Monday, March 31, 2008

The Day The Dollar Die

“Isn't it interesting that the same people who laugh at science fiction listen to weather forecasts and economists?” - Kelvin Throop III

“An economist is a man who states the obvious in terms of the incomprehensible.” - Alfred A. Knopf

“An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn't happen today.” - Laurence J. Peter (1919 - 1988)

“Did you ever think that making a speech on economics is a lot like pissing down your leg? It seems hot to you, but it never does to anyone else.” - Lyndon B. Johnson

“A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining and wants it back the minute it begins to rain.” - Mark Twain

“I see Johnny with his head hanging down
Wondering how many schillings left in that pound
Cost of living it is rising so high
Dollar see that have heart attack and die

Bills and budgets are waiting
Finance ministers anticipating
Unemployment is rising
And I hear my people, they're crying”

I love reggae music so much that I could listen to it all day long. The reason might have to do with the sheer staying power of that genre of music. Reggae is about as old as yours truly; that may also explains why I love it so much. It is also no exaggeration that reggae is the only music that ever stamped a nation authoritatively on the world map. The Caribbean Island nation of Jamaica (population 2.7 million) is a reggae-invented nation. The irony is that Jamaica became world famous for a music that was invented in the United States.

This is what one music authority wrote: “The word "reggae" was coined around 1960 in Jamaica to identify a "ragged" style of dance music, that still had its roots in New Orleans rhythm'n'blues. However, reggae soon acquired the lament-like style of chanting and emphasized the syncopated beat. It also made explicit the relationship with the underworld of the "Rastafarians" (adepts of a millenary African faith, revived Marcus Garvey who advocated a mass emigration back to Africa), both in the lyrics and in the appropriation of the African nyah-bingi drumming style (a style that mimicks the heartbeat with its pattern of "thump-thump, pause, thump-thump"). Compared with rock music, reggae music basically inverted the role of bass and guitar: the former was the lead, the latter beat the typical hiccupping pattern. The paradox of reggae, of course, is that this music "unique to Jamaica" is actually not Jamaican at all, having its foundations in the USA and Africa.”

Among the world superstars Jamaica has given the world were Bob Marley (whose ‘One Love’ album Time magazine voted: ‘The Album of the Millennium’), Jimmy Cliff and the great wordsmith, Peter Tosh, from whom I borrowed the title of this article from his 1979 album, ‘Mystic Man.’ For those not versed in reggae-speak, I intersperse the lyrics within this piece.

So what has all these got to do with the declining dollar?

Few years ago, one would have been considered absolutely insane were he to predict that the United States dollar would become a currency that would become a pariah currency – shun by all and sundry. In pre Warlord Bush’s world, the American greenback was the world’s pre-eminent currency. From Alaska to Zimbabwe, almost everyone would give an arm and a leg or both for a handful of greenbacks. No more. The US dollar is now being spurned like a leper. No one wanted the dollar anymore.

“The day the dollar die
Things are gonna be better
The day the dollar die
No more corruption
The day the dollar die
People will respect each other
The day the dollar die”

“Dollar's clout sinks worldwide,” Lamented a headline of the AP news service online version recently. The story authored by, By ALAN CLENDENNING, AP Business Writer on March 13, 2008, reads:

SAO PAULO, Brazil - Antique store owners in lower Manhattan, ticket vendors at India's Taj Mahal and Brazilian business executives heading to China all have one thing in common these days: They don't want U.S. dollars.

Hit by a free fall with no end in sight, the once mighty U.S. dollar is no longer just crashing on currency markets and making life more expensive for American tourists and business people abroad; its clout is evaporating worldwide as foreign businesses and individuals turn to other currencies.

Experts say the bleak U.S. economic forecast means it will take years for the greenback to recover its value and prestige.

Negative dollar sentiment is growing in nations where the dollar was historically accepted as equal or better than local currency — and dollar aversion is even extending to some quarters in the United States.

In Manhattan's Bowery district, Billy LeRoy, the owner of Billy's Antiques & Props, prefers payment in euros so he can stockpile the currency for his annual antique buying trip to Paris.

"Whip out dollars at the French flea market now, and they'll shoo you away," he said at his store near apartment buildings where Europeans are snapping up units because they've become dirt cheap. "Before it was like the second coming of Christ, but now they don't want it or if they do take dollars, they're going to take their pound of flesh."

"You have the U.S. still holding this trade deficit, but now you have the possibility of a U.S. led recession, and you have a weakening currency. So it's a very dark outlook for the dollar," said Gareth Sylvester, senior currency strategist with the British firm HIFX Inc., which executed $40 billion in currency trades last year.

Nations that were once seen as incredibly risky for investments — such as Brazil — are now seen as good long-term bets. And countries such as China and Russia, with burgeoning coffers of money to invest abroad, are thought to be shifting some of their reserves or diversifying fresh income to destinations and currencies outside the United States.

It used to be important for most countries "to accumulate dollars as a precautionary element against rainy days, but the accumulation of reserves has become so large in most emerging market countries that the balance is way beyond what's needed for precautionary reasons," said Eliot Kalter, a fellow at Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a former International Monetary Fund official.

While most experts believe the dollar will eventually regain strength, no one is willing to predict when that will happen.”

“Tell me brother
Is there something I can do
Don't you let frustrations make you blue

Time is hard
And I know that is true
But if you pick yourself up
That's all you've got to do”

The war against Nazism (they call it World War II) in Europe comprehensibly wrecked the economies of Europe. After the epic battle, European economic infrastructures lay in ruins and both the victorious European nations and the vanquished Germans were heavily indebted. It was left for the United States, the principal member of the allies, to bail out its friends through the Marshall Plans. The program was a generous scheme that gave out loans and grants that enabled Europe to regain its economic standing. The war also effectively ended Europe’s cynical rule of the world. The British Pound Sterling was the world’s currency and was the standard of world’s trade through the sterling Standard. But Britain emerged from the world badly bruised, and there was nothing sterling about the pound. The Yankees were the only true winners of the war of fury among the Europeans which killed an estimated 22 million people.

The Americans took up the challenge of rebuilding the battered world economy and it made eminent sense that they tried to rebuild it in their image. The US dollar naturally slides into position as the world’s currency. It became the currency of choice for bankers, traders, financiers and speculators. Almost everything that makes the world’s commerce traverse smoothly is traded in the American greenback. From pork barrel, to wheat, to automobile, to crude oil, it’s the almighty dollar all the way.

“Things can be much better
If we can come together
Long time we been divided
And it's time we be united

The day the dollar die
Gonna be better
The day the dollar die
I won't need no pockets
The day the dollar die
Don't have to be frettin'
The day the dollar die”

But a currency, any currency, is as strong as the productivity of its nationals. The American dollar was strong because American workers were the most productive in the world. American factories and workers were churning out more industrial output than the rest of the world put together. From automobile to sewing machines, to machine tools, to electronics to jets, America led the way.

Somewhere along the line America became too well-fed, complacent and outright lethargic. And sadly Americans stopped reading such classics like Paul Kennedy’s, ‘The Rise and Fall of Great Powers.’ The Europeans picked themselves up from the ruins of war and rebuilt their industries and start to compete with their benefactor\saviour. Then the Asian miracles happened as one Asian country after another became industrialized and start churning out industrial marvels at unbelievable prices. The Japanese learnt car building from the Americans and about twenty years later started to outperform their masters - see David Halberstam’s brilliant book, ‘The Reckoning: The Challenge to America's Greatness.’ Today, a Japanese company, Toyota, leads the world in car production.

“Now I see you standing on your feet
And you can also make two ends meet
Never you let life problems get you down
There is always a solution to be found

Bills and budgets are mourning
Finance ministers groaning
Unemployment is rising
And I hear my people crying from the ghetto”

As the Asians muscled in every industrial area, America retreated. The Asians had two advantages Americans can never hope to match: a vigorous Confucian work ethics and low wages. Asians products simply under-priced Americans out of world’s market. If you cannot beat them, goes a saying, you have to join them. With no hope of ever competing with an aggressive Asia, American manufacturers moved their factories abroad. This has the effect of further compounding American woes: the USA became a net importer of trade. Americans developed an insatiable appetite for foreign goods. As Americans start to consume more and more imported goods, the US trade deficit widens. Of course, since there is no such thing as a free luncheon anywhere, American trade bills piled up to astronomical levels. To finance these escalating trade deficits, successive US governments started borrowing from left and right. The result is a vast fiscal deficit that was allowed to widen by governments unwilling to tell their citizens some simple home truths.

Before long, America leads the world only in the production of war toys. To all intent and purpose, the land that boast of being the only superpower (hyperpower, says some) became an economically-crippled giant bristling with space-age weapons. Whilst the Asians concentrated on producing useful consumers’ goods, the Yankees spend their energies and monies in building stealth bombers that cost upward a US$ 1 billion apiece and more esoteric weapons whose price tags remain classified.

There is still another dimension: As the Asians took over the commanding heights of industrial production, the US retreated into what became essentially a service economy. Instead of Engineers, American universities start churning out increasing numbers of lawyers, management gurus and financial wizard. Instead of producing tangible goods, these clever graduates start scheming how to produce raw cash from thin air.

