May
16

THE STRAW THAT BROKE THE CAMEL’S BACK

THE STRAW THAT BROKE THE CAMEL’S BACK

By CAMERON DUODU

IF you do not know Ghanaians very well, you might that they are among the most docile creatures created by The Almighty.

They can tolerate situations which would make the people of other countries reach for their machetes and/or even guns.

And they can give the impression haven’t “heard” an insult that has been hurled at them.

For their elders admonish each other not to be too easily provoked because “Maturity means sometimes feigning not to have heard everything that has been said! [–provocative words about oneself, for instance]” (Opanin di ‘mannte, mannte!’ )

The reason why they do these things is that they like to live in “peace” so that they cannot be easily distracted from solving the practical problems that they face in life. They have learnt this the hard way because the history of most of their families is generally strewn with incidents of internecine wars, and intra-family litigations (mansotwe) that render all the protagonists destitute but whose origins no-one can remember with any certitude. Every family has a secret, a taboo, or an anathematical occurrence which is best not talked about – on pain of further social estrangement.

Hence, to many Ghanaians, a proverb which advocates extra caution: “Yes – if you fire a gun at me [my supernatural powers] will enable me to survive the bullets. But what if you miss me altogether?” is the epitome of wisdom. The easiest thing in the world to say, according to this philosophy, is: “My friend, take your trouble go!” The thwarted “agent provocateur” is invited to “go and burn the sea”, if his anger cannot be assuaged by a refusal to be provoked.

But beneath all that apparent ”passivity”, lies a cunning toting up of wrongs, which can cause a serious eruption when the numbers finally add up. Thus, if you are a stranger who lives in a Ghanaian village and you begin to take the villagers for fools, you will not be told anything. People will just look at you with their mouths open. Until suddenly, you wake up one morning to find that those who used to respond warmly when you said “Good morning” to them, will pass you by without responding when you greet them. Others will cross the road when they see you coming. And if you have cultivated any amorous liaisons, these will mysteriously dry up without any tangible cause.

A story published by the Chronicle newspaper illustrates my point:

QUOTE: ”Dumasua — One of the unique [aspects] of our culture is the respect for our traditional rulers who, before the western system of government was introduced, set rules and regulations that governed their people. Modernisation is, however, gradually eroding this time-tested culture, paving the way for subjects to defy their chiefs….

“ At Dumasua,in the Sunyani West District of the Brong-Ahafo Region, [tradition has been broken by] the residents, mainly women and and children, [who] have dumped garbage collected from their various homes, in front of the chief’s private residence. The reason… is that the town has no refuse dump [known locally as “bola”], and the Chief is not making any efforts to get them one…. The Chief [had] allocated a temporary dump site for them, only for a private developer to harass them because the land belongs to him. The said developer also went further to invoke curses on them, using the local gods, but all complaints to the local assembly and the chief to get them a new place to dump refuse have not received any favourable response.

“This has resulted in the indiscriminate dumping of refuse, which is also creating a health problem for the community. The women accused the chiefs and elders of the town of selling all available lands to private developers without thinking about where refuse must be dumped. The women also alleged that their chief is resident in the United States of America, and, therefore, does not feel the pain they are going through when it comes to waste disposal. [They said they] got [a] hint that their chief had returned home from the US, and decided to dump the refuse in front of his house the following morning, just to tell him the difficulty they are going through.

“When contacted, [the Chief] described the action of the women as disrespectful, because he had personally contacted the Sunyani West District Assembly to request for a refuse container, but they had refused to do so. UNQUOTE

This story raises several issues which underline the pressures to which chieftaincy is being subjected at present: the Chief accused those who dumped the rubbish in front of his house of being “disrespectful”. But can he explain how anyone can be “respectful” towards a Chief who has refused to fulfil the functions expected of a community leader? Again the Chief is reported to have stated that he had initiated action with the District Authority to provide a refuse container to the village. Very good. But if that is so and yet the villagers felt the need to send him such a direct, “disrespectful” message, does it not mean that he has failed to communicate with them? Did he take any of the villagers with him when he went to negotiate with the District Authority? Finally, has the Chief not realised that the successful “bola-bombing” of his residence must have taken some secret planning, and that for such a plan to work, it must have been given support by a majority of the populace he is supposed to reign over?

There is a proverb in China which says, “A man against whom one thousand fingers are pointing in accusation, will die even if he is not sick!” And indeed, If the Chief had any dignity left, he should abdicate straight away because of the unmistakable lack of support the “bola-bombing” demonstrates in relation to his occupancy of the stool. But sometimes, the ability to sell communal land to developers blinds Chiefs to realities which their ancestors would have recognised as signs of their failure as leaders.

The story also has national implications. Right now, entertainers – who, normally, are narcissists with little time to do anything other than perfect the lines of their film-scripts and the lyrics of their songs, even as they get incessantly involved in romantic liaisons which turn them into “items” that render them “newsworthy” to the media – have somehow found time to organise a “vigil” in protest against the DUMSƆ that is killing Ghana by inches. Some sycophantic politicians and traditional rulers have rained insults on them for showing ”disrespect” to the Government of Ghana by seeking to advertise its failings with the DUMSƆ vigil. And one stupid posting I have read on Facebook even accuses the stars of having been “given” $10,000 to organise the vigil. Simple question: where was the guy when the money was changing hands? Why didn’t he report the matter to the police? Or is he such an ignoramus that he does not know that taking a bribe is an offence under the law? He knows how to post on Facebook, but he does not know the law of his own country?

