Should change cost so much blood?

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HERE is a frightening thought: as long as African leaders kill their own people, literally, at the drop of a tear of protest, Africa will continue to wallow in poverty until kingdom come.

Among the superstitious  – and we are in the majority on this continent – fate has decreed that as long as our leaders have scant regard for the lives of ordinary people, the continent’s poverty will not be alleviated.

More and more people will protest against this horrible condition and more and more of them will be killed by their leaders.

This will be because the leaders will always blame the agitation, not on the people themselves, but on foreign mischief-makers, particularly from the West. 

No African leaders are poor. Only their subjects are. They themselves are swimming in the stuff the love of which has been described by some as the root of all evil.

It would be extreme to connect this evil to the manner in which the leaders react to protests against their obscene riches – but the temptation is almost irresistible.

But among the superstitious, the day of reckoning is nigh.

What happened to Mobutu Sese Seko, Idi Amin, Sani Abacha and the other dictators in the past will be visited upon the men killing their people for protesting against their poverty.

The ancestral spirits of all poor Africans will ensure this.

Essentially, this is what drove the people of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya to call their leaders dirty names before marching in the streets to loudly demand an end to their poverty.

Some commentators will say the people were demanding more than just the end of their poverty: they also wanted to decide who should lead them.

They wanted to be able to throw out the leaders they felt were not helping them at all, but helping only their families and their cronies – while the people themselves wallowed in poverty.

To the apologists of the corrupt leaders, all this is not true. It is propaganda from the West which they have blamed for everything.

Yet we have an African Union conference in Addis Ababa calling on countries such as Libya to introduce reforms in which the key element ought to be the participation of ordinary people in the choosing of their governments – as if they didn’t know about this for the 40 years that Muammar Gadaffi, for instance, has been in the saddle in Libya.

That country will never be the same again – even Gadaffi must accept that fact of life. Eventually, his era will come to an end.

The people will be the proud owners of a government they wish for – one not imposed on them by a colonel who helped depose a monarch, but then turned himself into an uncrowned monarch of sorts.

But there has been so much needless bloodshed.

Someone has to be accountable. Right now, the only candidate for that position is Gadaffi himself.

His supporters in the AU insist that most of the agitation against his rule was fuelled by the West, anxious to safeguard their interests in his oil.

Again, they do not credit the people with enough intelligence to have acted on their own.

Personally, I believe this is where the leaders provoke the ancestral spirits’ wrath: to suggest that ordinary people are not endowed with the same gray matter as their leaders is an insult, not only to the people, but even to their ancestral spirits.

I suspect that some people will laugh off all this superstition stuff.

But they should study history.

Most of all leaders who strutted their dictatorial stuff as if they believed nothing could subdue them, ended in utter ignominy.

The AU, unlike the Organisation of African Unity, is making an effort to tackle the continent’s problems with little sentimentality.

Its declaration on the Gadaffi issue – it has ceased to be a Libyan issue – was unequivocal.

There had to be reforms and Gadaffi had to implement them.

The people he claimed loved him, but were killed for it, will be waiting for the reforms – or the ancestral spirits could consign him to the usual place, where he will find Mobutu, Amin, et al.

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