It was due largely to the brilliance of these financial wunderkinds that the fiction of prosperity could be maintained over the years. These gurus (by the way, why are people who manage money called ‘brokers?’) sold the dummy that the US was a rich country. The illusion could be maintained because America, the leading imperialist nation, effectively runs the Breton wood institutions and also the World Trade Organisation. These institutions are the instruments through which the West maintains its stranglehold on the rest of the world. The World Bank and the IMF continue to ensure that the poor countries continue to fund the US gluttonous appetites through low ‘world’ prices for their produce and paying usurious interests on their crippling debt burden. Another reason has to do with the saying that if you borrow someone a small amount you created a debtor, but if you lend someone who sums, you created a partner. The Asians have to continue to fund Americans insatiable appetite for foreign luxuries because they have so much investment portfolios in the US. The last thing they want is for their biggest debtor to default.

When Warlord George Bush decided on launching his insane wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, he grossly over-estimated his nation’s abilities and misunderstimated (I am borrowing his word here) his opponents’ capacity to fight back. The projected quick-war refused to materialize and four years thence, US forces are still bogged down in what is effectively a quagmire. And at US$12 billion a month (Iraq) and US$65,000 per minute (Afghanistan, according to Oxfam), it surely has been a costly enterprise. Some estimate put the total cost of the mis-adventures at US$3 trillion.

Among the wondrous marvels produced by America’s financial magicians was the now discredited subprime lending. The very name (sub and prime, ah!) is suspect. Subprime lending was an instrument American financiers concocted to lend money to anything that looks remotely human. By lending unsecured loans to all and sundry to buy houses, the illusion of a booming mortgage sector was successfully created. The brand new house-owners used their houses to finance other pet projects – mostly consumables. To finance these consumptions, the bankers once again chipped in by creating new instruments to help those who has great ambitions to put debt nooses on their necks. Two of these new debt instruments (bonds) are (1) Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) and (2) Structured Investment Vehicles (SIVs).

These are just useless pieces of worthless papers backed only the uncollateralled mortgages. It is these same junk sheets that Americans sol d across the global financial system. It explains why many bankers develop instant ulcers the moment Americans start reneging on their debt. And there were many who believe that it is not only Wall Street that should be having all the fun; many Americans simply stripped themselves of the moral obligation to pay back their debt. For those that need help on reneging on their debt, some clever folks set up a website to lend a helping hand. This is the url: .

An old English bank, Northern Rock, famously collapsed and had to be taken over by the British government. And on eof America’s blue chip Company, the investment house, Bear Stearns, ignominiously fell. Banks from Accra to Zurich who had bought into these useless pieces of paper are posting huge losses. Central banks in the capitalist world are pressing their printing presses into overdrive; printing more and more cash to bail out insolvent banks.

One would be right to ask why the West which always preaches free market is not allowing the free market a free rein as they keep preaching to those of us in Africa. For close two three decades now, the Breton Wood institutions has being given us lecture about the sanctity of a mirage called ‘free market.’ We now know how hollow and ridiculous those claims are. Billions upon billions of dollars have been allocated by Western Central bankers to shore up ailing banks. Yet, when few years down, the bubble hasn’t burst and Wall street was posting impressive profits, the greedy bankers awarded themselves US$300 billion in bonuses within a three year span. Today, no one is asking them to refund the money they scammed (what else to call it?) from investors.

You can fool some people some time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. Our elders say that the house built with spittle will be fell by the dew. The spectacular bubble created by Wall Street scam artists collapsed stunningly sometime in early 2008. The result is an economic meltdown the likes of which has not been seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Of course, the US and the patriotic media continue to try to maintain the fiction that this is just a blip.

“The day the dollar die
It's gonna be nice
The day the dollar die
Just you wait and see
The day this here dollar die
There be no more inflation
The day the dollar die

I say the day Danny dollar die
The day Sammy dollar die
We will love each other
I said the day this a dollar die
Fight some inflation”

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Music Review (a satire)

Who asked Rita Tweneboah to sing? To describe her first (and hopefully last) CD cum cassette as a musical disaster is to be guilty of inadequate vocabulary. Nothing exists in the English language, or in any language that I know, to describe this incoherent, clangorous nonsensical piece Ms Rita foisted on us as a high musical achievement. Any primary school singing group could have easily produced something better than the shit (pardon the scatological term) that made Ms Rita genuflected with enthusiasm.

Listen to her: “I thank the Almighty God for allowing me to complete successfully this taxing musical project.” She gushed to me at the low-key, two-room affairs she shares with her manager cum producer at Alajo, a suburb of Accra. The manager, a lanky lad wore dark glasses in the poorly lit room. A Che Guevera's beret lay on his head like a bird of paradise. The last part of a joint dangled from his enormous lip. He accented her every word with a nod of the head. He looked like one high on some performance-enhancement drug.

Why do we have to drag the gods into this bizarre musical affair? Mere mortals, relying on their native abilities, have produced much better musical works. Ms Rita must be thinking that celestial intervention is a substitute for ABILITY.

If there is an award for the WORST CD EVER, Ms Rita will win it with ease. The CD, the one I listened to, started as though a drunkard got hold of a guitar and started strumming un-rythmically. Then a fellow bibber apparently rescued a piano and punched the keys erratically. On top of this clangorous mishmash, Ms Rita attempted to sing - at least that is what she appeared to be doing.

A good musical voice might have save the day, but [alas] Ms Rita's voice will make you vomit. Track two follows the same mushy pattern. Let us not waste time on the next three tracks. In track six, Ms Rita decided to go for what must have appeared to her to be gospel. In a confusing pantomime of drums, noises, guitar, piano, horns, drums and keyboard, she wailed some imitation of spiritual songs. Again, her voice spoiled the fun.

It is difficult to imagine what Ms Rita was trying to do in track seven. As though telling herself: "I am tired. I am fed up with this whole nonsense. Let's get done with all these shit and be done with it." The track opened with the guitars dominating and pushing Ms Rita's grating voice out of the way. The guitarists then went on an insane display of guitar pyrotechnics. These fellows, apparently high on some chemical-enhancements, must have just left their fingers waddled on the wires without caring what keys are hit.

In track eight (blessedly the last), Ms Rita performed a mournful rendition of another spiritual generously sprinkled with 'Gye Nyame,' 'Jehowah,' 'Awurade,' and 'Yesu.' Again, her voice did the whole thing a great injustice.

Granted that Ms Rita shares her producer's bed, how did any self-respecting studio managed to get such a shoddy job out of its doors and stamped it with its label? The managers of CD-X Studio, who recently were in the news boasting about their latest hi-tech equipments, should tell us what they were thinking before releasing this monstrosity to the Ghanaian public. The listening public certainly deserves something better.

Are we to believe that good face (Ms Rita, with a full, dreamy African face, inviting sensuous thick lips and winning smiles is very beautiful), and gorgeous body (her succulent body, the stuffs dreams are made of, giggles to her every movement) is enough to get an album out?

So, OK, Ms Rita cannot sing, her guitarists do no not know one key from another, her keyboard player is both inept and insane and her horn man is a crazy-banana, didn't her lyrics rise up to the occasion? Not on your life.

It is not only that the woman cannot sing, she also cannot write music. Although, in bold Garamond type on the CD jacket, she boasted that: "All lyrics ritten (sic) by Rita Tweneboah," the fact of the matter is that Ms Rita simply cannot write - prose, verse, music or anything else for that matter. How could she when she has problems with elementary grammar? Sample this:

“Along the cost we move (she meant 'coast')

Move, move, move [2*]

Sea water in the Area Move, move, move


Plenty of sand and people we see

Move, move, move [2*]

We eat fish and shito

Move, move, move [2*]”

Alternatively, try to make sense of this - from track four:

“A child is an angel in the face of the mother (sic)

A mother is an angel in the face of the child (sic)

God is an angel of heaven

Angels are messengers of our Father in heaven

Who send us messages from our home, Jerusalem Oh, Jerusalem, Salem, Salem.”

What are we to think of the mind capable of producing such 'songs'?

Ms Rita's inability (perhaps, absolute incapability is a better word) to sing well is matched only by her sheer lack of dancing abilities. Nothing evidences this more than her pathetic attempt to dance in the accompanying video which she showed to me with glee.

If her singing can be dismissed as a disaster, Ms Rita's dancing is pure shame. Many a fine African lady can do justice to dancing by simply moving her body, not so Ms Rita. In her gallant efforts to impress and overcome an obvious natural handicap, she turned herself into something like a robot programmed to pantomime a dance.

No matter the type of music being played, it was always the same steps for Ms Rita as though she is following a rigid dancing script. Her style is like this: Plant your legs widely apart with your buttocks (yards and yards of it) sticking out; throw your left hand this way, your right the other, then shake your head like you've got a seizure, and you get a pretty good picture of what Ms Rita did in the video.

"We made the video in Belgium." She enthused to me as though a Belgium stamp of approval can mask a shoddy job and bestow legitimacy on a very poor performance. In a bow to the trash that goes for modernity, Ms Rita's fashion designers managed to reveal more than they hide. In some scenes, she wore ultra-miniskirts that are no larger than a Nigerian postage stamp. Although naturally endowed with great natural beauty, Ms Rita's heavy make-up made her look like a cheap whore.

Ms Rita has no business singing and less dancing. With her great looks, there must be something she could, conceivably, be good at - although, it is hard to imagine what that could be judging from her performance on the CD and the video. This is a music sang by the untalented; produced by the inept and marketed by the amoral.

Don't buy this CD and don't accept the video even if it becomes a freebie - unless you need a paperweight or you want to aggravate your enemy. If this music ever sold a single copy, it would represent the triumph of marketing over good taste.

