saudi Arabia and significantly upgrade it´s existing fleet. (4) It is an arms deal, supporting a regional US ally, that is waging a covert war on Syria and is arming what is euphemistically called the “Syrian Opposition” (5), a country that is cracking down on protesters in Bahrain, and a country that only recently has beheaded a woman for “sorcery” (6). The traditional European or Prussian warfare doctrine of Carl von Clausewitz (7), that warfare should be the continuation of diplomacy by other means seems to have developed into diplomacy being warfare by other means. The fact that Clausewitz was inspired by Hegel seemingly makes this permutation easy. Create a problem, foster a popular demand for a solution which suits your strategic interests, and deliver the solution. The fostering and abuse of what is euphemistically sold as “The Arab Spring” with capital letters, like “The Holocaust” and the offering of military intervention as solution is a perfect example of Hegelian Dialectics; An Arab Spring, that is cynically, manufactured along the guidelines of the US Special Forces Training Circular for Unconventional Warfare, TC 18-01, which has bee published on nsnbc this week. (8)

War. After failed initiatives to lend apparent legitimacy to the war on Syria and Iran, the questions that call for being answered are; what will be the “event” that is used as pretext for entering an overt military stage of the war, when is it most likely to occur, how will it most likely develop and what is a plausible outcome. All signals are on “go”, the fuse is lit.

The Russian Military is bracing itself for the outbreak of a regional, and potentially wider Middle Eastern or Global War and is on a high state of alert. According to “The Hindu” the Head of the Russian General Staff, General Mikael Markov, informed at a Moscow Press Conference, that Iran is a sore spot for Russia, and that it is likely that a decision to attack Iran will be made within months, a little closer to the summer. Markov added, that Iran was capable of giving a sharp repulse to the attack. Also Russian Admiral Vladimir Komovedov reportedly said, that given the current military build-up in the Persian Gulf, any spark could set off the fire of a regional conflict. Komovedov, who is heading the Russian State Duma´s Defense Committee told foreign military attaches in Moscow that the US could attack Iran any time now with a simultaneous launch of 450 Tomahawk cruise missiles from warships deployed in the region. The Russian general Staff has established a “situation center” and is monitoring the situation around the clock in real time. (9)

Over the recent months Russia has significantly reinforced it´s Southern regions and borders with air, ground and maritime forces. An attack on Iran would most likely incite Iran to attack US Oil Installations in the Caspian Sea, and a developing conflict would involve Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ossetia, Chechnya and destabilize the entire Caspian Region. With an attack on Syria being the most likely “initiator”, and Iran bound to respond, it is most likely only a question of time before the powder keg ignites.

It is unlikely that the USA and NATO will be able to take on Iran directly and with massive ground forces, before it has either significantly reduced the Syrian governments military capabilities, or succeeded in ousting the Syrian Government. It is also most likely, that the US, NATO, Qatar and Saudi Arabia will be counting on “plausible deniability” as long as possible while waging war on Syria, in an attempt to position Iran and Russia as villains who intervene militarily. The ongoing development on the ground is strongly indicating that this is the most probable strategy.

Jordan. According to a report from 13 December 2011, an unspecified number of US troops that were withdrawn from Iraq had been re-deployed to Jordanian Air Force Bases as well as in Jordanian villages near Al-Mafraq, along the Jordanian-Syrian border.(10)

Since then, the NATO Alliance has established a buffer zone along the Jordanian-Syrian border, which according to sources around former Jordanian Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit is currently housing 43.000 “rebels” from Libya who are waiting for a signal to attack Syria. The so called buffer zone is established around the cities of Mafraq and Ramtha, and is approximately 30 km long and 10 km deep. The zone has reportedly been closed for civilian and non authorized persons. Three large camps, housing about 20.000 mercenaries of the “Tripoli Brigades” led by Abdelhakim Belhadj have reportedly been established. The sources around former Jordanian P.M. Marouf Bakhit, which have good ties to Jordanian Intelligence Services, state, that the total number of foreign fighters in Jordan, poised for an attack on Syria is 43.000. The transport of the NATO mercenaries has largely been conducted under the cover of medical evacuations from Libya, and that some of Jordan´s Royal Medical Services Hospitals as well as Hotels are filled beyond capacity with foreign fighters poised for war on Syria.

According to the same sources, a contingent of dozens of Turkish Intelligence Officers have been the Rabia district and established an operations room in Mecca Street. The Turkish operation also functions as recruitment office for Jihadi´s and mercenaries who wish to enlist in the planned attack on Syria.

