Laurent Gbagbo and my love for Jamaican women

Laurent Gbagbo Waits For Start Of His ICC Trial, Hague. Reuters Laurent Gbagbo

Tue, 27 Dec 2016 Source: Osei, Nana Yaw

Apart from gospel Music, I am a big fan of Jamaican Reggae Music. I love the music of Joseph Hill of culture fame. My best number from Culture is “Where the tree falls.” In that song, the musician asserted that “where the tree falls. There shall it lie until judgment take its course.”

My High School senior and a good companion, George Owusu Banie (GOB) and I like this song. Another beautiful song from a Jamaican artist Chronixx is “Jamaica smile.”

Dear pastor think little, don’t tell me a good Christian must not listen to those kinds of songs. The point I am making is that Jamaican people must be commended for their relentless spirit of pan Africanism and straightforwardness. Many Africans are not straightforward.

A friend of mine in New Jersey from Kyebi is not happy about New Patriotic Party’s victory. This guy is a secret admirer of Nana Addo Danquah Akufu Addo’s (NADAA) family daughter and to him NADAA’s presidential victory has dashed his dreams.

An impeccable theologian and a meticulous philosopher William Temple better known as archbishop Temple (1881-1944) claimed that an individual ought not to be allowed to be a philosopher unless he or she is not bereft of a sense of humor. Humor emanates partly from not taking oneself too seriously, and often turns on a sudden righting of the balance which has been disrupted by human conceit or overseriousness. It is based on this philosophy that I settled on the above caption.

It beats my understanding why in spite of their lofty educational pursuit, many people on the continent of Africa sacrifice their critical thinking abilities on unholy alters of their pastors egocentric convenience. In Ghana for example, men of God are now god of men. I saw a message on the social media christened as “From grace to disgrace” with a picture of ex-Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo.

Someone remorselessly originated this message from his Church and the members are circulating it without questioning. Questioning our pastors’ decisions do not make us candidates for hell. If the humility born of skepticism is genuine, it will surely save mankind from an arrogant contempt for thinkers both of the past and present. We must not be quick to judge as Africans or believers. I think Laurent Gbagbo was a true pan Africanist who had been misunderstood by his people out of France’s diplomatic brinkmanship.

Laurent Gbagbo born in May 31, 1945 at the village of Mama was a history professor and a true pan Africanist. He obtained his PhD from the reputable Paris Diderot University. He was the director of the Institute of History, Art and African Archaeology at the prestigious University of Abidjan in 1980. Gbagbo was a known antagonist of the first president of Ivory Coast, Felix Houphouet Boigny affectionately known among the people of Bouake the second largest city of the country as “Nana Boakye.” Gbagbo was secretly sponsored by the former dictator of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaore to unseat Nana Boakye the longtime Ivorian president.

Gbagbo was an astute member of his political party: Ivorian Popular Front (FPI). In 1990, he won a seat as a member of Ivorian legislature (parliament or national assembly) representing the voters of Ouragahio. He became the president of Ivory Coast from 2000-2011.

The election 2010 was saddled with litigation and protest. Gbagbo rejected the counts from 9 constituencies on the grounds of fraud. Alassane Quattara was declared the winner and this was confirmed by African Union (AU) Observers, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) observers, and other international observers.

Just as in the 2012, Nana Addo Danquah Akufu Addo, Ghana’s president-elect, challenged the victory of President John Dramani Mahama at the Supreme Court, Law abiding Gbagbo challenged the result at the Ivorian constitutional council. Lucky for him, the article 94 of Ivorian constitution empowers the constitutional council to determine and proclaim the result of presidential election.

This legal constitutional council declared the 2010 results in favor of Gbagbo. In the civil conflict that ensued, Quattara supporters backed by French soldiers embarked on the famous operation unicorn.

Gbagbo was arrested for applying the laws of his own country while those who rejected the rulings of the constitutional council are walking freely. Is the Ivorian constitutional council legal or illegal? He was transferred to the International Criminal Court (ICC). His wife Simone Gbagbo is serving 20 years jail terms while the trial of Gbagbo began in January 2016 at ICC.

It is worthy of noting that it was Laurent Gbagbo’s simplicity and disdain for political chicanery and brinkmanship that qualified the international economist, Alassane Quattara and the current president of Ivory Coast to run for the presidency. Mr. Quattara was appointed a prime minister by the first president of Ivory Coast between 1990 and 1993.

After the demise of Felix Houphouet Boigny (Nana Boakye) in 1993, many expected Mr. Quattara to take over. Contrary became an evidence as Henri Konam Bedie took power as a second president of Ivory Coast. President Konam Bedie did not only rule the country from 1993 to 1999 but crippled Mr. Quattara from contesting him.