What these serpentine “anti-protest protesters” should be asking themselves is this: how can you force a people to respect a government which, for about 3 years, has deprived its tax-paying citizens of electricity, water, good roads and a dependable health service, whilst promising volubly every few months, that things would be all right “soon”? Is electricity provision such a head-ache in the modern world?

In any case, what respect can be accorded to a government whose members – whilst being unable to provide elementary amenities that were taken for granted under its predecessors in the past – nevertheless manage to parade themselves off as sophisticates whose forte is conspicuous consumption?

A government whose head states publicly that his reaction to criticism is: ” I am a dead goat… and a dead got does not fear the knife?”

Good on you, Yvonne Nelson, Sarkodie and Co! The nation is with you!

A dead goat may not fear the knife. But neither do vultures fear a dead goat.

May
05

TU BRA! ABI?




TU BRA!  ABI? By CAMERON DUODU
When I arrived at Kyebi Government Senior School from my birthplace, Asiakwa, it cost me money, and I was anxious to recoup my loss by grabbing as much knowledge as possible.  Very quickly.
 
But this gave me the reputation of being a “swot”.

Some of my classmates were annoyed that whenever the teacher asked a question, me, whom they considered a “village import”, was the one who  put up his hand and answered it. Correctly, too.
So they decided to teach me a lesson. They brought a guy from another school, who was said to have a “great command of big words” in English”, to “challenge” me.

 

He began by asking me to tell him the meaning of the following sentence:
You are inthokthicathed with the ekthubillance of your own bobothity!!”
Not having yet been exposed to the lingo of the British  boxer, Chris Eubank, I said “What?”
And the boy repeated the sentence:
“You are inthokthicathed with the ekthubillance of your own bobothity!!”
I’d never heard anyone lisp as badly as that, and honestly, I couldn’t make head or tail of what he was trying to say.
 
I said dismissively: “I can’t understand you!”
 
He got annoyed at that and told me:
“You have no thagathity!”
After some research, I got to know that what he’d been trying to recite, in his first salvo of big words, was a quote from the British politicians, Disraeli, which ran as follows: “You are intoxicated [sometimes rendered as inebriated] with the exuberance of your own verbosity!”
And “You have no thagathity”, I found, meant, “You have no sagacity”; i.e. you have no wisdom; i.e. you are a fool!
I’d forgotten all about this – despite the fact that occasionally, I had heard expressions that made me remark: “Tu Bra”! (Bring it forth!) beneath my breath – until last week.
 
I was glancing through some of the postings on a Nigerian internet forum  when I came across the following item:
On the 2014 United Nations International Youths Day held in UNILAG … students of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) [had to] arm themselves with writing materials and mobile dictionaries to attend Patrick Obahiagbon’s speech. Patrick Obahiagbon aka “I-godo-migodo”, was a former member of Nigeria’s House of Representatives [and] is currently the Chief of Staff to Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State.”
Next came an explanation of: “Why I speak Big, Big Grammar” – Hon. Obahiagbon

QUOTE: “Patrick Obahiagbon, who represents Oredo Federal Constituency of Edo State, shot to [the] limelight the moment he arrived [in] the House of Representatives in 2007, with his uncanny knack for jaw-breaking words. For reasons he explained exclusively to Saturday Vanguard, the 1983 product of St John Bosco Grammar School, Obiaja, Edo State, swore that he has since cut short on the big, big vocabulary he uses. The 1987 Law graduate of University of Benin, who also holds two Master[s] degrees, [explained] that “the intention is not to deliberately befuddle or obfuscate them”.
Excerpts: “Sincerely speaking, I want to tender an unreserved apologia to my colleagues and all those who feel that my language is obscurantist. The truth is that I do not set out deliberately to mystify my audience, to deposit my audience in a portmanteau of indecipherability or in a portmanteau of conundrum. No, no, no, no! Far from it. The cosmic force would not allow me to do that. But, you see if you ask homo sapients who have interfaced with me for close to twenty years now, they would tell you that I no longer speak high-sounding language. I have reduced it radically…. I am trying and I will continue to try, to ensure that my language, or my idiolect, is as limpid and as diaphanous as possible.
But, let me say that I am an omnivorous reader and I put my nose on the grinding stone to read for more than 7 hours a day, when most innocent men are sleeping, and night marauders are doing their business. …. And like I always tell people, the dictionary for me is not a reference point; the dictionary is a vade mecum, a constant companion. I spend, on the average, not less than an hour a day referencing the dictionary, for the past twenty to twenty-five years. So don’t be maniacally bewildered if I speak most times, from what I draw while reading. But, really, the intention is not to deliberately befuddle or obfuscate my presentations on the floor.
I was a student Union activist all my years in the University of Benin. Little wonder, as soon as I left the University and finished my Youth Service, I dabbled into the aqua of political arena. I have been in State and National politics effectively from 1999. But it has not been a bed of roses, giving (sic) the miasma, that convoluted phantasmagoria, given the prependalism and all the intrigues in Nigerian politics…Every time I lost an election, I would decide to be more recusant rather than being recumbent. I decided to be more quixotic rather than being laisser-faire; to challenge my destiny the more, rather than relapsing into a cocoon of levity, or into a cocoon of political narcissism. And I thank the great galaxy of the universe, that… in 1999, my bread was buttered. The cosmic afforded me the lacuna to give a vivacious and vibrant representation to my constituency… I am a robot in the hand of God. believe that the hand of God and the cosmic imprimaturs are in my political odyssey. UNQUOTE
What? Seriously? Yes! But that was only an appetiser. It is when we get into an interview published by Punch newspaper that we get the real McCoy::
 