The Moral: in years gone by, musical giants like ET Mensah, ET Crentsil, Koo Nimo and others firmly planted Ghana’s music on the world’s musical map. They were playing authentic highlife music that couldn’t be mistaken for anything else. They were passionate about their role as their country’s cultural ambassadors.

Lamentably, like almost everything else in our dear land, our music scene is now populated by hustlers masquerading as musical artistes. We are now saddled by those who appeared not have heard the phrase that no one treat his imitator like an equal.

I wish that our musicians will sit up and try and emulate their Jamaican and Senegalese counterpart. Whichever part of our globe one goes, Jamaica is synonymous with reggae. And musician like Baaba Maal, Orchestra Baobab, Youssou N’dour have ensured that Senegal has become a force in what European commentators like to call World Music.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The fall and fall of Governor Eliot Spitzer

How indeed are the mightiest falling? A year, three months and eleven days into his powerful position of the governorship of New York State, fire-breathing Governor Elliot Spitzer was forced to resign for the most incomprehensible of reasons: cavorting with call girls. bismi-llāhi ar-ramāni ar-raīmi - In the name of God, Most Gracious.

Wonders of wonders; the governor an important state like New York disgraced out of office by a prostitute! New York State is no ordinary American state. In many respects, it’s quite unique. With a population of some 19,297,729, New York State’s whopping $957.9 billion GDP translates into some US$43,962 Per Capital Personal Income. That, in simple English, means that the about twenty million people residing in NYS, generate just slightly less money than the entire Africa countries combined (Africa’s GDP=US$1.806 trillion. Source: The World Factbook, 2003 via Bartelby.). Other things make NYS stands out. It is, for one, a potpourri of nationalities. Counting some 100+ nationalities among its population group, NYS is the ultimate American Melting Pot.

Get this straight: forty-two year old Governor Elliot is married and he’s stinking rich. The scion of a real estate developer (slumlord to some), Governor Elliot oozes money like no man’s business. He came to office bristling with holy righteousness and primordial virtuous anger. Like an old Testament Prophet whose children have disobeyed Jehovah, Governor Elliot stormed NYS political scene vowing to wage a holy war against wall-street racketeers, pimps, mafia and all whom he deemed to not measure up to his high moral standards. With so much money fighting in his pocket, Governor Elliot could certainly almost any damsel he fancies. I bet many a Hollywood wannabee actress would have die of the privilege to be his mistress.

To the adulating media, Governor Elliot was "Mr Integrity" when he served as Attorney General. His crusades made him a symbol of decency in the very murky waters of American politics. He waged a relentless war against the corporate corruption and greed of the American financial nerve center, the Wall Street. He firmly believed that the over-compensated, glib talking Wall Street professionals were fleecing the American investor. Time magazine nicknamed him the "Sheriff of Wall Street". Voters overwhelmingly voted for him when, in 2006, he decided to cash in on his popularity to run for the gubernatorial election.

There is a saying to the effect that you do not throw stone if you live in a glass house. Governor Elliot publicly declared a war against prostitution while privately seeking their services. Alas, Elliot Spitzer got caught in the web of his own deceit and that was his tragedy. His fall was truly epic and, alas and sadly, not many mourned the fast political meltdown of the sanctimonious hypocrite. Elliot’s powerful friends couldn’t help him when it matters most. With the stink of scandal hanging over his neck, he was forced to take the only available path; that’s to fall on his sword.

A Yoruba proverb says that if they say that a man would be killed by a horned animal, they weren’t talking of a snail. Who would have imagine that the most-feared Governor Elliot, the nemesis of Wall street, the man who put the fear of the Almighty into his foes, would have been fell by a 22 year lady, and a mere prostitute for that matter! My apologies to our dear ladies of the night. Sorry.

Some men, paa!! Governor Elliot is married. Ok, the wife’s beauty cannot set the house on fire, but she’s still packs some punch. And the guy left the comfy of his home plus a wife and three young children, dodged his security details (think of the security implications in this paranoid era of ‘alqaeeda is lurking behind every door,’ travelled from his abode in Albany, New York to Washington DC where The Emperors Club VIP keeps him supplied with fresh female flesh. So, the man who once called prostitution a modern form of slavery was a secret patron of the club which boasted on its website that it makes life "more peaceful, balanced, beautiful, and meaningful!" Most stupidly, Governor Elliot was caught by agents who were using the same methods he perfected in snaring his enemies – how stupid could you get? Governor Elliot became Client No 9 on the FBI list!

Some men, paa (no 2)! So in this era when the dollar is dying and finance ministers are groaning (apologies to Peter Tosh), Governor Elliot was blowing US$3,000 an hour for sharing a prostitute’s bed! Even though the dollar is at his lowest ebb for years, that still translate to around New Ghana Cedi 3,000 for a one hour tryst. Talk about some people being born lucky. I bet some of our fine, fine ladies who are being abused nightly at lorry parks and train stations do not get paid that amount for a year’s hard work. And the total amount spent by Governor Elliot on prostitutes is believed to be in the region of US$80,000 – some men, paa (no 3).

By the way, the woman who brought the mighty “Sherrif of wall street’ crashing down has been unmasked as 22-year old Ashley Youmans, a.k.a Kristen or Ashley Alexandra Dupre.

All this brings us to an intriguing question. Would a Ghanaian or an African wife whose husband has been caught eating another woman’s forbidden fruit (do not mention a prostitute yet) follow her husband to a press conference where he’s going to confess to his sins? I don’t about you, but I doubt very much if we, in this part of the world, can stretch marital fidelity that far.

I am always amazed by the way and manner Western politician’s spouses always stand by their men in times of crises. It reminds me of the old Western by Tammy Wynette: “Stand by your man,” whose lyrics go like this:

Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman
Giving all your love to just one man
You'll have bad times
And he'll have good times
Doing things that you don't understand
But if you love him you'll forgive him
Even though he's hard to understand
And if you love him
Oh be proud of him
'Cause after all he's just a man
Stand by your man
Give him two arms to cling to
And something warm to come to
When nights are cold and lonely
Stand by your man
And tell the world you love him
Keep giving all the love you can
Stand by your man
Stand by your man
And show the world you love him
Keep giving all the love you can
Stand by your man

Solid, solid. You might say that is what the marriage vows of “Loving one another in good times as well as bad times” really meant, and you might be right. We all remember how Hilary stood by her hubby, Bill Clinton, as he lie his head off when confronted with allegations of sexual peccadilloes with White House Intern, Monica Lewinsky, in a sexual relationship that spanned almost two years.

Actually, Ms Lewinsky’s was not the first lady Mr. Clinton shared with Mrs. Clinton. A certain Paula Jones had filed an allegation of sexual harassment and eschewal against Clinton on May 6, 1994. That was way back when the man with the integrity of a hyena was Governor of Arkansas. Paula’s friend, Susan Carpenter-McMillan, lambasted Clinton as an "un-American," a "liar," and a "philanderer". "I do not respect a man who dodges the draft cheats on his wife, and exposes his penis to a stranger," Susan Carpenter-McMillan proclaimed to the world.

Bill Clinton settled the case out of court by paying the entire US$ 850,000 claim demanded by Paula Jones. In addition, in April 1999, Judge Wright found President Clinton in civil contempt of court for misleading testimony in the Jones case. She ordered Clinton to pay Jones $91,000 for expenses incurred as the result of Clinton's dishonest and misleading answers.

“Wright then referred Clinton's conduct to the Arkansas Bar for disciplinary action, and on January 19, 2001, the day before President Clinton left the White House, Clinton entered into an agreement with the Arkansas Bar and Independent Counsel Robert Ray under which Clinton was stripped of his license to practice law for a period of five years. His fine was paid from a fund raised for his legal expenses. (Wikipedia)

Throughout his ordeal, Hilary Clinton stood by her man. She gazes up at him with those patented look of Washington wives. We can contrast this with the alacrity with which former South African President Nelson Mandela dumped the woman who kept his name alive during his twenty-seven years of incarceration thus ensuring that he remain relevant and ultimately immortal. The great Mandela the Saint who could forgive his white persecutors, could not find it in his heart to forgive his own wife. Mandela _a serial womanizer by his own admission) treated the ‘Mother of the Nation,’ like one would treat a dog with fleas and dumped her like disused tissue!

And the morals for those of us in this part of the world? Would an elected official in Ghana or, indeed, in Africa resign from his plum office over a MERE affair with prostitute? I doubt it very much. Jacob Zuma ‘knew’ (to employ the Biblical expression) a young relative and he is still very alive and kicking politically and, barring any act of God, he is set to become the next president of South Africa. And was it not a former ruler of this country who, famously, queried whether or not a man cannot have a garden simply because he has a farm. General Acheampong was been metaphorical, but his meaning as loud and clear: Because a man is married is simply no reason why he shouldn’t have girl-friend(s?). Amen.

It is taken for granted in our society that a man of power must have girl-friends. And the more powerful he’s, the more numerous are the girls swarming over him like flies over a honey pot (which is what he, actually, is to them). We cannot claim to be blind to the almost scandalous ways and manners our rich and powerful are messing up with our young girls. Who but a child born yesterday does not know the meaning of ‘Sugar Daddy?’

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Dateline Ghana: The Power of Rumours

Rumours: unverified report: a generally circulated story, report, or statement without facts to confirm its truth.

