Friday, July 31, 2009


I remember Zimbabwe when I was young, beautiful, spotlessly clean, and on time. We had state buses than ran every route on the hour, every hour, all the time. We had clean public toilets. The street lights all worked. There was no water or power cuts. Our currency was at par with the Pound Sterling, Not the dollar. You would have to give me 2 US Dollars for my single ZimDollar. We named our land Africas Paradise. We also named it the land of milk and honey. We called our Capital City, Sunshine City.

There was fighting and poverty all around us. South Africa was not independent and we housed them. We supported them fight arpatheid. We sang revolutionary songs at Primary School denouncing the boers. We sent troops to Mozambique to fight the RENAMO bandits. The war raged on for about 15 years. Mozambique was a war ravaged country. We took thousands of Mozambican refugees and housed them. We had an interest in Mozambique. Our oil supply pipeline from Beira runs through Mzambique, but I believe when we sent troops we were genuinly supporting our brothers.

Zambia had practically collapsed under Keneth Kaunda. The Zambian Kwacha was worth less than toilet paper. We laughed every night and wondered how on earth a country could decay to such an extent. We had no intention whatsoever of going to Zambia for any reason, howsoever. Malawi had always been colonised for us by the white man. Zimbabwe had always taken cheap labour from Malawi. So Malawians, whilst not outrightly ill treated in Zimbabwe, it was always mutually agreed that they were lesser important than us. They cooked for us, bathed our children, tendered our green gardens, took out the rubbish bins. We were kings.

We also heard stories about Mogadishu, Djibouti etc. We even sent troops to both, to restore peace and stability.

Oh how the mighty have fallen. We now beg for jobs in Mozambique. The South Africans are burning our too many brothers and sisters. Zambia is practically fed up with us. Malawi is laughing. Oh, how the might have fallen.

Cry my beloved Zimbabwe, cry!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Beautiful Lessons From Ghana

This week I have decided to publish a piece from a fellow Zimbabwean Blogger who has written extensively about "our" (and by that I mean Zimbabwean) perception of Ghana and why Obama chose Ghana. I have included his e-mail at the end so if you feel motivated enough, you may comment on this blog and drop him a line too. The article is rather longish that my usual dosage, so I have split it into 2 parts. This blog post was first published in one of Zimbabwe`s weekly newspapers and online publications two weeks ago.

I love Ghana.
If I had to choose an African country other than Zimbabwe, as my home it’s fair to say Ghana would have little, if any competition.
Perhaps it’s the fascination of a one-time visitor. Perhaps it is judgment that is clouded by the comfort of being a passer-by; by the beauty of being a visitor who often is accorded kindness, something that often fades the longer you stay among your hosts.
That is possible, but even my interactions with most Ghanaians outside Ghana persuade me that they are a good and cultured people. I would happily live among them.
A couple years ago, when Ghana celebrated 50 years of independence, I wrote in these pages about my first and only trip to that beautiful country on the West African coast.
I wrote about the warmth the people of Accra exuded; about the atmosphere which made it so easy — it was like I had been transported to an old country that I had once lived in centuries ago. It reminded me of Zimbabwe in many ways; a Zimbabwe that now existed in memory.
It brought back a lot of memories but it also gave a glimpse of some of the pain that runs through every part of the continent.
I have always found a strong connection between my country and Ghana. Perhaps it’s the maternal connection. For this is where Zimbabwe’s original First Lady, Amai Sally Mugabe was born and raised.
I did not know much about her but I think she was a good woman. For sure, she looked and sounded like a good woman. She had a certain aura around her and seemed to always have a permanent smile.
We knew her not for her beautiful costumes but for the love that she showered upon so many children.
She did not have one of her own but you wouldn’t have known, for she was always surrounded by happy kids. Our then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe had been a teacher in Ghana and here he had found himself a beautiful wife. As I walked the streets of Accra and spoke to the cheerful men and women that I met, I couldn’t help but notice a little Sally in most of them.
They were happy to have me, a brother from Zimbabwe and many remembered the Sally connection. Even in death she remained a uniting point; someone whom diverse people from different sides of the continent could relate to and talk about with fondness. Few are so blessed whether in life or in death.
But I also had some painful moments on that trip. This was the first Sub-Saharan country to gain independence in 1957. Yet what I encountered in the suburbs, beyond the smiles and cheerful welcome were many sad stories of a people whose circumstances could only be described more kindly as “challenging”. Here in Accra you came face to face with the plight of a whole continent that had escaped the yoke of colonialism in the last half century.
I spoke to Ghanaians who gave various versions of their history. They are a proud people; this is the land of the legendary Ashanti Empire, a favourite subject during my history lessons in high school.
I learned of the turmoil that the nation went through in its early years. In 50 years it had seen it all — almost everything that every other African country has gone through or will go through — one-party rule, military rule, failed attempts to institute democracy and finally, the present beautiful phase of peaceful multi-party democracy.
On reflection, Ghana almost encapsulates the evolution of the continent — the challenges, trials, errors and successes, of the post-independence era. No wonder US President Barack Obama recently chose it as his first proper African destination.
Five years after my visit to Ghana, nothing has happened to diminish my affection for that country. If anything, looking at the continent’s political landscape, Ghana seems to have turned a corner.
The ordinary men and women may still be struggling economically but the country has at the very least managed to tame, for now, the one institution around which chaos grows in most African countries: the election.
The last three elections demonstrate that it is possible in Africa for the election to be a facility through which people can successfully make free choices and that the incumbent does not have a divine right to remain in power at all costs.
Former President Jerry Rawlings was the last of the military rulers but by 1992 he had been re-born, leading Ghana for two four-year terms under the 1992 Constitution. That two-term requirement was observed.
The seminal election of 2000 was won by John Kufour, the opposition leader, beating John Atta Mills, the man representing former President Rawlings’ party.

