Hama Tuma, Ethiopian author, poet and journalist, has been active in the political and human rights struggle in Ethiopia and Africa since the sixties. His satirical essays under the general title of African Absurdities have gained support from many quarters. Some of his books (English and Amharic) have been translated to French, Italian and Hebrew.
The Other Afrik - North Africa - Algeria - Egypt - Ethiopia - Libya
Experts and Gibberish in the Ethiopian, Egyptian, Tunisian, Libyan and Western context
Friday 25 February 2011 / by Hama Tuma, for the other afrik / 2 opinions
The poetic rhetoric of some American officials in the face of complex political issues tend bring gist to the mill of the satirist. “Some of the leaders we support may be bastards but they are OUR bastards” Kirkpatrick’s statement, notwithstanding its brutally direct tone, sets precedence for a famous contradictory declaration from Henry Kissinger: "if people are foolish enough to elect left wing leaders we cannot let them have their say." Refusing to be left out of the equation, Donald Rumsfeld declared: “As we know, there are known unknowns, the one’s we don’t know, we don’t know”. But, that was before Sarah Palin took the top spot, kicking out Miss South Carolina 2007, with her Egypt-America relations arguments...
“And nobody yet has, nobody yet has explained to the American public what they know, and surely they know more than the rest of us know who it is who will be taking the place of Mubarak and no, not, not real enthused about what it is that that’s being done on a national level and from DC in regards to understanding all the situation there in Egypt. And, in these areas that are so volatile right now, because obviously it’s not just Egypt but the other countries too where we are seeing uprisings, we know that now more than ever, we need strength and sound mind there in the White House. We need to know what it is that America stands for so we know who it is that America will stand with. And, we do not have all that information yet.”
Quintessentially Palin! The lexical college should consider the name Palin as a synonym for gibberish, feverish gibberish. But notwithstanding the fact that these words were uttered by Palin, the gibberish is indicative of the general commotion that has befallen Western countries following the historic popular protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Algeria… As the pawns and stooges tumble down from the pinnacles of autocracy, as once "stable" allies stumble into the recesses of history’s dustbins, as real democracy shakes the hypocritical world of diplomacy, no one can blame Sarah Palin for plagiarizing Miss South Carolina 2007.
Before Mubarak’s fall, an Egyptian opposition group leader is reported to have journeyed to Washington to warn American Congressmen and the CIA that Mubarak would not reach the 2011 general election… He was was not a Western expert. His words were dismissed. Indeed, the powers that be, or experts, as it were, lost in the illusion of diplomatic hypocrisy and out of touch with the common people as they feed on caviar and champagne have often dismissed real issues as surreal. With the help of "experts" top officials have more often than not failed to fathom what desperation among the populace feels like… And when they deal with vital issues, altruism is not the driving force. Autocrats buttress their power through populist acts with the help of... experts!
When Meles of Ethiopia and Isayas of Eritrea went to war and led more than 130,000 people to their untimely graves, many so-called experts had argued that the flash point of the conflict (Badme) was close to the port of Assab which Ethiopia, and not Meles Zenawi who stood for the interest of Eritrea, his mother’s country, was supposedly in dire need of. Self declared experts like Paul Henze and John Pendergast had labeled all opposition as Amhara and nostalgic of the fallen regime and missed the vital and core fact that the majority of Ethiopians could not stand the regime. The same can be said of Egyptians and Tunisians who while suffering under Mubarak and Ben Ali, enjoyed analysis from U.S. and French experts who were far removed from their plight; Experts who painlessly showered the two dictators with accolades. Hard fact. It took a Revolution to make the West understand.
Western experts on Africa are endowed with brains that favor a superb patchwork of vocabulary accompanied by inch-deep-analysis that usually result in analysis-paralysis due to the fact that, besides their unrealistic and incompartible Western logic, they are not conversant with the core of local culture and history. Back in my University days, many decades ago, research assignments turned in by students would end up gracing the pages of books "authored" by our British or American lecturers and professors, two of who have become the-Ethiopian-experts par excellence! Recently, many have written with certainty that the Janjaweeds in the Sudan were “white” Arabs waging ruthless wars against Black Africans, presumably Christians, in Darfur! Does it, all things considered, come as a surprise when Joe Biden confuses Somalia and Darfur. Who cares anyway? Same difference, Joe!
In the Ethiopian context, the Europeans and Americans who adopted pet liberation movements as their own went out of their way to present a well to do ruling people called the Amhara (actually very impoverished like all others) oppressing the majority of Oromos, Tigres and more. The barrage was overwhelming and even Ethiopia herself was labeled an invention. But let’s not only demonize those Western experts who engage in gibberish and present their inch-deep analysis as expertise. Some Africans have jumped onto the bandwagon as well and turned a once simple act of sieving out excellently written but sorrowfully stupid analysis into a cumbersome affair. While some Ethiopians have began writing astonishing manuals on how to overthrow Meles Zenawi, following the Egyptian and Tunisian revolts, it is almost impossible for their countrymen to guess which manual contains the right modus operandi.