Illuison/disillusion/delusion/heartened/disheartened/enchanted/disenchanted/inspired/disappointed etc…

When the Great White Warlord, George Bush, president of the USA decided to visit some African countries, including Ghana, in Mid-February 2008, little did people know that his visit would visit mayhem on the Liberian refugees sojourning at the Buduburam Camp near Kasoa in the Central Region, and caused our dear land points in our international image.

But like a bad comet, Bush seems to be trailed by bad vibes wherever he goes. The ghosts of the several thousand of the innocent and hapless victims of his murderous rage must certainly be haunting him. How on earth this monster can keep on smiling and sleeping at night is beyond the comprehension of yours truly. Maybe that’s why I am not a psychologist; those types of things are certainly beyond me.

George Bush came, wined and dined with the movers and shakers of power in our land, and he left after making the same nonsensical noises Western leaders make whenever they visit Africa. The first inkling of trouble was when there were conflicts about the report that he had pledged some millions to fight diseases in Ghana, Some said that they were new monies, while others were vociferous that it was old, re-cycled statements. Whatever…

Our Liberian brothers and sisters at the Buduburam camp got wind of apparent high-level shenanigans surrounding Bush’s visit, they added two plus two and got seven. A hint here and there that George Bush had come to Ghana with a plane load of fresh greenback to make everyone, including the refugees (why not?), happy forever began to percolate and circulate. Various sums were bandied about, but they were generally in the region of some 15,000 greenbacks. It’s said that nothing get Liberians (and maybe Ghanaians as well) more excited than the sight (or smell) of American Greenbacks. Before long the authentic and trusted African information and communication technology (read rumour) have ensured the smooth transfer of the mis-information to every nook and cranny of the sprawling ghetto housing some thirty- thousand humanity.


Rumours of a free fifteen G green ones (never mind that the US dollars is sinking like a torpedoed cruiser), is enough to send men panting and women into dizzy spells. The rumour mill went into over-drive: Bush personally brought the raw cash on Air force One. Look, it was transported by American Marine to the Bank of Ghana by US marines under the personal supervision of the Secretary of state. See, Americans do not trust Ghanaians; that explains why Bush made (forced) Kuffuor to sign agreements covering the deals to ensure that every Liberian man, woman and child in Ghana is adequately compensated. Amen.

And, see, no sooner has Father Xmas (sorry, George Bush) departed than the Ghanaians are up to their old tricks again. Rumour-mongers gave various sums meant for the re-settling of Liberians that were shared by corrupt Ghanaian officials.

Hours upon hours, days upon countless days the rumours multiplied. There were threats and counter-threats. The lack of any meaningful response from the government of Ghana (GOG) increased the frenzy. It was like pouring petrol on a simmering fire when the Interior Minister issued his threat to deal decisively with any law-breaker, especially a refugee. That was all the agitated Liberians needed. They poured onto streets of their camp in protest. Some of the women did the abominable (at least in African culture) and bared their huge backsides. The government of Ghana stupidly responded with overwhelming force. Ghanaian police in battle-gears stormed the camp, thrashed the protesters and carted about 600 of them to a camp in Accra. The result was the international battering of the Republic of Ghana’s image in manners not seen since the Aliens Compliance Act of the 1960s which sent many Africans packing from Ghana after the overthrow of the greatest African ever (according to an international poll), Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah.

It is unbelievable that the Kuffuor’s government which seems to have a well-oiled PR machinery failed to factor the international dimension into their equation in deciding to invade (?) the camp. In this age of internet and Human Rights stuffs, you simply do not send your gendarmeries (with armored thanks and all) into a refugee camp of some thirty thousand people and not expected to be mercilessly bashed in international fora.

The Liberian FRONTPAGE, ONLINE EDITION of 03/20/08 screamed: “Liberian Women, Children Claim Abduction, Mistreatment in Ghana”

The Public Agenda (Liberian) which claims to be Liberia’s oldest newspaper, wailed: “Humiliated Abroad, Denounced At Home...” The story continues: “Fate Of Ghana-based Liberian Refugees Sealed, Govt. Extols Ghana ,Chides “Protesting Exiles”. The story continues: “Over 800 Liberian refugees, predominantly women and children, kissed dusts under the boots and teargases of stampeding Ghanaian security, before being commandeered to some unknown prison center. The action of the Ghanaians received cheers from the Government of Liberia which, in a statement, condemned the Liberian protesting refugees calling their action “unlawful” and a “disrespect” of Ghanaian laws.”

A statement released by 26 prominent inhabitants of the Buduburam camp has this to say: “The history of peaceful dialogue between Liberian Refugee Women and the UNHCR, initiated few weeks ago took a dramatic reversal when over six hundred women, the old, young and even the disabled were abducted on 17th March, 2008.”

OSHAKA SAMUEL JAIDAH, OSLO, NORWAY writing in the BBC ‘Have your say’ says: “When I was in the Ivory Coast, many Liberian refugees living there thought Ghana was the best country for them because it is an English speaking country. But the true is that Ghanaians don’t welcome foreigners in their country unless you are rich. I live in the Ivory Coast for 14 years as a refugee before travelling to Norway. We marched in the Ivory Coast in 2003 very brutally and no one was arrested but we were rather given homes by the Ivorian government. Ghanaians should leave the Liberians in peace.”

Writing in the same forum, one AKPAN, Kent, UK/Nigeria writes: “I thought this sort of conduct is precisely what the so-called African Union was supposed to prevent. Nigeria expelled Ghanaians in the 80's, and other countries have followed suit ever since. Why, then, did our rulers proclaim Article 12(5) of the African Human Rights Charter which states: "The mass expulsion of non-nationals shall be prohibited..."? And some say we're not entitled to be deeply cynical about every one of our rulers' antics - including the notion of "African Unity."

Another Liberian Frontpage headline shouts: “Ghana- Liberia's Repatriation Headache: Did Govts, U.N. Leave Women Out to Dry?”

A story authored by Rodney D. Sieh, ( says in part: “It is appalling that the indignity and inhumanity with which the abductees were treated, is being consummated by torture and denial of food, safe drinking water and other essentials for living.”

Dippy Ploh , wrote in Myjoyonline (Ghana) on 3/22/2008 10:06:41 AM “Our Ghanaian Brothers & Sisters have now forgotten that during the turmoil of 60s, 70s, & 80s in Ghana, Liberia hosted approx 500,000 Ghanaians and we still host over 100,000 right now. During those trying times when Ghanaians sought refuge, our population was 2million. Do the math. That means 25% of our population were refugees. We have managed for 30yrs with the exception of the war when Ghanaians AND Liberians were subjected to such a brutal war. Now we are 27,000 here. Maximum was 50,000 against a 20 Million population for 18yrs and already we are being shown the door. We are brothers and we should not forget this.

The information being disseminated is that the govt has been feeding, medicating, & housing the Liberians is just wrong. Certain people are trying to make the Ghanaians and Liberians hate each other. Though Liberians haven’t been taken care of 100% we remain grateful as if it has been so. But the picture is being painted wrongly.

In Liberia, $15,000 is being given to a Sierra Leonean refugee family by UNHCR and here we have been given $5 to settle back home since the repatriation process started. It was until many efforts to draw the attention of the UNHCR and NADMO that these women decided to protest peacefully. They even have permission from authorities to do so which is not being revealed so. Midway through the protest, the $5 was stepped up to $100 and Integration in Ghana becomes $1,500. I hope the monies meant for repatriation hasn’t been mishandled and now the UNHCR & NADMO are trying to sic the govt on the refugees for voicing their plight. I just hope not!

These women are not ungrateful criminal lunatics as is being painted. Put yourself in their shoes, what would YOU do differently? Now men are being carted away in the middle of the night from house to house. The same men who never involved themselves throughout. Please look into this before this thing generates into something else.”

Another (apparently) Liberian online commentator wrote: “The history of peaceful dialogue between Liberian Refugee Women and the UNHCR, initiated few weeks ago took a dramatic reversal when over six hundred women, the old, young and even the disabled were abducted on 17th March, 2008.

The peaceful women and children were awakened from their sleep to the shock of heavy presence of Police (several hundreds with military trucks) armed with sophisticated weapons and armor tanks apparently in combat-readiness. The women and children were abducted and forced into waiting vehicles between four and six in the morning only in a manner characteristic of the Nazi style, and dumped in a forest of Ghana typical of a Neo-Nazi Concentration Camp.

Ladies and Gentlemen, and members of the International Community, we the Liberian refugees in Ghana wish to declare in unequivocal terms our commitment to the laws of Ghana, and willingness to further dialogue on our plight. We are taken aback by attempts by Honorable Kwamena Bartels to over politicize what is in the domain of a humanitarian concern. The use of state machinery to perpetrate violence is only an expression of the personal xenophobic tendencies of Mr. Bartels, and this is a negation of the general goodwill of the Government and People of Ghana.”

A Liberian trying to put things into perspective has this to say (with the entire wart and all):

“The Editor,

Please let me take this opportunity to present a clear scenario of the factors associated with the current attitudes of the Ghanaian authorities in the arrest of vulnerable, helpless and powerless women of the Buduburam Liberian Refugee camp which is located at about 45 minutes drive from Accra. First of all, let me take this time to correct Mr.Gbassay Golee and co-worker who previously wrote about the incident about the Buduburam refugee camp.

