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The prophet Chinua Achebe’s immortality affirmed with grand apocalyptic valediction. By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu

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The prophet Chinua Achebe’s immortality affirmed with grand apocalyptic valediction.

By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu.

Special to USAfrica multimedia networks, and CLASSmagazine, Houston.                                                                 @Twitter.com/Chido247Facebook.com/USAfricaChido n Facebook.com/USAfrica247

“Never explain, never retract, never apologize. Just get the thing done and let them howl.” – Nellie L. McClung

 

Chinua Achebe appeared on the world stage in grand style by way of the epochal novel Things Apart. He left the stage in the grandest style ever possible through his release of There Was a Country – A Personal History of Biafra. Some people who mouth controversy should learn the words of Oscar Wilde: “The only

Chinua Achebe at his 70th birthday. Photo by Chido Nwangwu/USAfrica

Chinua Achebe at his 70th birthday. Photo by Chido Nwangwu/USAfrica

thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” What strikes me most instructively in There Was a Country is Achebe’s deposition that he could not see any of his so-called friends come to the rescue of the Igbo people when they were being hounded and killed at will across the country before the start of the civil war. The venom with which Achebe’s book has been bitterly attacked in certain quarters has made me to edit the characters I call my friends!
Actually There Was a Country has created the world record of having more critics who had not set eyes on the book, let alone read it. Some of the critics of Achebe’s There Was a Country actually called for the outright banning of not just the book but also Things Fall Apart! It is of course simply beneath me to dignify septal palace intellectuals of man-worship with a response. So let’s make progress along the lines of Achebe’s wise words…

Achebe does not waste words. His warning in There Was a Country rings true that there may be no Nigeria if his urgent message is not addressed. It is an apocalyptic valediction from a prophet. Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer of South Africa understands the great import of There Was a Country as she writes thusly: “Chinua Achebe’s history of Biafra is a meditation on the condition of freedom. It has the tense narrative grip of the best fiction. It is also a revelatory entry into the intimate character of the writer’s brilliant mind and bold spirit. Achebe has created here a new genre of literature in which politico-historical evidence, the power of storytelling, and revelations from the depths of the human subconscious are one. The event of a new work by Chinua Achebe is always extraordinary; this one exceeds all expectation.”
Yes, any new book by Achebe becomes an instant classic. Chinua Achebe’s oeuvre is indeed intimidating starting from the legendary Things Fall Apart in 1958 and grandly lapping all the way through No Longer at Ease, Arrow of God, A Man of the People, Anthills of the Savannah, Girls at War and Other Stories, Beware Soul Brother, Morning Yet on Creation Day, The Trouble with Nigeria, Chike and the River, Home and Exile, Hopes and Impediments, The Education of a British-Protected Child etc.
There Was a Country can in a sense be seen as the encapsulation of the great man’s lifework. Achebe starts out by reiterating his favourite Igbo proverb that “tells us that a man who does not know where the rain began to beat him cannot say where he dried his body.” For Achebe, the rain began to beat Africa upon the “discovery” of the continent by Europe some 500 years ago. Achebe follows through history to the Biafran war that changed not just the course of Nigeria but more crucially and cataclysmically the history of Africa. According to Achebe, “It is for the sake of the future of Nigeria, for our children and grandchildren, that I feel it is important to tell Nigeria’s story, Biafra’s story, our story, my story.”
Born in Ogidi in present-day Anambra State on November 16, 1930, Chinua Achebe who was baptized as Albert was indeed a child prodigy from the very beginning such that his academic feats was known far and wide culminating to his lifelong buddy Christian Chike Momah, alias Papa Ada, confessing that he and his mates were warned early in life that one Albert Achebe from Ogidi would send them to the cleaners in the regional school exams!
It was therefore no wonder that Achebe was early in life given this nickname: Dictionary. He passed his school certificate exams at the top of the class with five distinctions and one credit, and the one credit was paradoxically in literature that would eventually earn him worldwide fame. In the nationwide examination for entry into the University College, Ibadan which had just been established Achebe came first or second in the entire country and thus won a major scholarship. His alma mater Government College, Umuahia was so proud of his achievement that they put up a big sign that stayed on the wall for many years.

At Ibadan he did not feel like studying medicine after all and thus lost his scholarship. Upon graduation from Ibadan he fell in love with Christie Okoli while working at the then Nigerian Broadcasting Service (NBS) in Enugu. When Achebe eventually transferred his services to the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) in Lagos he began his journey with destiny by writing Things Fall Apart. He then in a “quite naïve, even foolish” move posted the only handwritten manuscript he had to a typing agency in London after paying the then hefty fee of 32 pounds sterling in 1956. It was through the help of a former BBC Talks producer, Angela Beattie, who had been seconded to NBC Lagos that the typed manuscript was eventually recovered from the typing agency after about two months of nerve-wrecking panic and delay.
Achebe in his humble manner labels his time “A Lucky Generation”. He lived through the march to Independence in 1960 and the exploits of great politicians such as Zik, Ahmadu Bello and Awolowo. “Here is heresy:” Achebe writes. “The British governed their colony of Nigeria with considerable care.”
Achebe’s novel A Man of the People which ended with a military coup was published on the cusp of the January 15, 1966 military coup, “something Nigeria has never really recovered from.” Achebe was one of the last Easterners to flee from Lagos after first sending home his then young family of wife Christie, daughter Chinelo and son Ike.