Lebanon and Turkey. According to sources with ties to Jordanian Intelligence a shipment of over 50 T of Israeli Military Equipment, worth over USD 650 million has arrived at Erbil Airport in Kurdistan. The weapons have reportedly been paid by “Rafael Industries”.Lebanese M.P. and Chairman of the Lebanese Progressive Socialist Party, Walid Jumblatt´s recent shuttling to Qatar, Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey have specifically been tied to the arms delivery.  The weapons are planned to go on route to Homs. Jumblatt is well known for his anti Syrian meddling. During the protracted Lebanese civil war Jumblatt was a significant agent for division within the progressive alliance and known to have repeatedly sabotaged Syrian attempts to unite progressive forces around a pan-arabic solution that also embraced the Palestinian problem.

Syria First. But When.

Libya was not the easy push-over as many may have expected. The profound and still ongoing resistance of the legitimate Libyan governments forces and the Libyan people has most likely contributed to a delay of the war plans against Syria and Iran. Syria will be even harder to destabilize. The Syrian people are standing in a surprisingly strong solidarity behind their government and against the foreign led insurgency. NATO´s lack of ability to push for another Libya Style UN Resolution has significantly delayed the window for overt military intervention by NATO and allied countries.NATO´s problem with respect to Iran is, that it can not afford to attack Iran directly as long as Syria is not significantly destabilized, and the window of opportunity for a war on Iran in 2012 is already closing and is to be expected by middle of April if it is to be realized this year.

The rapidly closing window for an attack on Iran is adding to NATO´s urgency to initiate a Syrian campaign. Other contributing factors to the urgency are the problems that are arising with maintaining a force of largely uncontrolled and undisciplined foreign fighters in Turkey and Jordan. Another factor which is adding urgency to initiating an assault on Syria is the political nightmare that would arise for NATO if millions of Syrians turned out voting for the new Syrian Constitution, and protesting for President Bashar Al-Assad and against foreign intervention and aggression. What is needed is a plausible excuse for an intervention, and before the results of the referendum for the new Syrian Constitution can be proclaimed.

On 26 February the people of Syria will hold a referendum about the new Syrian Constitution. A referendum that will most likely be the point where the masses of NATO mercenaries in Jordan and Turkey will be given the “go” for an assault on Syria. Massive unrests and violence on the 26th may be the excuse NATO is creating.

Neither Iran nor Russia are particularly interested in becoming engaged in a direct confrontation with the NATO led aggression. The responses to an assault on Syria via Jordan, Turkey and eventually Lebanon will largely depend on the Syrian military´s capability to cope with the situation, and if NATO dares to raise the stakes, risking a confrontation with Russia. Would Iran stay passive when NATO mercenaries launch an attack via Jordan? If so, a Russian response would be strongly depending on the Syrian military capability to handle an assault by 40.000 fighters from Jordan, and if the West insists on intervening with regular forces. If Iran is getting involved the situation may be better for Syria. Can Iran muster a limited response that could not serve as pretext for a war against it ? Will Russia assert it´s influence over Iran and keep it from attacking US Oil refineries in the Caspian ? I don´t know, and most probably nobody really does. What is certain however, is that the Russian, Iranian and Syrian military forces are on alert and in anticipation of developments that can turn the region a thunder within the hour. What ever the outcome, the victim is humanity.

Dr. Christof Lehmann on nsnbc

17.02.2012

1) Russian envoy: Embassies closure in Syria could mean preparations for military intervention; TREND.  http://en.trend.az/regions/met/arabicr/1992801.html

2) Russian Envoy Slams UN General Assembly’s Syria Resolution http://en.rian.ru/russia/20120217/171356084.html

3) EU Urges Russia To Halt Syria Arms Sales.  http://en.rian.ru/world/20120216/171347105.html

4) US Delivers New F-15´s to Saudi Arabia.  http://nsnbc.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/us-delivers-new-f-15%C2%B4s-to-saudi-arabia/

5) The Manufacturing of the War on Syria. Christof Lehmann (2011), nsnbc. http://nsnbc.wordpress.com/2011/12/15/the-manufacturing-of-the-war-on-syria/

6) Saudi woman beheaded for “sorcery”. http://nsnbc.wordpress.com/2011/12/14/saudi-woman-beheaded-for-sorcery/

7) Carl von Clausewitz. Wiki. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_von_Clausewitz

8) US-Military Logic behind Syrian Insurgency. The “Special Forces Unconventional Warfare” manual” TC 18-01. Christof Lehmann (2012) nsnbc.  http://nsnbc.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/us-military-logic-behind-syrian-insurgency-the-special-forces-unconventional-warfare-manual-tc-18-01/

9)Attack on Iran not far off says Russian general. The Hindu.  http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/article2899679.ece

10) Foreign Troops Begin to Spread near Al-Mafraq. Boilingforgspost/nsnbc. http://nsnbc.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/foreign-troops-begin-to-spread-in-syria/

HAPPY NEW YEAR BOYCOTT WAR (nsnbc.wordpress.com)

2011 has been a year with so far unprecedented aggression against sovereign nations, in which the United Nations Security Counsel has been utilized to instigate aggressions that are the antithesis of the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.

