The Many Tales of the Last Year of the Decade (2)
Blog, Newspaper Column

The Many Tales of the Last Year of the Decade (2)

By Morak Babajide-Alabi

Continued from last week

When Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, announced her planned resignation for June 7, last year, it did not come as a surprise. The world had waited for three years to hear this. May took over the leadership of the Conservative Party in July 2016. At the time, she grinned from ear to ear in excitement. She harboured no thoughts of the bigger responsibilities, especially exiting the European Union.

May’s tenure as the longest-serving Home Secretary did not prepare her for the task ahead. She was a no-nonsense minister who ensured immigration reform represent the main agenda of the government. But Premiership was unfamiliar terrain for her. She vacated the office in a blaze of tears as her only achievement in office was the countless cuts to public spending. She tried, but her efforts were not good enough.

Her resignation brought up loads of pretenders hoping to occupy 10 Downing Street. But after whittling down the vast number, the final battle was between two top aspirants. They were the former Foreign Secretaries, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt. These are no strangers to UK politics. They have occupied critical roles in the Conservative governments since 2010. Johnson is loud and sometimes uncontrollable, especially in his opinions on the exit of the UK from the EU. Hunt, on the other hand, is calmer but also with some negative headlines. His controversial decisions as Health Secretary are legendary. He ‘was’ also a “Remainer.”

The contest was decided by Tory party members across the country. But it was clear as daylight that Johnson was heading to 10 Downing Street even before the selection. The question was “would Boris’s past impede the future of Johnson?” You either like or hate him. His adult life, as a journalist or politician, has been of controversies. A man of flamboyant character speaks sometimes without thinking of the repercussions. Johnson’s rise is aided by the aura of confusion around him. Ironic but true.

We cannot ignore the pains and deaths visited on the innocent people of Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 21, 2019. The madness let loose by a group of demented individuals who believed religion should be a turf war. They were members of the terror group – Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). They killed Christians and tourists as they celebrated Easter. In Sri Lanka, the President and Prime Minister maintain different missions and cruised parallel roads.

President Maithripala Sirisena and PM Ranil Wickremesinghe presided over a troubled country. But they were diligent scheming against each other. They were supposed to be in a coalition to recover the soul of the country, but the two struggled to upstage each other. These shameless leaders had the blood of the people on their hands. They kept vital security information to themselves to spite the other. It is still troubling why an important security detail was kept away from those who could have stopped the terror arrack. Instead, they told tales of opportunism, selfishness and ignorance. Tales of under-development of the country they are supposed to lift up.

We mourned with people of Sri Lanka. They were let down by the two individuals who should make informed decisions for them. Christians in Sri Lanka continue to sleep with one eye closed, but we hope people of faith all over the world will one day be free to practice their religions, free from any threat of attack.

Not long ago the people of Sudan felt the need for a change. They pounded the streets of the cities, sang solidarity songs and prayed that God, the Almighty come down and execute their hard-hearted leaders. Day in, day out, they trooped to the city centre to vent their anger. The told tales of depression, poverty and suppression to their children. They have been accustomed to such tales through the generations.

The announcement of the power-sharing arrangement between the armed forces and civilian groups was a pay-off for their efforts. It was a sign that something shifted in the troubled country. The military and opposition groups agreed to share power before a general election is held at a later date. The deliberations and deal brokering were supervised by the African Union and particularly the government of Ethiopia.

The announcement brought the citizens of Sudan out on the streets. This time they were dancing and chanting “Civilian! Civilian!! Civilian!!!” in support. It will be a massive task to keep by this agreement, but the parties know this could well be the last chance of survival for Sudan. It had taken this long for them to find an intervening ground, but we must commend the efforts. It ended amicably.

There are too much ego trips among the world’s political and economic leaders that you cannot but agree with the reggae legend Bob Marley that the world is sitting on a time bomb. The world is burning, cracking up and disintegrating into an abyss, but check out the world leaders. Do they care? There seems not to be much to make one believe they do.

Take for example; there are many tales of deprived people of Syria who shouted their heads off through last year and years before. Every day children were killed and made orphans by the minute. Yet, the world leaders who could make the changes needed shifted their gazes away. They clasped their hands while the Syrian authorities and allies walk over the citizens. There are no economic gains in this region to “inspire” these leaders to make move towards permanent peace in the region.

From Zimbabwe came the biggest of the tales that strongman Robert Mugabe passed away at a Singaporean hospital on 6 September 2019. It was shocking as he governed his people with strong hands and hope that he would live eternally. We knew he was mortal and would not live forever.

Sadly, Mugabe could not live his final days in any of the many hospitals running without drugs, doctors, nurses or essential infrastructures. He turned his back on the various hospitals that his actions or inactions in the past reduced to nothing but final resting places for the poverty-stricken people. Mugabe had the choice to become a hero that the world would celebrate in life and death. His choice of yesterday defined his today and how history will celebrate him tomorrow.

This is the irony of life and a lesson to other African leaders that have the opportunity to establish lasting legacies while still in power. Mugabe was not the first African leader to die outside the shores of their countries. Regrettably, not many African leaders have visions of building world-class health care for their countries. Instead, they prefer going abroad to take care of themselves and leave the citizens to walk out their salvation at home. It shows the wickedness of these leaders and reflects on their thoughtless attitudes. They portray themselves as leaders with the love of their people at heart. You cannot love people you care less about.

In Africa, we rarely get to talk about rape tales. This is stating it mildly. We rarely talk about rape. When we do, it is done in whispers. It is done in isolated clusters, never discussed publicly. This is beside the fact that going by culture, it is a taboo. The subject is only brought up when someone very close is involved.

The silence on rape is deafening. The culture is accepted as the norm and in the process, victims become the accused. Many victims are silent to avoid mistreatment and unfair judgement. The victims not only suffer the emotional trauma, but also the shame of identification associated with it. The societies accuse the victims of being the agent provocateurs in their ordeals. No wonder just a few numbers of victims ever come up with their stories. An end must come to this.

The concluding part to be published next week.


As written for the Diaspora Matters column of Sunday Vanguard, January 5, 2019.






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