 

Achebe reiterates his deposition in The Trouble with Nigeria “that Nigerians will probably achieve consensus on no other matter than their common resentment of the Igbo.” He delves into the pogroms against the Igbo, the July 29, 1966 countercoup and the assassination of the Supreme Commander JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi. The failure of the Nigerian team to accede to the Aburi Accord would in the end lead to the Civil War. There has been the argument that Biafra was not ready for the war, but one should not wait to be properly armed like the bully before fighting back for one’s life. Only a very poor student of history would not know that somebody like Fidel Castro, for example, did not wait to have as many weapons as Fulgencio Batista before confronting the evil regime in Cuba. Castro was captured and jailed after his first attack in 1953, then he was betrayed and ambushed in 1956 only to fortunately flee from Cuba but he eventually succeeded in ousting Batista in 1959. In South Africa, in circa 1961, the African National Congress (ANC) decided to take up armed struggle to battle the gargantuan arsenal of the Apartheid goons, and here is what Nelson Mandela wrote in his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom: “I, who had never been a soldier, who had never fought in battle, who had never fired a gun at an enemy, had been given the task of starting an army. It would be a daunting task for a veteran general much less a military novice.” Mandela and his comrades thus set up Umkhonto we Sizwe (The Spear of the Nation). According to Mandela, “The symbol of the spear was chosen because with this simple weapon Africans had resisted the incursions of whites for centuries.” Mandela reminds us that the Communist Party in Cuba under Batista had felt that the appropriate conditions had not arrived to wage the war but “Castro did not wait, he acted – and he triumphed. If you wait for textbook conditions, they will never occur.”
Achebe lived as a refugee in villages such as Ezinifite in Aguata local government. He sends up what he labels “the Triangle Game: the UK, France, and the United States” in the war effort. Achebe’s Enugu house was amongst the first places to be bombed in the Biafran enclave. The publishing house Citadel Press Achebe set up with his bosom friend, the iconic poet Christopher Okigbo, took possession of the manuscript of Emmanuel Ifeajuna, the leader of the January 15, 1966 coup but Achebe had reservations about the writing which Ifeajuna’s colleague Chukwuma Nzeogwu dismissed as “Emma’s lies”. The killing of Okigbo put paid to the publishing dreams, but the duo had worked assiduously on the manuscript of How the Leopard Got Its Claws by Chinua Achebe and John Iroaganachi containing a poem “Lament of the Deer” by Christopher Okigbo.
Achebe’s role as the head of the team that wrote the Ahiara Declaration marks him out as a conscience of the new nation. He was a roving cultural ambassador in the course of the war. He does not flinch from delving into controversial issues such as the Asaba massacre, the Calabar massacre, the vexed issue of propaganda, the media war, refugees, world champion boxer Dick Tiger as a Biafran, Biafra’s taking of an oil rig Achebe-There-Was-A-Country_A Personal History of Biafra-by-Chinua-Achebe2012in the so-called Kwale incident, the role of international writers, and of course the question of genocide. Once the former Nigerian president Zik switched over to Nigeria the war was as good as over. In the end the Biafran leader Ojukwu had to flee to Cote d’Ivoire and thus “robbed Gowon of closure and complete satisfaction in victory.” Beyond the book, it is indeed remarkable that Gowon, like Ojukwu, needed a state pardon to make a re-entry into Nigeria.

All hell has since broken loose in the Nigerian media because Achebe quoted Awolowo’s argument that “All is fair in war, and starvation is one of the weapons of war” that eventually led to “eliminating over two million people, mainly members of future generations.”

The slanging match is evenly matched between defenders of Awolowo and backers of Achebe alongside the well-worn ethnic Nigerian divide. It suffices to say that the national catharsis is well worth it. Achebe delivers what we used to label in primary school as “one blow, seven akpus”, to wit, delivering one punch to a person’s face that leaves the hapless fellow with seven bumps on the selfsame face. Achebe has this to say on Igbo reintegration, or lack thereof, after the war: “The Igbo were not and continue not to be reintegrated into Nigeria, one of the main reasons for the country’s continued backwardness.”

 

Achebe goes beyond the war to when the civilian regime of then President Olusegun Obasanjo took sides with criminals to kidnap the governor and burn down government buildings in his native Anambra State which made him to publicly reject the national honours awarded him. He tackles the issues of corruption and indiscipline, state failure and the rise of terrorism, state resuscitation and recovery.