The camp was established in October, 1990 when the first influx of refugees arrived in Ghana after the killing of President Samuel K. Doe in Monrovia. The killing of President Samuel K. Doe was an act that was master minded by the than leadership of ECOMOG under the directives of the Ghanaian peace-keeping force. So, the hatred that we are seeing today by arresting these peaceful women is something that is back dated from the very onset of the Ghanaian peace-keeping mission in Liberia.

Notwithstanding, if an individual is under consistent pressure and attacks, they might not always remember what is conscious taking place at the time. So, many Liberians despite of the Ghanaian military involvement in handling Former President Samuel Doe over to Prince Johnson of the INPFL to be killed with the intend to bring peace in the country, did not realize how most Ghanaian because of extreme nationalism, nepotism, hatred and extreme wickedness always hated Liberian refugees staying, schooling and living in their country. The camp did not start in 1996. The camp was established back in 1990.

I first became a resident of the Buduburam refugee camp back in June, 1995 when me along with my sisters and brother sort greener pasture from previous political, military and social upheavals in Sierra Leone, Guinea and the Ivory Coast. Unlike all the other three countries mention here, most Liberians considered Ghana as a safe haven. To them Ghanaian were considered generous people. In part this generalization is true, because under the leadership of Former President Jerry John Rawlings, refugees had the fullest support of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) leadership. Never a day during President Rawlings leadership where Liberians requested to leave the country forcefully or threaten by his administration. Most of the threats at the time came from the opposition party of the National Patriotic Party (NPP) which was under then lead by John A. Kofour who is current the Ghanaian president. The NPP during most of her political platform use the threat of sending refugees back to their country, because the refugees were brought in the country by Rawlings. These threats were also enforced by local Ghanaian residents around the camp through kidnapping children to be used for ritual purposes, rapes, arm robberies and claiming land from some refugees after they paid X amount of money to their local Ghanaian neighbors to build their home.

The economy of Ghana in some way is flourishing because of the foreign exchange the refugees are importing in the country daily. Most refugees at the Buduburam refugee camp get their financial assistance from family and friends who live overseas. The refugees at the camp have no job even if they are qualify to work. If they are qualify to work, they have to option a work permit from the government a process that most refugees can not afford, because they don't have the money to undergo those frustrating processes. During my 11 years stay at the camp, I usually generated money from growing local vegetable crops which are sold in the local Liberian refugee markets. Refugee women and men who had some money to initiate a micro-business can not be allowed to sell their goods into the Ghanaian market place, but rather do their selling on the camp.

Over the years during my stay in Ghana, refugees have experience malpractices both from the Ghanaian local residence and the government under the presidency of J.A.Koffour through the Military. In February 2003, at about 4:00am about 200 well armed Ghanaian military and Police force surrounded the Buduburam Refugee Camp with the mission that refugees are rebels and as such kept arm in their homes and were also training rebels to destabilize the country. From 4:00am to 6:00pm on February 23, 2003, all the men of the camp were commanded to assemble at the soccer field where the women held their peaceful protest few weeks ago. After thorough search by both the armed soldiers and police, no arms were found neither did they find a site that was supposedly to be used for training rebels to escalate the country into civil unrest. The accusing of Liberian refugees are trouble makers, violent, prostitutes, robbers and thieves are all conclusion held on grounds that the government of the NPP party and it supporters have negative stereotypical behaviors against refugees a factor that one can conclude today to be the variables which is underlying their arrest of our mothers, sisters, daughters and children.

Over the past 17 years in Ghana, Liberian refugees have been law abiding, peaceful, humble and never violated any local or state laws of the Republic of Ghana. Most of the cases of violent activities on the camp came as a result of either the UNHCR not playing her role as refugee agency or the government using some clandestine acts of invasion violating the basic human rights of powerless, harmless and vulnerable people. I am not saying here that some refugees were not obedient in some way or the other, but most refugees at the camp are people who respect law and order.

The current situation happening at the camp at this point was something that was premeditated and planned by the government years before. In 2005 when I was still at the camp, rumors amongst local Ghanaian citizens was such that now that the camp was about to be closed, " you refugees will go back home whether you like it or not and if you dare not go, you will what will make a you to leave....." these were some of the statements by local Ghanaian citizens living around the camp. These people come of the camp regularly with the intend to visit and just look at the infrastructures that refugees built during these years of exile and they envy them. Refugees were able to built huge churches, schools, houses, recreational centers, and so on and these people create hatred that these things are built for refugees. Why should they be so naive? Does being a refugee means that you should not be entitle to those basic things? In fact, who provided these things for the refugees? Is it the government of Ghana or UNHCR and her implementing partners? None of these infrastructures were built for refugees except for few school buildings that were constructed by UNHCR and one was later seized by the local Ghanaian chief and the hospital which was just reconstructed and few facilities added in 2005.

The government arrest of these women shows how evil hearted the current government is in relations to refugee issues. This hurt me personally, because some of us have develop friends with some Ghanaians and their government's behavior is about to spoil that relationships. Refugees over the past years, have been denied basic needs such as education or scholarships, proper health care, sanitation problems, food and proper nutrition, safe and clean drinking water and employment opportunities for those who are qualified to work. Very few Liberians have the opportunity to work in Ghana.

Both Decontee Tarlue and Tenneh Kamara where both women that I have worked with in Ghana at the Buduburam refugee camp. They are both hard working, committed to creating awareness of refugee issues as well as engaging in community based initiatives to foster self-help and sustainability. The women's protest that generally categorized by a peaceful move that never involve nakedness in any kind. Some media reported that these women were naked a statement that was publicized by the Spokesperson of the Ghanaian National Police Force. These statements are false as I have been in close contact with students of the Buduburam Student Movement, Network of NGOs and local concern individuals. It is clear to note here that the current action of the police and military was a clear indication of the government anti-refugee sentiments that has so engulfed their minds in dehumanizing refugees and taking their rights from them.

The issue here is not reintegration. Liberians were not a part of the country. We can only be reintegrated in Liberia, but not Ghana. We can only be integrated. Integration in Ghana is not a choice that can be forced on an individual. It is a matter of choice not force. How can Liberians be integrated in a society that rarely accept them and consider them humans?

Most Ghanaian consider Liberians to be robbers, thieves, liars, rebels and prostitute. Being a refugee is not something anybody want to be. It is a life associated with internal pain, isolation, extreme poverty and a warehouse of stereotypes. In Ghana, when you identify yourself as a refugee, the community consider as an outcast and lawless person which is not true. I have some friends who are national of Ghana and they become surprise when they come and see how refugees are living...peacefully.

The government of Liberia and the international community as well as UNHCR need to take immediate step to handle this disgrace on our continent. Why should a people who call themselves civilize behave in such a way that is characterized by wickedness and lost of human dignity. Is this the freedom and justice we are proclaiming daily in our national heritage? I stand to defend any position taken in this article. If the United Nations through its refugee agency is planning her role, this incident shouldn't have happened.


Jenkins Macedo
Worcester State College


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

BBZ - Allegory of a Western media

Newscaster: "This is Lahndahn. The time is thirteen hours, GMT. The news, read by Helen Goodgame. First, we continue with our special report on the situation in the Island of Kosangba, the ex-British colony in West Africa, where democracy has suffered a serious setback with the violent overthrow of the civilian administration of Alhaji Bansa Barawo, who was believed killed in the coup D'ETAT early this morning. We go straight to our correspondent at Petuje, the capital. Ama Donkor, good day to you. Can you tell us the latest situation. Has the coup succeeded. Any other information?"

Ama: "Thank you, Helen. The situation is still rather fluid. What I can confirm now is that the ancien regime is effectively over. The three-year old democratic experience has suffered a terminal setback. The death of the president, Alhaji Bansa Barawo has also been confirmed. It has been a very bloody coup, indeed. Aside from the president, a host of other top officials also lost their lives, including the army chief and the head of the presidential guard. There are unconfirmed reports that the Air-Force chief and the Navy commander were also killed. However, the vice-president is on a visit to some European Union countries and no one expect him to hurry back home anytime soon. The third high-ranking official, that's the Senate President, was arrested while trying to escape from the capital. His whereabouts remains unknown. There has been sporadic gunfire throughout the day including mortar fire and artillery shells, especially at the main military barrack, which is close to the airport. Both the police and defence headquarters are on fire. It has been a terrible day indeed. Panicky residents could be seen running helter-skelter. A curfew has been declared. International borders have been closed indefinitely. The constitution has been suspended and all elected bodies dissolved. The student body, the Trade Union Congress and all Professional Bodies have been rusticated. Democracy has indeed suffered a terrible blow."

Newscaster: "Thank you, Ama. Can you tell us about the new rulers. What programme, if any, have they announce and what reasons did they give for their violent overthrow of the government?"

Ama: "The new rulers are really saying very little. That, however, seems to be the rule in this game. They are probably consolidating their hold and holding meetings to share offices. Things like that. A scheduled press conference by the new junta spokesperson was abruptly cancelled. We expect another announcement anytime from now."

Newscaster: "What can you tell us about the new leader, Captain Ajala Ajanlekoko?"

Ama: "That is really what surprised many people here. This is the first coup organized by lower-ranked officers. That could explain its violent nature. The previous six coup d'etat were organized by Generals, Brigadiers, but never this low rank. Captain Ajanlekoko was in charge of Army sports. Not a strategic post, one might add. That again is among the numerous imponderables of this coup. Military analysts are already wondering how a man from that background managed to capture all the military formations scattered across this vast country. I must also add that this is the first coup organized by a man from the Aburoy tribe. The other coups had all been organized by the Asuah tribe who dominate the military here. The Captain gave a maiden speech at six o'clock local time, giving the usual reasons they give to justify things like this. He appeared like a man in total control, though. He promised to come back in a while. We are all waiting. Things are rather tensed up here."

