One Man's Revolutionary is Another Man's Killer
By Deh Suah
Posted July 16, 2002
Scholars and academics often argued that to understand why people migrate, adequate consideration needs to be given to 'push' and 'pull' factors. The underlying logic is by critically questioning circumstances that cause people to abandon their homeland and embark upon risky adventures for safety or 'human security' abroad, one can better appreciate why some migrants easily compromise everything, including their values, to obtain their goals while others would preserve their dignity even at the peril of their life. I came close to understanding this conventional wisdom while reading an article in the May 2002 Edition of the Voice Magazine. Mr. Ato Savage PR article would surely give him deserving rewards. However, on the other hand it raises provocative issues, which motivated this reaction.
I wish to use this opportunity to provide some counter arguments using the above 'Push and pull' axon-substantiated with hard facts to allow readers to know about the man Ato Savage called 'a true revolutionary leader'.
When I read the article about Muammar Qaddafi who the writer referred to as "a true revolutionary leader" disdain and grieve sang through my nerves leaving me struggling for the writer possible motive. My first suspicion was that the writer has fallen into in the ocean of the growing lucrative blood diamond Public Relations business operated and financed by Libyan trained murderers like Charles Taylor, the late Laurent Kabila and the detained foot-and hand hiker Foday Sankoh. Two years ago this PR firm enticed prominent personality like former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Herman Cohen, whose firm was allegedly contracted by Liberian leader Charles Taylor for US$ 300,000.00. On the African front, a Ghanaian journalist and Editor in chief for "New African Magazine" Baffour Ankomah based in the UK is the chief recruitment officer for African hustlers. Mr. Ato Savage pro- Qaddafi verbose does not only expose his possible link to this wealthy industry but clearly validates the school of thought that says migrants who depart from the country of origin only to seek economic security abroad easily submit to financial temptation without remorse.
Africans have a penchant for attributing their woes to the uneven relationship that exist between former colonies and their colonial masters without looking at the role of their own leaders in these malaise. Even though Western exploitation of Africa since colonial days accounts for some of the current social and economic disparities between Africa and developed societies, Africans leaders are equally guilty for the miseries tearing the continent apart. Development aid given to African countries are not used to improve the living standard of local population but clandestinely sent back into these leaders overseas bank accounts. Some leaders that are blessed with oil wealth would rather use their country resources to promote their personal ambitions, at the detriment of vulnerable population.
A classical example of one African leader in the latter category is the Libyan leader Qaddafi. Since he ascended to power in Libya, he has employed terrorism and pseudo revolutionary groups as primary instruments for fulfilling his personal ambitions. In the eighties Qaddafi agents attempted to assassinate moderate Arab leaders like President Anwar Sadat and Hussin Mubarak of Egypt, Jaafar Numari of Sudan, Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia, King Hussein of Jordan and even the late king Hassan II of Morocco.
Apart from his failed attempts to murder his Arab brothers, this war like leader proved to lack clear revolutionary conviction. For instance, When Yassaf Arafat PLO was encircled by well-armed Israeli forces in Southern Lebanon during the liberation struggle against Israel, Arafat sent emissaries to his Arab brother for assistance. Instead of identifying with the beleaguered PLO forces, Qaddafi advised all PLO fighters to commit suicide instead of surrounding to their enemy (read Arafat biography by Andrews Gowers et al, 1993). The inclusion of these references is a deliberate attempt to draw Mr. Savage into a more rigorous debate than the juxtaposition of Qaddafi’s Green Book chapters he published as article. The contradicting character of Qaddafi can be noticed by any sober person except for someone who is on a hustler adventure hence ignoring the facts. Indeed, I am yet to be convinced whether this writer has not endorsed into 'Kuto journalism'.
Historically, Qaddafi and group of young code of army officers came to power on a platform centred on ending social inequalities that characterised the colonial period and the monarchy. According to Part two of his Green book, "a person cannot be free if somebody else controls what he needs to lead a comfortable life". This is the doctrine, which serves as the benchmark for the terror permeating Africa. In his book "Fighting for the rain Forest' Dr. Paul Richard brilliantly illustrated how Libya provided training grounds for Charles Taylor and his stooge Foday Sankoh to indoctrinate rural kids how to 'lead a comfortable life'. Unlike Libya where the young core of officers enjoy the wealth of their Nation, Taylor and Sankoh trainees were trained to dismember pregnant women stomach in order to have a quick glance of the babies. For Foday Sankoh RUF, 'leading a comfortable life' meant hiking off the hands and feet of any human being because, as the Green Book theory goes, when local population are without hands and feet, available natural resources would be at the disposal of drugs stridden kids.