QUOTE: ”WAEC Seized My English Result Twice – Patrick Obahiagbon

 

Punch ­- Did you write exams in school in these big words?
 
Honourable – I used such words very-very freely in my exams both at the
secondary school and in my university and little wonder I had
the misfortune of my English results being seized intermittently in my O’ Levels.
WAEC released my results for the other subjects and withheld my English result. This happened for
about three years. Twice, I passed the University Matriculation Examination but I
could not proceed to the University because of my English results that…were not released. [until] …. after the third attempt.
Punch – Why do you always use ‘big grammar’?
 
Honourable- I am not really consensus ad idem with those who opine that my idiolect is advertently obfuscative…. It’s just that I am in my elements when the colloquy has to do with the pax nigeriana of our dreams and one necessarily needs to fulminate against the alcibiadian modus vivendi of our prebendal political class.
Punch – How do you talk to your wife, children and even your friends?
 
Honourable – I relate with my family and friends very warmly and in an
atmosphere of camaraderie, stripped of my confutational habiliment and gladiatorial
homilies.
Punch – Is this the way you proposed to your wife, speaking high tech grammar?
 
Honourable – Of course, the business of the day when I interfaced with my
wife on matters of the heart had to be in plain Caeser’s language
and you can decipher why that had to be so. The matter in view did not permit itself of sphinxian
conundrum.
Punch – Do you know that many people don’t take you too seriously when
you talk because they think you are not communicating?
 
Honourable – Why will I be perturbed from ensconcing myself in the
palatable arms of Morpheus because people have deprived themselves of the cultivation of
the regime of the mental magnitude? I read all the farrago of baloneys and vacuous bunkum
from pepper-soup objurgators. The spirit of animadversion remains their fundamental
human right.
It also remains an indubitable fact that I get millions and millions of requests
daily from people all over the world requesting for my verbal mentorship which positive
cosmopolitan reactions have assisted my equipoise and righteous sense of
pachydermatous garb. I cannot put my nose to the grindstone daily and expect to be
understood by those luxuriating in a modus vivendi, verging on pepper-souping, suyaing,[i.e. eating suya or kebab] big Stouting [i.e. imbibing Stout beer from the larger bottles] and isiewulising.[i.e.partaking in an Igbo dish made with a goat's head] Has a philosophical wag not once pontificated that things of the spirit are spiritually discerned and that it takes the deep to call the deep?
 
Punch -Why do you pull your trousers up beyond the waist?
 
Honourable -Hahahaha….That trousers style is called Yohji Yamamoto. It was my own audacious statement to remonstrate against the pervasive tendency of Nigerians, especially our youths, that took to the practice of putting on trousers exposing their lower anatomical contours. UNQUOTE
(To be continued)


May
03

IS MEDECINS SANS FRONTIERES SUPERSEDING THE UN’S HUMANITARIAN AGENCIES?

 

IS MEDECINS SANS FRONTIERES SUPERSEDING THE HUMANITARIAN AGENCIES OF THE UNITED NATIONS ?
By CAMERON DUODU

During the distressing Ebola crisis in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, which, thankfully, is now drawing to a close, one organisation stood out distinctly amongst other organisations and purveyed light and vigour, while others remained “blind” and “indolent”.

It was very pathetic indeed that blindness and confusion should exist in such bodies, especially those set up by the UN precisely to protect humans when natural or deliberately-caused calamities afflict the population of the planet. For it is to them that the world turned for salvation, and they mostly looked away, paralysed by internal politics or global concerns imposed upon them by fear of the powers whose financial clout made it unwise to cross them.

The organisation that fearlessly stood out to be counted was Medecins San Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders). Whilst the rich and powerful nations of the world, especially the United States, Britain and France, twiddled their thumbs, MSF sent doctors and health personnel right inside the danger spots. MSF personnel risked their own lives to save the victims of Ebola. Inspired by the example of MSF, medical personnel working in sundry establishments — including the fairly inflexible medical institutions of the rich countries — volunteered to go and help. Some fell ill with Ebola and dramatised the dangers associated with Ebola to the whole world. These were brave people, and they and the local personnel they worked with — some of whom perished — deserve the gratitude of the entire human race.