He sees Nelson Mandela as the shining example for every African and indeed all mankind at large; incidentally Mandela has the highest regard for Achebe as “The writer in whose company the prison walls fell down.” This well-annotated book that is interspersed with poems has done the great duty of getting Nigerians reading again and actually debating, even as the critics are only interested in uncouth abuses.

 

Irony is the great power of Achebe. Some may read the book, like the New York Times reviewer, thinking that Achebe meant there was a country called Biafra without understanding that Nigeria is at bottom the purview. Achebe’s marriage of history and memoir in There Was a Country has raised a very high stake in the discourse of Nigeria.

It is akin to a new birth for the country that must return to school, not unlike the birth of Achebe’s son Chidi who gave me the book, as limpidly limned in There Was a Country: “On May 24, 1967, in the midst of this chaos, my wife went into labor. I sent my close friend, the poet Christopher Okigbo, to the hospital she had been admitted to find out when the birth would take place, and then to call me at home, where I had briefly returned to rest and take a shower. In characteristic Okigbo fashion, he waited for the delivery, went to the nursery to see the baby, and then drove back to convey the news to me that my wife had delivered our third child, Chidi – ‘There is a God’ – and that the way his baby locks were arranged, he looked like he had had a haircut and was ready to go to school!”

 

At barely 28 years of age Chinua Achebe published the novel Things Fall Apart in 1958, and it has in its 55 or so years of existence proven to be the single most important piece of literature out of Africa.

The 50th anniversary of the 200-odd page novel was celebrated all over the world with festivals, readings, symposia, concerts etc. The novel which has been likened to epic Greek tragedies has been translated to 50 languages and has sold over ten million copies. It is taught not just in literature classes but in history and anthropology departments in colleges and universities across the globe. The archetypal theme of the meeting of the white world and the black race makes Things Fall Apart an epochal event in the annals of world literature.

 

The book works at several levels, and can be read at any age from 10 to 100. As a child one can enjoy the incidents such as the match with Amalinze the Cat, Unoka’s dismissal of his creditor, Okonkwo’s attempted shooting of one of his wives, the visitation of the masked spirits etc. Later in life the many ironies in the book come into play such as the joke on the District Commissioner thinking that Okonkwo’s story can only end up as a paragraph in his planned book, The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger, without knowing that one Chinua Achebe had taken the thunder from him by giving Okonkwo an entire book in which the story is narrated from inside!

It is not for nothing that Achebe is celebrated as the father of African literature. He has changed the perspective of world literature from the gaudy picture of Africa as painted by Europeans such as Joseph Conrad, Joyce Cary and Sir Rider Haggard to the authentic telling of the tale by the Africans. Unlike earlier African writers like Guinea’s Camara Laye, author of The African Child, who painted a romantic picture of the continent, Achebe is relentlessly objective in his narration, telling it as it is, warts and all.

 

It is because of the remarkable success of Things Fall Apart that the publishers Heinemann UK launched the African Writers Series (AWS) in 1962 with Achebe’s first novel as the first title. For many years Achebe served as a non-remunerated Editorial Adviser of the series in which the majority of African writers got their breakthrough in publishing. Things Fall Apart reputedly accounted for 80 percent of the entire revenue of the AWS.

 

Former American President Jimmy Carter numbers Achebe as one of his favourite writers. The rave reviews for Achebe’s most famous novel have somewhat dwarfed his other novels such as No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964), A Man of the People (1966) and Anthills of the Savannah (1987). Achebe won the Man Booker Prize for his lifetime achievement in fiction writing, beating a formidable shortlist that included Philip Roth, Salman Rushdie, V.S. Naipaul, Ian McEwan etc. He equally won, as the first African, the American National Arts Club Medal of Honour for Literature in November 2007.

Things Fall Apart has earned its uncommon distinction as a modern classic and was in 1992 adopted into the esteemed Everyman’s Library of world classics. The Igbo world of the late 19th and early 20th centuries which Achebe limned in Things Fall Apart has become the global picture of Africa writ large. At the turn of the 20th century the book was voted as Africa’s “novel of the century”. Achebe has in the book given the world a new English language which paradoxically portrays African life without facetiousness or affectation. He lays bare the brute masculinity of the age without bending the knee to latter-day political correctness or gender balance. The truth happens to be Achebe’s sublime weapon in telling the immortal African story.

 

It is remarkable that Achebe worked beyond the African past by depicting the corruption that is ravaging Nigeria and indeed all Africa in his second novel No Longer At Ease. He delves into where angels fear to tread, tackling the ignoble Osu Caste system. His landmark Arrow of God can be likened to the tensions bedeviling the six geo-political zones of Nigeria in the manner the six villages of Umuaro met with tragedy. The shame of Nigerian partisan politics has its best illustration in literature in Achebe’s A Man of the People which predicted the advent of coups and counter-coups. Achebe extends his grand discourse of life in his assessment of the segments of struggle in his last novel Anthills of the Savannah.

