Kofi Annan, the flamboyant former Ghanaian diplomat who became a United Nations SG (Scapegoat according to former Iraqi PM Tariq Aziz or Secretary General according to the world) has developed an annoying habit of thinking that what old puppets should do is to rush back to their master and beg for a new gimmick to stay relevant. The world is a circus with one puppet master and many puppets in a hall called the UN General Assembly. I am a Black man who some hidden common sense would suggest I should be happy that a man from my continent (and the first Afrikan country to experience Uhuru) is trusted by both the UN and Arab League to solve an intricate human rights stalemate in Syria.
Now I need to put my cards on the table and confess that I have the same little faith in Annan as I had in Nelson Mandela throughout his reign and even now. I think the old man was given a statue in Sandton as a reminder of what he will never have. Uncle Kofi will get his at the UN someday.
Annan, those closer to history will remember was the chief of UN Peacekeeping Operations in 1994 as South Afrikans queued to cast their first democratic vote; a vote delayed over many decades by the United States vetoeing resolutions brought before the UN Security Council for apartheid to end. In 1994 while the southern tip of Afrika was in a jovial mood Annan was busy blocking efforts to reign in on the genocide that was taking place in Rwanda. With him on the corner was US President Bill Clinton who looked the other way when peace activists demanded that the US jam radio communication in the tiny Afrikan country since that medium was used to spread hate and call for murder. And some people dare call Clinton the first Black president - please!
Annan, regardless of numerous demands by the small UN Peacekeeping force led by a Canadian military commander to send reinforcements acted passive - leaving the final decision to the Security Council of an organisation so misrepresenting of Afrika's reality that it just couldn't be helpful. That apathy resulted in the death of one million Afrikans in at least 100 days. Okay, that's ten thousand a day; or at least 416 Afrikan souls an hour. Annan stood while a reporter from New York Times wrote that he was happy his ancestors made it out of Afrika during the slave trade because the butchery he was seeing in his 'motherland' was excessive. His article was titled Out of Africa - as a metaphor to Sorius Samura's documentary on the Sierra Leone.
The reporter recounted standing at a bridge in Kigali and seeing piles of bloated corpses washing down the river limbless; or machete-bitten. He remembered thinking he could have been one of those corpses if his ancestors were not shipped off to the 'Free World' to help build America.
And then the same flawed Afrikan went on to become the SG of a body which's Peacekeeping Operations he failed and had one million corpses to show. He became the UN Chief becasue the United States and its friends wanted him there after another crony Afrikan (or Arab) Boutros Boutros Ghali had failed Afrika and Palestinians dismally. How else to thank a sell-out Afrikan if not by elevating him to a position where he has absolute diplomatic immunity anywhere in the world - including his native Afrika. During his tenure Annan stifled the voices of Third World countries at the UN by pretending to be neutral while his position allowed him the leverage to provide political guidance to the world body. His vision for the organisation was always at loggerheads with what our then President Thabo Mbeki envisaged for Africa; a self-sufficient continent with mechanisms to solve its own socio-economic and geo-political problems. Mbeki envisaged a permanent Afrikan peace-solving tool such as the current day-Trioka, an Afrikan stand-by force for deployment to trouble hotspots such as Somalia and an approach to Africa's development that was not about the giver and receiver but building the internal capacity of Afrika to stand on its own feet, feed its own people and defend its borders and integrity.
Mbeki felt that the first stop towards achieving that would be for the UN Security Council to transform to the point whereby Afrika has two rotating (at the discretion of the AU) permanent seats at the Security Council. This would have been useful in ensuring that France does not conduct bombing adventures in its former colonies whenever if feels its version of 'civilisation' is threatened. Such a step would have required a UN Security Council vote which Afrika, advised by African Union would have vetoed and resorted to Afrikan solutions. Annan never took that to heart; he felt that the way the UN was, which is how it was in 1945 is fine. He shied away from curbing the growing influence of Muammar Gaddafi in North Africa since such a arrogance was funded in England and beneficial to the West.