The ousting of President Laurent Gbagbo with the aid of French sponsored “rebels” , trrops from the French Foreign Legion and UN-Peacekeepers is one example.

The appalling abuse of UNSC-Resolution 1973-2011 to conquer the sovereign nation of Libya is another.

If you ask me for advise pertaining 2012, that is, if you wish to make a new years “resolution” my advise is this:

” It´s time to move from resolutions and intentions to action”

” It´s time to not only to criminalize war by “resolutions” but to establish a permanent office where war crimes can be reported, and that assists independent and sovereign nations world wide to prosecute war crimes”.

“It´s time to make war unprofitable by consequently boycotting any corporation that is delivering arms to a waring party that is the aggressor in a given conflict, any corporation who has stocks in such companies, and any corporation whose major share holders have invested in such companies. Let´s establish a Blacklist of Companies, their merchandise, their services, and let´s begin to make war the least profitable business possible. As long as our corporate leaders are educated according to the principles of the Chicago School and similar, this is the one and only language that is understood by them ”

“It´s time to act upon the “resolution” that such boycott is a good idea. I suggest editors of independent media contact one another and discuss how we best could facilitate such a Blacklist and the Boycott by means of our media. . This is a standing invitation to get in touch. ”

I wish you a hopefully more peaceful 2012, so let´s DO IT!

Christof Lehmann on nsnbc

nsnbc editor

“My Football Field/Tram Experience” – Racism, Ignorance, Stupidity or Nationalism?

ON THE FOOTBALL FIELD…

It has been with some degree of amusement or should I add fascination, that I have read stories today about Suarez’s 8 match ban and possible fine for being found guilty by the FA for racist remarks! This comes on the same day the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service announced its decision to bring charges against John Terry for allegedly racially abusing another player. My amusement and fascination was not really provoked by these two incidents but rather one that took place a few weeks ago.

ON A TRAM…

What I find a bit difficult to get over is the renewed ‘concern’ being shown towards victims of racial abuse.  The woman on the video titled ‘My Tram Experience‘ that went viral within a few days simply said what so many people in the world want to say but lack the courage. Watching her, I felt nothing for her but pity – not only for her but also for the innocent child she was carrying on her laps. While views differ so much on the woman’s attitude, I have not ceased to ask this question as I watched the video several times over – Is she really RACIST; IGNORANT, SIMPLY STUPID or A NATIONALIST?

BY INTELLECTUALS…

I want to dispel the thinking that this woman is as  bad as she has been made to look especially after she got arrested. Do not get me wrong… I am no supporter of discrimination of any form but we need to get the facts straight.

From the 18th and 19th Centuries, most European views of Africans for example had been one of a distinct category of humanity, a view based on the supposedly irreconcilable foreignness of African mental processes. For example one of the most celebrated scholars in Western thought argued that that Africa falls outside the boundaries of world history. He boldly argued that  “We [Europeans] cannot feel ourselves into [the African’s] nature .…Only by means of thought can we achieve this understanding of his nature; for we can only feel that which is akin to our own feelings.” (1) Hegel‘s argument was based on the original distinction between normative  existence and the African being.  He did not mix words then when he came to the conclusion that “Africans have not  achieve full self-awareness, as “their consciousness has not yet reached an awareness of any substantial objectivity.”  According to this view, Europeans, with their exclusive access to objective rationality, were the only ones capable of interpreting and understanding the African’s essential character. Was Hegel RACIST? MAYBE! IGNORANT? PERHAPS! STUPID? MAYBE NOT!

BY A PSYCHOPATH…

When Hitler, decided to incarcerate millions of Jews because of their race, the world did not react – about 6 million died in concentration camps. It was only when he started his re-militarisation  and re-occupation campaigns, that war was declared on him – in fact the world went to war against Hitler because he invaded Poland (the same Poland whose people are insulted by the woman in the video). Was Hitler RACIST, IGNORANT, STUPID or A NATIONALIST? All will say he was none of the above as all of them fall short of describing him – HE WAS SIMPLY A MONSTER OR A PSYCHOPATH! I concur.

BY COUNTRIES….

At the end of the war the Universal Declaration of Human Rights came up as part of peace processes in the world just three years after the United Nations was formed to curb any such Hitler-type aggression. It begins with the WONDERFUL WORDS “Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”,

Wonderful! Is the simple word for such giant strides taken to stop a repeat of what Hitler had done. But under the watchful eyes of the UN with the declaration of human rights very much intact, it was a fierce battle before African States could gain political independence from their erstwhile colonial masters. It was with the existence of the UN and  paradoxically in the same 1948 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights that  South Africa’s governance was built on a system of racial segregation called ‘apartheid’. Was apartheid Racism! YES!  Were its perpetrators Ignorant? MAYBE! Were they stupid? I doubt it!

