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February 16, 2019

African Dictatorship Is Kenya's And Africa's Biggest Problem

African Presidents during the African Union summit in Addis Ababa. Photo/AFP
African Presidents during the African Union summit in Addis Ababa. Photo/AFP

While we live on this earth, should we speak out when things go wrong or keep quiet and hope problems will sort themselves out?

However, one thing is for sure. Problems can only be solved by those who have suffered them, or are currently suffering them and therefore understand them.

Currently, a question is being asked all over Africa. Is it democracy or dictatorship that we see on the horizon?

Those in power and their supporters tell us, "the ship we see on the horizon is the ship of democracy. Many others have a different opinion. Take your seats and tighten your belts, the sea is stormy and the ship we see coming is dictatorship".

Dictatorship is not new in Africa. Maybe the only time Africa was free from dictatorship was before slave trade and colonialism when Africans ruled themselves using democratic egalitarianism.

When Arabs and Europeans conquered Africa, slave trade and colonialism killed democratic egalitarianism, replacing them with white colonial dictatorship.

After independence, Africans expected the rule of democracy but instead got one-party dictatorship that African leaders used to pillage, ravage and ruin Africa to today’s levels of poverty and destruction.

After 50 years of struggle, Africans expected that multiparty democracy would be restored and dictatorship would be no more. Unfortunately, Africans made the mistake of entrusting the task of restoring democracy to camouflaged practitioners of one-party dictatorship.

But dictatorship is being restored not as tyranny but as a necessary weapon of fighting white domination as symbolised by International Criminal Court, which has dared to try and jail African dictators like Charles Taylor and has been trying African Presidents like Laurent Gbagbo and President Uhuru Kenyatta while investigating President Bashir of Sudan.

However, African leaders have denied that they are dictators, accusing those who label them so as foreign enemies, their hirelings and agents.

And like their predecessors, African Presidents justify their jettisoning democracy and freedom with various anti-democratic arguments.

Like their predecessors, they argue that it is insolent and disrespectful for ordinary people and especially youths to criticise elders and leaders.

When people resist tyranny, leaders or their supporters defend dictatorship as an African solution to an African problem. But if human problems like dictatorship, poverty, racism and negative ethnicity are universal with universal solutions, why must they have unique African solutions in Africa?

In addition to African leaders arguing that they don’t need democracy because it is Western and not universal, they also argue that African masses are not part of humanity, and don’t therefore need protection against crimes against humanity.

In the Kanu era, democracy was countered as unnecessary because, according to Kanu leaders, it could only work in Africa as modified and guided democracy or dictatorship. The best example is African Union’s rejection of ICC, whose primary purpose is to tame and punish leaders who have committed crimes against humanity and substituted it with African Criminal Court of Justice and Human Rights, which is barred from trying Presidents, Prime Ministers and other senior government leaders when in power.

To evade challenge, dictatorship of African elites has directed and conditioned elites not to see evil, hear no evil and speak no evil, and instead concentrate on business and making money as the only legitimate occupations. And, of course, the elite silence is maintained until dictatorship is untenable when on the verge of collapse. African elites kept their silence during the 50 years of African dictatorship and continue to do so today.

But how do we for sure know that our multiparty democracy is metamorphosing into dictatorship that we must resist and fight against before it takes us back to the day of one-party dictatorship?

Ordinary wisdom tells us that when you see clouds, rain is coming. Equally when people put on dancing shoes, there is a dance.

When leaders don’t want courts that could jail them and instead want courts that will not jail them, that is dictatorship.

When leaders want laws that put them above the law and give them absolute power, that is dictatorship.

When leaders want laws that silence people and media, that is dictatorship.

When leaders define leadership as an opportunity to grab and accumulate, solely driven by greed, that is dictatorship.

When leaders hanker for impunity to kill their own people in assassinations, disappearances, massacres and genocide, that is dictatorship.

Since independence, most African leaders have been dictators who built their tyrannical regimes upon the graves of democracy. And in countries recently ruled by dictatorships, there have been myriad signals of dictatorship.

In the past as now, dictatorship installed itself into power by killing freedom of expression and media with detention of the outspoken without charge or trial in a court of law. Dictatorship further consolidated itself by banning opposition and its parties, and by killing Parliament through fear and sycophancy as we are witnessing today, and by killing judiciary through withdrawal of its tenure of office.

Today African dictatorship is operating under some changed and unchanged situations, making it more difficult to succeed as it did yesterday. Both today and yesterday, African dictatorships have support of AU and OAU. Yesterday, the West supported African dictatorship. Today it supports African democracy. China opposed African dictatorship yesterday. Today it supports African dictatorship. If the West can fight for democracy, is China ready to fight for dictatorship in Africa. So far, there is no recent evidence of China fighting for anybody anywhere.

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