MOST Africans today would be worrying about the wherewithal of their next meal.
This is not the idle observation of someone inclined to see most Africans as poor.
Most Africans are poor, of course.
This is the poorest continent on the planet — ergo, most of its inhabitants are poor.
My suspicion is that even when Idi Amin handed in his presumably kingsize dinner pail, not many ordinary Africans were alarmed enough to wonder who had done the dirty deed — unless they wished to shower them with congratulations.
Hardly would anyone ask, plaintively: “Who could have killed that poor man?”
Similarly, I suspect, there was only morbid fascination with the death of Mobutu Sese Seko, Jean-Bedel Bokassa and Sani Abacha.
Yes, all of them were mourned, probably copiously – but only by their closest relatives, or the hangers-on who had reaped big bucks from an association with them.
My point is that because of their preoccupation with the wherewithal of their next meal, most Africans won’t be wondering for long just who actually killed Muammar Gadaffi.
Many might even ask: “Muammar who?”
Try to ask that question of this scrawny-looking mother with a skinny baby trying, in noisy desperation to suck some milk from her flabby breast in a crowded refugee camp, and she might retort with: “Who the hell cares? What do I give my child?”
Some of us, for strictly professional reasons, would move mountains to find out the exact identity of the man or men who actually knocked off Gadaffi.
This is not just for posterity, but also for the purposes of establishing what might have motivated such people to commit the deed.
Gadaffi, according to many African leaders, was killed by Nato, on behalf of the Western powers, who are said to have bumped him off.
They killed him because he would not sell most of the oil in his country to the West.
Moreover, the West had never forgiven him for the Lockerbie atrocity.
His people blew up that plane over Scotland.
Most of the passengers were from the West.
It is unclear why the perpetrators felt their countries would benefit, politically or materially, from the death of those innocent people.
The Western powers may not have directly incited the Libyan people to rise against Gadaffi, described by one leader as “a mad dog”.
But they saw an opportunity to profit from the incident and grabbed it — or so the theory goes.
But who pulled the trigger?
The TV footage of Gadaffi’s last moments showed him surrounded by Libyans.
It is said he begged for mercy.
But the captors would not listen.
They killed him — in cold blood.
The TV footage did not show anyone with a Caucasian physiognomy.
All of them looked like Gadaffi — Libyans.
Libyans killed their Libyan leader.
We must all, at some point, have wondered why they did not read him his legal rights under international law, and then taken him to court, where his own lawyer — whose relatives he might not have killed — would prepare his defence.
But even in Hosni Mubarak’s case, most Egyptians clamoured for him to be sentenced to death — for killing many of their relatives.
Again, they felt strongly that he had no right to kill their relatives — for protesting against his misrule.
In that respect, Charles Taylor of Liberia must consider himself fortunate.
He is now in a court where all the legal niceties are being observed before he too is asked to answer to the same charges —killing other people’s relatives.
His case will hinge on whether or not he can justify killing other people’s relatives.
In all the cases, many people — thousands in some cases —were killed on the orders of one man.
In most cases, these people were not armed.
If they were armed, then they were engaged in a civil war where, basically, no rules of engagement are observed — it’s kill or be killed, and to hell with any Geneva convention.
It’s hard to imagine any Libyans denying they killed Gaddafi. Most would justify it thus: “He killed so many of our relatives.”
Is there a Geneva convention, strictly speaking, to be invoked?
Bill Saidi is a veteran journalist based in Harare