Friday, 22 March 2013

Rest in Peace Chinua Achebe, the doyen of African Literature

I have learned of the passing of the great African literature guru, Chinua Achebe. I remember Chinua Achebe for his classic novels of "A Man of the People", "Things Fall Apart", "Arrow of God", "Anthills of Savannah", "No longer at ease". I have had the privilege of reading a couple of his books. Chinua Achebe was the doyen of African literature. Achebe is man who achieved a lot during his early years of academic life. As my professor puts it, "it was not for his excellence that he achieved all success". My professor quickly reminds me of how Achebe got a third degree honors in his class. He was not the brightest in his class. He was fortunate to have written these books at a time when the world was dominated by Western literature. A new wave of African literature beckoned with his works. There is no doubt, the works by Achebe lit up the African narrative of African literature. He wrote on the role of culture in Africa and the social and political significance of aesthetics and analysis of the postcolonial state in Africa. His works, especially, "Things fall Apart" became the blueprint of literature scholarship in Africa. 

I recently read his book on the "Trouble with Nigeria"(1983). This book examined what Achebe terms as the 'failure of leadership'. This inspiring book aimed to challenge the resignation of Nigerians and inspire them to reject old habits which inhibit Nigeria from becoming a modern and attractive country.The insights of the book were not only relevant to Nigeria as a case point but to the continent as a whole. The failure of leadership coupled with rampant corruption, ethnicity, nepotism, anarchy etc have all plagued the continent. In a recent discussion with my friends, we thought Achebe could have rewritten the book to capture the continental baggage of the above mentioned vices, which have sadly not changed. Rest well Chinua Achebe. The world celebrates you.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Why Gen Ntaganda turned himself in

The US State Department has confirmed that wanted Congolese warlord Gen Bosco Ntaganda is in custody in the US Embassy in Kigali after he turned in himself and ‘specifically asked to be transferred to the International Criminal Court (ICC). This came after the Rwanda's Foreign Minister  Louise Mushikiwabo categorically denied allegations by Kinshasa that Ntaganda was in Rwanda. The 'surrender' by General Ntaganda who is known to many as the 'terminator' has sparked debate on the role of Rwanda in the Congo war. Ntaganda who is the leader of the majority Tutsi rebel group of M23 turned himself in to the US Embassy in Kigali and asked to be transferred to the Hague. Ntaganda is wanted for numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity by the ICC. The Rwandan government led by their foreign minister has been denying that they 'host' general Ntaganda. Kinshasa government Spokesman, Mr Lambert Mende has said it all along that Ntaganda was in Rwanda. Madam Mushikiwabo has always denied it to the extent of attacking Mr Mende by asking him if "Its the only thing that was in his mind"

Now that he has surrendered, one can deduce a number of conclusions. It is now hard to believe that Rwanda was not hosting Gen Ntaganda. The Rwandan government which is also led by majority Tutsi could have been using 'the terminator' in waging war in Eastern Congo for their national interests. It can be also deduced that the government of Rwanda were pushed hard by the United States to surrender the man who was in no doubt in Rwanda. The gimmicks by the foreign minister must have been brushed off by the US government and ordered to surrender the man. The US government must have made demands to Kigali, which if not met, 'there could be no business as usual'. 

The US Embassy in Kigali is a few metres from the Office of the President and Ministry of Internal Security. One can best judge from this proximate distances between the three offices. Your guess is as good as mine.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

All politics is local? Why International Relations then?

 Nicodemus Minde
They say all politics is local, or rather all politics is domestic. As a student of international politics, this saying could mean I wasted four years of my undergraduate studies plus other two for my graduate studies. After meditating on the phrase for a long time through inspired reading and philosophical and epistemological analysis, I think I got a counter phrase or rather a complementary phrase. Yes, indeed, all politics is local but after reading an article on Al Monitor, the Middle East website on "What Russia learned from the Iraq War" I can confidently say that "all politics is local. All international politics is a derivative of jostling for hegemonic status either regionally, continentally or in many occasions global". 

The pursuit of individual freedoms, justice and rule of law as embedded in the DNA of American constitution is local politics. The desire to push this enduring tenets to a global audience either through implicit or explicit tactics is what can be termed as international politics. When Putin was quizzed over Russia's position on the Iraq War 10 years ago, he said it was their problem. This is despite the fact that Russia as a global player should have positioned itself with 'the allied forces' against the forces of evil or 'axis of evil'. This then, is how domestic politics plays the role of international politics. When America supported the "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine yet Russia had publicly declared they would work best with George Bush and not John Kerry during the elections, the concept of internationalization of domestic politics manifested itself. A great read from Middle East Al Monitor has opened my international relations eyes wider. Thank God for daily insights.