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Chinua Achebe’s work on earth was magnificently done. By Chike Momah

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TRIBUTE TO CHINUA ACHEBE (IKEJIMBA) 1930-2013

By CHIKE MOMAH

Special to USAfricaonline.comAchebeBooks.com, the USAfrica-powered e-groups of  Nigeria360IgboEventsUNNalumni,  and CLASSmagazine Houston.                                                                    Follow USAfrica Facebook.com/USAfricaChido n Twitter.com/Chido247

 

Chinua Achebe was a compelling figure, straight out of a Biblical saga. He was also, rather more prosaically, a friend who was so close, he was like a brother. A few hours after his death was blazed around the world, I received a condolence call from a member of our Dallas (Texas) Igbo community. This friend asked me if I was sure Chinua and I did not share an umbilical cord. Another person, this time a Reverend gentleman, expressed his condolences in rather more risqué language. “Your friendship with Chinua,” he said, “reminds me of the biblical story of David and Jonathan.”

Chinua-Achebe_holding-his-headI would be lying through my teeth if I said I was not flattered by the language in which the two condolences were couched. But while I gloried in the way my friendship with Chinua was perceived by these two gentlemen, two things struck me about the manner their perceptions were expressed. The reference to Chinua and I sharing an umbilical cord will be easily recognized for what it was: a humorous turn of phrase. But when the clergyman reached for his Bible in search of relational equivalences, he lighted on one of the most emotional passages in Holy Scripture: David lamenting the death of Jonathan, whose love for him, David sang, “was wonderful, passing the love of women!” The love of women? I ask you!

The clergyman’s Biblically inspired phraseology also set me thinking in an unusual direction. I thought about it for a long while, and then – eureka! – it hit me. Chinua Achebe’s story, the saga of his life, is a story of almost Biblical proportions. He rose so far above his humble birth, and above his innate humility – as a human being, a classmate in school, and a friend – that nothing about him seemed ordinary. And, amazingly, his stratospheric rise to greatness, fame and universal acclaim was, at least, twice predicted: first, in 1943, by his and my primary school Headmaster, Mr. Okongwu, as sagacious an observer of humanity as you are likely to meet; and, about a dozen years later, by Chinua himself, albeit innocently.

Chinua did not prophecy, in so many words, that he would, one day, be a great man. But, about two years BEFORE he even began to write his epochal novel (THINGS FALL APART; published in 1958), he wrote the following words to a mutual friend: “Yes, there may be many stars in the firmament, but some shine brighter than others.” My memory, at my fairly advanced age, is like a sieve but, as near as I can remember, those were his exact words. I know this because I saw and read the letter he wrote to the friend, and I was involved in the sequence of events that led to that innocent prediction. The mutual friend, I am happy to relate, also achieved considerable success, in his own right, as a novelist. Glory be!

Headmaster Okongwu’s prophecy was couched in more straightforward and unambiguous language. In 1943, as I was sweating over my preparations for the entrance examination to Government College, Umuahia (G.C.U. – a boys’ high school), along came my Headmaster. He regarded me for a moment or two, and then uttered his immortal words: “If,” he said, “you do well enough in the exam to gain admission to the school, I predict you will there meet a boy called Albert Achebe, and Albert will make the rain that will drench you!!! (This was a boy he last saw in 1940, when Chinua was ten years old.) In the upshot, I gained admission to GCU. Chinua also did, on a merit scholarship! This was in January 1944.

The rest is history. In the middle of 1944, our first year in high school, Chinua was promoted, with five other boys, to class two. First drenching! From then till his high school graduation in 1948, he was the best student in his new class. That same year, he won a merit scholarship (one of only six or seven awarded that year) to the University College, Ibadan (U.C.I.). To study MEDICINE!! U.C.I. was then the only institution for tertiary education in the country. He changed courses at the end of his freshman year, and I caught up with him one more time. This was in 1949. We both graduated, Bachelor of Arts, in the same subjects, in 1953. Throughout those four years, our professors and lecturers, again and again, let us know that Chinua was, not only the best student in the class, but also the best writer of English. He achieved the best result in our degree examination. Second drenching!!

I need not belabor the point. More drenching followed, fast and furious! Within five years of our graduation, Chinua published THINGS FALL APART. Other novels followed, and success followed hard on success. The inevitable consequence followed. Chinua, force majeure, began to shift out of my orbit. He discovered, as his friends did too, that he had been drawn onto a world stage – to all of humanity, and not just to a narrow circle of friends and admirers.