 

The issue is always raised that Achebe never won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Well, the following writers who were still writing after the Nobel had been bequeathed did uzor_maxim_uzoatu-pixnot win the prize: Tolstoy, Chekhov, Ibsen, Conrad, Twain, Brecht etc. Then these are the names of the so-called writers who won the Nobel Prize: Carducci, Eucken, Heidenstam, Reymont, Karlfeldt, Laxness etc. In short, the Nobel Prize does not the great writer make.

Chinua Achebe belongs with the gods. He is indeed immortal.                                                                •Uzoatu, contributing editor of USAfricaonline.com and CLASSmagazine (Houston) is based in Lagos Nigeria. A poet and author was the 1989 Distinguished Visitor at the Graduate School of Journalism, University of Western Ontario, Canada and was nominated for the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2008 for his short story “Cemetery of Life” published in Wasafiri magazine, London.

 

WHY I CELEBRATE THE LIFE AND WORKS OF NELSON MANDELA. By Chido Nwangwu  https://usafricaonline.com/2010/07/15/mandela-why-i-celebrate-his-life-works-by-chido-nwangwu/

Nigeria’s Federal Republic of Insecurity. By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfrica, USAfricaonline.com and the Nigeria360 e-grouphttps://usafricaonline.com/2011/12/17/nigeria-federal-republic-of-insecurity-by-chido-nwangwu/ : IF any of the Nigerian President’s 100 advisers has the polite courage for the extraordinary task of reminding His Excellency of his foremost, sworn, constitutional obligation to the national interest about security and safety of Nigerians and all who sojourn in Nigeria, please whisper clearly to Mr. President that I said, respectfully: Nigerians, at home and abroad, are still concerned and afraid for living in what I call Nigeria’s Federal Republic of Insecurity. FULL text of commentary at USAfricaonline.com https://usafricaonline.com/2011/12/17/nigeria-federal-republic-of-insecurity-by-chido-nwangwu/

 

USAfrica: Awolowo’s Starvation Policy against Biafrans and the Igbo requires apology not attacks on Achebe. By Francis Adewale. 

Obama’s Africa agenda, our business and democracy. By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfricaonline.com and CLASS magazine and The Black Business Journal

USAfrica: As Egypt’s corrupter-in-chief Mubarak slides into history’s dustbin.  By Chido Nwangwuhttps://usafricaonline.com/2011/01/30/chido-nwangwu-as-egypt-corrupter-in-chief-mubarak-slides-into-historys-dustbin-egyptians-not-waiting-for-obama-and-united-nations/

Long Live, CHINUA ACHEBE! The Eagle on the iroko.                                                                                       By Chido Nwangwu, moderator of the Achebe Colloquium (Governance, Security, and Peace in Africa) December 7-8, 2012 at Brown University, is the Publisher of USAfrica and first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com

Africa’s most acclaimed and fluent writer of the English Language, the most translated writer of Black heritage in the world, broadcaster extraordinaire, social conscience of millions, cultural 

USAfrica-CLASSmagazine-special.cover Vol. 5.8 Achebe080808-chido

custodian and elevator, chronicler and essayist, goodwill ambassador and man of progressive rock-ribbed principles, the Eagle on the Iroko, Ugo n’abo Professor Chinua Achebe,joined his ancestors a few hours ago, at the age of 82, in a peaceful and graceful transition in the warm company of his family.

Reasonably, Achebe’s message has been neither dimmed nor dulled by time and clime. He’s our pathfinder, the intellectual godfather of millions of Africans and lovers of the fine art of good writing. Achebe’s cultural contexts are, at once, pan-African, globalist and local; hence, his literary contextualizations soar beyond the confines of Umuofia and any Igbo or Nigerian setting of his creative imagination or historical recall.

His globalist underpinnings and outlook are truly reflective of the true essence of his/our Igbo world-view, his Igbo upbringing and disposition. Igbos and Jews share (with a few other other cultures) this pan-global disposition to issues of art, life, commerce, juridical pursuits, and quest to be republicanist in terms of the vitality of the individual/self. 

In Achebe’s works, the centrality of Chi (God) attains an additional clarity in the Igbo cosmology… it is a world which prefers a quasi-capitalistic business attitude while taking due cognizance of the usefulness of the whole, the community.

I’ve studied, lived and tried to better understand, essentially, the rigor and towering moral certainties which Achebe have employed in most of his works and his world. I know, among other reasons, because I share the same Igbo ancestry with him.

Permit me to attempt a brief sentence, with that Achebean simplicty and clarity. Here, folks, what the world has known since 1958: Achebe is good! Eagle on the Iroko, may your Lineage endure! There has never been one like you! Ugo n’abo, chukwu gozie gi oo!

