In a nutshell, the earlier part cautions that due to the subjectivity of the contextual framework popularised by the mainstream media in telling the Libyan story, its lessons could well elude Africa. My submission is that the truth demands that the narrative of ‘Gaddafi the dictator’ be informed by common events as the one of ‘Gaddafi the hero.’ Any omission or exaggeration thereof violates the truth and denies Africa an opportunity to learn.
I anticipated that pockets of reactionary school of thought would soon regurgitate the Libyan dictator/autocrat narrative in opposition to a large part of the first part, but I could not labour it any further. Maybe the key theme was meant for those with a keen sense of African institutional memory; those who do not locate history in a vacuum.
It should be borne in mind that in the same way that Africa produced a Nelson Mandela, the continent also gave birth to a Muammar Gaddafi. And these names belong to great men of their time who were groomed within the revolutionary morality of African liberation; and perhaps pushed to opposite extremes in their journey.
While Gaddafi will be remembered for his determination on the idea of a ‘United States of Africa’, he was not the first and probably not the last African leader to pursue that ideal. Centuries before his Gaddafi’s time, King Shaka ka Senzangakhona also envisioned one black nation under the rule of the Zulu tribe. His strategy and tactics was to also create one mighty army under his command. Some have submitted that this ideal was the spark which ignited the Mfecane wars in the 19th century.
Both these African soldiers are not with us today, but the vision of a united African state is unlikely to die in centuries to come. Therefore we should learn that a future conception of a united African state should never again be founded on the pursuit of military supremacy, but on one informed by the intellectual depth of a strong African identity.
It would not be far-fetched to suggest that the success of Western countries in extending their military power beyond their borders is underpinned by a strong national identity, and without this solid national identity such a mission could have easily been undermined, as has been the case in Libya.
But future African leaders should – like Gaddafi – never allow themselves to be paralysed by the fear of success and accordingly refrain from taking strategic risks in the interest of the people. No future African leader should ever live in fear of his own people, for if that moment arrives it would be time to revisit the covenant between the leadership and the people.
Perhaps like Gaddafi, future African leaders should constantly seek solutions to better the lives of the people and pursue these with the necessary vigor, bearing in mind that these must not be ideas that remain in anyone’s head; hidden from the masses. “Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures.” – (Cabral A; 1965)
ANC youth league president Julius Malema writes in the Sunday times: “[African] liberation movements have also tended to leave the masses behind [partially or totally] in confronting the challenges and the crises of the untransformed [continent].” Perhaps this rings true on the downfall of Gaddafi.
(here endeth the last lesson)