That same fateful year, a new State called Israel was born and they have denied Palestinians all that is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, effectively doing to them the same things that Hitler had done. Strangely enough, all those who demonize Hitler welcomed Apartheid and will die to support what is happening in the Gaza. Are Israelis and their supporters RACIST, IGNORANT, STUPID OR NATIONALISTS?

It would seem that the problem is not really who is abused or whose rights are denied in the world today but rather who does it. Or perhaps I just happen to have a nuanced view of what these terms mean.

RACISM, IGNORANCE, STUPIDITY OR NATIONALISM…

Racism is usually considered to be a belief that there exist  inherent differences among the various human races that can be said to account for cultural or individual achievements.This believe in a way usually involves the notion that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others. The first aspect could have been fueled by views such as that of Hegel, Levy Bruhl and others who used it to justify the slave trade. The myopia in such a doctrine does not lie only the fact that it is something that has no empirical basis but also because in reality there is no homogeneous race – one in which all are either achievers or all are failures. Some societies have made more technological or industrial or infrastructural advancements than others, but given the cyclic nature of history, this is not a given that the presently more advance society translates into a superiority of race. It is only a matter of priority in time. Also within each of the societies is a mix of greater and lesser persons. My point here is that going by the first view of racism, it amounts to nothing more than myopic egocentricism which is tantamount to STUPIDITY.

Closely linked to the second aspect about having the right to rule others, racism is seen as a case where a policy or  system of government is based upon fostering such a doctrine. I can recall vividly a great speech on immigration made by the British PM David Cameron in April, 2011, in which he argued that “When there have been significant numbers of new people arriving in neighbourhoods, perhaps not able to speak the same language as those living there, on occasions not really wanting or even willing to integrate, that has created a kind of discomfort and disjointedness in some neighbourhoods… This has been the experience for many people in our country and I believe it is untruthful and unfair not to speak about it and address it.”  Cameron was simply observing an issue of national policy that is aimed at protecting the UK.

The question then is: HOW DIFFERENT IS CAMERON’S VIEW OF IMMIGRANTS AND THE WOMAN’S ON THE TRAM? While the woman has been branded racist for saying that immigrants had destroyed ‘her’ country, Cameron is right when he says the same thing. I am not insinuating here that Cameron is or was racist. What I am highlighting is that National policies will always ‘discriminate’ against foreigners but it is not simply in a bid to protect the country. IT IS CALLED NATIONALISM – the general attitude that the members of a nation have when they care about their national identity.

A third aspect of racism is that which is expressed in form of hatred or intolerance of another race. This is the one that calls for serious concern as it usually amounts to actual physical violence against the discriminated race. What I do not seem to understand is that footballers are banned or fined and a woman is arrested for making comments that are similar to those made every day in policies about immigration in a country that is supporting the ethnic cleansing and extermination of a town because of their race… AND NO ONE SEEMS TO SEE ANYTHING WRONG with it.

 I personally do not think calling me any name makes me that – because in most cases those calling the names are usually suffering from an inferiority complex. If people like Nelson Mandela were called Kaffir and they rose up to get over a hundred awards within a decade, then I daresay that he has ‘glorified’ the name, and only an idiot should think using it makes someone inferior.

If the President of the United States of America is called ‘Boy’ and ‘Tar Baby’ within a week, then I daresay that it is an honourable thing to be a White House ‘Boy’. The names did not qualify Obama, rather I think Obama has qualified those names. The people who called those names far from dishonoring their revered Presidency made me understand that another name for the US President could be ‘Boy’ or ‘Tar Baby’. If it is honourable to be the US President then it follows that it is an honourable thing to be a ‘Boy’ or ‘Tar Baby’.

In conclusion then, one can rightly argue that most of what is happening today in the international scene is a re-enactment of the acts committed by Hitler – when governments trade in arms, support rebels to topple governments, deny people the right to self-determination – all in the name of foreign policies, they sponsor genocides, support racism and perpetrate the highest levels of Human rights violations which they so much claim to want to protect.

NO PLAYER DIES FROM BEING CALLED NAMES BY ANOTHER IN A FOOTBALL FIELD; NO ONE DIES WHEN A WOMAN EXPRESSES HER FRUSTRATION ON A TRAM BY CALLING HER FELLOW CITIZENS NAMES… BUT MILLIONS DIE WHEN GOVERNMENTS ARM DICTATORS IN THE NAME OF FOREIGN AID; MAKE THEIR FOREIGN POLICY THE DEGRADATION OF OTHERS IN A BID TO PROTECT THEIR COUNTRIES; DENY OTHERS THE RIGHT OF SELF-DETERMINATION FOR SELFISH REASONS AND SUPPORT ILLEGAL TAKE-OVER OF GOVERNMENTS WHILE EMPOWERING OTHERS TO KILL. 

