THURSDAY Column WITH Mohammed Adamu
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It will be six years exactly tomorrow since Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi was conspiratorially killed in a western-instigated uprising in Libya, following the Arab Spring of the Maghreb. Since then, the North African Arab nation that was promised ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ in exchange for the lush Eden that Gaddafi’s 43 years of benevolent dictatorship had created, now faces disintegration, from two warring parliaments each seeking legitimacy to constitute itself into Libya’s new sovereign.
Libya today is described as ‘another tragic example of misguided, western intervention’ in the affairs –especially- of non-conformist Arab countries of the Middle East and Africa. A conspiracy of Western capitalist powers led by the United States and Britain to assist surrogate France gain a strategic foothold in Libya, turned sour, exposing most of Africa to insecurity occasioned by proliferation of dangerous weapons and setting the West on edge with the prospect of ISIS using a destabilized Libya as doorstep to Europe.
Gaddafi, with over $200bilion in foreign reserve needed the reserves of just a few more willing African countries to help the African Union, AU achieve its dream of creating a common currency Africa; a development which would be a threat to the euro and the dollar –by implication to Western Europe and North America. France’s Sarkosy had been on record warning “we are going to fight to save the euro.” And the dollar, Obama seemed to suggest, when he availed America’s air-power to seal the deal.
Some of the most reliable biographical works on Gaddafi were Mirella Bianco’s ‘Gaddafi, Voice from the Desert’ and Mahmoud Ayoub’s ‘Islam and the Third Universal Theory’. And it is mostly from the prisms of these works that I offer today my tribute to the late Muammar Gaddafi in commemoration of the sixth anniversary of his heroic martyrdom on the 20th of October, 2011 in Tripoli, Libya.
Stories from childhood told by his own father of the bitter struggle of the Libyan people against their Italian colonizers –which consumed his grandfather- shaped Gaddafi earliest revolutionary mind. And as fate would have it Gaddafi’s youth was to coincide with the Egyptian revolution of 1952 and the Algerian struggle against French colonialism, both of which also made great impressions in the lad’s budding revolutionary mind. Because by the time he was at College in Sirte -where his poor Bedouin parents had relocated so he could have his post-primary education-, the young Gaddafi had already shaped up to a student activist who would often stir revolt either to protest the death of Patrice Lumumba or the dissolution of the Syrian-Egyptian Union in 1961; or indeed to propagate other Afro-Arab causes many of which would later find enduring expression in, and dominate, his post revolutionary struggle.
Gaddafi was expelled from Sabha Secondary School at third grade for activism; so that to complete college he had to transfer to Misrata where again he formed a group of like-minded students he had persuaded to join the military after college so they could form the nucleus of a secret corps of revolutionary ‘Unionist Free Officers’ committed to the liberation of Libya from Euro-American occupation under the Emirateship of a lame King Idris (of the Sanusi family) who relied on western powers for protection in exchange for Libya’s oil wealth.
After Gaddafi, barely in his twenties, struck and took power in September 1969, America’s then largest military base abroad, the Wheelus Air Base in Tripoli and a British naval base in Tubruq were immediately librated and renamed after Gamel Abdul Nasser and a certain brave Libyan woman Mu’aitiqah who fell in the struggle to liberate the bases. Soon, Libya was to become totally independent: militarily, economically, intellectually and socially. The Arab language became the sole medium of communication. America’s and British night-clubs where Libyan ingénues were daily defiled and the minds of the Libyan young corrupted, were closed.
THEIR ‘POUND OF FLESH’
Neither Britain nor America forgave Gaddafi for that unceremonious send-off. And in the last over 40 years since the Gaddafi revolution, both Europe and America had suffered series of innumerable defeats and incalculable damage trying –at different times- to take their mutual pound of flesh from Gaddafi whose commanding stature, regionally, continentally and globally, was now on the ascendancy. Ironically even when the opportunity finally came to deal with Gaddafi it did not come from the genius of imperialist Europe or America. It was rather the result of an innocuous event in neighboring Tunisia which had snowballed into a flaming so called ‘Arab Spring’ mischievously hijacked especially by America to instigate the killing of Gaddafi and the destruction of Libya.
Ronald Reagan during his reign in the eighties had warned that Gaddafi was a “menace to US interests”, and to confront that menace the Cow-boy President would levy and assemble the most advanced air power, using the most avant-garde of aero-dynamic technology –with fighter jets refueling mid air- to arrive the skies of Libya only to bomb a harmless, defenseless adopted daughter of Gaddafi. Reagan became the butt of humor as he returned ‘victoriously’ to the United State having moved America’s Airforce to one end of the world to deliver the feeblest hit on the ‘jugular’ of an inveterate enemy of America.
Colonel Muammar Gaddafi –leader of the Libyan revolution of 1st Sept 1969- was unarguably one of the most controversial figures in modern history. He was loved by many and hated nearly by as much. To some he was a ‘mad man’, ‘a bigot’ and a ‘villain of the peace’. Yet to others he was a ‘hero’, a ‘comrade’ and an ‘anti-imperialist’. Nonetheless virtually all are agreed that Gaddafi: 1, was a man of exceptional courage because he took on imperialist Europe and America all by himself; 2, that he was a patriot who loved his country Libya and unarguably gave Libyans his best; and 3, that he was passionate about Africa’s solidarity and Arab unity and he was ready to give his all to achieve those.