FULL text of this tribute-commentary at USAfricaonline.com click link https://usafricaonline.com/2013/03/22/long-live-chinua-achebe-by-chido-nwangwu/

——

Mandela, others send tributes mourning Achebe

Special to USAfrica multimedia networks, and CLASSmagazine, Houston.                                                                 @Twitter.com/Chido247Facebook.com/USAfricaChido n Facebook.com/USAfrica247

The death of the grand-father of modern African literature Prof. Chinua Achebe is drawing several messages from some of the world’s leaders, Nigeria’s president, his friends, contemporaries and writers.

Achebe-n-Mandela. via USAfricaonline.com
Achebe-n-Mandela. via USAfricaonline.com

A statement from the Nelson Mandela Foundation in South Africa has been sent to the family of the late renowned writer Chinua Achebe. It conveyed, on behalf of the Chairperson, Board of Trustees and staff of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, “our condolences to the family of Prof. Chinua Achebe, a great African writer and thinker, who passed away on 21 March 2013 at the age of 82.”

Nelson Mandela, a friend of Achebe’s and an avid reader of his works, notably once referred to Prof. Achebe as a writer “in whose company the prison walls fell down” — a reference to Mandela’s 27 years in apartheid South Africa jail.

Both men are known for their principled positions on issues of justice, opposition to bigotry, discrimination and commitment to fairness to all persons and support for progressive pan Africanism.                                                                                                                               By Chido Nwangwu, moderator of the Achebe Colloquium (Governance, Security, and Peace in Africa) December 7-8, 2012 at Brown University, is the Publisher of USAfrica and first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com

———

Eight lessons of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide. By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfrica multimedia networks, Houston. https://usafricaonline.com/2009/11/01/chido-8lessons-rwanda-genocide/

——

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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AFRICA

Kenya’s President returns home after meeting with Trump on trade, security

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President Uhuru Kenyatta has returned to Nairobi from his meeting with President Donald Trump on Monday at the White House, where the two leaders talked trade, security and some issues facing the two continents.

Kenya is emerging from a period of election turmoil. He’s the second African leader to meet with Trump at the White House, following a visit by Nigeria’s president earlier this year.

Trump has been criticized for paying too little attention to the continent and faced demands for an apology earlier this year after his private comments about “shithole countries” in Africa and other regions were leaked to journalists.

U.S. first lady Melania Trump, who helped welcome Kenyatta and his wife to the White House, is planning a solo trip to Africa this fall.

Trump and Kenyatta, during remarks to reporters in the Oval Office and Cabinet room, said they would be discussing a series of topics, including cooperation on terrorism and building trade and investment ties. USAfrica/VOA

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FIRESTORM: Trump’s false tweet on “South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers”

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JOHANNESBURG: South Africa accused US President Donald Trump of fuelling racial tensions on Thursday (Aug 23) after he said farmers were being forced off their land and many of them killed.

Trump’s tweet touched on the overwhelmingly white ownership of farmland in South Africa – one of the most sensitive issues in the country’s post-apartheid history.

The foreign ministry said in a statement it would meet officials at the US embassy to challenge the “unfortunate comments”, which were “based on false information”.

Foreign Minister Lindiwe Sisulu would also speak directly with her American opposite number, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, it added.

Trump wrote overnight: “I have asked Secretary of State … Pompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers.”

His tweet apparently followed a segment on conservative Fox News about [an alleged] plan to change the constitution to speed up expropriation of land without compensation to redress racial imbalances in land ownership.

“‘South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers’,” said Trump’s post, which tagged the show’s host, Tucker Carlson, as well as the channel.

In the clip, Carlson painted an apocalyptic picture of the situation accompanied by on-screen graphics warning of the “threat of violence and economic collapse”.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who faces elections in 2019, has claimed expropriating farms without ramaphosa-ANCcompensating their owners would “undo a grave historical injustice” against the black majority during colonialism and the apartheid era.

Even though apartheid ended in 1994, the white community that makes up eight per cent of the population “possess 72 per cent of farms” compared to “only four per cent” in the hands of black people who make up four-fifths of the population, Ramaphosa said.

The stark inequality stems from purchases and seizures during the colonial era that were then enshrined in law during apartheid.

But plans to change the constitution have yet to be approved by parliament, and there is a vigorous debate in South Africa about how land redistribution would work – and whether seizures could be economically damaging as they were in post-independence Zimbabwe.

Mmusi Maimane, the leader of the main opposition Democratic Alliance party which opposes forced expropriation but backs land reform, said “fear mongering by international leaders adds no value”.

“The injustices of land dispossession in South Africa can be addressed by our constitution in its current form. We must ensure ownership of land for all South Africans,” he tweeted.

Later on Thursday, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert called for “a peaceful and transparent public debate”.

However she added that on “the expropriation of land without compensation, our position is that that would risk sending South Africa down the wrong path”.

Earlier this year, Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton sparked a diplomatic row after he said that Canberra should give “special attention” to white South African farmers seeking asylum.