Lessons From Ghana (CNTD)

That this was accepted was a big positive in the life of Ghanaian politics; an important step in its evolution from a country formerly subject to the rule of force as opposed to the rule of law. It gave hope that even a ruling party can lose an election and accept the result.
And so it was that for eight years, Ghana was ruled by the former opposition and the former ruling party became the new opposition.
It was not easy but it worked. It was moment of pride when a fellow student and colleague during our days at Warwick University, Ben Kunbour returned to Ghana as an MP on the opposition benches.
In 2008, at the end of his last term Kuffour stepped down and his party’s candidate Nana Akufo-Addo contested the election. The main rival was Atta Mills, who had unsuccessfully contested the last two elections against Kuffour.
The election was close and it went to the Run-off stage where again the result was very close. Atta Mills, of the opposition won the election by a very a small margin: 50.23% to 49.77% for Akufo-Addo.
Atta Mills become President of Ghana — at the third attempt, fulfilling the old adage, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again.
So, in effect twice there has been a reversal of fortunes for the ruling party in Ghana — the ruling party between 2000 and 2008 is back again in opposition.
Conversely, the opposition between 2000 and 2008 is back in power as the ruling party. And, incredibly, all this has been accepted and Ghana is moving ahead.
This is a phenomenon that one would normally observe in the older democracies in Western Europe and North America.
Even South Africa, which has done well to uphold elections, is yet to be seriously tested: that is, it is yet to get to that point when the ANC faces a more serious threat to its position as the ruling party.
Ghana tells us that it is possible for the election to mean something to the voters. It tells us that it is possible for leaders to be decent enough to accept defeat, in the same way that they welcome success.
It tells us that losing an election is hardly the end of the world; it educates us that there is life for a political party and its politicians after losing an election; that it is always possible to make a come back.
The last time I wrote about Ghana I finished with the following words, “One day, I hope to return to Ghana. I hope to see the finished Tetteh-Quarshie Roundabout (an extraordinarily large roundabout that was then under construction).
I hope to sit down and chat to the good men and women at the chop-bars of Accra. I hope to talk to a new generation of leaders, ready to take on the challenges that the next 50 years present. . .I hope that in 50 years time, the men, women and children of Nema (an old and dilapidated residential area in Accra) will be smiling and laughing in more comfortable surroundings”.
I still have those hopes for that beautiful country. And I am pleased that they seem to have found a comfortable and smooth road after the first 50 tumultuous years. As it happens, Ghana has recently discovered that it has black gold within its borders — I hope, unlike elsewhere in Africa, this substance fuels growth and not corruption, wars and deprivation for the ordinary people. I hope it is a blessing, not a curse.
And when I say so, I also have my own home, Zimbabwe, in mind. We are travelling a similar road. But I hope we won’t have to wait 50 years to appreciate that the election can be true agent of political change; that people can contest elections freely and fairly and that winners and losers can live peacefully side by side, doing their business and waiting to contest another day.
We were fortunate to have Amai Sally Mugabe; the Ghanaian girl who became a Zimbabwean mother — I hope we take a few lessons from that beautiful land on the West coast of Africa. One day, I shall return.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Beastly, Bouncy Kenyan Baboons!

