African presidents who stood up against the west are often maligned and painted bad.
Past presidents like Haile Selassie I, Sani Abacha, Hosni Mubarak etc are some of Africa’s tyrant leaders.
Sometimes because they are rebellious against western imperialism, neocolonialism and reject their ideologies, they are tagged enemies of the west.
The truth is some of these African leaders have their faults as humans, nevertheless, they recorded some achievements which matter to their people.
1. Muammar Gaddafi
Gaddafi was born in Bedouin tent in Sirte, Libya on 7 June 1942.
He ruled Libya for 42 years between 1969 – 2011.
Although a military dictator, he transformed Libya into a socialist state in 1977, developing the country to the envy of many African nations.
The country boasted of free education and medical treatment.
Electricity was free, petrol was cheap and citizens who wished to farm got a house, farmland and livestock all free of charge.
Housing was considered a human right and loans had zero interest rate.
In the midst of these good deeds, Gaddafi was portrayed as a very bad leader by the western main stream media.
In the 1950s after significant reserves of oil had been discovered in the country, foreign companies controlled the oil and even set the prices to their own advantage to the detriment of Libyans.
He took steps to correct this abnormality and succeeded.
While fighting this war, he once said,
“people who lived without oil for 5,000 years can live without it again for a few years in order to attain their legitimate rights.”
Libya became the first developing nation to have majority share in revenue from its oil production.
He was despised and accused of supporting Islamist and communist terrorist groups like the Palestinian armed groups. The US and Israel felt threatened.
Cordial relationship between Gaddafi and the western world only lasted for about 7 years, between 2003 – 2011 after he agreed to stop acquiring mass weapons of destruction.
He once said of the US
“we believe America is practicing all kinds of terrorism against Libya. Even the accusation that we are involved in terrorism is in itself an act of terrorism.”
A civil war broke out in 2011 in the wake of the Arab spring and he was captured and killed by rebels fighters after being aided by airstrikes from NATO aircraft.
When he was being killed, there are unconfirmed stories that his last words as he begged for mercy were
“what did I do to you?
He was a Pan-African nationalist who longed for a United Africa.
2. Patrice Lumumba.
January 17 is the anniversary of his death.
Born 2 July 1925, he was only 35 years when he was killed.
He was a politician who became the first Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo between 24 June 1960 to 5 September 1960, a very short reign of barely 3 months.
Within this short time, he made sure his belief for total control of the country’s resources were impressed in the minds of DRC’s colonial masters and western imperialist.
He fought for the county’s independence and shortly before it, he formed the Mouvement National Congolais (MNC) party.
The party unlike others promoted independence, indigenization and a neutral stance on foreign affairs and autonomy from Belgian colonialist.
Democratic Republic of Congo eventually got its independence from Belgium on 30 June 1960.
In his independence day speech, he highlighted slavery which he said was being imposed on the country unlike his political rival who applauded the colonialists and danced to their tune.
“Don’t compromise the future with hasty reforms, and don’t replace the structures that Belgium hands over to you until you are sure you can do better. Don’t be afraid to come to us. We will remain by your side and give you advice,”
Thereafter, the country conducted elections and the MNC won most of the seats in parliament, Lumumba became Prime Minister.
During this period, there had been a mutiny in the army and this threatened his government.
At the same time, with the outbreak of the Cold War, the US and its allies, one of which is Belgium, were not prepared to allow Africans effectively control their raw materials, afraid that it may fall into the hands of the enemy (USSR).
He had approached UN and Belgium to help keep the mutiny at bay but they were unwilling to do so, he then turned to USSR.
The colonialists were not going to allow it. Although it did not happen, there are allegations that the US was planning to kill him by lacing his toothpaste with poison. They saw him as a threat.
His death was to come no sooner than later when the mutiny in the army led to the country splitting into four secession groups.
He was killed on 17 January 1961 by Congolese army supervised by Belgium forces in the most gruesome manner ending by firing squad.
In a bid to conceal his corpse, acid was poured on it.
Here is a quote from him.
“The colonialists care nothing for Africa for her own sake.
They are attracted by African riches and their actions are guided by the desire to preserve their interests in Africa against the wishes of the African people.
For the colonialists all means are good if they help them to possess these riches”.
3. Robert Mugabe.
He became the country’s head of state since independence in 1980 and ruled Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) from 1980 – 2017.
The west had never failed to highlight his failings that tarnished his reign rather than the gains of Robert Mugabe, but for people back home, he was a hero.
Initially, what started as a friendly relationship with the western world because he came to power based on his policy of racial reconciliation, later turned into resentment much so that Queen Elizabeth stripped of his honorary knighthood in 2008.
By the time he died, he had become a famous leader known for his bitter criticism of western imperialism.
A case of love turned hate because he pointed out the hypocrisy of ‘bloody whites’ as he was fond of calling them.
In 2000, he took farmlands belonging to white minority farmers and gave them to the blacks, accusing the whites of stealing the lands from blacks during its colonial regime.
The land reforms which he implemented was widely criticised and he replied by calling Tony Blair, then Prime Minister of UK “arrogant little fellow”.
He went on to refer to Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of state as “that girl born out of the slave ancestry” echoing “her master’s voice”.
Two years later the tension escalated when he chased out EU election observers from monitoring the country’s election.
This was followed by sanctions from US and EU one of which was banning him from entering the UK.
In response he said
“Keep your England and let me keep my Zimbabwe.”
In 2008, the west intensified efforts to oust him.
Then France president Nicholas Sarkozy said “Mugabe must go.”
According to Robert Mugabe:
“Who said the British and the Americans should rule over others? These bloody whites. They want to poke their nose into our own affairs.”
He openly criticised Obama’s effort trying to impose LGBT rights in the country saying
“We ask, was he born out of homosexuality? We need continuity in our race, and that comes from the woman, and no to homosexuality.
John and John, no; Maria and Maria, no. They are worse than dogs and pigs. I keep pigs and the male pig knows the female one.
He was a Pan-African nationalist, socialist and marxist-Lennist.
He died on 6 September 2019 in a hospital in Singapore at the age of 95.
He has been attributed with many quotes especially on the internet but many are incorrect or gravely exaggerated.
Here are some of his real famous quotes.
“Our party must continue to strike fear in the heart of the white man, our real enemy.”
“Britain is a very cold, uninhabitable country with small houses.”
“I am still the Hitler of the time. This Hitler has only one objective: justice for his people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people and their rights over their resources. If that is Hitler, then let me be Hitler tenfold. Ten times, that is what we stand for.”
“I’ve just concluded – since President Obama endorses same-sex marriage, advocates homosexual people, and enjoys an attractive countenance – thus if it becomes necessary, I shall travel to Washington, DC, get down on my knee, and ask his hand.”
“Let Mr Bush read history correctly. Let him realise that both personally and in his representative capacity as the current president of the United States, he stands for this ‘civilisation’, which occupied, which colonised, which incarcerated, which killed. He has much to atone for and very little to lecture us on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. His hands drip with innocent blood of many nationalities.”