Newscaster: "Thank you, Ama. We shall get back to you shortly. We are now joined by our diplomatic correspondent, Dr. Brian Keyknow. Brian, what has been the reaction of the Foreign office? Have they issue travel advises. What plans have they made to get westerners out. How many Westerners are believe to be there?"

Brian: "Thank you, Helen. I am just from the Foreign Office. The British government has issued a strongly-worded condemnation of the coup D'ETAT and especially the killing of President Bansa Barawo who was recently a guest of Her Majesty's government. The government has advised British citizens to remain indoor until the situation clarifies itself. Non-essential staff of the British High Commission at Petuje has been withdrawn and the government has urged British firms to withdraw their staff to neighboring Kugboja. A British frigate, HMS Endeavor, and the helicopter carrier, HMS Lion Heart, which are in the South Atlantic have been ordered close to the scene to keep close tab on things. The government has placed a temporary ban on all military assistance, including non issuance of visas to Kosangbian military personnel and their dependents. The export of all lethal military hardware have also been placed on temporary hold, so are all non- humanitarian assistance. There have been no all-out economic sanction, but officials at the Foreign Office say that cannot be ruled out. The government is also in close liaison with its EU partners on getting a community-wide sanction against the new leaders. These type of things have become totally unacceptable as clearly spelt out by the last Commonwealth Summit. By sheer co-incidence, The American Secretaries of Defense and State are attending a conference here in Lahndahn. They are meeting the Prime Minister later and we are assured by Number Ten that the events unfolding at Kosangba is high on the agenda."

Newscaster: "Thank you, Brian. Do we know how many westerners are there in Kosangba. Are they in any danger, and are the steps taken by the government sufficient to guarantee their safety?"

Brian: "There are believe to be about five thousand westerners - an assorted lot. There are also believe to be about one hundred and fifty odd Japanese. The Westerners are not believed to be in any immediate danger. But in that part of the world, things could quickly turn ugly. Not to worry, though. We should remember that the Americans sixth fleet is just in the vicinity. They are having their annual exercises at the South Atlantic. The French also maintain bases in about four or five neighboring states. No, Helen, I think that the westerners are pretty safe. As safe as they could be anywhere in the world. We cannot say, however, if the western governments will call up their military muscles if the new junta started messing up the lives of the local people."

Newscaster: "Thank you, Brian. We have on the line General Scott FitzGerald, commander of the Sixth Fleet. Thank you General for joining us, where precisely are you. How close are you to Kosangba?"

Gen. FitzGerald: "Thank you, Ma. For tactical operational reasons, I'm afraid I cannot give our precise location. Yes, Ma, we are close to Kosangba. We are monitoring events closely. We got everything under minute reco. No problem on that score, Ma."

Newscaster: "Do you think that the westerners in Kosangba are in danger, and what can you do if the situation deteriorates further. Have you got plans for their evacuation?"

Gen. FitzGerald: "Yes, Ma. We have here the best fighting men and machines in the world. We have contingency plans for every conceivable situation. Of course, if it comes to it, we can easily pull our folks out. We do not envisage any problem on that score. Heaven help those who stood in our way. As you should know, Ma, we always come in peace, but we shoot to kill."

Newscaster: "Kosangba was said to have taken delivery of some new weapon systems, you seem not to have too much opinion of them. Do you know about the new weapons?"

Gen. FitzGerald: "Yes, ma! We make it our business to know what every army in the world has got in its inventory, down to the last shell, Ma. We know what the folks down there have got. After all, we sold the damned thing to them. We shall never be caught unprepared. In all the simulations we ran on our advanced computers, Kosangba can be taken in five minutes, give or take a couple of minutes. You have to remember, ma, that what goes for army here are just rag-tag bands of hoodlums uniformed to impress local folks and celebrate the sham independence of the colonial-inventions that goes for countries in Africa. When it comes to fighting modern military battles, Africans cannot win prizes."

Newscaster: "Thank you, General FitzGerald. We now return to Petuje where our special correspondent is again on the line. Ama, do you have anything new for us?"

Ama: "Thank you, Helen. Yes, I have managed to track down the speaker of the House of Representative, Dr. Ikechukwu Umofia. He is the fourth highest ranking officer of the old regime. I was taken blindfolded by his close aides to his hideout outside Petuje. He would like to have his say."

Newscaster: "Thank you, Ama. Dr. Umofia, first of all how are you? I think a little congratulation will be in order for your escaping. First of all, are you alive?"

Dr. Umofia: "Obviously, I am alive."

Newscaster: "Are you sure that you are alive? We heard that several top officials have been killed. Can you tell us how alive you are?"

Dr. Umofia: "I am as alive as I ever was."

Newscaster: "Can you be categorical about that?"

Dr. Umofia: "Yes, I am categorically alive!"

Newscaster: "Thank you. Can you tell us where you are?"

Dr. Umofia: "Of course, I cannot, under the present circumstances, disclose my whereabouts."

Newscaster: "But you are still in Kosangba, or are you not?"

Dr. Umofia: "That much I can confirm."

Newscaster: "What is your reaction to the violent coup especially the killing of President Alhaji Bansa Barawo, who was your personal friend."

Dr. Umofia: "My reaction is one of profound shock, inexpressible anger, stupendous exasperation. We all thought we have put this barbaric thing behind us. The killing of an elected president, by a bunch of thugs in military uniforms, can no longer be justified, under any circumstances."

Newscaster: "We are not talking justification here. The question is what are you going to do now? Are you going to accept the situation as fait accompli or are you trying to organize yourself and your group to try and reverse things?"

Dr. Umofia: "Things have not been as easy as you want to make out. Our country has suffered a tragedy of epic proportion. Our elected president has just been killed. We have no way of knowing what is going on at the moment."

Newscaster: "Have you try contacting elements in the security services who might possibly be against what has taken place? Have you sought contact with International bodies, the world community? Things like that. Are you doing any of these things or are you going to be satisfied with mere verbal condemnation?"

Dr. Umofia: "We are gladdened by the support of the British government. We hope that the EU and the UN will soon issue their condemnations. We also hope that the Commonwealth will make a statement soon. This violent overthrow of elected government should be totally unacceptable."

Newscaster: "The fact of the matter is that President Bansa Barawo, an Asuah, has been killed in a coup organized by the Aburoy elements of the army, that surely must anger some people in his tribal region. You are also from one of the major tribes there. Are you going to wake up the ethnic card, or are you just going to take things easy?"

Dr. Umofia: "What happened has been a national tragedy. We don't believe that we should pander to ethnic jingoism at this juncture."

Newscaster: "So, are we to believe that you are not going to take any military action? You are not seeking military support, intervention, things of that nature?"

Dr. Umofia: "Not at this junction."

Newscaster: "Thank you Dr. eh, Umofhia. We have on the line Lieutenant Mejuyagbe Akperi, the spokesman for the new junta in Kosangba. "Good afternoon, Lieutenant, how are you?"

Lt. Akperi: "I believe we have more serious thing to discuss than my well being."

Newscaster: "Thank you. Did you sleep better last night?"

Lt. Akperi: "Let how I slept be my concern. Shall we get on with the interview?"

Newscaster: "I see. Jolly well. How do you and your colleagues justified the fiendish murder of President Bansa Barawo? The rest of the world are moving towards democratic rule, haven't you set Kosangba back, Lieutenant?"

Lt. Akperi: "It all depends on how you guys look at things down, or is it up, there. When Barawo and his gang were emptying our treasury to keep your banks solvent, we didn't hear you condemn him. We have issued our reasons for taking the action we took and we owe no apologies to any busy-bodies. Our people are strongly behind us and that's the only thing that matters to us. We believe that we have performed our patriotic role in terminating Barawo and his forty thieves."

Newscaster: "You certainly cannot justify your recent actions in view of the fact that the world community will surely not sanction it."

Lt. Akperi: "You mean you busy-body Europeans. Who appointed you International or World community? When are you going to learn to keep your long noses out of other people's affairs? Who needs your approval?"

Newscaster: "It is not only western government that has condemned your action, the Commonwealth has just issued a statement condemning your illegal army take-over. That must surely counted for something with you."

Lt. Akperi: "Commonwealth! What is Common and where is the wealth? We pay no attention to any colonial, neo-colonial or imperial organizations or entities. We have decided to take our nation's affairs firmly in our own hands, the opinion of any crazy baldhead can go to the wind. We have neither wish nor desire to be reminded of our bestial colonization. We have nothing in common. Thank you."

Newscaster: "But the British government has suspended all aid to you and it is urging the EU to follow. How do you react to the suspension of aid?"

Lt. Akperi: "You guys have to recognize that we are a different kettle of fish, altogether. You have to recognize that we feel humiliated by the mis-rulers who mis-managed our economies and go pan-in-hand abegging. We are not thrilled by the pyrotechnics of your so-called aid. We want you guys to get off our back and the sooner the better. We are fed up with all your missionaries - spiritual, economic, political and social busy-bodies. We are tired of having your unemployed, unemployable ragamuffins parading our streets masquerading as 'experts.' Stop installing puppets to loot our treasuries in your behalf; repatriate the money stolen by African dictators; stop collecting usurious interests on African debt; pay good prices for what you are, literally, looting from our land, and you can all go and stuff your so-called aid in your asses."