blabbering boasty big bouncy beastly baboons
sauntering sacarstically for scarce Kenyan food
if you are a mean menacing machine looking man they scutter
but God be with any weary wobbly whining weak woman who tries to scare them...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sour Grapes!

It is the second week
Since Obama left Accra,
Yet rumblings from Zimbabwe,
Nigeria, Kenya and "Others"
are still echoing in the hills.

Zimbabwe has done one better than the rest,
writting unprintable words in the government controlled herald...

Hush, Hush good people,
when you are democratic,
Obama will come to you too!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Nelson Mandela.

July 18th has been declared Mandela Day in South Africa. Seen as an iconic figurehead in the fight against apartheid, "Madiba" is reverred across the globe for his ability to hold together a fragile black and white fusion of South Africa Society in 1994.

Whilst some hardliners argue that he has not spoken out enough about white dominance, I unreservedly respect him for his ability to let go go of power when the whole world wouldnt have minded him being in power till death. He is indeed, a very great man.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What an eventful week!

By Sunday Air-Force One had left a trail of choking fumes across the cool Accra skies. Obama had come, seen, spoke, and left.

On Monday Mugabe yet again hit the headlines, for yet again the wrong reasons. In a constitutional reform exercise taking place in Zim, Mugabe and his goons are insisting on a draft they hastily crafted last year at the expense of a consultative process where the people give their views on what the Zim constitution should contain. So in the first consultative meet on Monday, Mugabe hired thugs who disrupted the whole process by drowning the speaker of Parliament in an effort to thwart the process. I would like to invite those who see a hero in this man to seriously give me their thoughts on this one. Barbaric means to stiffle the will of the people.

On Tuesday we tootled off to the Hague where Charles Taylor was standing trial for eleven counts of various crimes of killings and war crimes. Ever so eloquent, the man vehemently denied that he used to rip out the organs of opponents and eat them. He appeared human, and appealed to the courts human side. It was a very good show, and I am sure his lawyers are thoroughly happy. Except of course, the graves are still there in his home country, and quiet a few people still have short arms because their hands were chopped off. Torture and rape victims still roam the streets, and honestly, someone was responsible for this. Someone has to pay. Let the encumbent rulers take note. The Al Bashir indictment and subsequent madness from fellow Africa dictators will not outrun justice!

On Wednesday, the space shuttle Endevour finally blasted off. Its a race against time, the US government wishes to retire the shuttle fleet by next year. The Obama administration will also sign authorizations for the deployment of people on the moon, much like what they have done with the artic. So before you know it, there is going to be a permanent presence on the moon. I remember my late uncle was always pertubed by these excursions, and he would almost always ask..." And what is it that they are looking for up there which they cannot find here?" He died a miserable man, no one answered him.

We woke up today to the news that the ICJ prosecutor will receive an envelope containing names of the perpetrators of post election violence in Kenya. Oh! I can hear you gasp, and you are not all alone. We all thought it was water under the bridge. But hell no. The Kenyans deliberately forgot to tell us that they were given an ultimatum to investigate all the post elections violence and bring the perpetrators to book. In Kibaki`s infinite wisdom, they hastily assembled a commission of inquiry which they hoped would die a natural death. Kofi Anan had the uneviable task of ensuring this would go smoothly. Sensing that he and the rest of the world were about to be, yet again, get duped by African political murderers, Anan cried wolf. The ICJ Prosecutor sprang into action and Anan will be making available the names of all known perpetrators. This will be a very interesting ball game as it plays out.