The level of violence against farmers and farm workers is hotly contested but the police’s latest figures show there were 74 farm murders in 2016-17, according to the Africa Check fact-checking site.

South Africa’s leading farming lobby group AgriSA on Thursday praised the government’s “commitment to agriculture”.

“As a country it’s important that we find solutions together – we did this pre-1994 and we can do it again,” AgriSA chief executive Omri van Zyl told the SABC broadcaster.

Van Zyl was speaking at a conference on the land issue also attended by Deputy President David Mabuza who warned against “spreading falsehoods”.

“We would like to discourage those who are using this sensitive and emotive issue of land to divide us,” he said.

But Kallie Kriel, chief executive of AfriForum – a group that advocates for its largely white membership – welcomed Trump’s intervention and attacked Ramaphosa for pressing ahead with the policy.

“We need to get international support to put pressure on the South African government to hopefully make them re-visit their stance,” he told AFP.

Kriel added that Trump could suspend South Africa from the African Growth and Opportunity Act trade programme if property rights were not respected.

“The US has a lot of power,” he said.

South Africa’s rand currency dropped as much as 1.9 per cent against the US dollar following Trump’s tweet, according to the Bloomberg news agency, ending four days of gains against the greenback.

Julius Malema, the leader of the radical opposition Economic Freedom Fighters party, called Trump a “pathological liar” and told him to “stay out of South Africa’s domestic affairs”. ref AFP

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AFRICA

Kofi Annan’s legacy complicated by genocide in Rwanda. By Prof. Danny Bradlow

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By Danny Bradlow, SARCHI Professor of International Development Law and African Economic Relations, University of Pretoria, South Africa.

Kofi Annan (80 years old) was an important historical figure who played a critical role in many key events of the 1990s and 2000s. His death is therefore an opportunity to both celebrate his life and to begin honestly assessing his contributions to the world.

The Ghanaian diplomat’s legacy is complicated. He served as both head of the United Nations peacekeeping and as secretary general of the UN. His tenure in these high offices – from 1992 to 2006 – were marked by great human tragedies as well as episodes of progress. His role in these events raises difficult questions about individual responsibility and the role of international organisations and their leaders in creating a more peaceful and just world.

On the plus side, his contributions were impressive. He was an effective diplomat, a shrewd negotiator and an intelligent strategist. He was such a successful bureaucratic operator that he was the first UN employee to rise to the position of secretary general.

When he took over the organisation it was facing numerous challenges. They included a tense and often hostile relationship with its most powerful member state, the US, a difficult budgetary situation and what appeared to be an inability to fulfil its core peacekeeping, human rights and development functions.

By the end of his term, things looked very different. Relations with key member countries had been restored, the UN had a sound fiscal position and both he and the organisation had won the Nobel Peace Prize.

In addition, the organisation had launched some important new initiatives. It had adopted the Millenium Development Goals, which contributed to significant gains in health, education and human welfare in many countries around the world. The initiative was so successful that it was succeeded by the even more ambitious Sustainable Development Goals.

In addition, the international community had established the International Criminal Court and had begun prosecuting war criminals for their deeds in the wars in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

He had also initiated the process of getting corporations to recognise and accept their responsibility for the environmental, social and human rights consequences of their activities. This process moved slowly. But his efforts ultimately led to the UN Human Rights Council unanimously endorsing the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in 2011. These have now been incorporated into the human rights policies of many companies and have led to a number of countries adopting national action plans on the human rights responsibilities of business.

After he left the UN, Annan continued to do good work with both the Elders, a group of global leaders working for peace and human rights, and his own foundation. In these capacities he had some notable achievements. He helped resolve the post-election violence in Kenya, helped ensure peaceful elections in Nigeria and a number of other countries, and helped promote more productive and sustainable agriculture and good governance across Africa. He also tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to end the civil war in Syria and the campaign against the Rohingyas in Myanmar.

But there’s also a darker side to Annan’s record.

Annan was the head of UN Peacekeeping operations in the 1990s when two of the biggest failures in UN history happened. Under his watch both the Rwandan genocide and the massacres in Srebrenica took place.

In both cases his commanders on the ground requested authority to take stronger action to limit the risk of tragedy to those under their protection. In both cases he declined their request – with tragic results.

In addition, under his leadership UN peacekeepers in a range of countries, including Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo, were found to be sexually exploiting those they were charged to protect. The UN failed to respond promptly to these actions and they continued into the 2000s.

In most organisations, a leader who is responsible for such profound failures would be held accountable. If not fired, or forced to resign, they would at the very least be moved to a position of lesser authority. But this didn’t happen because the UN has poor mechanisms and a weak culture of accountability. In fact, the UN and its member states, decided to promote Annan, selecting him to replace the first African secretary general, Boutros Boutros Ghali, who was deemed to be too independent minded by the US.