Newscaster: "You will agree that what is bothering the International community and Human Rights organizations like the Amnesty International is that from experience, military governments are not the best guarantors of Human Rights. What's your agenda on Human Rights?"

Lt. Akperi: "What is your definition of Human Rights?"

Newscaster: "Sir, we're talking here about basic rights like free movement, free speech, free press, free association, things of such."

Lt. Akperi: "Why don't we include racism, xenophobia, colonialism, imperialism, social Darwinism, racial genocide and extermination of native people? You guys are very funny creatures. You drew up arbitrary abstractions and termed them Universal Human Rights. You have your Amnesty shouting itself hoarse about the so-called Human Rights violations in your so- called Third World, while it keeps quiet about the victims of your internal colonization and racism. Why are your so-called experts on Human Rights silent on the chain-gangs in Alabama? Why are they not protesting the fact that more African Americans are in jail than are in college? Why is the fact that an innocent African-American writer is rotting in jail in 'God's own country' not exciting your ire? I am talking about Jabber. Why shed crocodile tears over so-called 'Tianemen Massacre' while keeping quiet over Kent State university killings? Those who clamour for basic rights in your own societies are either killed or allowed to rot in jail. I am talking about Malcolm X, Martin Luther King jr., among others. And let's not forget Bobby Sand. Your FBI organised a COINTELPRO to decimate the core of black leadership. The CIA introduced drug into Black communities. Your scientists deliberately infected black people with syphilis and you're telling me about 'Human Rights.' Your police force operated a shoot to kill policy in occupied Ireland. The French Police are wasting African lives like no man's business. Many of your so-called democracies are drugging Africans before deporting them. You have to ask yourself if a racist society, any racist society, is capable of guaranteeing Human Rights? Are we to believed that your so- called democracies, built on the Aristotelian concept which stratified societies into aristocrats and peasants, is capable of engendering a just system with an unbiased Human Rights? Have you bothered yourself to think that your ruling classes brought up on Plato's ideas are capable of ruling justly? Are your citizens so stupid that they believe the fiction that the plutocracies they called democracies are guaranteeing them anything? Are Africans in your country enjoying full Human Rights? What moral rights has the grandchildren of slave- raiders to give lectures on 'Human Rights?' Don't give us any discourse on Human Rights!"

Newscaster: "Surely, we have a free press here. That surely is a luxury for the people of Kosangba at the moment."

Lt. Akperi: "Again I have to ask for your definition of a 'Free Press'?"

Newscaster: "We are talking about a press that is not subjected to governmental control of any sort?"

Lt. Akperi: "Can you put your hand on your chest and say that your government exert no control whatever on your organisation? Are we to believe that they just give you the money, appointed your directors and tell you to go and do your own thing? Are your secret agencies not manipulating what you are telling us? Dare you suggest that the same plutocrats who own your government, your economy and your so-called 'free- press,' are not exercising any control on what you write or broadcast? And does your so-called Free Press include the rabidly-racist and ultra jingoist junksheets you called tabloids? Are they free of control from their owners? Can you tell us that your CIA, FBI, M16 are not having any input into what you are telling us? Would you call your TIME, ECONOMIST, NEWSWEEK, BBC, CNN, VOA, your rabidly jaundiced Mirror free press? By what stretch of imagination can you describe the VOA a free press. Give us a break. You can begin by waging a jihad against your own ignorance. Go get and read David Halberstam "Power that Be," before you come and talk to me about any 'free press.'

Newscaster: "Thank you, Lieutenant. But, surely, Lieutenant, the killing on such massive scale cannot be justified."

Lt. Akperi: "When it comes to killing on massive scale, you Europeans are second to none. Here you are turning squeamish because your friend, your accomplice-in-looting has been killed. Whenever your interests are at stake, human lives count for nothing. Few years down, you went half-way around the world to fight a colonial war in the Maldives. By your own boastings, half a million Iraqis were killed so that you could continue to get cheap oil. Don't give us lectures on anything, especially on the sanctity of human lives. The only thing you have done throughout your history is to kill and rape and exterminate. Your history is littered with genocides - in Southern Africa, In Eastern Africa, in Western Africa, in India, In China, in New Zealand, in Australia, in the Americas. The only thing you did wherever you went, was to exterminate the indigenous populations. How dare you accused anyone of 'massive killing?'"

Newscaster: "We have just spoken with the Speaker of the House of Representative, Dr. Umofhia and he has also condemned your take-over. He also vowed to resist it. What do you say to that?"

Lt. Akperi: "I have no wish to bandy insults with any treasury-looter. People can dream any dream they like. Even sturdy rogues like your friends are entitled to their pipe- dreams."

Newscaster: "So, are you ruling out any negotiation with elements of the government?"

Lt. Akperi: "Government, what government? If you mean the discredited, ex-regime of Barawo and his cabal, we have nothing to say to them."

Newscaster: "If you are ruling out negotiation, that surely means you are prepared to return fire for fire. You don't suppose for a minute that they are not going to rally militarily, do you? Are we to believe that the only avenue open is a military solution?"

Lt. Akperi: "I cannot really understand your question. We are in total control. We shall meet any threat with military decisiveness."

Newscaster: "Thank you, Lieutenant. We now go back to Dr. Umofia. Thank you for waiting, Dr. Umofhia. I guess you will agree that the new regime has explicitly ruled out negotiation and that they are spoiling for a military showdown. It is quite clear now that the only viable option left for you and your group now is military counter-measures. What do you say to that?"

Dr. Umofia: "We are not ruling anything in or out."

Newscaster: "Should we take that as an open declaration of war against the usurpers?"

Dr. "We are not ruling anything in or out. We are studying the situation very carefully and we shall respond appropriately."

Newscaster: "Have you got the military muscle to back up your threat of war? Has any section of the army declared support for you? Any promise of military assistance from any quarter?"

Dr. Umofia: "War is very serious business and we don't believe that we have reach the stage, yet."

Newscaster: "Are you already backing down from a showdown?"

Dr. Umofia: "We are not."

Newscaster: "Thank you, Dr. Umofhia. We now have in the studio Bart Glenn of Combat International. Welcome, Mr. Glenn. Your organization has been active in Africa since the early sixties, providing military expertise to various groups and governments. Are you going to Kosangba to help out?"

Glenn: "We are always prepared to help out wherever our assistance is required and the price is right. We are not in this business just for the fun of it. We are strictly business people. To answer your question directly, no, we have not been contacted by either side in the Kosangbian conflict. We are, however, seriously monitoring the situation. The situation report we're getting suggest things are rather murky down there, as they generally are in that part of the world. We have our men on reco mission inside Kosangba. We'll know whether or not we ought to move very soon."

Newscaster: "Can you tell us which side you are likely to support? Do you have any favorites?"

Glenn: "No, Helen. We are strictly business people. We do not get into sentimentalities like friendship or things like that. War is serious business and at the end of the day, we have to make our stockholders happy. That's the bottom line. Business is business and friendship is just that, friendship. No serious business man should ever mix the two."

Newscaster: "Thank you, Mr. Glenn. On the effects of the situation in Kosangba on oil prices and other business news, we are joined by our economic correspondent, Guy Crudegush."

Crudegush: "Thank you, Helen."

Newscaster: "Sorry to interrupt you, Guy. We have our correspondent back on the line. Ama, do you have any news for us?"

Ama: "Yes, I have managed to track down the President of the dissolved Student body, the Kosangba Students Association, Ibrahim yar Gobe. He's vowing to resist the army takeover."

Gobe: "The announced takeover is totally unacceptable to us."

Newscaster: "We all know that. The question is what is your organization going to do about it?"

Gobe: "A luta continua."

Newscaster: "The struggle has gone on for far too long, don't you agree? When is the struggle going to terminate? What precisely are your plans?"

Gobe: "We shall organize. We shall protest. We shall vibrate."

Newscaster: "Do you honestly believe that organizing, protesting and vibrating will turn the tide? The coupists have declared a curfew, closed the borders, how are you going to organise and vibrate? The spokesman for the new junta has ruled out any compromise and threatened to deal with any protester with 'military decisiveness,' - his own word. That surely must call for more resolute, more positive response than you're suggesting?"

Gobe: "What are you suggesting we do then?"

Newscaster: "Me! I am no expert on such matters. But I can recollect that in time past your organization has successfully battled governments to standstill. We also see how Korean students battle their police on the streets. Are you adopting a Ghandhian posture or you are going Korean?"

Gobe: "We are not ruling anything in our out."

Newscaster: "That seems to have become the new catch-phrase. No one is ruling anything in or out but no one is doing anything concrete. Thank you, Mr. Kob... Here is the summary of the African news: in Algeria, Islamic Fundamentalists have killed fifty French nuns at Ajoun, close to the capital Algiers. And Five hundred villagers have their throat slit at a village close to Berima in a raid blamed by the Algerian government on terrorists. Police in Kenya has shot and killed twenty protesters during an anti-government demonstration in Nairobi. Monrovia has again flared up in violence as factions battled for control of the strategically important airport area. Somali faction leader, General Harun Mohammed, has vowed revenge for last week killing of his son by militias loyal to clan leader General Audu. The World Health Organization has released its annual report on the AIDS epidemic in Africa. According to the new report one-hundred and fifty million Africans are believed to be infected with the HIV virus out of which fifty million will die within the next five years. The World Bank has just announced that the economies of Africa has taken the turn for the worse. Two-hundred and thirty-eight million Africans are malnourished, about half that number are slated to die of famine and starvation unless the donor community can respond urgently. That's the summary of the African news. We now go back to Dr. Umofhia. Thank you Dr. Umofhia, it appears that you have just lost the students in your efforts to organize a resistance to the army take-over. The students appeared not prepared to join your crusade."