Meanwhile, the MSF would, I think, normally have saved lives and kept quiet. But the problem it faced in the field was so gargantuan that it went to the UN and spoke the truth to the world’s powers (in so many words) that unless they moved in very fast indeed, they would witness a calamity of such proportions as would brand them for ever as callous, unfeeling human beings. Not only that — by remaining unconcerned, their own populations would become angry with them, for in the modern world, no country can be an “island, entire unto itself”. Ebola would arrive in London, Berlin, Washington and Paris, if …..! Sure enough, panic soon spread throughout the world, as single cases became reported around the world and gruesome television pictures of the Martian-like Ebola fighters courting death on the front-lines of the disease, did the rest.

The USA, Britain and France – all of which have established special medical units that are trained to fight the hazards that could be unleashed on humans by chemical and nuclear warfare, got their act together at last and sent well-equipped teams to the three countries being devastated by Ebola.

Why did they wait for so long? Ask me!
I suppose that if the populations of these rich Western countries not been alarmed by the possibility of travellers arriving on their shores with Ebola, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia would by now have bowed the knee to Ebola. What about the World Health Organisation (WHO) you ask? Isn’t it the body that should have forcefully conveyed the urgency of the situation to the rich and powerful nations? Why did it appear so ineffectual at the beginning of the crisis?
We cannot answer those questions now, but whistle-blowers do exist and are multiplying by the day.. People of good conscience are beginning to evaluate the responses with which the crisis was greeted and will make their findings known — mark my words. .

The only organisation that does not need to evaluate its own responses is the MSF. But I believe it will carry out the most thorough introspection of all. The reason is that the MSF – it appears to me – has told itself that it dares not fail. It knows that quite often, it is the last stand between humanity and total disaster.

I have only once met an MSF doctor – and that was by accident. I was sitting in a dentist’s chair of all places, in London, and to make conversation, the dentist casually asked me where I came from. When I told him, the conversation shifted to Africa and he then told me – quite casually – that he had spent a year or two in the Southern Sudan, as an MSF volunteer, looking after the teeth of the guerrilla fighters of the Sudan People’s Liberation Front (SPLA).

What? This nice young man with a good life in front of him had gone and braved the Sudan Government’s possible murderous anger by providing medical assistance to guerrillas fighting it in the bush? “Respect!” I said to myself.

That dentist’s quiet revelation of concealed heroism has been in my mind a lot during the Ebola crisis. MSF doctors, nurses and other para-medics just got up and went to Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia as if it was second nature to them – without fanfare and ahead of everyone else.
And now, even before Ebola has been completely conquered, MSF, far from recovering from the mental and physical exhaustion created by Ebola, is at the forefront of yet another major humanitarian effort: it is launching a programme to rescue some of the thousands of migrants thrown into the cruel sea to drown, by human traffickers. Can you imagine the odium it will attract to itself as it implicitly puts the powerful governments of Europe, which are deliberately allowing would-be migrants to drown in the Mediterranean Sea, in the dock before their own populations and the peoples of the world?

An announcement by the MSF says simply:

QUOTE: “Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) will launch a joint search, rescue and medical aid operation in the central Mediterranean between Africa and Europe…. from May to October, when thousands of people are expected to risk their lives attempting to reach safe havens in Europe.
“Last year [2014] was the deadliest on record for people crossing the Mediterranean; more than 3,400 people died trying to reach Europe. [In one disaster last month alone, 800 would-be migrants drowned from one single boat.] This year [2015] the death toll is predicted to be even higher, as even less assistance is available to boats in distress.

“The Italian navy’s search and rescue operation was discontinued in November 2014 due to a lack of funding from European governments. Europe has turned its back on people fleeing some of the worst humanitarian crises of our time. The decision to close doors and build fences [around Europe] means that men, women and children are forced to risk their lives and take a desperate journey across the sea. Ignoring this situation will not make it go away.” UNQUOTE

It is to be hoped that just as in the case of Ebola, the ability of MSF to cut through cant and woolly thinking and get down to the ugly facts on the ground, will shame Europe into resuming and improving Europe’s life-saving operations in the Mediterranean. An awareness needs to be created in Europe that imprisonment and neglect are not what should meet the migrants who manage, against great odds, to escape from death in the sea.

That MSF is being driven by the situation to even consider taking to the sea should tell European governments and their people that MSF is primarily, a medical organisation, not one intended to engage in rescuing people abandoned to drown in the cruel sea. But the MSF is intelligent enough not to distinguish one cause of death from another.

The subscript to the horrendous story, which even the MSF won’t dare to tell Europe because it is political dynamite, but which we can, is this: history teaches us that European peoples and people of European ancestry have been the harbingers of many atrocious and brutal deaths of indigenous people in their own countries as well as under conditions of slavery in plantations a whole world away from their homes.

Worse, Europe has arrogantly bequeathed to peoples it considered inferior, systems of government built on thievery and plunder — in their former “colonial” countries — that have brought about horrendous and lasting social and economic inequities, as adopted and practised by the alien governmental systems that Europe left behind. Capitalist establishments, allied to what Frantz Fanon called “the apes” of the masked colonisers now departed, are throttling the life out of millions of people. But these systems cannot be changed without bloodshed, and even where the people are not afraid of bloodshed, they lack the means to fight the armies and police forces created by the departing colonisers, and which have been inordinately strengthened by the thieves in power.