Uganda, Ivory Coast, Tunisia, Cameroon, Djibouti, Algeria...
And having legalized his next five year term, adding to his 25 years in power, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, without fear of reprisal, bluntly said that no mass uprising would occur in Uganda as we will "bundle them into jails. And that will be the end of the story!" Museveni also stated clearly that he is not ready to give up power because he has not achieved his objectives to build Uganda into what he wants it to be like. Yes, Museveni, like his Northern African counterparts, is the only Ugandan citizen with the God-given talent to lead Ugandans. Ugandans are too stupid to govern themselves into prosperity without him! His Gaddafi-like assumption, not mine…
While these experts argue that despots ensure stability, they totally ignore to recognize the sorrowful state of good-governance; human rights and the rule of law. Many French experts on Ivory Coast and Tunisia told the world that Gbagbo will definitely win the election and that Ben Ali had the situation under control. These experts have subtly contributed in the newfound culture of constitutional manipulation by African presidents, ordinary people like anyone of us who after lapping up a few of the intoxicating beverages of power decide that they want to run for president for as many terms as their old legs can carry them.
Museveni of Uganda, Bouteflika of Algeria, Biya of Cameroon, Gelleh of Djibouti, not to forget the ousted Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak, to cite but a few, have ably corrupted democracy in Africa into a slimy sickening electoral democracy. A strange and free-less democracy that those seemingly bankrolled experts, just like Lenin’s useful idiots, have applauded.
All trees have bark
But times are changing and the pawns are falling one after another. Bahrain’s repressive and discriminatory regime, notoriously known for torturing political prisoners, is cracking under the pressure of mass protests. And Gaddafi’s incoherent speeches — a bizarre cocktail of bloodthirstiness, power drunkenness, insanity and a will to destroy his country — have finally served as the wind beneath the wings of change. The experts who claimed that Libya did not present the same dynamics as Tunisia and Egypt, the same experts who said the Northern African revolution won’t have a domino effect, the same experts who strangely juxtaposed North Africa and homogeneous satellite countries of the former Soviet Union and dismissed the wind of political change in the Arab world, are all been proven wrong.
Be afraid, Be very afraid
Saleh, Bouteflika, Omar Gelleh and Gaddafi are reeling under serious pressure with mass demonstrations called by opposition groups. The shrapnel from Tunisia’s explosive popular uprising is wounding many Middle Eastern autocrats with Djibouti threatening to pass the virus on to Ethiopia and Eritrea. Indeed, although Ethiopia does not share the same dynamics with Egypt in spite of having shared the Nile and much of their history together, the Horn of Africa country is being closely monitored.
In general however, Africa suffers from a pandemic of lies and a bunch of brainwashed elites. I remember Milton Alimadi’s controversy with the New York Times and this was what he wrote:
“When African countries began gaining independence in the 1960s from former colonial power, Great Britain, The New York Times sent Homer Bigart, the famous two-time Pulitzer winning reporter to cover the transition. In Ghana, Bigart wasn’t impressed by independence hero Kwame Nkrumah, as a letter he sent to Times foreign editor Emanuel Freedman in January 1960 reveals:
“I’m afraid I cannot work up any enthusiasm for the emerging republics,” Bigart wrote. “The politicians are either crooks or mystics. Dr. Nkrumah is a Henry Wallace in burnt cork. I vastly prefer the primitive bush people. After all, cannibalism may be the logical antidote to this population explosion everyone talks about.” The haughtily humble words of an expert.
No More Lies about Africa is a valuable book written by Musamali Nangol, a Pan Africanist born under a Mango tree as he liked to put it. He tried to expose and deny weight to the very many lies spread by so called experts whom our new elites worship, unfortunately. The present Guinean leader, Alpha Conde, has reportedly invited George Soros to advise him on how to get the Guinean economy on its feet. Others before him had diligently listened to the IMF hoping its prescriptions would cure their economic malaise. As the saying goes, the naive sheep spends the whole day in the company of its butcher.
In Ethiopia and Somalia, to mention just two, clan and ethnic conflicts are fanned by urban intellectuals. Barbarians in modern garbs. The experts have their field day as Africa is presented as endemically tribalist to the core. Non Africans at the shores of Lampadusa are presented as Africans. Strangely, while the opposite is true, people are not interested in hearing that no African, besides exceptional cases, goes to India or China to look for greener pastures. According to Fatou Diome, it is never said that whilst Europeans are trying to stop poor African immigrants flocking into Europe, educated Africans who have been painfully nurtured by their struggling systems are being uprooted from their countries to buttress the development of already rich European countries. "Who will develop their economic and political systems"? "Are the poor Africans not going where their sources of livelihood are found?".
It is an open secret that most rich European families of yesteryear, and for that matter today, made their fortunes in the same Africa that has graced sensational media screens with its misery; a so-called albatross that has feed experts from many international NGOs with millions of dollars. Rhetoric! Misery for money; the new gold rush.
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