Wednesday 2 January 2008

They damned the consequences


I am still numb with disbelieve that Benazir Bhutto has been committed to earth, time and again, I have hoped for a playback to just before the 27th of December where that scene could be reprised with a different act and outcome.

19, an age where most in the West are still tied to their mother’s apron strings whilst pretending to be grown-up. There is no doubt that people grow up faster in other parts of the world.

They take on responsibility beyond their years and stoically approach life with a resolve that leaves people in their 30s here, in shame. As recorded by Paul Hardcastle in his hit 19, the average documented average age of a US serviceman in Vietnam was 19.

Bilawal (One without equal) Bhutto Zardari, at 19 takes on the mantle of leadership of the Pakistan Peoples Party from his murdered mother, 6 years too early to run for parliament and having hardly started at the Oxford University – the responsibilities that dynasties thrust on their younger members can be burdens too great for mere mortals to bear. I wish him well.

Feudal Politics

Asian politics suffers the feudal encumbrance of political dynasties where merit suffers at the expense of nepotistic succession because the name and the mystique of the cult of personality of Bhutto (Pakistan), Gandhi (India), Aquino (Phillipines), Bandranaike (Sri Lanka) carries more gravitas in their localities.

It takes populism and pandering to baser instincts for others to gain control of the political levers of government, sometimes through extreme violence – the fastest way to gain control however, is through a military putsch on the premise that the leaders deposed have been corrupt.

What worries me about Pakistan is the way the perpetrators of this heinous act of violence have damned the consequences of their actions not caring to the life of others, the stability of the country or the opportunity for people to chose their own leaders.

If Al Qaeda is denying they had any involvement in the murder of Benazir Bhutto, the man in sunglasses looks smart enough to be part of the unruly Pakistan intelligence services that Musharraf has presided over with cack-handed incompetence. They really did damn the consequences and their denials are sounding too shrill to listen to anymore.

Living with Corruption

I did hope that Kenya being one of the most tribally diverse countries in Africa would produce an electoral victory for Africa where the votes tallied would match the votes cast.

Naively, after watching Living with Corruption and the spotlight on Kenya, I should have known better. Up to 4 of the electoral officers have announced that there were serious irregularities in the tallying that gave President Mwai Kibaki a second-term in office.

This is a man who was first made a minister in Jomo Kenyatta’s government in the year I was born – 1965 – I am still amazed that there are too many grand-old men who cannot make way for the youth to lead their countries to more promising prospects than the entrenched patriarchy that keeps the poor poorer and allows corruption to grow without abatement.

The First Jezebel of Kenya

I had hoped I would be writing about the electorate slapping down of that dreadful First Jezebel of Kenya – Lucy Kibaki, the President's wife – with a much deserved rejection. She has become a law unto herself and literally out of the bounds of legal restraint and due process.

Going around assaulting people because she is the wife of the president, one of the most ignominious examples of first-lady excess as exemplified in the death by misadventure of Stella Obasanjo who died due to cosmetic surgery complications in Spain or that of Grace Mugabe – the First Shopper of Zimbabwe whilst people starve in what was once the bread-basket of Southern Africa.

These women in steeped in the spirit of Imelda Marcos and Eva Braun do all to make the good work of other first ladies like Graça Machel who has been first lady of both Mozambique and South Africa or other demure but positively activist ones like the first ladies of the United States of America.

Shameless complicity of the West

However, I cannot believe the stance of the West at the rotten results of the Kenyan elections where indeed the violence must stop but the talk of reconciliation which implies accepting the results rather than going to the right result of the votes is unfortunate.

We need to fulfil the demands of democracy first before we devolve to the machinations of diplomacy and not the other way round – we are being sold short again.

When would Africans be allowed to get the government they have really voted for?

When would we be able to say with all confidence that our votes have been tallied and the numbers announced are clearly representative of what happened in the privacy of the ballot box cubicle?

It is saddening that people are protesting to have their votes counted properly and they are being shot down, killed and burnt severally by the police, the army or intra-ethnic violence for seeking what is fundamentally a human right in the West but almost certainly a death sentence in Africa.

Too many times, we have failed to deliver the truth of a basic democratic process, especially when we have to contend with an incumbency-beholden electoral commission so typical of the one in Nigeria.

And like the Nigerian one , they damned the consequences of their actions. Somehow, we still have a plague in Africa of leaders who care nothing for the legitimacy of their standing as long as they can wield power and suppress dissent – we are sentenced to being ruled rather than being lead or governed by men of honour, dignity, who are honest and who command real respect.

In Pakistan and in Kenya some people just damned the consequences and blood flows unabated for what could have been better managed if these people ever knew what was right to do. We need to have ways of seeking and getting just for these actions.

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