Where the bequeathed armed forces have not grown to become a force unto themselves, stealing the people’s money with abandon, they are the loyal allies of the civilian oppressors trained in London, Paris and Washington, who share their loot with armed elements, in the hope that they can be used to defend their stolen largesse.

These systems and practices have yielded unexpected consequences in many former colonies. In some countries, especially the Middle East, the larceny has reached such proportions that civil war is the new “normal”. And the victims, both of civil war and economic destitution, are arriving by the boatload, on Europe’s doorsteps. And, of course, affluent Europe does not want to know. For, indeed, Europe only knows how to exploit other people”s wealth and enjoy it — other people’s oil; other people’s coffee, other people’s cocoa, other people’s iron, gold, diamonds, tin, aluminium, et etcetera!

There are people in Europe who know these facts. And they should work together to block Europe’s callous escape route from an acceptance of the consequences of its centuries of selfishness and brutality in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. These people should — as in the days of olden Europe — arouse the consciences of Europe’s populace and get them to force their governments to accept the reality of the evil they have caused in the world. No longer should Europe be allowed — as the King of Belgium on the independence day of the Congo Democratic Republic on 1 June 1960 — to congratulate itself on the “civilising” acts it had carried out by slaughtering millions of people who had done it no harm, save to refuse to be its slaves.

The hypocrisy of European Governments should be exposed. Who kept the billions of dollars stolen from Nigeria by the dictator, Sani Abacha’s billions safe for himself and his family? European banks. Mobutu, Nguema, Bongo, Nguesso — who facilitates their kleptocracy? Go to Switzerland and ask! For these days, the Swiss are talking.

The MSF cannot say any of these things. But by quietly tearing off the mask and showing the world what Europe’s policies mean — in leaving thousands of poor refugees and economic migrants to find a watery grave in the Mediterranean — it will be is saying it with action, not words.

MSF is biting a lot more than is easily chewed. And so it needs support. Humanitarian organisations across Europe and around the world, should mobilise their intellectual and financial resources to flock behind MSF’s new efforts. Europe needs to be shamed into doing its duty by the “wretched of the earth”. For many, if not all, have been driven across the Sahara into unsafe, leaky boats, by Europe’s profit-thirsty companies, and their surrogate pillagers who wear the brown skins of Africans and Middle Easterners, but employ techniques evolved by “white brains”, when it comes to stealing the wealth of “poor” developing countries.

 

Apr
28

OF COFFEE, CHOCOLATES AND ‘COCKROACHES’

OF  COFFEE,  CHOCOLATES AND ‘COCKROACHES’

By CAMERON DUODU

I am sure that a columnist of the British tabloid newspaper, The Sun, called Katie Hopkins, must be thanking her lucky stars that a column of hers has drawn the ire of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Columnists of her ilk adore the “attention” that criticism from exalted quarters brings to them. In the digital age, the more “mentions” and/or “clicks”  their columns get online, the more valuable they become to their editors. Or so it seems!

The editors of tabloid newspaper like The Sun  do indeed reward such “notoriety”.   So although you and I may wonder how the opinions of  some of these columnists on world affairs  — away from their  normal forte, i.e. writing  about their moods, their love affairs and  reflections on the mechanics of effecting changes to their facial makeup and hair-perms,  whilst  staring adoringly at their navels –  are deemed worthy to be passed on to others, those who peddle them continue to flourish. Sometimes, the more foul the language they use, the greater their editors appreciate them.

Now, everyone who knows The Sun newspaper, and who has seen photographs of the said Ms Hopkins, would conclude that what the paper would really like her to do would be to bare her breasts for its “saucy” Page 3 Girls feature. Ms Hopkins, however, is one of the few good-looking women The Sun has promoted above Page 3, mainly because she has become a “celebrity” since appearing as a contestant on a BBC TV programme The Apprentice. (The BBC ought to ask itself what business it has using licence-payers’  money to  “provide” The Sun with columnists — but that’s an issue for another day.)

Well, the poisonous “celebrity” hot air of Katie Hopkins has now drawn the ire of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. In condemning an article by Ms Hopkins in the April 17 issue of The Sun, Mr Al Hussein pointed out that he is a champion of free expression, But in her article, Ms Hopkins had crossed the line between free expression and hate-speech and therefore, the  authorities who monitor the practices of the media in the UK, as well as the UK Government ( which is a signatory to the UN and EU conventions against hate-speech)  ought to investigate her and the editors who made the conscious decision to publish her views.

The offensive article by  Ms Hopkins reads in part: (in relation to the thousands of refugees and “economic migrants” who have been drowning regularly in the Mediterranean Sea, in trying to reach Europe through Libya)

QUOTE: “No, I don’t care! Show me pictures of coffins, show me bodies floating in water, play violins and show me skinny people looking sad. I still don’t care….Make no mistake, these migrants are like cockroaches. They might look a bit ‘Bob Geldof’s Ethiopia circa 1984’, but they are built to survive a nuclear bomb. They are survivors.” UNQUOTE

The article containing these  noxious words  by  Katie Hopkins was published only hours before a fishing vessel packed with migrants capsized off the coast of Libya, with the loss of 800 repeat 800  lives. She said that if she had the power, she would send “gunboats”, not rescue boats, to meet the migrants on the sea. She would like “to make a bonfire” of all those boats, she added.

