Sunday, October 13, 2013

The inhumanity of impunity: Human rights belong to every race, like oxygen to life

The ogre strides continents goring out humanity. Have some drops of coffee fallen out of your cup and onto your newspaper? Wake up. Just that, the smell of the coffee is putrid. There is no aroma here...

Those who argue that just because the Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 was written in Europe the continent claims to always have upheld human rights and invented them are wrong. If they are Human rights, they make sense to everyone also in stories we tell in Afrika. 

The inhumanity of the ogre is a story we were told when stories were still told around a fire in the evening in my village. Stories were not only told. You sat.  You listened to them in order to tell them. You enjoyed, sang and told them again creatively. You could create your own and change them completely. Point. We could create our futures.

Stories told were sweet. You could chime in and sing. It was not a one way matter. Participation was important. Inclusivity. Stories were not sold in newspapers. 

I sat there. Heard about an ogre who changed in form. That night he was a handsome man who wanted to lead all girls to glory. I visualised this ogre. Cringed as he stepped out to dance and as he finally asked girls to escort him. And then ate them up. 

One escaped him as she hid high up in the rafts where wood was hanging to dry. Dark smoke covered her. I can create it afresh and even forget the original. See a politician luring you for votes. Creation. But suddenly King Solomon's Mines by Rider Haggard was dropped on my lap. Those old stories disappeared for a long time. The fire died down. I still blow in the embers. Did colonialism steal all creation from Afrika? But the human mind is still better than a computer. We saved some files. Free of charge. 

The story sank deep the idea that there is a big huge creature who is up to no good. One that could appear as a handsome young man at a dance. And then change into a monster when he escorted the girls home. Taking position of power. Power relations also between men and women. People have imperialist agendas.

Just like the Norwegian stories of trolls and specifically Huldra the attractive girl whose long hair could turn into a tail. The one who lured young men into a mountain and then showed her true colors after marrying them. Interesting gender dimensions there. In the cruel ogre in African stories I read- I dare not say all for Africa is full of an incredible variety of traditional stories like all other places- the inhuman ogre was male. 

You saw the secret mouth at the back of the head of the ogre. It opened only when he stepped higher and he swallowed helpless little things that are normally attracted by dirt. Flies. Eiish!

But flies and insects were not enough. In the inhumanity of the ogre! He is waiting for the birth of a baby by a lone woman in order to eat it up. Miraculously a bird, a dove is watching. Story of love in different dimensions. And off she flies to the smithy and sings to the man who is her husband and busy at work:

Oh man at the smithy
Work quickly now, work
Your wife is giving birth
and an ogre is helping her

Of course she is helpless, the ogre is just waiting to eat newborn human flesh. Today's human trafficker. Current dictators in Africa fit the role. Today's migrants getting thrown into the Mediterranean.  The impunity of inhumanity.

It shocks how we emphasize deaths in the Mediterranean all of a sudden when it has been going on for ages. Human parts have also been smuggled through the Sinai from Egypt. How that story died quickly. The asylum seekers who cross the Sahara or die there alone. Modern day slavery, total inhumanity. But the media is not always there. CNN tried. It is not there when without any boat capsizing people are tossed out of ships into the Mediterranean. 

And note that it is one of the smallest countries in the world and in Europe that is speaking. In unity of nations something is always lost? Thank you Prime Minister of Malta for saying it Mediterranean is becoming a grave, but sorry it has been so for long, they know but are silent. 

Ivincible Nubia by Philo Ikonya (Not yet published) a novel tells of bodies inside European high seas. At a time when Europe and America are already under the seas too. Only that in the graves there the people are alive and still speak. But honestly bodies washed off shores on resort islands of Europe long ago. We heard everything in Tribunal 12 in Stockholm 2012. Including how police brutally kill asylum seekers in the UK or people who have over stayed their unwelcome entry. Some of them like that girl, to see a mother she had not seen in years. She was killed. Ask Tribunal 12 for all data. 

Too much for my story here. In this story of migrants there are not even doves to send messages that a parent is choosing which child to let drown and which one to take home. What humanity is this? Did you see those caskets hanging in crane in numbers and numbered? And African elected presidents and leaders are sitting at home proclaiming how Africa is managing herself just fine. Visiting terror on voices of reason at home. I can tell you that story. Not so long time ago... I would begin.

