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Gbagbo’s fall and capture: Lessons for other African leaders

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Gbagbo’s fall and capture: Lessons for other African leaders

By Gibril Koroma
Special to USAfricaonline.com
The capture and humiliation, on Monday, of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo should serve as a lesson to Africa’s leaders and maybe to the rest of the so-called Third World. Some of the lessons that could be gleaned from this episode that makes many Africans bow their heads in shame are the following:

• African countries need to unite under one continental federal government like the United States or Canada. That way it would be extremely difficult or even impossible for a president of Africa to refuse to assent to the will of the people, after a free and fair election, like Gbagbo did or an African army general to wake up one day and organize a coup d’etat , declaring himself president. The armies of all the different states or provinces of the federation will simply not allow such a thing to happen. There will then be no need for Western armies to intervene like the French did in Ivory Coast or NATO is doing in Libya.

• In politics it is sometimes necessary to seek compromises or be pragmatic and realistic. Laurent Gbagbo should have quietly stepped down when the whole world asked him to. He could even have been offered a role to play by Ouattara and avoided all the humiliation and court trial that is going to happen soon.African politicians tend to have an enormous ego and do not seem to realize when they are beaten or when they should stop fighting. Not a single African leader can stand against the will of the international community and survive. Even Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe accepted a deal to share power with his political enemies. In the case of Gbagbo he clearly lost the election because there was no way he could have defeated Ouattara in the north of the country no matter how many times an election is held in that part of the country. Gbagbo said the election in the north was rigged.

• Extreme xenophobia can destroy a country. The core issue in the Ivorian crisis is that former president Gbagbo and a lot of Ivorians say Ouattara is a foreigner (from Burkina Faso) and should never be allowed to become president, no matter his popularity. Gbagbo is a strong proponent of this thinking which he and his followers called “Ivoirite.”. This hatred and contempt for foreigners was why he stoutly refused to give up power to Ouattara leading to the death of thousands of people before and after the election.
African countries’ boundaries were drawn up by the colonialists after the Berlin Conference of 1884, thus separating and alienating African people from each other. But even today most people in Africa do not respect these boundaries especially nomadic cattle rearers and migrant workers who move from one place to another totally ignoring the bureaucracies set up and passed on to the new African states by the colonialists at the time of Independence (some will call it “flag indpendence”).
So it’s not really strange that Ouattara’s ancestors came from somewhere in modern Burkina Faso, or that Gbagbo’s ancestors came from neighbouring Ghana. So it’s really ridiculous for an African to call another African a foreigner in an African country. People have been dying in Ivory Coast for nothing and that could have been avoided by Gbagbo and his supporters if they had remembered or respected their country’s pre-colonial history.

What is really painful about the whole thing is that Gbagbo is a well educated historian and should have known better. The world is changing; excluding people from a country’s politics with flimsy excuses no longer works. A black man is now president of the United States. Think about that.

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USAfrica, and first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com; The Black Business Journal, CLASSmagazine,  PhotoWorks.TV,  AchebeBooks.comNigeria360USAfricaTV and several blogs, assessed by The New York TImes as the largest and arguably most influential multimedia networks for Africans and Americans. News@USAfricaonline.com. wireless: 1-832-45-CHIDO (24436). Office: 713-270-5500.
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5 Comments

  1. I am more concern with the excessive Western meddling in Africa's internal affairs. As we speak the United States' Africa Command (AFRICOM) and NATO are actively involved in African affairs not as development partners but as military occupiers. Recall that not too long agao the International Court Of (in)Justice was set up to apparently try war criminals. Who are the war criminials so far indicted or tried?Yep!! Africans!!!!!!This court is in the process of signing an agreement with AFRICOM to capture all indicted Africans on African soil. Granted the Ivory Coast now has the right president, the French candidate , in office. Everything is now fine and dandy. Question to answer is this: Is Quattarra really Ivorien or is he Burkinabe? No one has provided a definitive answer to this lingering question. It is not the first time this question has been asked either. Whatever happened to the slogan"Africa for Africans". How soon we all forget.

  2. You seem to have a point here, John. Or how else would one contemplate a Laurent Gbagbo doing what he did in contemporary times and expect to have his way? Only a person blind to modern history would do that. We need in Africa leaders who are students of history.

  3. WILL AFRICAN LEADERS EVER LEARN? I DONT THINK SO!

  4. You seem to have a point here, John. Or how else would one contemplate a Laurent Gbagbo doing what he did in contemporary times and expect to have his way? Only a person blind to modern history would do that. We need in Africa leaders who are students of history.

  5. WILL AFRICAN LEADERS EVER LEARN? I DONT THINK SO!

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