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Tuesday, March 8, 2011


This image is being used under Creative Commons licensing. The original source can be found here.

I find it a bit of a marvel, how certain innocuous events tend to result in sometimes catastrophic events which just like a tsunami have a way of shaping the future for a long time to come. Who would have thought that a Tunisian street vendor could become the fuse that would set in motion the revolutionary events sweeping North Africa and parts of the Middle East.

A "common" man, perhaps one of the perceived, "rejects of society", going about his daily tasks. Maybe all he has left is this wheelbarrow of produce, that he needs to sell and make some money from. Maybe he has a sick wife, sick children, who knows really? The most important thing here is when this one wheelbarrow was forcibly taken off him, something was on already on the verge of snapping. Then they decided to beat him up as well, probably because he protested at the injustice of relieving him of his wheelbarrow.

The public beaten was just the final straw that perhaps broke Mohamed Bouazizi's back. He would have gone home that day asking himself, "How long? How long can this continue? Am I a man? What powers do I have? How can I fight these tyrants who prey on human blood? These tyrants who are ready to push a man through the wall?" If he had children and a wife, he would have looked at them and thought to himself, "Now that I have lost it all, how can I face these loved ones everyday knowing that I am powerless to protect them, to provide even the basics of life for them? How can I come back home so meekly and say 'Insha Allah' it will get better someday? When will it ever get better? When?" Who knows really what questions passed through his mind that day? Perhaps nothing passed through his mind, maybe he just snapped.

Mohamed Bouazizi was 26 years old. The regime of the dictator was 23 years old. Mohamed had spent the better part or almost all his life under a dictatorship that had no regard for the yearnings and aspirations of its subjects.

The step of self-immolation which Mohamed took was perhaps a long time coming. This singular action of desperation has culminated in the 'revolutionary tsunami' sweeping the Middle East today. It is not surprising anyway. What is surprising is how long it took. That in itself is also not surprising. Borne out of the need for self-preservation, people will always go for the option of suffering and smiling. It is not often that they will actually take the step and look for the means to free themselves from tyranny.

These dictators spend a long time in power. They become deeply ensconced in the citadel of control and they find it difficult to let go. In the process, like vampires, they suck their countries dry of their sovereign wealth. They siphon these monies to various 'safe havens' all over the world. Their actions are so pathetic and laughable that one can only feel pity for them. What is the essence of stealing 30 billion dollars from your countries coffers, stashing it in some account in Switzerland or the likes, meanwhile, your people whom you claim to represent to serve, to rule, are suffering and wallowing in the depths of poverty?

They live under the assumption that the countries they rule are fiefdoms that need to be controlled with iron fists. If not with iron fists, then with misinformation, misrule, and suffering. They do not hesitate to go to the Western nations and buy up properties there as a way of laundering this ill-gotten wealth. They siphon their countries' external reserves and use this to open accounts in the names of their children, wives, concubines, and cronies.

I wonder if they have ever asked them selves this question. When was the last time a Western leader came to Africa or the Middle East for a holiday or to buy some property? Western leaders know that taking the money out of their economies would not be good for the countries they lead, so they don't do that. Western leaders, when on holiday, take pride in holidaying in their countries, because it is a matter of pride for them. African leaders when on holiday, travel all over the world, to Switzerland, Luxembourg, Bahamas, and other countries in Asia where they can easily stash monies stolen from their countries coffers.

A lot of leaders from the so-called Third World have died and left their monies in the Western economies. Yes, they invariably steal so much that it is difficult to find out where it is all stashed. Sani Abacha of Nigeria stole so much that till date, nobody knows exactly where it is all stashed. The little that was supposedly repatriated from the West was in turn misappropriated by those who could have used it for the betterment of Nigerian masses.

On the eve of being toppled from power, there are rumours that Mubarrak of Egypt and his family did all they could to convert as much as they could into gold which they could then flee the country with. This is just so pathetic and contemptible. After a well contested, free and fair election in Ivory Coast, Gbabo clings to power effectively splitting his country in two, but does he care? Even in the face of world ridicule and contempt, he clings on, knowing that once he leaves the corridors of power he would not be able to enjoy the trappings of power, which sadly, translates to siphoning wealth out of his country.

Muamar Ghaddafi clings to power too. He clings on, desperately, swearing with flecks of spittle flying off his lips, that he is ready to die a martyr's death to remain a leader of his country. In the process, he is ready to kill as many of his compatriots as possible to remain in power. Indeed, there are claims that many have died as a result of a burning desire for change. Ghaddafi's actions are so reprehensible that a fellow dictator, or rather the face of dictatorship in Iran, Ahmedinjad, is said to have mused in horror at what sort of leader can kill his people this way! Ahmedinajd! Ha! I am sure that all those who have died to bring change to Iran would be turning in their graves over his musings over Ghaddafi's actions!

What Mohamed set in motion in Tunisia simply represents the fact that people are tired of the "e go better" attitude (that comes from Nigeria, it means 'things will get better'). People are tired of the suffering. People want to live the good life also. People don't want to prostitute themselves to get the good things of life. People don't want to become armed robbers to be able to enjoy good things. People want their children to have a meaningful life, a life of abundance not one of suffering. People are simply beginning to realise that the status quo could remain the same forever for all these selfish dictators care, so if they do not wrest power from them, then it would be the same story for generations to come. This is a fundamental message to sit-tight African leaders, 'Your time is almost over….better shape up or ship out'
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