1. G.W.F. Hegel.  “Africa” in “The Natural Context or the Geographical Basis of World History” in Lectures on the Philosophy of World History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975. (177)

THE SUPERIORITY OF AFRICAN KNOWLEDGE:

When Socrates made the statement that ‘it is better to be unborn than to be untaught for ignorance is the root of all misfortune’, little did he realise how true this will apply in the 21st century. By many shades it has applied to the African and most third world countries where it is arguably a fact that the high levels of illiteracy could account for the backwardness and lack of development of the regions – resulting in the misfortunes of high infant mortalities, prevalence of diseases and famine etc. But is there is direct relationship between education and development? Are the most educated people the most developed?

Most people will consider this a naive question – and indeed I deed think so myself. For example, Pope Paul VI in On The Development Of Peoples of 1967 held the view that “…economic growth depends in the very first place upon social progress: thus basic education is the primary object of any plan of development. Indeed hunger for education is no less debasing than hunger for food: an illiterate is a person with an undernourished mind.” This view may seem a truism until one decides to question what we mean by education.

If I had been asked this question a few years before I started studying western philosophy, I would have thought the most educated persons were those who had reached the apogee of formal education – that is those with Doctors of Philosophy (PhD). However, after four years of rigorous studies, I came to the realisation that most of the theorists of antiquity were mere monuments of intellection – monuments because they were relevant to their particular periods but offered nothing of practical importance to our generation. Some like the most celebrated Hegel to me may not even pass as a monument given that his greatest writings had the assumption that the African had not reached the level of self-consciousness. As theories used to justify slavery, these views were classics at the time but when subjected to critical inquiry in this age, it becomes apparent how, for a great part, Hegel and many western thinkers were simply rhetoricians who triumphed in arm-chair philosophising.

Their ignorance did not constitute a problem as it did not affect them directly and in fact served a purpose at the time (justified slavery and the colonisation of Africa). The ignorance that calls for serious concern is that which exists in this century where there is so much talk about globalisation and technological evolutions. I know it is stale news that a great part of the world still thinks Africa is a single country. I was shocked to discover, I was not surprised, when, many times in India, intellectuals alluded to Africa as a single country and some asked me if Cameroon is in the West Indies. It is therefore not just a Sarah-Palin-problem. But is this really an issue? I guess not.

The real issue is the ignorance that I have observed being manifested during the last few months. I did not realise how severe it is till I got to Cameroon and was confronted with the fact that people were more informed, objective and critical about issues than I was. I thought I was more educated but to my chagrin I realised I was not as informed as my African counterparts who had lesser formal education.

Thomas Jefferson had made the point that “ the man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers”, which I have extrapolated to include Robert Brault’s statement that “You don’t realize how little accuracy there is in network TV reporting until they cover a story in your hometown.” Hence while we were being deceived by the mainstream media and kept away from the truth about Libya for example, African media houses were feeding the people with the truth. Little wonder the African Union for the first time unanimously challenged a decision by western powers – they knew the truth which we in the west did not know. I have had time to reflect a little on the whole notion of what I know and what I do not know and hence I now can boast of the superiority of the African education.

In High School, I studied American History, British History, European History etc. alongside African and Cameroon History; I studied Agriculture in France, Fishing in Norway and Agriculture in Nigeria among others; I studied British economics; I studied western philosophy and an apologia of African philosophy though I have been having encounters with the rich flavour of African philosophy in folklores and rich African proverbs all through my life. I studied in Cameroon, (Africa in Miniature) and Nigeria (the giant of Africa) and then studied in a renowned western university. The point here is that I, like all African students studied all what western Education offers but western students do not study anything that African education offers. An African who has not travelled out of Africa therefore, ends up knowing more about the world after high school, than a PhD holder who studied all through, in western institutions.

Do you have any doubts, then tell me – who can better understand the problem of hunger – the African who has experience of it or the foreigner who read about it? I recall with a fit of mild irritation how a mate from South Africa got a fail in an exam that he wrote about the apartheid only got an ‘A’ after he openly challenged the lecturer with facts. He lived the experience and the lecturer had only read about apartheid from books. He had firsthand knowledge and what the lecturer knew was at least three times removed from reality. He had knowledge of apartheid but the lecturer had an opinion about apartheid.

It is in the light of this that I cannot understand how it is that many institutions in the West have departments dealing with African studies where Africans go to learn about Africa. What illogicality! The truth is that Africans go for the certificates and not the knowledge. Hence, all what these renowned centres of African studies do is merely celebrate retardation in intellectualism. It is high time we stop deceiving ourselves. No one can teach Africans about Africa.