And that Tribunal 12 meeting is not something vague.  Nurudin Farah was there. He told Europe that she is so ignorant. And he says it often. But he is invited back and nobody arrests him for speaking out. They may do whatever else but he is free. And Europe stood accused and judgment was passed that she was no longer the home of human rights. Who thinks that human rights are achieved once and for all and archived? It is a struggle every place I know including in homes.

But the world and its indifference: There is much to make you choke over your coffee as you read the newspapers as Juliette Binoche or Becca says in the reality check movie: A thousand times Goodnight produced Eirik Poppe and premiering this October 2013 in Oslo. Yes, Europe has stolen, is stealing in many ways from Africa and elsewhere. 

But today am mainly motivated to write by our own Afrika. We want to disown ourselves as humans and owners of human rights. As if we have not heard of how in Kenya, Mekatilili wa Menza for example knew her human rights and that of her nation at once. How not being able to write much, she showed people what the colonialist was coming to do in her Afrika using a mother hen who is snatched away with all her chicks as well. Can we spend some money in Afrika making our movies and recording our long defence of human rights defence? 

But my story...Of course the man at the smithy abandons his tools and runs home and saves his wife just in time. The gender that is always cast as the provider is redeemed there for he was not away wasting money or having fun but working. And he does get home. And so wonderful the message of Freedom of Expression there. It saves life. Freedom of movement. Rights: Food, security, choice all the basic freedoms and even second generation rights.

The tragedy of Africa today is that her information is spread mainly from European sources only. Not given home roots and it has them. So that it is possible to hear people telling human rights defenders they are puppets of Europe. Repeat the same argument. The missionary style.

In Afrika we have many languages that refer to humanity in their name for person. Utu, Ubuntu. And the other languages are also full of humane ways. We despise oppression like the oppression of the ogre. Someone needs to keep saying this love of humanity is ours not imported. We have our failures and they are gross but we look higher.

Journalist Philip Ochieng' whose column is a lifetime achievement in the Sunday Nation of Kenya. He needs to ask why we are so Eurocentric? We throw away our philosophies and Afrika of course has them, for rubbish. He has asked before and illustrated well what the place of Afrika is in the world. But a coffee cup and the other some things get dropped. Today I read the loss of the ownership of human rights in a sad light in Kenya. Are we doing enough?

Korea made sure all writers who visited her in the 78th PEN Congress saw and if possible took home with them a book in English titled: Overlooked Historical Records of the Three Korean Kingdoms by Samguk Yusa and translated by Kim Dal- Yong. That as many as possible went to see the roots of this nation and its struggle to become less corrupt and to instal integrity as their own value. And that was not enough. It was dramatised. 

Even being critical as we were. Many made the blunder of going to visit Nuclear Plants (Most people were unaware) but a nuclear company had supported the Congress. There was a cultural clash in reactions. But even in such cases, and us being hosted, the mantle of silence was not bearable. 

Right from among the group led by German PEN came heavy criticism and even walk outs. And many of us refused to go underground to see the real works even though we had some tea and goodies in the offices. We were first treated to a movie and that is when most of us realised where we were and German PEN led a walk out. The protest continued throughout that Congress. So the ogre and humanity. Well, has anyone really tamed the ogre of Nuclear power? Well, and the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2013 is: The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). 
"I am Malala" She said. And who are you in the world's struggles?

You bet if am around here still I will be waiting for that march and will carry my torch until the next year and relay it to my very favourite and beloved Malala. She fights another type of ogre and proves that human rights are innate. The world responded with great enthusiasm to a call for poems for Malala. Old and young from Brazil to Kenya, from Austria to Japan.
The right to education, freedom is human. I love how candidly this 16 year- old asks "What is all this talk about East and West? We are talking about human beings..." I unashamedly hear her story as a traditional African one. Sit and listen. Watch her slay ogres and own what is human. Watch her call for the slaying of impunity. Almost from the mouth of babes? Create futures with our pens and mouths. Nobody can do that for you from the past. Now is the time.

So Ochieng' whose name means born in the light of the sun, argues today that because Europe has an atrocious record of human rights abuse- indeed that is why the Declaration of Human Rights- 1948 was written, then Euro-America should not pose as "a global apostle of democracy" And of course he is right. But is Europe even doing that or are a few people who are outspoken in her as well not in grave danger? Did the killing of rapper Pavlos Fyssas in Greece for singing against racism not signal anything just the other day? 
Oslo. plaque letter to the stars for Jewish family.