The UN’s Human Rights Commissioner branded the use of the word “cockroaches” by Ms Hopkins to describe the migrants as reminiscent of “anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda”. He pointed out that the word “cockroaches” was used by not only by the Nazis but both by  the Nazis and those behind the genocide in Rwanda, to characterise the millions of people they slaughtered in cold blood. He stated: “This type of language is clearly inflammatory and unacceptable, especially in a national newspaper. The Sun’s editors took an editorial decision to publish this article, and – if it is found in breach of the law – should be held responsible along with the author.”

The UN Commissioner for Human rights also fingered the London Daily Express and accused it of seeking to whip up anti-foreigner prejudice in the UK. Back in 2003, he revealed, the Daily Express had run “22 negative front pages stories about asylum seekers and refugees in a single 31-day period…Asylum seekers and migrants have, day after day, for years on end, been linked to rape, murder, diseases such as HIV and TB, theft, and almost every conceivable crime and misdemeanor imaginable in front-page articles and two-page spreads; in cartoons, editorials, even on the sports pages of almost all the UK’s national tabloid newspapers”, the Commissioner maintained.

The troubling thing is that whilst describing the people who seek to find refuge or work in Europe as “cockroaches”, Katie Hopkins and her ilk expose themselves to be people who have absolutely no knowledge of the role played by the countries of such people in providing a life of luxury for Europeans and Americans like Katie Hopkins. Coffee – which is the preferred beverage of the ”smart set” in Europe and America –  is mainly produced in Africa and other developing countries. But because the pricing of coffee is controlled by American and European merchants, instead of by the coffee producers, the producers receive less than 5 percent of the income generated by coffee on the world market. The remaining 95 percent is gobbled up by the coffee-grinding and retailing companies of Europe and America – companies like Starbucks.

The profits made by these companies are taxed by the American and European governments and spent on the likes of Katie Hopkins. What is left of the profits is distributed as dividends to Americans and Europeans who own shares in the companies engaged in the various branches of the coffee industry, other than the production of the coffee beans.

The same goes for cocoa. (I bet Ms Hopkins thinks that chocolates — the bete noire of celebrities like her who must ensure that their figures are devoid of any signs of obesity whatsoever, lest editors consign them to the shelf on which ‘has-beens’ are dumped  originate entirely from Holland and Belgium and the factories of Hershey in the USA!)

Crude oil, copper, manganese, gold, iron, tin, diamonds, titanium etc. also originate mainly from developing countries. But again, because of the traditional — and practically immutable -- marketing systems of these products, the people of the developing countries that produce them live mostly  in  poverty while those who buy the products as raw materials from them – at prices dictated by the buyers – live in prosperity.

So long as this disparity in economic power exists, people from developing countries will try to escape from the poverty it engenders and go to more prosperous places to find work. Even where it is actual war, not poverty, that is driving people out of their own countries (as in Syria) the unseen hand of the the rich countries can, with a little probing, be found to be stirring part of  the pot that contains the seeds of  conflict that causes people to flee. This pot often contains profitable arms sales, and/or  lucrative “security services and advice” provided by companies that operate in the rich countries. Of course, if the governments of developing were not as stupid as some of them are, they would prevent themselves from falling into the hands of those who make money by selling death. But, unfortunately, too many developing countries are ruled by selfish “lootocrats”  who fear that if they do not purchase  what they think is “safety”, they will end up on the rubbish heap of history.

The irony of the poison being spouted about migrants in Britain, in particular,  is that in places like Germany – a country that was demonised by the British as being racist and brutal, when the Britain was desperately  recruiting hundreds of thousands of Africans and Asians  to fight for Britain against the Germans in World War Two –  yes, the German media sometimes are show more concern about the plight of the refugees and migrants, than most of the British media. For instance, the German magazine, Der Spiegel, declared with amazing clarity on 20 April 2015, that:

QUOTE: The mass deaths of refugees like those seen … on the European Union’s external borders, is not a consequence of politicians looking away. We are in fact causing the problem with our Fortress Europe policies. Workers at the Warsaw headquarters of Frontex, the European border protection agency, track every single irregular boat crossing and every vessel filled with refugees. Since December 2013, the authority has spent hundreds of millions of Euros deploying drones and satellites to carry out surveillance of  the borders. The EU registers everything that happens near its borders. In contrast to the claims that are often made, they do not look away when refugees die. They are watching very closely. [So] what is happening here is not negligent behaviour. They are deliberately killing refugees.

People have been perishing as they sought to flee to Europe for years now…. They drown in the Mediterranean, bleed to death on the border fences of the Spanish North African conclaves of Ceuta and Melilla….. But the European public still doesn’t appear to be entirely aware of the dimensions of this humanitarian catastrophe. We have become accomplices to one of the biggest crimes to take place in European postwar history.