Gaddafi was a man of dual racial origin, -an Arab and an African; a bona fide member of two continental bodies: the Arab League and the African Union. He was author of ‘The Green Book’ –a mystery book containing an ingenious Afro-Arab philosophy offering the world a ‘Third Universal Theory’ or practical alternative to Western capitalist-democracy and Eastern European communism. The ‘Green Book’ discusses the predicament of national minorities from the premise of the fundamental argument that “religion and nationalism are the two primary forces moving human history” and that “minorities do not necessarily fight for a language or for social customs, but rather for economic and political rights”, -and which is why Gaddafi’s concept of ‘direct democracy’ or ‘Jamahiriya’ was an invitation to the people to exercise authority over their lives and destiny.
Gaddafi reasoned that ‘ethnic identity’ which is as pristine as nature itself binds together the people of a community “even before they have religion”, and that partisan affiliation therefore or partisan politics was injurious to ‘ethnic unity’ and can lead to the disintegration of national unity. He said that the concept of his ‘Libyan Jamahiriya’ which had every Libyan as a direct participant in the democratic process was so that Libyans, in spite of politics, would “be one rank like a well compacted edifice”.
Gaddafi did not believe in ‘winner-takes all’ or in the slogan of the majority having a ‘way’ and the minority only a ‘say’. He saw as grossly unfair the Western ‘democratic’ concept of electoral ‘winners’ representing 51% of the electorate taking ‘everything’ whereas losers representing even as much as 49% having ‘nothing’. To reduce 49% of a country’s population to having only a ‘say’ for four long years is hardly rights-respecting. And he also rejected political electioneering campaigns, describing it as ‘grandiose waste, corruptive of society and alienative of the political aspiration of the poor’.
Gaddafi was against rent and rent-taking. He saw systems of government as exploitative which allow individuals “to possess more than their needs of the commonwealth of society”, arguing that true freedom lies only “in freeing the essential needs of the individual from the control of others”. And so to nip the idea of ‘tenancy’ and ‘land overlord-ship’ in the bud, his Jamahiriya did not allow any Libyan to possess more than one house at a time. But he also ensured that those who could not afford a house of their own were provided for by the State.
MAD MAN OR VISIONARY?
Said one oriental writer “Whereas Plato’s ‘The Republic’ still remains the blueprint of a utopian society waiting to be experimented, Gaddafi’s ‘Green Book’ is itself the product of a practical revolution which has radically transformed Libya”. The American media especially had persistently played up Gaddafi’s often nationalistic, afro-Arab ideology to propagate hostile information designed to portray him as ‘mad’ and to divert the attention especially of the Arab world and Africa from his message.
They said that he was the ‘mad man’ of Libya. And maybe they were right. But Gaddafi still had the mental clear-headedness to use Libya’s oil resources to transform a barren desert into a lush Eden. They adjudged him ‘mentally unstable.’ Yet Gaddafi was able to provide free qualitative education to Libyans without stooping at the foothill of Western aides and gratuitous handouts. They called him a ‘lunatic.’ Nonetheless Gaddafi effectively and sustainably fed his country without falling into the enslaving snare of dubious loans from International financial institutions established primarily to tie up the economies of weaker nations.
In fact the ‘mad man’ of Libya, for decades had demonstrated the requisite strength of character and the stability of mind to be as effectively provident at home as he was the ever-present Middle-Eastern rallying force for Arab unity. He was as effectively in control of Libya’s domestic affairs as he was efficiently the arrowhead of, and the crusader for, a united, un-exploitable Africa which he had hoped should be capable of holding her own in a fast globalizing capitalist world that is as cruel in its stampede as it is soulless in its rampage.
THE HAND OF THE GIVER
It was to the credit of Gaddafi’s sole funding that the Regional African Satellite Communication, RASCOM was conceived in 1992 to liberate African countries from the telecom stranglehold of Western powers who were already fleecing Africa 100billion naira annually as charges for IDD (International Dialing) alone. Europe especially never forgave Gaddafi for that huge revenue loss. In fact Gaddafi’s dream of an African Investment Bank, an African Monetary Fund, an African Central Bank and eventually a United States of Africa were all too frightening for Europe and the United States of America to contemplate. An African Central Bank for example which was envisaged to print currency for Africa was perceived especially by France as an economic funeral dirge for the’ CFA francs’ and thus a loosening of Paris’ visceral grip on the economies of francophone Africa.
On the other hand the African Monetary Fund was feared by the West for what it is, a home-grown alternative to the vicious, soulless International Monetary Fund, IMF which has been the Western dog of hunt created to subvert and subjugate third world economies. And so the danger -to the West- inherent in a truly United States of Africa, as envisioned by the late Gaddafi, can only be best imagined. Said Professor Horace Campbell, author of ‘Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya’ “Gaddafi wanted to use the resources of Libya for the reconstruction of Africa.” That was his only offence: attempting to take Africa off the dinner table of the West.