Isn’t it all so glaring with the stories emanating from the recent invasion of Libya? Of course it is logical that a good reason has to be given to taxpayers for every invasion. Unfortunately these reasons blur the truth and hence knowledge. Ask many in the West today what Libya was in 2010 and all they know is that Gaddafi had stayed in power for 42 years and that Libyans wanted democracy. Ask an African and he will tell you that Libya was a poor Kingdom under King Idris when Gaddafi seized power in 1969, expelled the British and US military bases that ensured Idris’ stay in power, and that Libya according to the UNDP Human Development Index of 2010 had a life expectancy of 74 and that it had free education, and enviable healthcare system and that it was a welfare system with unemployment benefits. How many people in the West today know the real reasons why there have been tensions between Gaddafi and the West?

  • That Gaddafi resisted joining a US/NATO-sponsored military alliance in the region.
  • That Gaddafi also refused to join the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM)
  • That Gaddafi put $300 million of the $400 million to fund Africa’s first communications satellite in 2007. (A project that made western countries to loose a net income from Africa of over $500 million a year)
  • That Gaddafi maintained public ownership of Libya’s own central bank, and the authority to create its own national money
  • That Gaddafi worked assiduously to establish an African Monetary Fund, an African Central Bank, and an African Investment Bank, which will curb the high levels of capital flight from Africa, make African governments more responsible and unfortunately render the IMF and the World Bank visibly useless.
  • That Gaddafi refused the request of Western powers to be part of these projects, especially France and the UK.

Of course many will not know all these. I have read many articles discussion the Post-Gaddafi era. Unfortunately, they are so filled with misinformation that I pity the western generation that will know nothing but what these tell them.  I am in no way down-playing the high standards of western education in western institutions. When it comes to the empirical sciences and technological sciences, there is no doubt that these institutions are of the most premium quality. But talk about the social sciences, the bottom line then is that if anyone wants to be educated in the world today, let them do their primary to high school education in Africa and then go to the Western institutions for University education. That way they will be able to discern fact from fiction and will not end up living a life of deceit.

In the final analysis, it is clear that the era is long gone when a few individuals or countries will continue to present their ideologies and selfish interests as international creed, thereby eroding the powers of the African people. This is clearly a period for a philosophical re-articulation of the African reality; a re-articulation because of the history of bastardisation of the intrinsic realities of African continent. It should be a philosophy of “existential hermeneutics” of self-rediscovery of the past, for an adequate re-integration and possible synthesis for a new way of being, doing and saying. In this sense, it should not be a mere mental or metaphysical outlook on life: not a mere ideological, and not even only an existential construct; but something that involves all of the above – a holistic vision and attitude to life. But most important one that can only be done by those most informed to do it – AFRICANS.

THE PEACE DEAL DILEMMA IN LIBYA!

I have just finished reading a very prolific  article on the Financial Times COMPROMISE MUST BE REACHED TO END LIBYA CONFLICT and it is clear that we really still have some of the issues I raised in the last post. The problem of selective analysis and reporting of events. I would expect academics to be more objective if the mainstream media is failing. Unfortunately what I noticed from this article is way away from being objective.

While the article makes a graphic and realistic presentation of the facts facing the Libyan people and concludes that a compromise at this stage happens to be the best option, it fails in that it still at this stage draws its premises from the same false reasons that were given for the intervention in the first place.

There is no denying that there is a  good conclusion to this article, and the most reasonable one at this point in the saga, but unfortunately some facts need to be straightened. First I want to disagree that because Gaddafi used force to get and maintain power meant that he was going to kill 700,000 people in Benghazi. To call what is happening in Libya now, a lending of credence to Gaddafi’s propaganda is to ignore the bitter truth. If I remember correctly, when Gaddafi’s son addressed the people after the first day of protests, he pointed out just these terrible realities of civil war that this article highlights. But what happened? All the major media outlets interpreted it to mean he was threatening the people.

In any country – even the UK or the US – the military is there to protect the sovereignty of the State, which was clearly threatened when the first sights we saw of rebellion in Libya was of those carrying arms. If the Libyan army (so often wrongly called ‘forces loyal to colonel Gaddafi or Gaddafi forces’) was marching towards Benghazi, it was not because there were civilians on the street as was the case in Egypt and Tunisia but because men had carried arms against the State. We are yet to see footage of crowds of mass protesters in Libya as we saw in Tunisia and Egypt and as we have been seeing in Syria. The reason is simple. The Libyans had little to spur them to such action and the few who did come out (apart from the armed rebels who have a clearly different agenda), were deceived by the false impression that they could get a better country if Gaddafi was forcefully removed. Surely he did not stay in power for over four decades without getting tap roots into the ground.

A controversial no-fly zone was immediately sought from the same Security Council that Gaddafi had in 2009 criticized at the General Assembly for being undemocratic and perpetrators of disorder rather than order, (enough reason why the members of that council will want to see him out), and France and Britain with a reluctant USA started what has been the most ‘admirable’ ‘protection of civilians’ in human history. We are all witnesses of how Libyans have been protected. The logic used was humanitarianism but this in itself was greatly questioned by Stratfor at the time.