It’s possible that 20 years from now, courts or historians will be addressing this dark chapter. When that happens, it won’t just be politicians in Brussels, Berlin and Paris who come under pressure. We the people will also have to answer uncomfortable questions about what we did to try to stop this barbarism that was committed in all our names. [For] the mass deaths of refugees at Europe’s external borders are no accidents — they are the direct result of European Union policies.

The German constitution and the European Charter of Fundamental Rights promise protection for people seeking flight from war or political persecution. But the EU member states have long been torpedoing this right. Those wishing to seek asylum in Europe must first reach European territory. But Europe’s policy of shielding itself off from refugees is making that next to impossible. The EU has erected meters-high fences at its periphery, soldiers have been ordered to the borders and war ships are dispatched in order to keep refugees from reaching Europe.”

Maybe unlike the amnesiacs in Britain, the German who wrote this remembers the Berlin Wall and the gallant efforts made by “East” Germans to escape from their prison of a country  to freedom in West Germany. Maybe he/she remembers how the Western media lapped up the fact that the East German border police brutally shot and killed many of those who tried to scale The Berlin Wall, or dig tunnels underneath it, to try and reach prosperous West Berlin.

The other European nations who look at the current migration situation unconcerned, are indeed defining themselves, not just as hypocrites, but also as ungrateful ingrates. Yes, they need to control immigration. But there are better ways to do so than by deliberately allowing  people to perish in the sea, so that others might  be discouraged from taking the same route of hoped-for escape from death or poverty — two sides of basically the same coin, when you look closely at the coin.

 

Eventually, all of them will be asked by their own consciences: how could you let this happen, when only 70 years ago, you were gnashing your teeth at not having been able to prevent the Holocaust that killed 6 million Jews? Have you forgotten the one million oir so killed by hatred in Rwanda in 1994? Maybe, even the United nations will one day grow enought teeth to bring to book,  those who do not care to answer such questions.

Apr
25

TEARING THE MASK OFF THE UGLY FACE OF AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS

TEARING THE MASK OFF THE UGLY FACE OF AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS
By CAMERON DUODU

In what must count as one of my worst nightmares, a grandchild of mine calls me just after having watched the news on TV and says:

“Grandpa, they say 800 people – many of them Africans – were drowned in the Mediterranean Sea, trying to get by boat to Italy from Libya. The boat capsized and they were thrown into the water. They say some of the people, including women and children, were locked inside parts of the boat and could not even get a chance to get into the water, to be saved by passing ships, or by people on the boat who were good swimmers…!”

“Yes – Hmmmm! – I saw the news item too. Very very sad. Very heart-breaking.”

“But Grandpa, why do people take such dangerous risks, only to come and die in the sea?”

“My dear, many of the dead people went to Libya from areas where there is war, especially Syria. But others, particularly the Black Africans, voluntarily sought and found work in Libya. But when the government there changed in a matter of weeks, everything fell apart. They were no longer safe in the country. Right now, there are two governments in Libya, each fighting the other. The police and the army have split into factions. Each faction does what it likes. The European countries, like Britain, which helped the enemies of the Libyan leader of the time, Colonel Muammar Gaddhafi, to overthrow him by bombing Gaddafi’s forces from the air, are just sitting and watching and doing nothing. Yet they contributed to the chaos that now exists in Libya. They just destroyed the law and order that was in Libya, and did nothing to fill the vacuum caused by the demise of his administration. Everyone could have told them that usually, chaos follows the overthrow of a dictator and that they should be prepared to create something new and better to fill in the gap left he has been overthrown. By failing to do any of that, the European governments bear a special responsibility for the deadly chaos that now reigns in Libya.

“Sadly, the Black Africans who went to work in Libya were sometimes picked upon – even during Gaddafi’s time – by the Arab population, roughed up and robbed of their few possessions. Some were deported back to their home countries. If that happened to them under Gaddafi – who was a Pan-Africanist and had an eye on becoming the leader of the whole African continent – just imagine what is happening to them today, when there only armed bandits masquerading as politicians in Libya. There is no-one for the Black Africans to turn to for help. Some are jailed without having done anything wrong. Many have even been killed.

“In this unsafe atmosphere, it is easy for profiteers – known as people-traffickers – to be believed when they circulate information on Facebook and other popular social media where the persecuted communities exchange information, that the traffickers can ferry them by boat to Europe on such and such a day by such and such a boat, if they are paid well enough. These wicked people collect as many people as possible, charge them upfront, and then cram them into old and useless boats which they wouldn’t mind to see sinking in the ocean. They then set off “for Europe”.

“In the middle of the sea, the overcrowded rickety vessels almost always run into difficulties when they encounter rough seas. Some of the boats simply get lost on the ocean, because the “sailors’ are not qualified to navigate the boats correctly. As soon as that happens, the crews of the vessels quickly board a smaller boat, known as a “dingy”, which they would have brought on board for the purpose, sail away, and leave the passengers to their fate. That’s what happened with the 800 people they were talking about in the news. A large ship was trying to pick up some of the people on board, but because the crews were incompetent, the refugee boat capsized and over 90 percent of its passengers were drowned. Many many thousands more have suffered the same fate. “

“Yes, Grandpa, they said on the news that nearly 2,000 people have drowned in the Ocean in the past four months alone! Grandpa, that makes it about 500 people per month! That is even worse than those that were dying each month from Ebola not too long ago!?”