So what can we learn this week. The days of wanton disregard for human rights and mass political killing are over. The world is changing, and for the better. You can no longer kill political opponents like flies and get away with it. The days of Idi Aminiism are over!

Monday, July 13, 2009

He hit the spot!

I did not have too much respect for Obama before he came to our shores. But honestly, he hit the nail on the spot that drives it home. Africa is for the Africans, and we must not live in the past. We cannot blame the west for "all" our ills. Surely we have contributed in part to our present predicament. Zimbabwe plotted its own downfall! Coming from a black American of African descent, I think the lean boy has all the chance to say whatever he wants. We have been used for far too long to painting our arguments in black and white.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Barack Obama in Ghana

In exactly 9 hours Ghana time, Air Force One will touch down gently at Kotoka International Airport. The lean, smooth talking, and astute President of the USA will gently make his way down and wave to an expectant crowd lining the tarmac to welcome him African style. History will be made. America is coming to Africa.

At exactly the same time tomorrow, Air Force One will gently taxi to the end of the runway, before speeding at breakneck speed for take off. Mesmerised, we shall watch in amazement as arguably the most sophisticated airplane on the planet kisses the Accra clouds before disappearing over the sea and hurtle towards its home in Washington. Again history would have been made.

The tomato seller will go back to her table at the roadside. The Y`ello airtime crew will sprawl across the Accra streets as before and eke out a hard living. Teachers will go back to their old classrooms, lawyers to their old courts, engineers to work, and children to the same old classroom. So much will happen, but vey little will change. Its sad.

I would have wanted to see Ghana capitalise on this trip beyond just the media hype. I would have wished for Ghana to drive a very hard bargain, give Obama a Trade and Development Agreement to consider, increase the quota of exports from Ghana to the USA, advocate for cancellation of more debt, enhance private sector partnerships, acquire grants to build roads, hospitals, schools, dams, power generating plants, water purification, medicines, technology..everything that is on our "want list".

What is the reward for democracy, America needs to be asked? Why should Mugabe stop his age old antics to admire Ghana and this historic visit? Where is the incentive?

We must go beyond receiving these meaningless pats on the back, we are not kids, and we cannot be silenced by candy! We must know where our bread is battered, and if it is not buttered, we must seek more butter. It is good that these guys come, Obama is the 3rd sitting American President of the USA to come to Ghana over the last two decades, but not even one of them increased the export quota of Ghana to the USA.

For how long shall we remain the ululating class? For how long shall we proffer wide smiles for merely being labelled the good boys. We must ask for more, we must demand more, we must want more! We must close this gap. Let their gestures be backed up by meaningful economic exchanges, which are aside from AGOA and HIPC and all those one size fits all policies. America must show the world that the reward for democracy is economic partnership, outside the normal realms of peacemeal offers that they offer the length and breadth of the world.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Kinky, Creepy Michael Jackson

And so it gets even worse. The thriller star has not gone to the tiller. Someone drained his brain. Just like the video of thriller, this is getting kinky, creepy, and kocky. Please let the poor man rest in peace!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Like little kids...

Just like little kids, who have done their homework, we are supposed to be very happy to receive the US president...

Michael Jackson Live Memorial Coverage

For a strange man, he sure got the world`s attention. I was, however more fascinated by the smashing Janet Jackson. What could I have done, all stations were showing a strange funeral?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Trailblazing Barack Obama

And so he will come to Ghana this weekend. Accra will come to a standstill. Millions will flock to see him, hear him, speak. He will assure us, as usual, that America cares so much for us. He will tour the Cape Coast, acquaint himself with the evils of slavery. Maybe he will shed a tear.

And thats just about all. This is merely a sentimental visit. I dont see any value to it. How many American presidents have been to Ghana before? And what did they change, apart maybe from building one of the most sophisticated embassies in Accra? Or, as some small voices are saying, is he coming after the scent of oil? Is he?