Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Thank You CNN...

Please, someone CLEARLY explain to me what is going on. Waking up to the photo of Laurent Gbagbo and his wife Simone on a bed in the Gulf Hotel in Abidjan was more than infuriating. Now this situation is becoming a show, a bad one, one that is being put on to satisfy the appetites of the Western world. “Tyrant”, “Strongman”, “Dictator”, the media is painting a picture of the now former President of Cote d’Ivoire as another Gaddafi, Taylor, or Mugabe. Whatever the circumstances were last November no one will really knows, the “international community” tells us that Ouattara won in a free and fair election. Umm hello? Why would any Ivorian believe in such a thing? Why would we trust that the votes of the people were not silenced or tampered with? I mean let’s not be so surprised here people, Ivory Coast is a nation that has had only three “elected” Presidents, please, let me introduce you to them. Félix Houphouët-Boigny, former member of the French Parliament (pre-independence), a strong advocate of maintaining Francafrique, an infamous puppet of the French who was said to be involved in the disposals of Kwame Nkrumah and the African maytar Thomas Sankara. Hmmmm…not exactly sure President Boigny was elected in a free and clear situation, more like put in place by the French. By hey, I’m not one to gossip. Next up, the very rich and daper doppelganger of the aforementioned President Aimé Henri Konan Bédié, well he was also a lover of les French (not inherently a bad thing guys, who doesn’t enjoy croissants and socialism?), but also a leader within the IMF and World Bank’s committees on development, and I mean we all know how much the IMF and World Bank care about Africa. Let’s just say his rise to the Presidency was more like an announcement, well hell, that’s what the man did, he announced on national television that he would assume the position after Boigny died in 1993. Yea, so suffice it to say that negro was not elected either. Suivante! The always amiable Robert Guéï, friend of Boigny but foe of Bédié. Although he was not completely behind the coup d’etat in 1999, he quickly become the leader of the military government that would take over. Guéï agreed to hold elections in 2000, but banned northern leader Alassane Ouattara and former President Bédié from running for office, leaving only Laurent Gbago as the only candidate allowed to run. Gbagbo, an opponent of former President Boigny, a leader of the southern, Christian (once) majority, and a man who is not as warm to the French as our other friends. Although seen as a breath of fresh air, he too was not elected in a free and clear election, but rather declared himself the winner when military leader Guei fled Abidjan after violent uprisings from Gbagbo supporters. So even in 2000, with candidates being blocked from running for office, and a military government casting a dark shadow on the nation, there was no real democracy. Again I ask, how can anyone expect any different from what is happening in the West African Nation now? As one can see, there is no history of true democracy, or revolutionary mavericks looking to set up a strong government that will function as such even after they leave office, a la George Washington, or Nelson Mandela. There have been these five men, with a few no-bodies sprinkled in, who for the last 50 years have been battling egos and representing ethnic groups, or ideologies such as Ivorite or Franafrique. There has been no one who has focused on the country, the people, the economy, the infrastructure, the educational system, and the relationships with strong governments from which we can learn. Instead, there has been fighting, there has been conspiracy theories, and militias kidnapping political figures, and disseminating the sad photos to international news agencies. I am sorry Mr. Ouattara, this too will get you, but especially the country nowhere. We have lost sight of what is real, and tangible. The people of Cote d’Ivoire. I love my people, how could I not? They are a super fun and passionate bunch, but we must begin to look beyond the inherent xenophobia, the ethnic and religious divides, and begin to look at who will govern us as a nation. What can WE, as a people, accomplish for our patrie. Lets see, pick from some issues we can improve in Cote d'Ivoire, the educational system is a joke, you can either obtain your degree by paying off professors, or giving up 15 years of your sad life (waiting around for the teacher strikes to stop interrupting your pursuit of a bachelor’s degree). There are no jobs. None, professional or blue collar. Which bien sur leads the constant brain drain, and massive exodus to France, and other western nations. Our economic situation? Lets diversify our portfolio a bit, I know cocoa, palm oil, and other good based on our agriculture has been working for us, but clearly we are not making it work, if you get my drift. This is beyond who really won the election, frankly neither Gbagbo or Ouattara would be the change that Cote d’Ivoire needs, instead this, in my very humble opinion, should be a vital lesson to the future leaders of the nation, the young Ivorians inside the country and abroad must take heed and learn from the lessons of these washed up men. What is happening now is not teaching Ivorians what democracy is, what is happening right now is doing exactly what the above discussed history has shown us, that there is an in group and an out group. Right now Mr. Ouattara is part of the in group, French backed, an internationally recognized leader, but this will not last, because democracy is not sustainable in an environment where ethnic and religious divides are so deep that no matter the outcome of any election there will be a revolt from the "out" group. Let Ivorians as a people realize we are fighting each other in vain, we are not the enemy, but our inherent need to divide ourselves is. Cote d’Ivoire needs a leader that does not represent a particular ethnic group or disenfranchised minority, but represents the interests of the nation as a whole, who represents growth, prosperity, and the natural Ivorian pride that resides in all of us, the pride that will push a nation to overcome what was instilled in us during colonization. Ivorians are one people, we were one people before the French told us who was worthy and who was not, before an influx of immigrants made us turn our backs on our African brothers and began calling them enemies, before we allowed ourselves to be overcome with anger towards to the point where we forgot our rich history. Let us become more sympathetic to the plightof the African, and less impassive to the needs of the nation. We will never move forward divided, we will only leave oursleves suseptable to poverty, ingnorance, and leaders who push their economic and political agendas under the guise of democracy. I say all that to say this. Ivorians wake up and see who the real enemy is, not the French, the Northerners, the Southerners, the immigrants, the UN, the Muslims, the Christians, but its our closed mentality that will bury us. Our discrimination, our inability to care about the future of our nation, our egos, this will keep us enslaved to the false perceptions which we have lived with since the French came to our country. Come together as one people, and put our differences aside, we are a new generation of Ivorians, educated all over the world, there is no reason we can not create a paradigm shift for the betterment of our homeland. Ivorians educate yourselves, learn your hsitory, speak to your people, become the change that is needed to make our country golden again. Let us not repeat the mistakes of our former "leaders".

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