Annan continued relying on the UN’s lack of accountability once he was in office. His son was implicated in the infamously corrupt food-for-oil programme that was initiated to help the Iraqi population during the period of sanctions against Saddam Hussein.

Eventually, under pressure, he appointed the independent Volcker Commission to investigate the programme. It concluded that, although Annan himself was not guilty of any wrongdoing, his actions in response to the abuses were inadequate, including that he had failed to refer the matter to the UN’s independent watchdog agency.

He also tolerated sexual harassment within the UN Secretariat, protecting the former head of the UN refugee agency when he was accused of sexual harassment, penalising his accuser and then relying on the UN’s legal immunity to avoid having to respond to her efforts to seek justice. The adverse publicity eventually forced the guilty official to resign.

There is no doubt that running a complex international institution like the UN is difficult and requires leaders who are willing to compromise. Given the secretary general’s weak position, it may also be inevitable that its leaders will have to turn a blind eye to some acts and omissions that have tragic and possibly evil consequences in order to advance higher priorities.

Annan showed throughout his career that he was a master at playing this game. As a result, his record includes both some impressive achievements and some profound failures. It will be up to history to decide if he made the right choices and struck the correct balance between doing good and tolerating evil.

In the meanwhile, we should all draw lessons from the life of this important historical figure about the importance of holding leaders and the institutions that govern our world accountable for their actions and decisions.

 

Eight lessons of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide. By Chido Nwangwu

Houston, April 2, 2009: April 7 is the 15th anniversary of the 1994 Rwanda genocide by the same country’s Hutu zealots who viciously set upon Rwanda’s 1 million Tutsis for the most brutal decimation of an ethnic group within 100 hours in Africa and the world.
On Wednesday April 7, 2004, Rwandan President Paul Kagame  specifically named Belgium, Britain and the United States for  withdrawing their forces when Rwandans needed them, asserting that: “Injustice of powerful nations should be stopped. Rwanda should be a good example to learn a lesson.”

The first, key lesson of the Rwanda genocide is that moral and courageous leadership serve our collective and singular moral interests. Kagame’s view dovetails with the words of the civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. in his  ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail (April 16, 1963) arguing that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Also, later the holocaust survivor, Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel in his book ‘Un die welt hot geshvign (And the World Kept Silent)’ later updated as ‘Night’, wrote: “Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Whenever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must- at that moment- become the center of the universe.”
Biafra. Rwanda. Darfur, and other geopolitical zones of killings and human tragedy are reminders of past and continuing centers of the universe.

Reflecting on the crises of 1994, Gen. Romeo Dallaire, the UN commander whose call for reinforcements was ignored said recently: “The international community didn’t give one damn for Rwandans because Rwanda was a country of no strategic importance.” Bill Clinton was the president of the United States at the time.

The second lesson of the Rwanda Hutu-imposed genocide is that we have all seen the face of evil; sometimes, they reside among us. The Rwanda genocide is still fresh as the zone where next door neighbors and teenagers used knives and machettes and dane guns and assault rifles to kill those they played soccer with and fetched water from the same stream only a few hours earlier. Hutus set Tutsi houses on fire to destroy the lives of those who sang and played at the church churches and village squares.

The slaughter of women and children and all moving objects with any and all available weapons marked a new low in the depravity of malice and prejudice. The Rwandans have been for decades almost 92% christians (57% Catholic). There are almost 10 million Rwandans. Demographically, the Hutus (Bantu) form 84% of the population while the endangered Tutsis (Hamitic) constitute only 13%. There are the Twas (Pygmy) who form 1.4%

A third lesson of the domestic slaughter in 1994 in Rwanda is the highlight of the wider bloody history of annual violent bigotry inside Africa by Africans, what I call Africans-on- Africans- violence. They remind me of an interview the Voice of America (VOA) international service on September 11, 2002 where I said that:  “The armies of bigotry, and murderous hatefulness have left a very severe and deadly impact on Africa.” Those armies, to be sure, are both external and local.

Which leads to the fourth lesson; a question: when will the blame everything on  the “white man-white person” and “colonialists and colonialism” think beyond the instinct to hold external factors entirely responsible for the continent’s problems? I must note, frankly, that for all the divide and conquer and arbitrary mapping and lumping of dissimilar ethnic nationalities into awkward countries, for all the despoliation and degradation and exploitation of our African continent, “White people” did not compel the Hutus to express such primitive, medieval hateful, mechanized malice against their compatriots, the Tutsis.

The fifth lesson of the Rwanda genocide reveals the nakedness of one of the dirty secrets of African leaderships over the past 60 years: the weak-kneed clause of “non-interference” into the “sovereign” issues in other “member states” of the defunct organization of African Unity (OAU), now the African Union. They strive to protect their priviledged ponds of opulence and umbrellas of dictatorship and autocracy.

