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Opinions of Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Columnist: Anor, Ofori G.

Who, Me, Accept Responsibility? Not An African Leader!

There we go again. Soldiers running wild and untamed in Africa. In the past week we have been treated to the wicked and “vile violation” (apologies Mrs. Clinton) and slaughter of unarmed civilians by a bunch of armed and uniformed gunmen calling themselves soldiers of the Guinean army. Yes, it happened in Guinea, in a region too familiar with what it is living with pig headed buffoons armed to the teeth. Over 150 young men and women gunned down, bayoneted or clubbed to death for merely participating in a non-violent parade. Countless others (women and girls) are reported to have been abducted and subjected to heinous sexual molestation and abuses. They were stripped naked in public and raped.

The killings are so criminal that they warrant the arrest, prosecution and punishment for all those involved. But the attacks and victimization of the mothers, daughters and sisters is in a category of evil all by themselves – so beastly and senseless.

What manner of men would visit such abuses on their own mothers, sisters and daughters? Throughout history, women have been coveted as prizes or spoils of war by invading conquerors. But taking your own unarmed kith and kin involved in a peaceful expression of opinion as spoils of a “war” to be savagely victimized and violated can exist only in the minds of demented bastards.

The perpetrators are not soldiers, for soldiers fight soldiers in wars. They do not cower in fear and beg for forgiveness at the foot of other men as some of these spineless brutes did on world-wide television a few short weeks ago. Barely a month after, they’ve found courage to stand up and shoot unarmed men and women in the back. Some soldiers indeed!!

The Guinean Head of State, Captain Dadis Camara, himself a soldier who came to power through a coup says he is not responsible for the actions of the soldiers because he did not issue direct orders.

As a matter of fact he fears for his own security, claiming that he is being held hostage by expectations of the military and the people. It is as if somebody begged him to shoot himself out of the cannon of obscurity onto a stage that ought to be the preserve of wise sages.

This pathetic specimen of a megalomaniac is the latest manifestation of what is at heart and soul of the greatest single problem besetting Africa – severely defective leadership at all levels. From the highest level of state governance to the lowest rung of public administration, leadership is woefully untrained, incidental and self-serving. Africa is consistently drawing leaders from a pool of literate, (some barely) individuals on the prowl for opportunities for fame and wealth and anything in between. They have little or no comprehension of the whys and how’s of people vacating some or most of their god-giving freedoms to enter into a social contract with others to form a community of humans living side by side one another.

It is the absence of the intellectual and philosophical sophistication of trained leadership that makes it easy for the likes of Dadis Camara to disavow responsibility for the actions of the men and women he leads. If only he could understand that the sum total of his words and deeds are enough to drive his subordinates onto dizzy heights of heroism or down into the molten depths of villainy. Erratic leadership inspires erratic actions by those behind you. Good leaders worthy of their sort recognize this and accept responsibility either way. They savor the adoration that comes with heroic acts or suffer the admonition and damnation for the villainous deeds subordinates commit. This is what happens at all levels of administration in the successful nations of Europe and Asia.

From the late 60 to now, Africa has been cursed with an over abundance of the Dadis Camara type of leaders -- the Abachas and Babangidas in Nigeria, the Acheampongs and Rawlings of Ghana, the Samuel Does and Charles Taylors of Liberia, the Jammehs in Gambia, the Eyademas in Togo, the Bongos in Gabon, the Nguemas in Equatorial Guinea, the Mugabes of Zimbabwe; the list goes on and on. Any wonder failed states dying from mismanagement of over-abundance of resources, corruption, graft, extreme poverty and deprivation are what identify Africa?

The options, the honorable options, would be for the Guinean soldier to accept responsibility and do what honorable leaders do – commit a hara-kiri (suicide Japanese style), resign, permit the international community to independently investigate and bring the perpetrators to answer for their crimes, and ban himself from anything that has to do with the leadership of his family, let alone a nation.

But if African experiences with usurpers before him are anything to go by, we know he will hang on both by hook and crook. He will condemn the international community for “meddling in his country’s internal affairs”. He will call each of his countrymen who oppose him traitors, saboteurs and trouble makers. He will blame the country’s economic and socio-political debacles on everyone but himself and proclaim himself as the only paradigm of “accountability and probity” from whom true revolutions and national rejuvenation spring.

G. Ofori Anor October 10, 2009