By Janet Karim
“Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” – Psalm 133:1
“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:4
As with all news of high-ranking visitors from great nations from the West, that of US Vice President Kamala Harris to some West African countries, was welcomed with much joy, pomp, and circumstance. In May 2010 Malawi welcomed the visit of then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with similar joy. But as with the Harris’ West African tour, and Ban’s one in 2010, the joy was short-lived as soon as the main purpose became visibly clear: another intrusive, arm-twisting of national policies, intent of having the hosting country make a 180 degree change in its policies or laws on mainly social issues. Harris came to chide African nations in light of Uganda’s low on homosexual; Ban’s 2010 visit was an aside whisper that made the former late President Bingu wa Mutharika thrust himself in the corridors of Malawi’s justice system to reverse the conviction of two men aunt Tiwo Chimbalanga and Steve Monjeza. Many Malawians had to check if Malawi was or is still an independent country. Judging by the actions of the two highlighted officials from big countries and inter-governmental organizations, it appears not!
The continent of Africa is under heavy and massive attack, in what Professor Lumumba has called the new scramble for Africa. The US, UK, the European Union, UN, and China and Russia are all full throttle effortlessly carving up African nations in all manner of methods, among them yanking aid to the continent. The democratic sovereign nations on what the world demonically calls the Dark Continent, are being coerced. Among the requests to the 54-strong continent is for them to allow abortion and access to contraceptives, and scrapping “draconian” laws on sexuality. All Western efforts are epitome of interference in the internal affairs of African states, but more alarmingly, it is the modern version of the scramble for Africa. Readers must take note that not one country in the Middle East (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc., is asked by the Western countries to remove any of their truckload of laws.
In recent weeks, US Ambassador David Young’s comments on corruption and now the refugee to Dzeleka Camp are both undiplomatic and shows the intrusive heavy-handedness with which western nations are treating sovereign African nations such as Malawi. Critiquing the Malawi Government’s removing of urban-based refugees to return to Dzeleka, the camp designated for refugees, Ambassador Young advised (not through diplomatic channels), but at a public Dynamic Leaders and Gatekeepers Forum (GLGF), a religious conference organized by Malawi’s Word Alive church. His advice was for the Malawi Government to be smart about its ordering of refugees to move to Dzeleka. This is a blatant offensive attack by a diplomat in the host country’s legal system.
According to the Department of Refugees there are currently 1,712 asylum and refugee seekers that have thus far been relocated to the Camp. It currently holds 50,616 refugees. Dzeleka’s capacity is 10,000. Refugee Commissioner Gen. Ignacio Maulana briefed the Parliamentary Committee on International Relations, the dire accommodation situation at the Camp.
A twist in the saga (of Government’s attempt to ease the congestion of vendors on Malawi’s urban centers, Homeland and Security Minister Ken Zikhale Ng’oma informed the media that Malawi has 55 Rwanda Refugees that are suspected to be in hiding in the country or using Malawi passports. These 55 are suspected to be some of the perpetrators of human rights abuses during the Rwanda genocide 30 years ago; this is part could explain why refugees are not returning to their own countries.
Ambassador Young’s comment, begs the question, “how smart does a country have to be, faced with the scenario on Malawi’s plate of urgent to-do’s? This question comes bearing in mind the Catch 22 situation Malawi and indeed many countries around the world including the United States, United Kingdoms, and many European countries, are experiencing.
On social media one defender of refugee rights said that while she understood the war in Rwanda and elsewhere on the continent, however that “the on-going political persecution are also grounds for asylum. International conventions on refugees, penned in and cites references against torture and prevents people from being sent home who may face on-going persecution or torture.
She added that while “the war ended in 1994, means that anyone under 29 years in age, was born in Malawi, those that were 10 years old or under are now 39 years old. How do we just drop people to a place where they have never been? I am not suggesting we ignore the issue; I just think sending them “home” is a complicated process and that we should avoid stigmatizing them and rounding the entire community as bad people.”
For sure, though, comments of the US ambassador are not bringing helpful solutions to the table. Even the UNHCR has not readily been a solution presenter, although the agency is responsible for opening the door for Malawi to take in refugees, it has turned a blind eye in repatriation of refugees.
This takes Malawi to Professor Lumumba’s advice that the “go it alone” policies Africa has taken on this and other matters like the abortion, contraceptive access, and gay rights issues. As the continent did in fighting prevailed in the ACP-EU post-Cotonou discussions, Africa must unite and fight the scramble for the control of Africa. A united Africa can be a strong wall against all the arsenals as the intruders divide and rule methods. Using the 1963 words of Kwame Nkrumah, Prof Lumumba advises Africa to be weary of military aid, diplomats, infrastructure development, education, civil society organizations (in Africa with a few exceptions – like Malawi’s NABW – many local civil society organizations are foreign aid-dependent, and thus their policies are guided by foreign values and agendas who’s organizations are membership-funded and driven).
Lumumba cites that the 54-country African continent is a strong and large marketplace, which when politically united, can fend-off the intrusive Western and eastern countries. Africa can defend and protect itself from the western attacks. Africa is a big supplier of raw materials, rich in valuable mineral resources such as gold, diamonds, uranium and others. The outspoken professor urges African countries to jointly plan and aim to reach 2063 together, using collaborated strategies. Among these, Lumumba reminds Africa to consider how the church was under siege in the times of Martin Luther. He cites that the new Christian prophets from the west must be confronted with the same bible in use during Luther’s time up to today, ending with “do not be a distributor of bibles, read the bible and follow it to the letter!”
He said foreign interference in Africa can but must be stopped (here and now). Giving a lineup of Africa’s interaction with the west, Professor Lumumba catalogues the journey as being from slavery to colonization to nationalism to neo-colonialism wherein the west’s” desire for Africa is that with all its mineral wealth, will remain a beggar.” He says Africa must stop operating in solitary nation-state units, by uniting in all aspects of their to-dos!.
The only win-win solution for the continent, known as Africa, is to be in “unity mode.” As the late Bob Marley crooned in his song. “Africa unite!”