Swans Commentary » swans.com December 19, 2011  



Perspectives: A Review of 2011


What A Year!


by Femi Akomolafe





(Swans - December 19, 2011)   With the exception of 1989, I cannot remember a more remarkable year than the one that is just about to end. 2011 will certainly go down as one of the most interesting years in contemporary history. Future historians will look back and wonder how a single year managed to pack so many actions into its 52 weeks; not since 1989 has the world witnessed so many tumultuous events in the recent past.

North African or Arab Spring: The world woke up to see North Africans waking up from their deep political slumber to challenge their fossilized rulers, who hitherto had appeared immune to the yearnings of every human soul to be free; to be unfettered to enjoy life's joys.

It started in Tunisia, the place where the famous African, Hannibal (247-183 BC), launched his assaults to conquer large parts of Europe.

How Hannibal managed to cross the Alps with his ponderous elephants to push Europeans to flight remains an endearing part of the world's military strategy/mythology.

Like most revolutions, the Tunisian upheaval came from absolutely nowhere and left many experts looking rather foolish.

A young Tunisian, Mohammed Bouazizi, half-orphaned at a tender age and long employed, and pretty much abused by petty officials of a virulent dictatorship, was pushed once too far.

The young man who was his family breadwinner simply got tired of constant harassment and assaults by petty officials and spectacularly set himself afire in front of a local municipal office.

His action fired-up his compatriots and they rose in the millions to demand an end to their oppression.

President Ben Ali, the despot much beloved by Western (especially French) leaders, who for twenty-one years had kept a tight rein on Tunisia and made his country safe for exploitation by Western interests, tried in vain to placate his long-suffering people.

President Ali hired and fired governments in rapid successions, all to no avail. The people had enough of his twenty-one-year oppressive and corrupt rule.

Whilst ordinary Tunisians groan in agony and poverty, high-prized spin-doctors were busy praising the "achievements" of Ben Ali.

Not even the respected Pan-African New African magazine was spared egg on its face.

Inauspiciously and in a most embarrassing faux pas, the magazine ran a 15-page lascivious advertorial dedicated to singing Ben Ali and his hated wife's praises the same month the revolution began.

According to the praise-singers, Ben Ali was the best thing to happen to Carthage since Hannibal.

The advertorial boasted: "Tunisia is gradually pulling itself out of the 'developing world' into something akin to China's current status. Though the revolution is not yet complete (there is still a lot to be done), the country is surely on the right track. The first impression of Tunisia, from its capital Tunis, is a country at peace with itself. Peace in the sense of stability that gives a country the time and space to plan and implement its plan; the kind of implementation that leads to a balanced national development... A good 50% of the national budget is allocated to youth-related issues such as education, training, employment, ICT, sports, and health."

The boasting continued breathlessly: "Tunisia's success story has also been driven by its middle class, which makes up over 80% of the population. And 80% of the population owns their own home. All this, of course, is thanks to the foresight of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali."

Few days after the New African story hit town, Tunisia was to explode in anger culminating in the revolution that left many with eggs on their faces.

Singly, the West, that never ceases to mouth sanctimonious nonsense about fighting for democracy and human rights, remained supportive of the despotic Ali's regime. The French even offered him advice on how to suppress the democratic yearnings of his people.

Ben Ali's labored efforts failed and he fled into exile.

Next to go was another long-serving brutal potentate, also much beloved by the West -- Egypt's Hosni Mubarak.

I keep wondering why Western leaders and scholars never seem to notice the yawning contradiction in their rhetorical support for democracy and human rights and their practical support for the world worst dictators.

All the dictators in Latin America and Asia and Africa have enjoyed the support of Uncle Sam; whilst all the most barbarous of African rulers (Bokassa, Idi Amin, Houphouët Boigny, Mobutu Sese-Seko, et al.) enjoyed unalloyed support from the French, the British, the Belgian and, of course, the United Snakes of Amerikkka.

Hosni Mubarak's regime was the bulwark of the imperialists to keep North Africa and the so-called Middle East under bestial colonial exploitation.

Whilst Western leaders continued with their silly pontifications about supporting democracy, their military and intelligence services were deep in alliance with the region's dictators.

Western Multinational Corporations (MNCs) were raping the resources of the region, and Western arms merchants were reaping maximum benefits from the obscene profits they make in selling war toys to corrupt and tyrannical rulers.

The region's poor people were being doubly, even triply, raped: The West, in cahoots with local rulers, exploit the mostly-oil riches. The little accruing to state coffers after massive corruption, is expended to buy the military, security tools, and the expertise the corrupt rulers needed to maintain their oppressive rules.