The NTC has been recognised by the powers bombing the country and what is the next move – they have started signing agreements that will see the release of money belonging to the Libyan people. If Gaddafi’s regime kept any money in Banks in the UK and US, how legitimate is it to hand it over to a group of rebels who may not even know how much it was? Why has the requests by Gaddafi for elections been turned down? How do we justify the fact that a country that had a welfare system, access to education and health that even the UK and US will envy, highest number of women entering universities – comparetively speaking, should now become a failed state because the UN has no sense of diplomacy? After listening again to the speech Gaddafi made at the UN, I now saw sense in most of what that man – a dictator as he may be – was making. The UN has been totally useless as far as maintaining peace in the world is concerned. I am sure ECOMOG has more to its credit than the UN has. If really the objective was to stop the killing of people in Benghazi, why did the bombing extend to Tripoli and to Gaddafi’s compound and civilian areas?

If at all there was any popular uprising in Libya, I am sorry to say that it was high-jacked by the very action of the UN security council which it now claims to have been the best option at the time. The United States had its war of independence and succeeded. The UK had its Glorious revolution and succeeded to come up with her current parliamentary system. Other countries had their protests like Egypt and Tunisia and succeeded (if we can call what is going on now success). Why were the Libyans not allowed to carry theirs to its logical conclusion? Why was there no similar response in Bahrain, Yemen and Syria in which the government has already massacred thousands?

What Ann-Marie Slaughter’s  article fails to point out is that most of the Libyans who have lost the wonderful lifestyle they had under Gaddafi, will not only say that a ‘devil they know is better than one they do not know’, but hey will also hate the invaders.This was manifested in the mass protests they held, expressing support for Gaddafi and  showing defiance for the invasion of their country. Owing to this crisis and given that the country is gradually being destroyed, most of them will seek asylum and be granted, but they will be foreigners with venom on their minds. If in 20 years we have Libyans bombing in the US or UK, it will not be a great surprise – that is if we have not forgotten then that we created the terrorists.

However, if  truly the UN and the rebels are sincere that they want the welfare of the people of Libya and they want to be champions of democracy – making unreasonable demands of Gaddafi is itself not democratic. The only democratic solution to this problem is that the Libyan people decide in a free and fair elections who they want their leader to be. Gaddafi should not stand the elections but there is no reason why any other person should not stand. To simply ask Gaddafi to leave and then hand power to the rebels to me is nothing more than a military coup – and we are all agreed that military coups have never been acceptable by the UN.

The situation has however taken the most unexpected twist now that the leader of rebels has been reported to have been killed. The next few weeks will hold a lot of surprises not only for Libyans, the Rebels but also for NATO.

World’s Largest ‘Democracy’ In Search of Gandhi

I had always thought that there was no such thing as ‘conjunction’. I had this tendency of writing it off as a mere association of ideas by people, as a result of the mind’s ability to move beyond space and time and bring things together. I have had too much within the last few weeks to simply wave them away. How can I ignore the fact that just last week Jude Thaddeus Langeh sent me a link to a book he had just published The Relevance of Gandhi’s Doctrine of NonViolence: Africa Needs Gandhi, and this week we had to watch a movie/documentary In Search Of Gandhi”. Going through the movie, two things struck me – first the fact that I began to question the notion of India being a “democracy” as I realised that the concept was itself suspect.  Secondly I realised there was a vast contrast between what Gandhi believed and professed and what the average Indian politician today believes. Not that I expected them to be similar, but there was this yawning gap between the ideology that created the nation and the ideologies that are aiming at sustaining and developing the Nation – a gap that cannot be ignored.

It is common knowledge that since independence, India has faced and still faces several challenges ranging from religious violence, casteism, terrorism and regional separatist insurgencies. Since the 1990s terrorist attacks have affected many Indian cities. India has unresolved territorial disputes with the People’s Republic of China, which, in 1962, escalated into the Sino-Indian War, and with Pakistan, which resulted in wars in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999. There are still high levels of poverty in a land of affluence and present trends suggest that the gap between the rich and the poor may be taking an upward trend. These are just a few of the visible problems which can be associated with India but as I went through the that movie, I could not help but notice that all of India’s visible problems are simply effects of an invisible problem, the problem of the ideologies that drive India’s day to day activities. What are these ideologies? What are their roots? Who benefits more from them – India or another Country or organisation? Have these ideologies been thoroughly examined to ascertain their suitability to the Indian experience, with some focus on her unique history and culture? These and many other questions kept running through my mind as the movie and discussions progressed. I could not stop myself from concluding that these questions and more where actually what needed addressing if one is to begin thinking about resolving issues not only in India but in most of the developing world today.