“My dear, it is distressing beyond comprehension. You would have thought that by now, information would have reached the foreigners in Libya that to set foot in one of those rickety boats is to deliberately check into a watery grave! But mankind is full of delusional optimism, and people keep telling themselves, “It will happen to others, but not to me!” So they pay good money to go – and get drowned in those ships. But other, similar ships continually set out – overcrowded with people. Some of the people are quite simply stupid in trusting the people-traffickers, when there is so much evidence that the traffickers are murderers only out to make money. But these people are largely poor and uneducated, and so their sources of information are suspect, especially against the slick marketing carried out by the people-traffickers. But not all of them are naïve. Some are genuinely so desperate that they resign themselves to whatever fate awaits them – so long as it is not what they are experiencing in Libya at the moment.”

“Okay, Grandpa, I understand what is going on inside the people who have escaped from the war in Syria, or Somalia. But what about the Black Africans? I know there is Boko Haram in Nigeria and I hear there are other dangerous terrorist movements in places like Mali. But they said that some of those who have drowned came from Gambia, or Senegal, or – even Ghana! When Dad took us to Ghana, I thought it was a very peaceful and lovely country. Why would anyone want to leave such a country, suffer great hardship across the Sahara Desert – where they might die of thirst or hunger or illness – and go to Libya and from there to Europe?”

“Well, my dear, during the years that Libya’s dead leader, Colonel Gaddafi, was in power, Libya was very rich. It was an oil-producing country, you see, and could afford to pay high wages to workers of all types – carpenters, electricians, mechanics, plumbers, tailors and and so on. Libya also paid well to lure people willing to undertake jobs that Libyans themselves thought too demeaning for the citizens of an oil-rich country – road-workers, building labourers, household helps, street-cleaners, night-watch guards, hospital orderlies and the like.

“These people worked hard, lived very frugal lives and carefully saved their money. So they were able to buy cars and things like that. Sometimes, this aroused the envy of the poorer Libyans, who did not take such good care of their own money. So when the iron grip of Gaddafi on the Libyans vanished overnight, some of the Libyan people gave vent to their resentment of the foreigners. They put many in jail and robbed them of all their money and possessions. That’s why they want to leave Libya. But Libya’s borders are now the playground of armed and murderous bandits, so it is not easy to get out of the country. This is what has given the people-traffickers their opportunity to make a “killing” (almost literally!) . They say, “We can get you out — not only to leave Libya, but to go to prosperous Europe!” And unfortunately, people do listen to their slick talk of being able to relieve people out of their current misery in Libya. But it’s all lies, of course..”

“Grandpa, what I find it difficult to understand is that when the would-be migrants try to escape from their troubles in Libya, and their boats begin to sink, the European governments don’t want European lifeguards in patrol boats to pick them up?” I had read that it is the duty of every ship, government-operated or not, to save the lives of people they see who are about to perish in the sea?”

“Yes. The European governments say that too many people have been rescued already and that they cannot accommodate any more! If the people keep drowning, say the European governments, they will stop trying to cross to get to Europe!”

“But Grandpa, that sounds so heartless! What should the African governments do to save their own people from this inhumanity shown by the European governments?”

“My dear, that’s the saddest part of it all! The African governments simply do not care enough to be of of any real help to their citizens in distress in the Mediterranean countries . If they cared, they would have sent military forces to Libya by now to help evacuate all Africans who seek to leave that country. They can do it if they act together through the African Union, for Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco – all members of the African Union – would join them and these North African countries all have a good military and naval capability. The African governments should also have brought pressure on South Africa to stop giving unwitting justification to the European governments that are trying to stop African migrants from reaching Europe. Now, the Europeans can say, “Look, even some South Africans are trying to scare African “foreigners” away, by killing or injuring them. So why not we in Europe?

“The regrettable truth, my dear, is that most African governments are totally useless. They are in the business of government for business purposes only – they are in it to improve the living standards of the members of those governments and their families alone, and think nothing of the rest of their citizens. That is why Africa goes from crisis to crisis. During each crisis, the mask is torn from the faces of Africa’s ugly governments, and they are shown for the noxious entities that they are. But they are too uncaring to change”.

“So Grandpa, what am I to do? I am half-Ghanaian!?”

“Yes – you are a Ghanaian by birthright and please never forget that or allow any bad incidents to make you think poorly of your country. The country is good; it is its government that is awful. So do not think only of today. Acquire as much skill and knowledge as you can over here, and then go back to Africa with it to help make the important changes to the place that are so badly needed. The opportunity wilt come, and if it does not come, make it for yourself. Only people can change places for the better – people with education, skill, intelligence and above all – concern for the welfare of others. People like you, my dearest one!”

“I shall always remember that, Grandpa. Thanks, Grandpa!”

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