Tribute to Brother Muammar Gaddafi
Wednesday, 26 October, 2011The evil that men doeth liveth after them, but the good is often interred with their bones..." Mark Anthony's words at the funeral of Julius Caesar, who was killed by some of his trusted friends among them, Brutus to whom Caesar uttered a plaintive cry in his last gasp of breath: "Etu Brute!"
Muammar Gaddafi was not my idol, only a mortal brother from a stable of lesser breeds. The world now, like in the past is and was populated by bad and good people in varying degrees, on an imperfect standard. We are selfish humans who subscribe to sectarian standards by which we judge ourselves or are judged by others in kangaroo courts based on their life doctrines of: religion, culture, politics, value systems and economics, adopted by the dominant class. The nearest standard we are supposed to all subscribe to, perhaps is what we may call the universal standard of the United Nations, to which a huge majority of nations are party to. But even this one is flawed by the Security Council damnable veto. Libya and the US have both apparently not ratified the ICC convention, yet an ICC warrant of arrest was served on Gaddafi whereas George W Bush was not served a similar warrant, despite the far worse crimes he committed: genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Iraqi invasion of 2003 - mind you in defiance of a UN Security Council resolution. We remember also that the grounds to invade were based on a colossal lie, that Saddam Hussein possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction!
Gaddafi took power from King Idris, a British puppet in a bloodless coup in 1969. He was described variously as, 'maverick, eccentric,' and derogatorily as a 'mad dog' by President Ronald Reagan when it was alleged he had bombed a Berlin club frequented by American army officers in 1986 in which three officers were killed. Reagan launched retaliatory air-strikes on Benghazi and Tripoli and killed 35 Libyans including Gaddafi's relative. Whether Gaddafi agents bombed the club was never proved.
Gaddafi was scatterbrained, erratic and unpredictable with a huge dose of egocentrism, which did not endear him to many, including myself. Hard to comprehend why he plotted the bombing of Pan-Am flight 103, which crashed in Lockerbie Scotland with the loss of 270 lives. I am puzzled by the jumbled story of Bulgarian nurses alleged to have infected patients with AIDS. Were they guilty or was it a fabrication? Three Lebanese on official visit to Tripoli in the 1970s allegedly disappeared without trace after their visit. What happened to the poor Lebanese?
Gaddafi, in the words of Sir Winston Churchill was 'a riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma'.
However judged by the general standard of originality, he was an intelligent man. His Green Book and Jamahariyya charts an alternative to the philosophies of capitalism and socialism. It reflects an original mind.
Without having read it, it is difficult to say whether it is based on pure sentiments or empirical study.
In his own way, he seemed concerned about his fellow-humans. His Jamahariyya has not born fruit, for like his political counterparts, he was long on rhetoric and short on practice. Besides, human nature is complex and paradoxical, not easy to decipher in terms of applied standards. His idea of a United Africa was before its time, incompatible with his Jamahariyya, Mugabism in Zimbabwe, Musevenism in Uganda, Al Bashir-ism in Sudan and countless other -isms in the continent. To make matters worse, he stoned the noble idea dead when he imposed himself as 'king of kings of Africa,' on the unborn foetus.
Gaddafi committed resources to the South African liberation struggle against apartheid. He did this while Ronald Reagan fraternised with murderer and corrupt Zairean Mobutu Sese Seko, whom he called his dearest friend, his soul-mate Margret Thatcher attacked the ANC as a terrorist organisation and Nelson Mandela as a terrorist.
Mandela recognised the brotherhood and humanity of Gaddafi when he rebuffed Bill Clinton's audacity, suggesting that he sever his friendship with him and Fidel Castro. He told genial Bill, 'Go jump in the nearest lake!' Gaddafi was kind to a fault. Botswana can testify to his kindness by the camels trudging our Kgalagadi sands.
Unconfirmed reports whisper, that there are tractors as well.
Inspired by Gabel Abdel Nasser of Egypt, he was staunchly anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist. Asserting Egyptian sovereignty, Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal risking war with the unholy trinity: Britain, France and Israel; he co-founded the Non-Aligned Movement with Josip Tito of Yugoslavia, Jawaharlal Nehru of India, later joined enthusiastically by Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana. Gaddafi invariably fought in the corner of the masses.
Will living conditions of the Libyans improve after his execution by NATO forces? Will African leaders stop dancing the macabre neo-colonialism tune and instead fight for African rights first and foreign investors' rights last?
Gaddafi is reputed to be the man who triggered the petro-boom by bargaining hard for better deals with foreign oil executives, arguing: "People who have lived without oil (bonanza) for over 5,000 years can live without it for a few years to attain their legitimate rights". His words remind me of Tshekedi Khama resisting foreign exploration and exploitation of minerals in pre-independence Bechuanaland Protectorate. It is alleged Gaddafi's gambit paid off. Libya was the first country to secure a majority share of the revenues from its oil production. Others followed this precedent and the Arab petro-boom caught fire!
I watched TV news and listened to random interviews of Libyans celebrating the fall of Gaddafi, and was struck by a statement from one Libyan: "The priority now must not be investments...... but Libyans!" Gaddafi was a vicious autocrat, on the ICC warrant of arrest list. He killed many before and during the revolution with little remorse, believing genuinely as he said at a press conference a few months back, 'my people, the Libyans, love me!' The intervention of the sinister NATO No-Fly-Zone resolution makes it difficult to interpret the context of his assertion!