But even in the past Euro-America was writing about rights as its own mea culpa about its own. Europe is still writing letters to the stars on the streets for all the Jews whose previous habitation they can locate. Digging into her own wounds. Of course Europe went on colonising and brutalising in many forms even after 1948 and he lists the countries where this took place. 

Europe had already brutalised Africa with borders and languages and introduced hatred of our own cultures, religions and so on. But even though this was done we cannot sit there saying you did, you did, you did? What are we doing ourselves for our own? Are we reading our own books or others? How come it is always the argument from the 'West' that seems to weigh more in writings and books but not when it comes to a court of justice. I am referring to the International Criminal Court. 

No. We must be the first ones in Afrika running to build this court. That is why 34 African countries in the majority signed the Rome Statute creating the ICC. We need it. We are in the majority but we are suddenly surprised that we have many cases over at the Hague? Majority signing was not for a purpose? All that stuff about racism we cannot begin to entertain for the ICC is then pro the suffering majorities the maimed and has refused to hold as gods those who are accused. Those not used to being held accountable. And we are not saying those summoned are guilty. We are saying follow due process. The truth in as far as we can try to reach it is as necessary as oxygen, so it justice. 

I know Ochieng' advises those required before the court to humbly submit, and tells the Uhuru Kenyatta so, but he argues a court that is the only recognized as the instrument for the protection of our human rights today in the world is like aid to Africa. He says "Like "aid", the Rome Statute is one method by which the Gnomes of Zurich apply sop to our wounds so as - by silencing Nassers and Nkrumahs- to legally maintain their Third World holdings- wealth looted through vilently in colonial times (sic) for colonial looting is the taproot of all the yawning economic gaps and political hurlyburlies responsible for all of Africa's human rights problems." 
Are we that paralysed? Can Europe keep the sun from shining in Afrika? What are we doing to break this yoke?

Friday, October 11, 2013

The International Criminal Court and Africa's future, Not I Lord, Surely? It wasn't me!

Election time: The world should not butt in our business! We are so active in defending human rights. We have our own court!

When it comes to being African it seems the people who suffered post- election violence in Kenya and died or got maimed for life like the woman above - our prayer I call her- are not Africans. The International Criminal Court is trying to offend the dead Africans, to punish them. That is why it is putting on trial good people who were elected because of their great magnanimity. It included flying around and telling people that they are humble and if they won they would present themselves for hearings as bidden. It sounded like going to a party. These are now the poor, poor Africans who are being oppressed during this process.

The African Union under the chairmanship of Hailemariam Desalegn and with Dlamini-Zuma as the Chair of the Union's Commission does not need the International Court in Africa because it is offensive and unfair to the continent. So today there was a vote to pull out of the International Criminal Court. Only the best governed country in Africa Botswana did not vote in favour of this with 53% in favour of a resolution to pull out of the court.


One keeps on hearing that racism or the discrimination of Africa is what has led to politicians from Africa being prosecuted by the International Criminal Court. Forget tribalism or ethnic tensions. Racism is bigger isn't it? And that is what Africa is getting from Europe in the ICC. 

None other than a Human Rights Lawyer Barney Afako from Oxford University has just being saying so on BBC's Focus on Africa Program this evening. You see there are no other lawyers who understand the genesis of this issue so Focus On Africa used its best lenses, focused and got the best of the best! Oxford!

So he put it nicely. It was so tidy. Kenya as a country has been going through a very hard time because of ethnic tensions now the country needs time to develop itself politically. Develop its politics. I understand.  This Court hunts for Africans and keeps them down. Burns them maybe? Maims them? Displaces them? Kills them?

Imagine how mean this world is. It forms an International Court and then makes it a place to go and humiliate African presidents. This is such a shame and so terrible because it reminds us of how the West has always put Africans down. Down! The world is indeed not just mean, that is a light word. It is the ridden with deep seated injustice in the name of agendas of the rich versus the poor. 

On my imagination it is easier to look at the past and see strangers come to plunder our land and to sell our people, beat and kill them when they fought for freedom than to see out own people raising machetes up against each other so that some people might rule. To see ourselves killing ourselves. This is not fathomable. But who told you that kind of thing happens? Africans killing one another?