Rhetorician in Chief Obama was found wanting when it came to putting his money where his mouth was.

A year or so before, Mr. Obama, as was his wont, had made a very highfalutin speech at a university in Cairo where, as usual, he gave a speech of high platitude -- long-winded in his meaninglessness and short of practicality.

When the Egyptian people revolted against oppression, Mr. Obama dillied and dallied and never directly offered assistance, moral or otherwise, to the Egyptians struggling mightily against their US-supported tyrant.

Not that the people of Egypt cared: the USA has NEVER supported a genuine people's democracy in the so-called Third World. Au contraire; it has ALWAYS sided with tyrants in the poor countries.

Again, all efforts by Mubarak to stay the tide failed. He was pushed aside by his own military, and the world was treated to the spectacle of watching him and his sons dragooned to a court in a metal cage.

It is noteworthy that no sooner had the Tunisian and the Egyptian people removed their tyrants than we saw shameless leaders from the West rushing to embrace the new regimes.

No permanent friends, or foes, indeed!

Libya's Muammar Qaddafi was to suffer a worst fate than Hosni Mubarak. He was cruelly captured, tortured, sodomized, and butchered before being ignominiously displayed in public for days before been buried in an unmarked grave deep in the desert.

In the piece, "The Attack on Libya: A Commentary" (Swans, April 25, 2011), I argued that:

It is totally wrong to elongate the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt to Libya. The material conditions of Libya and of Libyans are totally different from those of its neighbours; they are vastly superior.

Corruption of the effete ruling elite in Tunisia and Egypt has created armies of unemployed youth who became shock-troopers in the protests marches. Nationals of Tunisia and Egypt have voted with their feet in large numbers and are to be found as economic refugees across Europe. Many of them are cramped into Clichy-sous-Bois and the other ghettoes of France.

In contrast, one would hardly find a Libyan outside of his country and definitely not as a refugee. It is wrong to look for economic misery or deprivation as the reason for the Libyan uprising.

Protest for basic freedom also does not fully explain the situation. As human beings, we all yearn for our freedom; we want to be free.

But even in the most democratic of countries, authorities set the parameters for protests. Going beyond these always invites the heaviest of sanctions, as witnessed during huge protests that usually trail G8 meetings.

What happens when protesters turned to armed insurrection and started hoisting flags of an ancient regime? What happens when local protesters are joined by trained British SAS commandoes, as witnessed in Libya?

One endearing picture I saw in both Tunisia and Egypt was the dignity of the protesters. In spite of the colossal violence Ben Ali and Mubarak troops visited upon them, the protesters refused to be goaded into mindless violence. None of the Tunisian or Egyptian protesters raised old flags (the Egyptians could have raised the flag of King Farouk). Their refusal to stray from the honorable path lends great credibility to their struggle as one of authentic indigenous uprising.

What we saw in Libya, by contrast, is that those who genuinely hated Qaddafi (nothing wrong there), went beyond simple protest. We saw how the protestors pandered to tribal and racial sentiments. And we saw them in full-fledged armed rebellion.

Qaddafi's forty-two-year reign was terminated when NATO forces crippled his escaping convoy and wounded him. The NATO-supported rebels captured and frenziedly murdered him.

Qaddafi's end is reminiscent of the tragic fate of another African nationalist leader who ran afoul of imperialist interests, Patrice Lumumba.

Lumumba was also overthrown by Western-sponsored rebels, captured by imperialists' quisling, brutally murdered, and had his corpse doused in acid.

Imperialist forces were as complicit in the horrific murder of Lumumba as they were in the gory murder of Qaddafi.

The question remains why democracy-loving Western leaders never raise a finger to help overthrow genuine horror stories like Nguema of Equatorial Guinea, who kept their people in super-abject poverty whilst lavishing their oil riches on themselves.

Events in post-Qaddafi Libya appear to bear me out that what happened in Libya was a coup to satisfy the New Imperialism which, in Africa, registered its first victory in La Côte d'Ivoire where French troops joined local rebels to overthrow a president to whom the French look with disfavor.

Gradually, we are being told the role Western Special Forces played in the imperialist-supported coup d'état in Libya.

Qaddafi had hardly been buried before the Dutch Ambassador in Tripoli started hollering for oil contracts.

And recently British foreign secretary William Hague was called to answer questions about shady oil deals in Libya.


Anti-capitalist movement: 2011 will go down as the year that the long suffering, long abused, and oppressed people of the world finally found their voices, and rose against the evil that confronts them and threatens their lives and our collective existence: unbridled capitalism.

