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In Response to President Museveni

by Omar M. Mohamed
Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Mr. President:


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Not many of us [Africans] would state, as Voltaire did:

“I disapprove of what you say. But I will defend to the death your right to say it.”


Even so, let me take the exception and say: “I disagree of what your Excellency wrote. But I will defend to the death your right to write it.” Let us all adapt this culture and develop this attitude. In my humble opinion, had we accepted this culture Africa would have been a better place to live in.


Mr. President, it seems to be human nature that we loudly claim our rights as citizens when we are curbed in some activity close to our hearts. It is also the nature of African Dictators to shout “Fire!” when we assemble to claim a change.


Colonel Qaddafi is precisely an African Dictator. He ordered his personal army to fire into the crowd.


When he seized power in Libya in September 1969, President Nixon was only 8 months in the white house; Britain had a Prime Minister by the name of Harold Wilson in his first term; French interim President was a man few people even remember. He was called Alain Poher; Even Communist Russia was ruled by Leonid Brezhnev. These men are now buried beneath the wings of history. But not Colonel Qaddafi, he is and wants to defy history.


It is only habitual for us to enthusiastically blame the old European colonizers. But we are somewhat less energetic in assessing ourselves. Excellency, how long shall we live on the concept of blaming our shortcomings on Europe and America. How long?


Mr. President, in a time of swiftly changing world by the internet (the youtube, the facebook, and the Twitter), Colonel Qaddafi and his sons believe that the alternative to the rule of law is the implacable authority of the Dictator.  In an age of space travel and economic progress, citizens of Libya are still being tortured, tried by closed military-style courts and executed by firing squads in public. Others in this modern age are exiled, or shut up in mental asylums, for nothing more than holding and expressing political or social views contrary to those of the regime.


The most important resource of a country is not necessarily its natural resources, but its human resources. Colonel Qaddafi might have raised the price of oil from 40c a barrel to $40 a barrel. He might also have built roads and public houses, but what has he done to the most important resource, the human brain? Libya today is the least politically and educationally developed nation in the region, compared to Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco.


I strongly believe that the effect of dictatorial rule in Africa is far greater than the effect of colonialism. I mean the political culture inherited from African Dictators were totally negative. Their first priority was not the interest of the nation and people as a whole.  They were only interested in increasing their personal power. African Dictators were the ones who truly used the tactics of divide and rule.


A case in a point is Somalia, where the people of that country had witnessed dictatorship in its purest form for over two decades.  Rampant corruption, nepotism, political repression and assassinations become the norm. Massive propaganda, as well as terror and fear, were regular instruments of his policy. For twenty-one years Siyad Barre and his close relatives exercised almost complete control over all phases of life: government, the judiciary, the military, police forces, the economy, ideology, education, the press, and cultural institutions.


Today, after twenty years, Somalia is still suffering what I call “Siyad Barre syndrome.” Every political aspirant in Somalia wants to follow the footsteps of Siyad Barre – advance your relatives and suppress the rest! Please do not blame America on the political stagnation of Somalia.




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