And Africa you see, is so poor. So everyone sits on her. Europe loves to crush her. America too sat on her for long with all that huge belly and enjoyed it. You see this is how and why Africa is so underdeveloped forever and ever. It was only under- developed once and for all by others because the Bible says so in the story of Egypt. 

The best way to proclaim Africa's freedom and independence, the perfect way to get everyone looking up and saying that this is a continent to be respected is to start by asking every African to donate all the blood they have and then sit and wait for the next voting round. Ask the children to sleep their hunger away. Many people can be treated for emergencies that might arise. Did I say sit and wait? I meant die waiting.

Sleep your hunger away, justice will be served in some years on an African plate!
Betraying our roots

The most interesting way to show that we have wonderful traditions that respected debate, freedom of expression and some bad ones that were used here and there is to keep only the bad ones alive. To forget that in arbitration we went for strangers to be the independent third party, respected strangers and just ones because nowadays we can tell ourselves what to do.

Oh yes! Those people who love Africa from afar are asking questions weighty, enormous questions: Why is Africa the only one that is being brought before the International Criminal Court? 

Tribalism is forgotten in Afrika. We are fair. Even the BBC knows that. We are so just. We should from now onwards in this great continent of famous and most wonderful African presidents only remember one thing: The world is racist and it hates Africa to be independent. Africa must be free!

Desmond Tutu, Botswana and Tunisia and others are saying yes we know there is racism but this Kenyan case and the ICC is not about race and how dare we use ethnic and race when it suits us for gain? We have a step by step way of showing you what really happened and why we are at the ICC but others are shouting back. No! Keep quiet you Western lover! Keep quiet! We are there because of the colour of our skins do you not know... No we are there because they do not like Africa and we love it!

Love at first sight

When it was time to vote, Tunisia abandoned. Our sister in Malawi who horned her leadership skills in Kenya is silent of late. There was a time she denied an AU meeting space in Malawi because Al Bashir of Sudan, who has a warrant of arrest by the ICC was planning to come. Now we are all in love.

In the end Everyone should look at the African Court of Human and People's Rights and just admire it. Love it!  It has been suing many powerful people who abuse human rights in Kenya, in Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda. It has been especially successful in Ethiopia where in 2005 over 75 000 people were in jail... Oh no, they were not in jail, they had opted to live on small dry islands surrounded by crocodiles that longed to swallow human flesh because these people were tired of living in Addis. They included then the founder of the Ethiopian Human Rights Network Professor Mesfin.

In fact those Ethiopians had so chosen to live like that they did not care about mobile phones and radios. Those left the city had decided to be quiet and not talk about something called Human Rights. They loved very slow Internet and speaking in whispers because they were so free. 

Now they have a new president Desalegn and he is the seat of the African Union. The whole sea of countries was at home at his for lunch today for an Extraordinary session on Africa to show that we have our own court and our own justice in Afrika. Everything is rosy. There is a bash. And... they have voted.  Only one country has opposed the move to withdraw from the ICC. Botswana. Thank goodness we can still hold on to Ubuntu. And so Viva Botswana... Abantu Abatwana! Human people even before rights. Now we have to love the African Court, the oppressive Western one is out.

And this Human Rights and Peoples Court was very old by the time people were in jail in Ethiopia. It had been formed just a year before in 2004. Heeeh it had big teeth and could bite the AU -it was no barking dog that does not bite -our favourite essay in school: "The (Oh!) AU is a barking dog that never bites." It has some big teeth some said - bigger than those of a crocodile- it knew territorial integrity and the principle of non- interference. 

Nowadays this African Court is already older and better experienced than the  International Criminal Court which was founded in 2002 with the signing of the Rome Statute. That thing was signed by 34 African leaders who were blindfolded to believe in the witchcraft of this Statute by their African legal advisors. Attorney Generals. The smiling Kenyan one for example, Amos Wako. And African nations led the pack in signing but doubted they should be prosecuted in the majority after their own countries made referrals to the ICC. Nobody is taken there by aliens. 

The ICC was meant to support existing courts but it found it could not support a crocodile such as the African Human and People's Rights court because it was bigger than Big Five add or minus the 54 Presidents.  I tell you suddenly things got elephant.. bigger than tusks... and you know nobody can help an elephant to carry its tusks. No one should be called to help even when ivory is stolen. No international trade bans should be issued. We never run out of humans, we can issue such trade bans only for animals and impress with a press conference to show who we protect our game.