I immediately saw in India’s case a reflection of most of the Third World’s problems today. They had been caught in the whirlpool of globalisation illusions. And what this amounted to for any developing nation was the erosion of their ideological authenticity. While this may sound like painting a bleak picture, the reality is that even in the field of economics where globalisation can be said to be most successful, there is still a huge question mark. While it is a fact that globalisation can make the conditions for investment in poor countries more feasible and enhance the movement of capital into these regions, available evidence makes me feel that the poor countries got integrated into the global economy through the wrong end. To see Indian politicians involved in the reproduction of poverty and destitution in the name of creating Specialised Economic Zones made me feel like weeping. How could one in his right senses dig up a hole to fill another. Gandhi made what could have been considered to be a hard statement that “Western Democracy is a diluted form of Fascism.” At first I could not fully grasp what he meant especially with the oft-made statement that “India is the world’s largest democracy.”  After watching reading Langeh’s work and watching that movie, many pieces fell in to place – what people actually meant was that India was on the verge of becoming the world’s largest Fascism.

Pope Paul VI (1967 35, p. 22) held the view that “…economic growth depends in the very first place upon social progress: thus basic education is the primary object of any plan of development. Indeed hunger for education is no less debasing than hunger for food: an illiterate is a person with an undernourished mind.” I  think that the first step for India should have been serious education of its people. An education which will lead to the total liberation of the Indian people, and not simply enslave them to some defunct economic and political ideologies as happens to be the case with many educated person in most third world countries. It can only be through mental liberation, that every Indian will regain the sense of personhood and the boldness of asserting it before the international community. What I instead saw was a case where poor people who could not afford basic education and shelter where being driven out of their homes in the name of attracting FDI. With an under-nourished population who will be able to regulate or even benefit from these investments?

The argument that day in class was that every country does some lobbying to attract FDI. This is where my problem lies. Every country is not the same and nations cannot simply do things because others are doing it. Can the Indian government regulate the activities of a Multinational Corporation in the same way the UK or the USA will do? I don’t think so.  Miller pointed out that  “Shell Oil’s 1990 gross national income was more than the combined GNPs of Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nepal, Bangladesh, Zaire, Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya and Pakistan—countries that represent almost one-tenth of the World’s Population.” (Miller 1995, p. 35) With such figures, can there be any doubt as to why and how Shell was able to buy-off their involvement in perpetrating the loss of human life and destruction of livelihoods in the Ogoni – shell saga that led to the killing of Ken Sero-Wiwa and eight others in 1996?

I hope I don’t get misunderstood here. It is not as if I have a problem with FDI or multinationals. Like  McCormick argues , “multinationals are a powerful force for good in the world. They spread wealth, work, technologies that raise living standards and better ways of doing business. That’s why so many developing countries are competing fiercely to attract their investment.”

 I totally agree with him but what he fails to do is say in what direction the wealth is spread and whose standards of living is raised and who gains from the better ways of doing business. What he gets right though is that developing nations are competing fiercely for their investments. And this is where  I have another problem. This competition has made many so blind that they see only an end and neglect the means that will lead to that end.

According to Langeh’s analysis, Gandhi, was preoccupied with the problem of means and ends. In his Satyagraha, he propounds the non-duality of means and ends. The means precede the ends in time but there can be no question of moral priority. Truth is inseparable from non-violence and the method of achieving and clinging to the truth is non-violence. Gandhi therefore, referred to non-violence as being both the end and the means. He goes on to state that shortly before his death, Gandhi commented in a prayer speech in New Delhi that “means and ends are convertible terms.” The dialectics therefore that can lead to sustainable growth in Indian life and for most Third World Nations has to take this ideal as a thesis to begin with. Social progress and the good of all should be a prelude to economic development else all talk about economic development in the face of so much social injustice will amount to nothing but sophistry and illusions.

This however, will require a philosophical re-articulation of the Indian reality; a re-articulation because of the history of bastardisation of the intrinsic realities of Indians. It should be a philosophy of “existential hermeneutics” of self-rediscovery of the past, for an adequate re-integration and possible synthesis for a new way of being, doing and saying. In this sense, it should not be a mere mental or metaphysical outlook on life: not a mere ideological, and not even only an existential construct; but something that involves all of the above – a holistic vision and attitude to life. When this is done, there will be little reason to go out in ‘search’ of Gandhi because the ideals he fought and died for will be there for all to see.

May be I am getting it all wrong. May be India is actually a democracy and the dividends are there for all to benefit but unfortunately some people happen to be looking at the wrong places or… may be they keep coming a bit late. May be the politically motivated religious violence that are threatening the very fabric of Indian society are all the benefits of this democracy. May be…  I do not know the meaning of ‘democracy’ in the first place and that is why I am getting it all wrong. Good enough a thing, next week’s lecture will be on ‘Democratisation and the State’ – though it will be looking at the case of Latin America, I will surely use the opportunity to lay to rest my confusion about the concept of democracy.

Pope Paul VI; (1967) On The Development Of Peoples of Boston: St Paul Books & Media