Because of this doctrine innocent children as young as three years old painfully saw their legs and hands hiked off by Qaddafi trained pseudo-revolutionaries. Is this the work of Africa's colonial bosses? I say no! This is open banditry designed and cultivated by zealot criminals who the writer called 'true revolutionary'. In contrast to the Libyan revolution which is based on a principle of Muslim brotherhood and humanitarian help to the less fortunate in society, the exported version of Qaddafi Green Book wisdom is known for inflicting enormous destruction on Muslim populations in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Although Libya trained and armed Taylor's fighters, his fighters were instructed to burn down mosques, kill imams, and steal all valuable artifacts from mosques and churches in order to 'lead a comfortable life'. When news of his atrocities against Muslim reached Qaddafi's attention, Taylor quickly married a Muslim woman as number two to his Christian wife in an attempt to ally his boss suspicion.
For decade, Qaddafi’s campaign to install tele-guided regimes in various African states had encountered series of frustrations. The U.S. air raid in 1986 on his residence in Tripoli, which killed one of his daughters and from which he narrowly escaped death certainly fragmented his ambition in sub-Sahara Africa. His humiliating defeat in southern Chad where French troops thought him hard lesson that resulted in many Libyan soldiers been taken as POWs, quickly softened Qaddafi’s aggressive policy towards his neighbour. Seen that he could neither get his way in the Arab world nor neighbouring countries, Qaddafi took an interest in West Africa basically because of the demise of the Cold war, which led to the abolition of protection and patronage these former allies once enjoyed. Capitalising on this new strategic opening, Qaddafi secret services established a camp known as al-Mathabh al-Thauriya al-Alamiya (World Revolution Headquarters), an institute in Libya whose sole purpose is to train people in warfare activities.
No one better describes this institute than Dr. Steven Ellis. In his book "The Mask of Anarchy" Professor Ellis eloquently described the center as "the Harvard and Yale of a whole generation of African revolutionaries. An award wining Liberian journalist referred to the camp as an institution that trains young children using twisted logic of biblical verses: 'train a child in a way that when he grows he shall not depart from the conviction of his parents'. The validity of this assertion manifested itself in Sierra Leone and Liberia where Taylor small boys unit (SBU) killed their teachers in order to acquire titles as professors while their bosses targeted and eliminated perceived and imagined enemies. Other SBU elements were elevated to Generals in the army although they can hardly pronounce the name of their Russian made guns. The Kalashika lifestyle has taken precedence over conventional norm. If these kids are to become future leaders of theirs countries tomorrow, we need to be confronting those who destroyed our tomorrow leaders rather than praising them. Today, former child soldiers are the regular army in Liberia carrying M16s to protect their leaders. A young child soldier once said, there was no need to go back to school as his M16 was his MA degree for it allows him to terrorise unarmed population and 'lead a comfortable life' in fulfillment of the Green Book platitude. Is Qaddifi a true revolutionary leader?
Even in Libya equalities are pronounced in direct contradiction to the Greenbook. With regards to the rights for minorities, Qaddafi Green Book distinguishes between two types of people: those that belong to the nation and provides it with social framework, and the other, mainly those with no nation hence form their own social framework by virtue of an inherent sense of solidarity. The later group arguably refers to foreigners living in Libya. Here I want to bring on board the ambiguity surrounding this doctrine.
In November 2000, hundreds of African immigrants, mainly Nigerians and Ghanaians, living in Libya presumably 'to lead a comfortable life and control their own destiny' as the doctrine teaches, were arbitrarily rounded up beaten and some killed by Libya security forces. Their possessions were taken away from them and later expelled from the country. Embarrassed over the treatment meted out on his folks the Ghanaian president J. J. Rawlings personally travelled to Libya to bring his folks home. Is this man 'a true African revolutionary'?
The young African folks wearing hip-pop pans dragging to their knees along the streets of cosmopolitan cities are living victims of Mr. Savage admired revolutionary. These kids, many of whom lost their sense of identities hence resort to impersonating as suburban American kids in order to be accepted by their contemporaries, tells you the severity of the problem Africa faces.
But, unlike people who escaped their country for fear of their lives, Mr. Savage is on greener pasture adventure hence does not feel the pain genuine Sierra Leonean, Guinean and Liberian refugees feel for he can always take a plane to Lagos or Ghana for holidays without fearing for his life. His 'true revolutionary' is the man responsible for the social, political and economic instability in the Mano river basin and the sole architect for the mass displacement of the populations of three nations. Until he understands the pain and the challenge this poses to Sub-Sahara Africa, his true revolutionary is another man killer.