The evils of capitalism are too numerous to catalogue here, but suffice it to say that it is the most inhuman (even anti-human) system ever evolved by man.

Capitalism is a system that reduces every human relationship, every human affair, to monetary calculations.

It is system that does not believe in any "Brotherly Love," but constantly strives to foster insecurity and anxiety. Capitalism reduces all the things that make us human to the bottom line: Licentious profit making becomes the only goal of life.

As a human being with humanistic views of life, the sight of human suffering in any part of the world distresses me.

It is with great anguish I watch ordinary Americans, British, Portuguese, Spaniards, Greeks, etc., struggling mightily to make ends meet. It pains me greatly that through no fault on their part, human beings are made to suffer great deprivations amidst great plenty.

I shuddered with horror when I saw pan-handlers in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles (with all its glitterati), of all places.

Mahatma Gandhi aptly said that there is enough to satisfy our needs but not our greed.

I have seen a great part of the world for me to say that there are enough resources to cater to us all. But for the greed of a few there should be no need for anyone to go hungry or to sleep rough. A system that permits one person to spend in one night what another person needs for a whole year is simply unjust.

As an African, the current predicaments facing ordinary Europeans and Americans are déjà vu.

We saw it all in Africa two decades or so ago when the IMF and the World Bank, supported by their local quangoes, launched their vicious assaults on African economies.

It is sad, even insulting, that the powers-that-be have such a low opinion of the rest of us that they did not even change their script when they decided to launch their assault on Europe.

According to the gospel of the Globalists, Africans were slothful idiots who do not like to work or pay taxes. They seem contended with frolicking and are easily satisfied with food, booze, and sex. They needed to be rescued from themselves but at the cost of punishing austerity measures to make people sober up.

Almost every social service was cut off; state enterprises were privatized at stealing prices, and there were massive lay-offs of civil servants; currencies were devalued, and the middle class was wiped out.

I remember as a student in the Netherlands struggling to explain to people that the lies spawned by the IMF were far from the truth. I even used the famous quote that, "were hard-work to be amply rewarded, we Africans would own the world."

All to no avail. People simply wanted to believe what they wanted and as racism was pretty much in vogue, the IMF's despicable descriptions jelled perfectly with the prevailing racial caricatures of Africans as happy-go-lucky.

Today, I wonder what the same Europeans who laughed Africa to scorn in the 1980s would say as they watch the same globalists wreaking havoc on their own economies -- using exactly the same terminologies!

Today, we are told that the Greek are also lazy-bones who need to be woken up from their Aegean slumber and separated from their idyllic islands. Who can better manage the islands but private buccaneers? Las Vegas-types of debauchery casinos would look good on those beautiful Greek Islands, wouldn't they? And why has it proven too difficult for those simple-minded Greeks to know that their world's famous historic sites are better off in the hands of speculators?

I feel very sorry as I read articles by injured Greeks protesting the inaccurate lies the globalists are directing at them.

Sorry, but we in Africa were there some years back.

I had to rub my eyes recently as I read this news:

"Angola Offers To Help Portugal In Tackling Financial Crisis"

(RTTNews) - Oil-rich Angola had offered to help the African nation's former colonial master Portugal to cope with its ongoing financial crisis that has forced Lisbon to seek foreign bailout loans, according to Angola's state news agency Angop.


How good and jolly would it have been had Europe not so cynically exploited the world and foisted crass racism and rampant capitalism on our collective humanity!

As humans, we all should be involved with all the affairs that concern humanity and not just a part of it.

Sadly, when it had the power and authority, Europe elected to inflict so much damage on the world's psyche through the inhuman systems she continues (through her ideological institutions) to promote with evangelical zeal.

It gladdens my heart enormously to see that Africa, at least, resolved to let bygones be bygones and did not resort to pay back Europe in its own bad coin.


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About the Author

Femi Akomolafe (see his profile on Swans) is a computer consultant, a writer and social commentator, an avid reader, and a passionate Pan-Africanist who lives in Kasoa, Ghana. Femi is known to hold strong opinions and to express them in the strongest terms possible. As he likes to remind his readers: "As my Yoruba people say: Oju orun teye fo, lai fara gbara. It means that the sky is big enough for all the birds to fly without touching wings." Femi Akomolafe's views, opinions, and thoughts can be accessed on the blog he maintains: http://ekitiparapo.blogspot.com/.   (back)


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Years in Review


Patterns which Connect

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Published December 19, 2011