Monday, April 4, 2011

17 years later....

I have been obsessed with the Ivorian situation right from the time elections were held until now. The United Nations 'managed' (or were supposed to oversee) the elections. Their verdict-Alassane Ouattara won the elections. The incumbent Laurent Gbagbo cried foul and alleged massive rigging by his political rival.Several weeks and months later, characterised by all manner of African Union sponsored delegations, Heads of State, threats from Presidents Sarkozy, Obama, sanctions from the European Union; we find ourselves staring at a massacre with conflicting reports that over 1000 people have been killed in the Western town of Duekoue. Shocking!

Residents of Abidjan are living in panic and terror

The body count in Abidjan could be even higher, now that both sides are at this time assembling their ammo and troops, in what the international press has billed 'the final push'.It is a deadly warzone. Besides the fact that my friends Watson and Harris are living in Abidjan, my intense interest in the unfolding events in what was once nick-named the 'Paris of Africa', is spurred by what i think is a damning verdict on African and global leadership thus far.The African Union had the opportunity to arrest the situation at its early stages.It didn't.Instead, African leaders fiddled around and played poker, allowing the stalemate to drag on, until some other crises in the world-the Japanese tsunami-cum-nuclear disaster, the 'Arab Revolt' and the 'Operation Odyssey' unfolded and overshadowed everything else.Effectively making sure that the international community conveniently 'forgot' that Cote d'Ivoire was on fire. Now its too late.

Côte d'Ivoire: Les massacres de Ouattara à Duekoue przez Nzwamba

Exactly 17 years ago this week, August 6th 1994, the genocide in Rwanda broke out. Over 800,000 lives were lost in a space of one month. The world had its hands in its pockets and watched, only to lament later and vow, "never again!" Never again, indeed!My best friend, Emmanuel is now starting his third month and new life in Australia along with his parents and siblings, after enduring several years as a refugee in Tanzania and Kenya, having fled Rwanda. Lives have been changed.
In Kenya, 6 Kenyans-Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, two Members of Parliament and former cabinet ministers, the head of the Civil Service, the Post-Master General and former Police Commissioner and the head of a local radio station- are getting ready to board their Amsterdam bound flights. The 6 have been named by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) based at the Hague, Mr. Louis Moreno-Ocampo, as bearing greatest criminal responsibility for the post-election violence that engulfed Kenya, after presidential elections in December of 2007. Over 1350 people lost their lives.Many more lost their homes.Peace was shattered.
The 6 Kenyans headed to the ICC at the Hague

Whether or not the judges of the pre-trial chamber at the ICC eventually confirms the charges against some or all 6 persons, Kenya's political landscape is set to change. My hope is that, that change will be for the better.
However, my pre-occupation with the events witnessed in Ivory Coast, and those about to take place at the Hague and in Kigali, will certainly persist this week.
What are the lessons for Africa? Have we learnt anything? Will the younger generation change Africa's course?These and many more questions will resonate over and over again.Only time will tell what the answers will be.17 years later...

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