He was, as I have dared to proclaim elsewhere, the best writer of English that I think I have ever read. He is, for me, its most mellifluous exponent. If the reader disagrees with this spectacular claim, I plead that beauty is in the beholder’s eye. I speak for myself and, perhaps, for a continent. There is no writer, living or dead, who has demonstrated, in greater measure than Chinua, the ability to weave a tapestry of words taken from the Queen’s English and from the proverbs and aphorisms of his own mother tongue, Igbo.

He certainly rose above the British colonial quagmire to which our people were condemned for a century and more, to write the language of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Dickens, Stevenson and, yes, even Conrad, with a mastery that takes the breath away. When we were reading those authors, in high school and in college, we did not think – we dared not think – that we would produce a Chinua Achebe. Later, he was to pick a bone or two with Conrad’s racially slanted writings, but that is another story!

I might have sometimes been tempted to look at Chinua, and think (again, Biblically): Is this not the carpenter’s son? But I can say, truthfully, that I never succumbed to that temptation. He bestrode my world like the colossus that he was, and I rejoiced with him as he scaled the heights of literature to its pinnacle. No, he was no mere carpenter’s son for me.

During the years Chinua and I were in high school and university, my contacts with the senior Achebe were few and far between. My memory of him is, at best, very sketchy now. But Chinua’s old man was no carpenter, though I have no doubt that he was largely responsible for chiseling Chinua, in his formative years, into the exquisite product that has dazzled the world for more than half a century, since THINGS FALL APART was published in 1958.  

Chinua should have won the Nobel Prize for Literature. The Nobel Prize committee members are probably the only persons, on earth, who know why he was denied this recognition of his literary stature, and of his influence on more than two or three generations of African writers. And on other writers worldwide! Tony Morrison (the Nobel laureate) acknowledged Chinua as one of her main literary inspirations in writing about her own people. Chinua’s most celebrated contemporary and fellow Nigerian writer, Wole Soyinka, the 1986 Nobel laureate, also acknowledged Chinua as a trail-blazer. Enough said!

Chinua now belongs to the ages, his work on earth magnificently done. No one could have asked for more from even a genius of his breath-taking dimensions. Regrettably, Chinua had to live out the last twenty-three years of his life wheelchair-bound – the result of a vehicular accident in 1990. This is the reason, above all else, that my wife, Ethel and I (and Chinua’s other friends) are especially appreciative of the love and devotion of Odozi-ngwulu, his beautiful wife, Professor Dr. Christiana Achebe – Ana to Chinua himself, Christie to the rest of us!

My appreciation also extends to their children, Chinelo, Ike, Chidi and Nwando, of whom one is a medical doctor, and the other three achieved doctorates in academia. Apropos of this, Ethel sometimes teasingly told Chinua he was the least educated member of his family!! I was his best-man when he married Christie, and he was godfather to my son, Chukwudi (Chidi).

His last book, There Was A Country,

Chike-Momah-wt-kolanut-pixkwenu

Chike-Momah-wt-kolanut

the story of Biafra, and of man’s inhumanity to man – was like a concluding and thunderous exclamation mark on his life as a writer! The buzz it generated has scarcely died down, as I write this.

I stand, in humility, in the shadow of Chinua Achebe’s greatness and, yes, of his almost Biblical stature!!! In the language of the Bard: when comes such another?

Nnabuenyi Momah’s tribute is his second revision of a piece (Reflection on Chinua Achebe) which he wrote in 2000, and revised in 2007. Achebe’s passing, in the third week of March 2013, has necessitated this update; sent to USAfricaonline.com from his base in Arlington, Texas; April 2013.  He is the author of several novels and retired international agencies staff. His book review-exclusive interview with USAfrica’s Publisher Chido Nwangwu was published here on USAfricaonline.com and across the platforms of USAfrica e-groups on March 7, 2012. https://usafricaonline.com/2012/03/17/usafricabooks-profile-chike-momah-on-his-novels-achebe-by-chido-nwangwu/

• For seasoned insights and breaking news on these issues, log on to USAfricaonline.comAchebeBooks.com and USAfrica powered e-groups including Nigeria360 at yahoogroups and USAfrica at googlegroups. Follow us at Facebook.com/USAfricaChido and Twitter.com/Chido247 

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


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/

Jonathan’s Boko Haram problem and firing of Ringim. By Chido Nwangwu
https://usafricaonline.com/2012/01/25/jonathans-boko-haram-problem-and-firing-of-ringim-by-chido-nwangwu/

Related insight: USAfrica’s October 17, 2001 special report/alert: Nigeria’s bin-Laden cheerleaders could ignite religious war, destabilize Africa. By USAfrica’s Publisher Chido Nwangwuhttps://usafricaonline.com/chido.binladennigeria.html

http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=USAfrica+Chido+Nwangwu+al-qaeda+terrrorism+nigeria&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

https://usafricaonline.com/tag/al-qaeda/ 

Related and prior reporting on the Jos crises on USAfrica, click here: https://usafricaonline.com/2011/08/16/10-killed-in-renewed-violence-near-jos/

