The February 2011 major political protests that broke out in Libya against Muammar Gaddafi’s government – inspired by recent similar events in Tunisia and Egypt – reveal not only the artificiality of Gaddafi’s Libya but also the irrationalities and superstitions that have been running the country for the past 42 years. No doubt, over the years Gaddafi has experienced coup attempts and assassination efforts on his life.
Suicidal and disposed to violence, Gaddafi is shocked by the dimensions of the Libyan protest for freedoms and democracy. “I cannot leave my country. I will die a martyr.” “I will execute the protestors,” Gaddafi told the world, enjoining his supporters to “attack the “cockroaches” and “rats” protesting against his rule.” For Gaddafi executions are normal. This explains his distaste for democracy and freedoms.
Gaddafi has destructively exported these to some African states, leaving some in deaths, fake revolutions, destruction, violence, threats, military coup d’état, civil wars and state paralysis. It is incomprehensible how some African elites and leaders, who are supposed to know better, entertain Gaddafi’s unenlightened and negative schemes to the detriment of Africa’s progress for long. A megalomaniac and delusional, it was scandalous when on August 29, 2008, Gaddafi held a public ceremony in Benghazi in which he was self-handed the title “King of Kings of Africa” by over 200 African traditional rulers and elites.
Hot-headed, mired in metaphysical exaggeration of himself as a superman sent by God, and not in line with current African development thinking, the February protests have undone his murderous regime and unlocked his denying of Libyans (and by extension Africans) freedoms. The February protests are good omen for Africa. Gaddafi has become a menace to Africa’s emerging democratic development. Running Libya on high irrationalities and primitivism, Gaddafi is allergic to the modernization of Africa where democracy and freedoms drive progress.
Despite this, some foolishly insensitive African leaders follow him, dancing to the mercurial Gaddafi’s whims and caprices. Most times because of money and not attempts to hatch any grand African development philosophy. Gaddafi’s huge noise in Africa is because of Libya’s oil wealth – remove the oil wealth and he is nothing in his desert wasteland. A confused man fixed in the African occult juju-marabou spiritual practices, Gaddafi looks down on Africans and have thoughts of ruling the whole Africa. Bizarre feelings.
Most times while Africans attempt to move in one positive direction such as using the tenets of democracy to wheel their progress, the fidgety Gaddafi, who has weak grasp of Africa, moves in diametrically different pessimistic track, sending Sierra Leone and Liberia into civil wars, paralyzing the Central African Republic, and helping the emotionally disturbed dictators such Jerry Rawlings to overthrow the constitutional regime of President Hilla Limman.
Regardless of the fact that African military juntas (with their so-called “revolutions”) and one-party systems have caused grave developmental problems for Africa, the autocratic Gaddafi has said that the “Rawlings Revolution, not democracy saved Ghana” and that “Ghana…was decaying in the annals of corruption as a failed post colonial state.” Gaddafi is befuddled. As much as everyone knows democracy did save Ghana and is saving Africa and not any lies, killings, fatalism, deaths, threats, and harassments. The so-called Rawlings revolution has come out as the most corrupt in Ghana, as is Gaddafi’s Libya, where he and his family, who have turned Libya into their property, have stolen over $70 billion – all these against the backdrop of institutional destructions, deaths and lack of freedoms.
Over the past 42 years, Gaddafi systematically destroyed Libyan institutions such as civil society, the military and the police. This has created immense vacuum in the development of Libya, making it hard to imagine how Libya would survive after Gaddafi.
Over the years, Gaddafi has been offensive to Africa’s promising pro-democracy forces who have laid down their lives to help restore democracy, the rule of law, institutions, human rights and freedoms after years of self-seeking revolutions. By such wrong-thinking, African democrats such as Benin Republic’s Mathieu Kerekou, who after years of military rule dictated by Marxist-Leninist ideology, discovered that Benin Republic cannot progress with dictatorial military rule and helped nurtured democracy as a vehicle for progress.
Botswana attests to the current African believes that Africans need no bloody revolutions and artificial thinking, as Gaddafi’s crumbling Libya reveals, to bring progress but democracy, freedoms, institutional building, human rights and the rule of law informed by Africans’ indigenous values. Progress-wise, in terms of development indicators, Botswana is the best country in Africa and not Gaddafi’s Libya.
Entangled in the dark past, where authoritarianism and primitivism hold sway, and unable to free himself from superstitiously autocratic tendencies, Gaddafi is known to endorse some sort of “direct democracy, as against Western multiparty democracy.” Gaddafi wants Africans to follow him in his muddled sense of direct democracy. The fact is, if all the almost one billion Africans were to engage in direct democracy imagine the chaos that will ensure.
Representative democracy isn’t only Western but part of the broader human progress in resolving the challenges of governance. And in a continent with over 2,000 ethnic groups and massive ethnic languages, histories and cultures, the only logical and material solutions to such complexities is indirect democracy, fully driven by well crafted decentralization exercises cooked in Africa’s traditional values. Such thinking reveals why Gaddafi hasn’t initiated any national dialogue with the Libyan opposition.
Snubbed by the Arab world for his irritatingly erratic behaviours and for sometime a pariah among the comity of nations to the extent that President Ronald Reagan nearly bombed him to death, Gaddafi, for years, has shifted his bloody ego trips to Africa where some feeble African leaders and elites tolerate his mumbo jumbo. Regardless of his avowed befuddled Pan-Africanism beliefs, Gaddafi has been treating some African immigrants bad – deporting them, jailing some for their Christian practices, harassing some, threatening to execute some, among others. In his own Libya, Gaddafi has the highest hatred for the Berbers, a non-Arab African ethnic group, and for their language, maintaining that their being in Libya and North Africa is a mistake. Gaddafi wished the Berbers weren’t in Libya but in some parts of sub-Sahara Africa.
For the past 42 years, the tyrannical Gaddafi has caused so much injuries to Libya and Africa that it has become a game for him, blinded to the immense pains he has caused. Gaddafi helped start the horrendous civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone. The Truth and Reconciliation Tribunal in Sierra Leone, short of charging him with crimes against humanity, requested Gaddafi to pay compensation to victims of the civil war.
Demonstrating insensitivity to Africa’s genocidal spots and Africans’ anguish in the hands of their notorious “Big Men” in places like Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan’s Darfur, Gaddafi was able to arm-twist fellow African leaders (except the level-headed Botswana) to support Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir who has been charged with crimes against humanity in the Darfur catastrophe. Now with his killings of peaceful demonstrators, the wheel has turned and Gaddafi now faces the prospects of charges of crime against humanity.
Failing to read and acknowledge Africans’ deep-rooted beliefs in democracy, their traditions and history as vehicles for progress and security, Gaddafi, who doesn’t trust anyone, is being hunted by forces of freedoms, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, as his days as ruler draws to a close.
In Gaddafi’s Libya, Africans have come to the agonizing conclusion that better nations are built on rationalities and not falatalism, maturity and not immaturity, reasoning and not superstitions, freedoms and not fear and vicious dictatorship. And that with Africa’s immense wealth, against the backdrop of the continent’s excruciating histories, what Africa need more today is well-tested democratic values such as dignity, the rule of law, human rights, freedoms and equality to wheel their progress.
By Kofi Akosah-Sarpong