Due to Uncle Kofi being in New York for sightseeing purposes today five countries decide who should be attacked and none of those countries is in Afrika or South America. Now, after his stint frustrating Mbeki, Olusegun Obasanjo and Abdel Aziz Bouteflika he came back home to a continent still suffering from an esteem problem. Here we were prepared to forget that his son was implicated in the Oil For Food programme; a capitalist-sanctioned Ponzi which resulted in the deaths of thousands of Iraqi children as sanctions meant for the regime resulted in the deaths of civilians while Anna watched. Lots of Annan's friends made millions of dollars out of the programme while Nato conducted regular bombing raids in the two no-fly zones in the North and South of Iraq.
He arrived home and suddenly Kenya exploded and given his unquestionable 'clout' the AU deployed him to Nairobi to mediate the ethnic-fueled conflict. Actually, with the benefit of hindsight Annan failed to understand the complexities of the situation. His version of compromise required a constitutional amendment; which means he couldn't find solutions within the democratic constitutional order that is Kenya. The land of Kenyatta was suddenly burdened with a Prime Minister and a President; a bloated cabinet and more money for the bureaucracy.
I would like to delve into his current role as an UN-Arab League mediator in Syria. Funny enough, as they appointed him and gave him his terms of reference; including his paycheque Annan didn't ask them why he was not relevant a year ago when there was equal carnage in Libya? There is a massacre in Afrika, they don't deploy an Afrikan to mediate but when there is a civil war in Arabia they send an Afrikan to extinguish the flame. There's something that is dodgy about the fact that Arabs (the original slave-takers) always need someone from outside to solve their problems which a third of the time are actually caused by the US. Can you start to imagine that the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate was once mediated by George Mitchell and then Tony Blair; all from the West. It should make one wonder if there's no smart diplomat in one of the Arab countries who understand the area, the culture and the politics better to bring both adversaries in the region to the table.
Now, Uncle Kofi takes the poisoned chalice and runs to Damascus to meet a man who inherited power from his father (Hafez passed over the baton to Bashir). He thinks he has the respect of China and Russia who he alienated many times as UN head. He thinks those 'rebels', armed and trained by Saudi Arabia and Qatar will respect him while their budget of $1 million a day 'to fight' Al Assad will disappear if they cease fire. He thinks that his trip to Tehran, which is something the US probably told him to do will shift the balance of power on the streets of Aleppo, Idlib, Homs, Hama, Damascus and others. He goes to Iran on the deadline of the cessation of hostilities so that he can provide the US with enough fodder to say 'indeed we were right that Iran is responsible for the carnage'.
Unce Kofi should know that he is not representing any Afrikan as he criss-crosses the world as a pawn of the US, Britain and France. He should know that his mission is doomed to fail because Israel does not want the regime of Assad to fall and be replaced by Islamists who will be sympathetic to Hamas and Fatah. He should know that the so-called Free Syrian Army is a bunch of individuals who some are not even defectors but Mujahideen who were based in Northern Lebanon and Turkey.
I look at Uncle Kofi with the same prism as that of Mandela. The old man was obviously overrated because he didn't tip the status quo when he came to power in 1994. He was loved because what we fought for for many years will never be achieved. He was probably fighting for something different to what we were all fighting for. Eighteen years later we are still fighting for economic freedom, which is an ideal Mandela signed off during the CODESA negotiation and concealed in the controversial Sunset Clauses. So, instead of obsessing with Arabia, Kofi like Mandela should remember that whatever 'achievement' he notches he will never be mentioned in the same breath as Marcus Garvey, Franz Fanon, Julius Mualimu Nyerere, Robert Mugabe, Agosthino Neto, Patrice Lumumba, Samuel Nujoma, Dr Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, Steve Biko, King Shakal, Thabo Mbeki etc. He will always be remembered as the man who babysat the genocide of one million Afrikans; sugar-coated an ethnic genocide in Kenya, blocked the transformation of the UN, monitored the removal of Jean Bertrand Aristide in Haiti, the poisoning of Yasser Arafat, the suffocation of the Palestinian population etc.
To Uncle Kofi, there's more trouble in Afrika than the Middle East; leave that mess to those who caused it. Mali awaits at home!
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