The United Nations general assembly last week sat in session for the 67th time in New York. As expected the Syrian civil war and Iran’s nuclear program were the issues that everyone expected to dominate the debate alongside the more perennial stories such as Palestinian independence and the embargo against Cuba.
Surprisingly, in his last UN address as Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was less anti-Israel than last year, instead delivering a lengthy, religious and philosophical speech touching on diverse things such as the history of Iran, literature and science.
At some point he said,
“Coming from Iran: land of glory and beauty, the land of knowledge, culture, wisdom and morality, the cradle of philosophy and mysticism, the land of compassion and light, the land of scientists, scholars, philosophers, masters of literature, and writers…..”
After which he proceeded to list and quote Iranian authors. Because of the lack of a more exciting Ahmadinejad, other stories such as Netanyahu’s graphic illustrations made headlines.
Two other stories therefore got more coverage than they deserved. The first and least important was President Obama’s speech in which he condemned the anti-Islamic material that led to the death of Christopher Stevens, who was America’s ambassador to Libya, and defended free speech at the same time.
The second, more important, and subject of this post was about the speech made by President Mugabe in which he compared “the tragic death of Chris Stevens to the equally tragic death of Colonel Gaddafi.” I think the President raised a fair point.
The speech was, and is, important to me because of several reasons. Firstly, the President said the very things that other African heads of state are afraid of saying lest they anger ‘The West’. Secondly, President Mugabe reiterated, in much stronger and more candid terms what the President of Ghana John Dramani Mahama said. Additionally, I am Zimbabwean and whatever the president says is of interest to me. Finally; and most importantly, I am, as they say here, ‘a son of the soil’ so I have an obligation to be interested in African affairs.
The President’s speech condemned NATO’s military adventures, the invasion of Iraq and sanctions against other states. By far the most important part, though, was when he said:
“For how long, Mr President, will the international community continue to ignore the aspirations of a whole continent of fifty-four countries? We shall not be bought-off with empty promises, nor shall we accept some cosmetic tinkering of the Security Council disguised as reform. It is indeed a travesty of justice that the African continent which accounts for almost a third of the membership represented in this august Assembly, has no permanent representation in the Security Council.
Is this good governance? Is this democracy? And, is this justice?”
President Mugabe is one of the very few heads of state who dares to question how the US and other global powers run the world. The rest are too afraid and remain content and silent as long as they receive aid. It is sad and shameful that African leaders have been reduced to spectators in agame they should be playing.
Africans should be involved in decisions that concern Africa, and as rightfully pointed out above; it is a great travesty that Africa has no permanent seat on the Security Council.
Only the Ghanaian president, John Mahama made a meaningful speech. He quoted Nkrumah’s famous statement, saying that Ghana’s independence is meaningless unless it is linked with the total independence of the African continent.
Yes, not only political freedom, but also mental emancipation and freedom from political hegemony!
In his speech he envisioned a ‘New Africa’:
“This new Africa will wean itself off hand-outs and humanitarian relief. It will not succumb to the corruption and oppression of despots. This new Africa will stand on the world stage as a mutual partner.
Our time has come!” he thundered.
That is all we want, that is all Presidents Mugabe and Mahama want, an involvement in decisions concerning our continent, the recognition and dignity we deserve, the right to determine our own futures,
I do not always agree with President Mugabe but this time he was spot on.
The aspirations and dreams of a billion people simply can’t be ignored.