In one local language they say that "An elephant is never unable to carry its own tusks" when referring to responsibility. This African Human and People's Right court was so successful because it refused to be eaten by the crocodile... so successful that for example in Kenya Human Rights Defenders (HRDs ) are worshipped. It begins with respect. When they speak people listen and say... "We are human... and they have spoken for us!" Makofi! Claps like thunder before equatorial rain fall in the forests go so loud that the President is always smiling. They are so welcome, they help the people. Whoever would dream of threatening or disappearing them in this world will be punished as soon as the trial begins. HRDs are loved. When people hear Human Rights Defenders they see just how noble their unpaid work is. 

In Africa nobody is scared of the West. Which West? Well for sure they know that some countries like Britain are deeply sorry to see the son of Kenyatta not getting all the salutes he should get in all courts national and international. To try a sitting president? It is unheard of. That is why he was promising to cooperate fully with the ICC and to bring laptops to all children. And he did bring the laptops.

And now the only missing thing and he is fixing it is to rule by Skype and without fear. Africans have really told the world off. The UN would not listen to them because they are not in the Security Council. African Union stood firm and told them off again and again. The UN. The UN is going to cry not crocodile tears but real ones. Who told them to send that European
Kofi Annan
gentleman called Kofi Annan with a team of Eminent African personalities such as: Benjamin Mkapa, Graca Machel, Kofour and to Kenya to help?

The UN, it will cry real ones because sooner than later they will learn Who is Who in the World of real Africans who never loot their countries, kill or maim anybody. It is just those funny animals, those wise hares and gazelles who wanted to witness how other animals work have been too hungry to survive as witnesses of how it is to chew other humans. They are Human Rights Defenders. There is too much victimisation in the this world. 

There are no rich people in Africa. All the presidents and their families are very poor they are always dressed in rags as they have to share every morsel of food with so many poor people who do not have hands to work with because they donate their hands at election time for the votes. Oh, no I forgot, they donate their BLOOD too in every voting season. It is kept in banks. Bodies are hidden in other places when and if they are too weak after donating blood. Then the people pray. 

 Ahh, my goodness! African people are so generous. They do not like to see their people suffering ever since they realised that they sold their brothers and sisters to masters for slavery long time ago. Today they die for one another. They would rather take bullets and be cut with a machete in defence of the others. So they offer themselves in different ways for sacrifice. They learned from others to do this in silence. For their presidents and politicians especially. People can give anything for them. They love them and they sing them songs of praise. And these people never make mistakes because all authority comes from God. So the people give more than you ever thought in Africa.

They donate their fingers and even legs. Sometimes they donate their whole lives like it happened in Kenya in 2007 on 27th of December. The people started by donating their small little finger tainted with purple ink to show that they can vote early in the morning. Then they went home and donated everything else to the land. They donated many women to be raped. They donated children to be killed because they spoke funny tribal languages. They gave up their homes and shops. They offered themselves to be burnt alive and without any questions they just let it happen to them. 

At that time no politician feared anything because they own land. Power is theirs. They knew what is done in any corner of Kenya to get anything. Poor Africans they are so tribal now we have to rescue them from an animal called the ICC which has become like all the Big Five put together. No, like a python that is swallowing people whole. It is even so bad this animal that it is making those who witness it doing its work shiver. It wants to be seen and heard. But the African people who died in 2007/2008 are now gone and their bones are almost dry so why does this animal called ICC, all the big five put together want to eat them again? Heehee?

In the beginning it was about power. Tribe became useful for numbers and for showing anger and killing to hit back. Things went wrong. If you could not answer my question in my language. Well, you were sent to another world. Killed. And you know as you have heard it said 600 000 or so displaced Kenyans in such a beautiful country, a paradise is nothing. They were just sunbathing for five years and enjoying camping. They got lovely tans. Grandmothers could hear their children's love in the same tents on the grass. Heh! That was just pure fun. Camping sites galore. Britain and some American voices as well as those who want to pull massively out of the ICC wish to camp at ours. We shall get money from tourism... You see we even have the best place to view the eclipse of the moon. We are the owners of the original garden of paradise. It is in Kenya and the other part in Ethiopia and.... a bit in South Africa.  We can never go wrong! We can Zuuum together!