Dr. Umofia: "That's not the impression I get from the interview. By the by, my name is Umofia, spelt UMOFIA, and not Umofhia."

Newscaster: "Umm... The president of the student body was non- committal, even if diplomatically so. Did you expect him to spell out his rejection of your group out boldly? We have the powerful boss of Kosangba Trade Union Congress, Etiebet Udoewah, on the line. Mr. Etiebet, your Union, representing over ten million workers has just been proscribed, are you doing anything about it?"

Etiebet: "Our Union has been suspended, like the other professional bodies, it has not been formally proscribed. There is a big difference between suspension and proscription."

Newscaster: "I believe that you will agree that there are more serious problems in Kosangba at the moment than for us to waste our time on semantics. Are we to believe that you and your organization are in favor of the military take-over?"

Etiebet: "I don't know from what premises you drew your conclusion. We all have to agree that the politicians over- reach themselves. We were not born yesterday. We all saw the waste and the profligacy of the politicians. How about the unending champagne parties? How about the open celebration of ill-gotten, publicly-looted wealth? They had it coming to them. We believe that they get their comeuppance. Many of us are not shedding tears for them."

Newscaster: "Thank you, Mr. Etiebet. If you have just join us, this is a special bulletin on the events unfolding in Kosangba where a section of the army claimed to have overthrown the government and killed the president, Bansa Barawo. We now go back to army spokesman, Lieutenant Akperi. Lieutenant, are you still there?"

Lt. Akperi: "Yes, I am still here."

Newscaster: "The Student Union, the Trade Union has formed an alliance with the politicians to resist your takeover. They also said that they are not ruling our military confrontation. To avoid bloodshed, you must certainly be thinking in terms of negotiation, are you?"

Lt. Akperi: "We don't negotiate with treasury-looters. Period."

Newscaster: "The politicians, the trade union, the student union, that surely is a formidable opponent. You can't just wish them away, can you?"

Lt. Akperi: "I wondered where you get the idea to lump them up together. We have received congratulatory letter from the Trade Union Congress. We have also met representatives of the student union. We have explained our stance to them. I don't know from where you're conjuring up your fabled opposition. Listening to their answers, I won't say that they have join any 'formidable opposition' against us. The so-called politicians have no locu-standi. Let any of them dare show his or her face. We have had to intervene to prevent many of them being burnt alive."

Newscaster: "Surely they are not so-called. They are professional politicians who have just won a free and fair election."

Lt. Akperi: "Yeah, they are indeed politicians. 'Poli,' I believe means 'Many' in one of your languages, even if a dead one. We all know that 'ticks' are blood-sucking parasites. That's what our politicians are - 'Many blood-sucking parasites."

Newscaster: "You surely don't believe that your coup can be allowed to stand, given the local and international opposition to it, or do you?"

Lt. Akperi: "I have already stated that we have no wish to take into cognizance whatever any foreigner thinks. You guys just have to understand that political life is evolutionary. Contrary to what you guys are portraying to the world, a time there was when you were at the same stage as we are going through - no thanks to the effects of your colonization on arresting our natural evolution. A time there was when you have mad men as kings. A time there was when the guillotines were working overtime to cut off the heads of your errant kings. Now, you go around pretending as though you had everything figured out from the beginning. Maybe you can find the time to check out what the terms 'Carribees' and 'Nabobs' mean. While you're at it, look up the term, 'Perfide Albion.' Your ideological institutions have imbibed it into your heads, that all your institutions are second to none, and the rest of the world must follow, or else..."

Newscaster: "Isn't that rather a too sweeping condemnation of the Western world. Are there no one thing or two that you could learn from the developed, civilised Western world?"

Lt. Akperi: "Developed,' 'Civilised.' You've just confirmed what I have been saying about you Europeans. 'Developed.' Granted that you're are technologically advanced, since when has 'mechanical know-how' become the hall-mark of measuring civilisation? I tell you, since the western world managed to capture the commanding heights of technology. That's when. Would you describe yourself as culturally or spiritually superior to anyone? That reminds me of what Ghandhi said about your so-called civilisation. "It will be a good idea,' indeed."

Newscaster: "It is certainly not 'so-called,' it is an historical reality."

Lt. Akperi: "Talking about 'historical-reality,' do yourself a favor and get a good education. Just look at yourself - stupendously ignorant, immensely badly-mis-educated, massively chloroformed by the propaganda of a White Supremacy Ideology, telling me about 'historical reality.' There are books in various libraries in your country that will educate you properly about your so-called civilisation, if the efforts of reading them will not kill you. Your touted 'Greek- Civilisation' is a misnomer. There was no such monster. Your hallowed 'Greek Philosophers' were mere plagiarists who copied Egyptian text. Pythagoras, Aristotle were pupils of Egyptian Priests..."

Newscaster: "Thank you, Lieutenant Akperi. For an expert assessment on the situation in Kosangba, I turn to Professor Derf Holiday of the Royal Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies. Professor, Holiday, welcome. You are a renown authority on Africa. You have written about thirty books on the continent. You have recently paid a visit to the sub- region and President Barawo was among the leaders that received you. You consult for the British government, the EU and the UN on Africa. With that impressive credential, what is your own assessment on the situation in Kosangba, do you foresee trouble?"

Prof. Holiday: "Thank you, Helen. As many of your commentators have rightly pointed out, things are still very dusky down there. We have to be careful, though. When you have such a potpourri of tribal admixture as we have in Kosangba, anything goes. President Barawo was from the Asuah ethnic group and we know that nothing gets the ire of the African than have his clan leader killed. The new pretender to the throne, Captain Ajanlekoko, is an Aburoy. It is almost sacrilegious what has happened. Blood has been spilled. And from what we know, nothing gets Africans more excited than the smell of blood. Anthropologically speaking, blood, aside from food and sex, is the only thing that can rouse the primal instincts of the African. The main opposition force now, Dr. Umofia, is an Obi. People mess us with those guys at their own peril. Things do not bode well for Kosangba. And giving the amount of arms imported by the Barawo's government, we have all the configuration for an ethnic conflagration of Armagedonian proportion. Africa's politics is always hazy and predicting political developments there is always hazardous. Africans do not behave rationally like you or me, so we cannot judge them on the same scientific basis. However, my crystal ball foresee plenty trouble. If we are very fortunate, we will get another Liberia on our hand pretty soon, and if we're extremely unlucky, I see another Rwanda brewing. What friends of Kosangba should be doing at this moment is to try and get the UN to dispatch military mission to separate the factions, otherwise Rwanda will be like a Boy Scout affray."

Newscaster: "Thank you, Professor Holiday for that insightful analysis. What do you make of the alliance that's being formed to resist the army take-over. Do you believe it can hold or will the takeover stay?"

Prof. Holiday: "I don't think that we should put too much currency into any alliance. We should remember that coups are like wars. There are plenty bounty to be divided up among the victors. Right now, we see the boss of the union dillying and dallying. I guess he'll be rewarded with a ministerial appointment for his troubles. We have to remember that Kosangba is a relatively rich country. By Africa's low standards, anyway. There will be a lot of back-biting, denunciation and jockeying for positions. We already have reports of the traditional rulers and leaders of opinions paying homage to the new ruler. The newspapers will be filled with congratulatory messages and things like that. We should see in the next few days various groups paying solidarity visits to the new ruler. Things like that have happened before. What we should watch out for is the reaction of the elders of Asuah. If the new rulers can successfully placate them with posts and resources allocation, the opposition, I believe, will just fizzle out. Alliances don't last in that part of the world: Africans are not world champions when it comes to loyalty and dependability."

Newscaster: "Thank you professor for that brilliant exposition. We have in the studio, Tom Fisherman of the Africa Band-Aid Network. Tom, Has your organization got people on the ground in Kosangba?"

Tom: "Thank you, Helen. No, we have not got anyone on the ground in Kosangba. We are a new organization formed to take care of the emerging emergency in Kosangba, and we are appealing to donor organizations, the EU and the UN to be generous so that a calamity can be averted like in the previous situation where men and women and children were reduced to eating rats and grasses. We can all see what's happening all over the continent. We believe that many of the calamities could have been avoided if people have been willing to act as soon as the omens are turning bad. It doesn't take a soothsayer to see that Kosangba will soon descend into anarchy with the attendant starvation, banditry and what have you. We shouldn't wait until people start falling down before we get going. Our organization was formed primarily to be more pro- active, instead of just reacting to disasters after disasters. We have plans to get emergency supplies to neighboring countries, so that we are not caught unaware like we were in Somalia, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Angola, Liberia..."

Newscaster: "Thank you, Tom. We go back to our correspondent, Ama, what's the latest. Any fighting yet?"

Ama: "Thank you, Helen. There has been no further clashes. Things are rather quiet. Normalcy is gradually returning to Kosangba. I th..."

Newscaster: "Thank you very much Ama. We have come to the end of our special bulletin on Kosangba. Thank you for listening. World news follows."

Wise saying:

" Never use both feet to test the depth of the sea." - African proverb