News archives related to Jos, here https://usafricaonline.com/?s=jos

310 killed by Nigeria’s ‘talibans’ in Bauchi, Yobe n Maiduguri; crises escalate. USAfricaonline.com  on  July 28, 2009. www.usafricaonline.com/chido.ngrtalibans09.html

http://www.groundreport.com/World/310-killed-by-Nigerias-talibans-in-Bauchi-Yobe-n-M/2904584

Trump looks foolish and crazy screaming about Obama’s birth certificates, college records and Muslim connection. By Raynard Jackson

In the light of an icon, my mentor Stanley Macebuh (1942-2010)By Chido Nwangwu  https://usafricaonline.com/2011/03/07/stanley-macebuh-tribute-by-chido-nwangwu/  

Follow us at Facebook.com/USAfricaChidoFacebook.com/USAfrica247 n Twitter.com/Chido247

—- 

• Nigeria’s bin-Laden cheerleaders could ignite religious war, destabilize Africa. By USAfrica’s Publisher Chido Nwangwuhttps://usafricaonline.com/chido.binladennigeria.html http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=USAfrica+Chido+Nwangwu+al-qaeda+terrrorism+nigeria&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8 https://usafricaonline.com/tag/al-qaeda/ 310 killed by Nigeria’s ‘talibans’ in Bauchi, Yobe n Maiduguri; crises escalate. USAfricaonline.com  on  July 28, 2009. www.usafricaonline.com/chido.ngrtalibans09.html http://www.groundreport.com/World/310-killed-by-Nigerias-talibans-in-Bauchi-Yobe-n-M/2904584

Jonathan’s Boko Haram problem and firing of Ringim. By Chido Nwangwu https://usafricaonline.com/2012/01/25/jonathans-boko-haram-problem-and-firing-of-ringim-by-chido-nwangwu/

Related and prior reporting on the Jos crises on USAfrica, click here: https://usafricaonline.com/2011/08/16/10-killed-in-renewed-violence-near-jos/

News archives related to Jos, here https://usafricaonline.com/?s=jos 310 killed by Nigeria’s ‘talibans’ in Bauchi, Yobe n Maiduguri; crises escalate. USAfricaonline.com  on  July 28, 2009. www.usafricaonline.com/chido.ngrtalibans09.html http://www.groundreport.com/World/310-killed-by-Nigerias-talibans-in-Bauchi-Yobe-n-M/2904584

 

Trump looks foolish and crazy screaming about Obama’s birth certificates, college records and Muslim connection. By Raynard Jackson

——

In the light of an icon, my mentor Stanley Macebuh (1942-2010). By Chido Nwangwu  https://usafricaonline.com/2011/03/07/stanley-macebuh-tribute-by-chido-nwangwu/

The greatest Igbo ODUMEGWU OJUKWU’s great farewell in Aba. By Chido Nwangwu   https://usafricaonline.com/2012/02/28/the-greatest-igbo-odumegwu-ojukwu-farewell-in-aba-by-chido-nwangwu

USAfrica: Ikemba ODUMEGWU OJUKWU’s farewell in Aba, today February 28, 2012, reflected a fitting tribute, historically meaningful celebration, proper regard and deserving appreciation of the greatest Igbo, in my opinion, to have ever lived (like him or hate him).

I SALUTE Aba (aka Enyimba city), the robust and fearless town I was born, bred and raised, for giving the Ikemba, our Ochiagha, Gburugburu, Oka oburu uzo, dike na ndu ma n’onwu, mgbadike anyi, a hero’s farewell.

To the Ikemba, may your valiant soul rest in peace and dignity.

We will, and I, Chido Nwangwu, will never forget to continue to tell my generation and the next about your towering courage through tempest and thunder; through sorrow, pain, tears, blood…. •Dr. Chido Nwangwu, Founder & Publisher of USAfrica multimedia networks, first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com; and recipient of several journalism and public policy awards, was recently profiled by the CNN International for his pioneering works on multimedia/news/public policy projects for Africans and Americans. http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/international/2010/07/29/mpa.african.media.bk.a.cnn.

News: At Ojukwu memorial in Dallas Texas, USAfrica’s Chido Nwangwu challenges the Igbo nation to say never again like Jews.

Ojukwu trouble and Ikemba titles. 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/

 

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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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AFRICA

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
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Suite 100, Houston, Texas 77074
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wireLess: 832-45-CHIDO (24436)
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Chido@USAfri

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