Your Excellency, Ambassador Attila Lajos,
I salute you on the auspicious occasion of African Liberation Day, today, May 25, 2020. Certainly this date should remind you of the complicated past your continent has shared with mine. The African continent has had quite a dramatic past with your continent and it was surely not one of milk and honey; at least not for us. The psychological burden of this past should have been enough of a tether on your unbridled tongue as you execute your duties as the overall representative of all our former colonial masters in The Gambia.
Therefore you can imagine the utter consternation and revulsion with which I received news of your very toxic and obnoxious declaration of the launch of a human rights campaign geared towards promoting homosexuality in our overwhelmingly Muslim country under the banner of your insidious hashtag #breakthesilence. To have had the temerity to launch a campaign of promoting gay rights in a country of Muslims and Christians at any time is obnoxious and antithetical to diplomatic protocol. And to do it during the last ten days of the holiest of all months for Muslims, Ramadhan, makes your action not only offensive but sacrilegious.
Why did you do this, Your Excellency? I have heard you making passing reference to some underlying agreements you have signed with our government to give us aid contingent on human rights matters, but even if your inference were to hold water, then why do this at the time you chose?
Mr. Ambassador, we are aware of the subservient attitude of our ruling class towards your continent and its vassal states around us. We know that our current government is tied to Europe’s purse strings; but still Europe is known for some level of cultural finesse that should be enough to inform your choice of words, actions and timing. Have you and your ilk metamorphosed into some other forms of species alien to the the progenitors of the enlightenment and the renaissance?
Your Excellency, as I argued in my first essaysince your pungent and provocative statement “Diplomacy requires respect for the sovereignty, integrity and cultural ethos of the host countries of Ambassadors.”
So if you did such a faux pas in any other country with a Government well informed enough and imbued with the self-esteem and confidence requisite in responsive leadership, you would have been called in for consultation by the Foreign Minister and possibly expelled from the country. We do not expect to see any such thing happen anytime soon in our country, plagued with a somnolent leadership that is clearly rudderless.
But this country is not unblessed with sons and daughters who are willing, ready and able to stand up to bullies like you and the institution you represent; to call you out and hold you to account for your transgressions against a people already bruised and scarred by the egregious misadventures of your continent and its leaders. If you ask one of your your predecessors, H.E. Mme Dominique Dellicour, about the proceedings and outcomes of the meeting she held with me on April 8, 2014, while I was Presidential Affairs Minister, then you would understand why I undertook a trip to Russia a few weeks later for a meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that changed the history of our diplomatic ties with Russia for the better.
We know that we have choices in diplomacy and that we cannot afford to continue to be ‘price takers’ at the economic diplomacy stock exchange. Therefore, while you try to impose on us your preferred ideas about human rights. We shall also remind you about all the wrong actions and inhuman treatment that you and your forebears have meted out on us and continue us to shackle us with.
And speaking of shackles, that reminds me about the totally wrong, objectionable and inhuman treatment that your continent continues to unleash on our young African brothers and sisters living in detention centres in your country as they seek asylum.
I once confronted a DW TV talk host about reports of the EU’s collaboration with Libyans in the inhuman detention, torture and enslavement of our young migrants in transit in North Africa. She denied the statement which was published in their programme “How can Gambian returnee migrants be best re-integrated into their societies” (available on YouTube). I deem it fitting to reproduce the following from a report by the Guardian news paper titled “EU support for Libya contributes to ‘extreme abuse’ of refugees” as evidence of my claim:
“The EU’s support for Libya’s anti-migrant policies is contributing to a cycle of “extreme abuse”, including arbitrary detention, torture, sexual violence, extortion and forced labour. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, who interviewed 66 migrants and asylum seekers in Libya last year, EU institutions and member states are continuing to sustain a network of detention centres characterised by “inhuman and degrading” conditions where the risk of abuse is rife.”
Your Excellency, Mr. Ambassador, how can you raise your voice and pontificate about human rights to us when your hands are dirtied not only with the blood of our forefathers whom you enslaved but also our brothers and sisters currently seeking better opportunities for economic progress? What spirit breathes in you Mr Ambassador that enables you to speak to Africa about human rights when the inhuman wrongs you meted out to Patrice Lumumba still remain fresh in our minds?
Are you the reincarnation of the spirits cast out by Jesus Christ from the two men of the country of the Gadarenes, as narrated in the New Testament?
Mr Ambassador, we know about your pecuniary tricks and juicy foreign trips with which you have baited some of our activists, political neophytes and cultural dimwits, who pander to your whims and caprices at the very cost of their own souls. But be rest assured that the majority of Gambians reject your planned gay evangelisation programme. We may be poor in terms of material riches but we are rich in heart and soul. We shall never be mentioned among the wretched on the day of resurrection when the sinners would be called out whom Allah labels in Surah Baqarah verse 86 as “the people who buy the life of this world at the price of the Hereafter.”
We stand tall as independent-minded dignified human beings who are well aware that foreign aid has never developed any country in history as clearly and empirically demonstrated by Professor William Easterly in his bestseller “The Elusive Quest for Growth”. We know that we can; and we shall win; we trust the wisdom of Bob Marley who continues to teach us “And we know we shall win, as we are confident, in the victory, of Good over evil.”
In parting, Your Excellency, shall I not treat you to a smattering of some analysis I did for the Angolan Ecnomics and Finance Journal, Mercado, in commemoration of this year’s African Liberation Day.
Here’s my take: Birth rates and the youth-population dividend all portend a brighter future for Africa as innovation in modern technology (especially ICT) powers the continent to leapfrog the development process. … the prophets of doom and gloom are all aghast at the very low rates of infection and death on the continent even as the coronavirus ravages developed countries like America and Italy. Instead, we have found the first plausible cure for COVID-19 emerging from Madagascar even as Senegal celebrates the invention of the fastest COVID-19 test kit at the lowest price.”
We stand at the threshold of great victories and the narrative of the story of Africa has taken a turn for the better. Kindly take your gay hymn book to some other place where your “aid for booty” diplomacy could work, because The Gambia is a no go area; and so would countries, like the African Reemergence powerhouse Nigeria, reject your abominable ploys. We are well poised for victory and we shall sing with joy very soon, the realisation of the ideals well encapsulated in our melanin hymn “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika”:
Ringing out from our blue heavens
From our deep seas breaking round
Over everlasting mountains
Where the echoing crags resound
Sounds the call to come together
And united we shall stand.
Your Excellency, please accept the assurances of my tit-for-tat consideration and reciprocal esteem.
Former S.G and Presidential Affairs Minister, International Speaker and author