Mr. Quattara who hitherto his appointment as prime minister lived in the USA, also has one of his parents from Burkina Faso. Out of political sophistry and susurrus from the camp of Bedie as well as striking a lethal blow to the presidential ambition of Mr. Quattara, Konam Bedie passed a legislation that Ivorians hoping to be president must have both parents from Ivory Coast and must have lived in the country for at least five years. Mr. Quattara did not meet any of the aforesaid criteria. It was Gbagbo’s government who removed these restrictions for Mr. Quattara.

Professor Gbagbo undertook austerity measures to resuscitate the dislocated economy bequeathed to him by General Robert Guei. Guei was a military leader who toppled Konam Bedie’s government. The lifespan of Guei’s government was ephemeral (not lasting) as he ruled from 1999 to 2000.

France was not happy and opposed the policies of Gbagbo. On December 17, 2004, at Cotonou in Benin, the Vanguard Newspaper reported that Laurent Gbagbo threatened to pull his country out of CFA currency zone.

He was dissuading the other Francophone West African countries to join this economic rebellion against France. Unlike Ghana and Nigeria, France print and decide the currency for the French West African countries. In Ivory Coast, France rents the presidential palace to the government. This means that the government of Ivory Coast pays rent to French government on the Ivorian’s own presidential palace. Laurent Gbagbo opposed these kinds of unfair treatments meted out to his countrymen.

France was covertly looking for an opportune time to punish Gbagbo. 2010 electoral dispute made Gbagbo a ripe prey for his naysayers and doom wishers. One of the irony of colonization of Africa is that Africans waited after colonization and the obnoxious Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade before discovering their identity as one people, one spirit.

ECOWAS, AU have all stabbed Gbagbo at his back. If there is any grace to disgrace, then it is African grace to disgrace not Gbagbo’s. Those circulating from grace to disgrace espoused by their ignorant pastors must be ashamed of themselves as Africans after reading this write up. Bob Marley quizzed rhetorically in his track, “redemption song” “How long shall they kill our prophets while we stand aside and look?

When dictatorship occurred in Europe, it was christened as an enlightened despotism. Dictatorship on the continent of Africa is conceptualized as “soulless dictatorship.” However, I concede that some of the African leaders like Idi Amin Dada, Yahya Jammeh, Paul Biya and Joseph Kabila deserve the above description.

A child in Europe who takes a metal object is very playful. An African child in the same continent with the same object is being hostile. Dennis Diderot (1713-1784) opined that “we swallow greedily any lie that flatters us, we sip only little by little at a truth we find bitter.”

This partly explains why Queen Victoria wanted to incarcerate the users of marijuana while she used to treat her menstrual cramp. Instead of African pastors preaching a change in the world to reflect the life of Jesus, the Christ, they every now and then take advantage of their ignorant followers.

They also preach ignorance coupled with metaphysical nonsense to sink the image of African freedom fighters like Gbagbo into oblivion. I take solace in the French philosopher Denis Diderot assertion that “man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.”

The trial of Gbagbo is a warning to Ghana to strengthen her institutions. NADAA the president-elect for Ghana is a fount of illumination for many young Lawyers in Ghana. He is a great politician of impressive erudition and a fluent French speaker. NADAA’s legal image will be dented if he fails to strengthen our institutions.

NADAA must separate police service from executive manipulation, separate attorney generals from the minister of justice and pull Ghana out of ICC immediately. Laurent Gbagbo is being condemned for applying his country’s law. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4: 6). Those who crucified Jesus thought they were harming him.

Fellow citizens of Africa, like the historical John Brown whose body lies a-mouldering in the grave, but his soul goes marching on, posterity will remember Laurent Gbagbo as a true son of the continent who frown upon injustice imperialism and neocolonialism. What soul? The soul of black emancipation.

A true pan Africanist Gbagbo is facing trial for the love of his continent. If he dies today, his soul will go marching on. ECOWAS and AU must show some love to Gbagbo. He did not lose election per Ivorian constitution.

He was a true patriot and a proud African who awarded Ghana under 20 team for winning world cup hosted at Egypt in 2010 “We can conceive of a future without high rise. But a humanity without music and love is not just inconceivable: It is impossible (George Leonard). I love Jamaican women because they speak out their minds boldly. “I know that I am intelligent because I know that I know nothing.”


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Nana Yaw Osei (Padigo), USA

Columnist: Osei, Nana Yaw