It is important to note that long before 1994 Rwanda, it is to the eternal credit of the late, great sage and President of Tanzania, Dr. Julius Nyerere that he tore the veil off the tawdry non-interference/ sovereignty in the face of human catastrophe when he interfered progressively against Nigeria’s starvation policies against then Biafrans (Igbos, Anangs, Efiks, and 13 million other south eastern Nigerians during their 1967-1970 war for survival and independence from the rest of Nigeria).

After Biafra, Nyerere stood up against the dictator Idi Amin of Uganda in 1979, forcing Amin’s regime to fall.

The sixth lesson derives from another question: long before and 15 years after the bloody genocide in Rwanda, millions of people still wonder when the looters and dealers masquerading as African leaders will be responsive and sensitive to providing the basic, fundamental justification for the creation of these countries/nations/ states?

Why are Africans and other parts of the world held in some of these corrupt cages, sorry countries, by very corrupt leaders?

Who would have believed that for all his sanctimonious animations, holier-than- thou dramatics and posturing as Nigeria’s morality high-priest, retired Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, the country’s two-time president reportedly collected several rounds of cash/bribe from the Halliburton squad?

The seventh lesson demands that the problems are not 100% local. Political economy fact is that the Western world and colonialist Europe, especially, have some responsibility for sowing the festering seeds to some of these problems by cobbling ethnic nations arbitrarily. Some of the countries have been hampered through neocolonialist financial structures and wealth transfers, predatory actions which fuel their collapse as another of bankrupt African economies and geo-politically failed states.

The eight lesson is that humankind overcomes evil, over time. Today, Rwandans are healing and rebuilding their infrastructure but the question remains.  When will Africans, their leaders and all of the world’s leaders aggressively defend the lives of all people as a stand for the common thread of our shared humanity?

I entirely agree with the prophet Dr. King’s global connectedness of injustice and justice. Those leaders who failed all of us on Rwanda failed to heed the lessons of history and King’s moral challenge.

https://usafricaonline.com/2009/11/01/chido-8lessons-rwanda-genocide/
——–
Chido Nwangwu, honored by the Washington-D. C.based National Immigration Forum for utilizing multimedia to fight authoritarianism and foster freedom of expression in parts of the African continent, is the Founder & Publisher of first African-owned, U.S-based professional newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com, The Black Business Journal and AchebeBooks.com. He served on the board of the oldest civil rights organization in the U.S., the NAACP Houston, a publicity committee of the Holocaust Museum, Houston and on Houston former Mayor Lee Brown’s international business advisory board (Africa).

——–

USAfricaonline.com hás several article/reports/insights on Rwanda’s genocide at www.usafricaonline.com/rwanda.genocideyears.html

 

USAfricaonline.com goes richly interactive with new look, content….
On 10/10/09, the major redesign and addition of richly interactive opt ions will go fully live on the award-winning web site of the first African-owned, U.S-based professional newspaper to be published on the internet, www.USAfricaonline.com
“The importance of this latest interactive re-positioning of USAfricaonline.com is to fully tap into the advantages of the digital world to benefit our community and readers. With this initiative, USAfrica advances, further, the immigrant African views and news into the international media and public policy mainstream. It leverages the global resources of USAfrica, again, into the electronic frontline of critically informed, responsible discourse and seasoned reportage of African and American interests as well as debating relevant issues of disagreement”, notes Chido Nwangwu, the Founder & Publisher of USAfricaonline.com, AchebeBooks.com, The Black Business Journal, USAfrica.TV and CLASSmagazine.
“Some of the new features on USAfricaonline.com have enabled for our readers and bloggers, the live texting of pages and page links to phones and other multimedia devices, instant sharing across all the leading social networks especially Facebook, Twitter, digg,  myspace, Mixx, Technorati, LinkedIn, AIM, LiveJournal and Yigg.”
Chido Nwangwu, recipient of an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree in May 2009 and analyst on CNN, VOA, SABC, highlights other advantages as “live RSS feeds and e-syndication of the USAfrica reports and premium content. In terms of graphics and structure, the new USAfricaonline.com has visually refreshing headers and crisp pictures. We’ve also added more columnists, regional news correspondents and incisive special features writers. The site will be updated regularly, especially for significant breaking news.”
The flagship of the American media, The New York Times, several public policy, media and human rights organizations have assessed USAfrica and USAfricaonline.com as the most influential and largest multimedia networks covering the bi-continental interests of Africans and Americans. The first edition of USAfrica magazine was published August 1993; USAfrica The Newspaper on May 11, 1994; CLASSmagazine on May 2, 2003; PhotoWorks.TV in 2005, and dozens of web sites and e-groups/blogs.
The Houston-based USAfrica has a formidable, experienced network of editors and correspondents across the U.S and Africa. Its Publisher served as adviser on Africa business/community to Houston’s former Mayor Lee Brown.
https://usafricaonline.com/chido.html
USAfrica Inc.
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Suite 100, Houston, Texas 77074
office:713-270-5500
wireLess: 832-45-CHIDO (24436)
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Chido@USAfri

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