Exactly a week ago, the Supreme Court of Ghana, decided against putting the General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party in prison for his deeply offensive and eminently contemptuous utterances about the court in general and its President in particular. On the same day, the Military in Egypt took off its glove of pretence and cracked down hard and fatally on peaceful protesters demanding the restoration of their elected President.
Both events occurred in the name of protecting the “EXPRESSED WILL OF THE PEOPLE”, the animal that goes by the generic name of DEMOCRACY. Here in Ghana we have been engrossed for more than eight months with an effort to determine whether it was President Mahama or Nana Akufo-Addo who secured the real mandate of “we the people of Ghana” in the General Elections of December 2012. In Egypt, President MOHAMMED Morsi, elected by universal adult suffrage, has been overthrown in a military coup supposedly carried out in response to the ‘overwhelming majority’ of Egyptians; though no one has told the World how this majority was arrived at.
In our own backyard of Africa, the outcome of elections held in Zimbabwe have been welcomed as “Free & Fair” by distinguished Africans who observed them in the name of African institutions and roundly condemned by observers representing the “FREE WORLD” as ‘troubling and fraudulent
What has amazed me and continues to baffle me has been the reaction of the leaders of the so-called FREE WORLD to the specific events in Egypt and Zimbabwe of recent weeks, and the constantly shifting and convenient sands of the US & the Western world as to what constitutes “the will of the people” or DEMOCRACY.
In this , and on reflection, at every major opportunity over the six decades of my life on earth, Lord Palmerstone’s 18th century doctrine that “Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.”, has continued to shape the “FREE WORLD” view of DEMOCRACY and what constitutes “the will of the people”.
US Secretary of State, John Kerry, who welcomed the military overthrow of the democratically-elected President Morsi of Egypt, said of the Zimbabwe elections “The United States shares the same fundamental interests as the Zimbabwean people: a peaceful, democratic, prosperous Zimbabwe that reflects the will of its people and provides opportunities for them to flourish. “For that to happen, the Government of Zimbabwe should heed the voices of its citizens and implement the democratic reforms mandated by the country’s new constitution”
True, the brutal crackdown by the Egyptian military on the peaceful demonstrators (resulting in close to 1000 deaths) have been condemned by President Obama and all of the leaders of the “FREE WORLD”. This condemnation has been followed with inconsequential pronouncements about punitive measures to show deep disappointment and displeasure about the barbaric slaying of people expressing their abhorrence about the fact that they will they freely expressed in elections conducted under universal adult suffrage( i.e. DEMOCRACY aka Free World ) has been yanked away by force.
Yes, the US and its allies have been embarrassed to condemn human rights abuses. What they have palpably failed to do is THE OUTRIGHT CONDEMNATION OF THE OVERTHROW OF A DEMOCRATICALLY-ELECTED PRESIDENT THROUGH A MILITARY COUP AND THE NECESSARY IMPERATIVE OF RESTORING PRESIDENT MORSI’S RULE.
Egypt is just the latest example of the underlying hypocrisy and cant of the West in the global geopolitics founded on the age old tensions and struggle between THE CHRISTIAN & ISLAMIC WORLD VIEW. Whenever, the CRUSADES of the 11th century pop up in their modern forms, the “FREE WORLD” tweaks its supposedly non-negotiable view of DEMOCRACY to suit the “permanent interest” agenda.
My first introduction to the whole United Nations business came in the form of RESOLUTION 242 which was passed in the immediate aftermath of the 1967 war between Israel and Egypt. Its basic construct was that the basis for achieving a long and lasting peace was for Israel to retreat to its pre-war borders. 46 years on, much Arab land has been overrun with Jewish settlements. The ‘FREE WORLD” has mouthed displeasure at the blatant breach of International law by Israel in the same breadth that it has looked on approvingly at serious abuses of human rights all in the name of the indispensable and overriding need to protect their ally, Israel.
When the “FREE WORLD” encouraged the Palestinians to hold “free and fair” elections and “the will of the people “ was manifested in a victory for HAMMAS, ( the more strident and pro-Islam party), the West conveniently branded the winners as a “TERRORIST ORGANISATION” and refused to deal with it; rather preferring the defeated but Christian-influenced FATTAH. How conveniently did they forget that DAVID BEN GURION and the founding fathers that fought for and created the state of ISRAEL were also labelled as terrorists who are now revered and worshipped as visionaries by the same Free World?
I am baffled to this day by the terminologies used by the Western media to describe the factions in the terrible civil wars that engulfed Marshall Tito’s Yugoslavia in the 1990s. There were Bosnian Serbs, Bosnian Croats, and wait for it, ETHINC MUSLIMS. The Christian factions were described by their nationality, whilst the Islamic faction was labeled by its religion, an undertone that looked unconcerned at the brutal massacres of the Muslims until the scale of it was so excessive that it shamed President Clinton to intervene in Bosnia and Tony Blair in Kosovo.
You may be asking: “Why is Tarzan taking us through all this?” The purpose of my detour into recent history has everything to do with we also beginning to fashion our democracy in line with our own sense of where we have come from without jettisoning the fundamental and non-negotiable principle that whatever process we adopt to choose those who govern in our name must be founded on “THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE”.
A major reason why Africa has retained the descriptor “WORST IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA” for every major calamity of human sufferance in the modern world – HUNGER, AIDS, INFANT MORTALITY, POOREST-and so on and so forth”; is that we swallow and worship the “FREE WORLD” notions hook, line and sinker. We have embraced and clothed this in the wonderfully benevolent concept of DEVEOPMENT PARTNERSHIP. We have continued to depend on the HANDOUTS from the ‘FREE WORLD”, when we should be emulating the HANDSHAKES of the Chinese who were poorer than us less than 25 years ago.
“A FRIEND IN NEED IS A PEST” is my most favourite joke of my red-ferreted “FREE-WORD” comedian of the 1970s, the incomparable and very late TOMMY COOPER. As we stand on the eve of the most momentous political decision in Ghana’s history since 1957, let us seek solace in the instinctive context of TOGETHERNESS AND BEING EACH OTHERS KEEPERS that lies at the roots of our culture and traditions to accept the outcome of the long drawn tussle to determine the real expression of “the will of the people” on December 07, 2012.
The Supreme Court listened to the collective appeals of Ghanaians and decided not to put Sir John in prison, even though they convicted him (he did not escape as many in the reported wrongly). YES, We are of the modern world and belong to the GLOBAL VILLAGE but we should also realise that our DEMOCRACY MUST BE GROUNDED IN THE DOMESTICATION OF ORIGINS AND EXPERIENCES OF THE PEOPLE OF GHANA and be always weary of THE SHIFTING SANDS OF THE FREE WORLD’S NOTION OF DEMOCRACY, WHICH IS ALSO FOUNDED ON THEIR SELF-INTEREST