African lead­ers lap up the hon­ours

Lesotho Times - - Scrutator -

THERE is in­deed some hi­lar­i­ous news em­a­nat­ing from In­dia. Scru­ta­tor was left chuck­ling this week af­ter learn­ing that Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili was con­ferred with an hon­orary doc­tor­ate last Satur­day by In­dia’s Lovely Pro­fes­sional Univer­sity (LUP).

I don’t only find the univer­sity’s name to be funny and hi­lar­i­ous, I am equally bam­boo­zled, mys­ti­fied if not mes­mer­ized by its claim to be In­dia’s “largest (sic) best pri­vate univer­sity”.

Dr Mo­sisili was con­ferred with the univer­sity’s ‘ Honoris Causa’ De­gree of Doc­tor of Let­ters “for his ded­i­ca­tion and con­tin­u­ous en­deav­ors to up­hold peace and har­mony, and in recog­ni­tion of his out­stand­ing pub­lic ser­vice and ex­cel­lent gov­er­nance”. What are a mouth­ful.

Given the cur­rent en­vi­ron­ment in Le­sotho, Cy­clone Tom, the ‘Maserib­anes and the Ran­tšos are surely likely to beg to dif­fer. But I dis­agree with this “dis­honor” of our Prime Min­is­ter for en­tirely dif­fer­ence rea­sons.

Up un­til this “dis­honor” was con­ferred on our Prime Min­is­ter, I must con­fess that I had never heard of some­thing called the Lovely Pro­fes­sional Univer­sity.

If it had been the Univer­sity of Michi­gan, MIT (Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy), Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia, or even Mak­erere Univer­sity in far down Uganda, or the highly es­teemed Univer­sity of Zim­babwe in Mu­ga­be­land, I would not only have hailed the high hon­our of con­fer­ring a doc­tor­ate on our Prime Min­is­ter, I would in fact have vol­un­teered to ac­com­pany him to pick it up. All at my ex­pense. It wouldn’t have mat­tered that I will be sit­ting in econ­omy class and Ntate Mo­sisili would be re­clin­ing in the very first sec­tion of the plane, I would be glad to ac­com­pany him and sing and dance dur­ing the con­fer­ment cer­e­mony.

Iwould also have of­fered to write his ac­cep­tance speech in which I would un­leash my en­tire reser­voir of wis­dom to im­press the good folks at any of the above rep­utable uni­ver­si­ties.

There is no doubt that the rep­u­ta­tions of de­grees fol­low the rep­u­ta­tions of the in­sti­tu­tion con­fer­ring them.

For this rea­son, I am am­biva­lent about our es­teemed Prime Min­is­ter be­ing hon­oured by a far flung Lovely Pro­fes­sional Univer­sity (LPU).

But on the other hand, some may ar­gue that an hon­our is an hon­our. Even if it means the con­fer­ment of a Doc­tor­ate in Eco­nom­ics from the Univer­sity of Pyongyang.

Hav­ing been hon­oured in In­dia, it was only ap­pro­pri­ate that Ntate Mo­sisili makes ref­er­ence to the good old great – Ma­hatma Ghandi.

In his key­note ad­dress, Dr Mo­sisili ad­vised con­gre­gants to fol­low the teach­ings of Ma­hatma Gandhi and said so­lu­tions to the myr­iad prob­lems of the world could be learned from the great leader’s life.

“Ma­hatma Gandhi’s teach­ings are an in­spi­ra­tion to the world,” The Hindu news­pa­per quotes him say­ing.

How­ever, a re­cently pub­lished book has re­vealed that Gandhi is not the an­gel he is made out to be.

Ac­cord­ing to The South African Gandhi: Stretcher-bearer of Em­pire, dur­ing his stay in South Africa, Gandhi rou­tinely ex­pressed “dis­dain for Africans de­scrib­ing them as “sav­age,” “raw” and liv­ing a life of “in­do­lence and naked­ness”. He cam­paigned re­lent­lessly to prove to the Bri­tish rulers that the In­dian com­mu­nity in South Africa was su­pe­rior to na­tive black Africans.

One of the first bat­tles Gandhi fought af­ter com­ing to South Africa was over the sep­a­rate en­trances for In­di­ans and blacks at the Dur­ban post of­fice. Gandhi ob­jected that In­di­ans were “classed with the na­tives of South Africa,” who he called the kaf­firs, and de­manded a sep­a­rate en­trance for In­di­ans.

Said Gandhi: “We felt the in­dig­nity too much and … pe­ti­tioned the author­i­ties to do away with the in­vid­i­ous dis­tinc­tion, and they have now pro­vided three sep­a­rate en­trances for na­tives, Asi­at­ics and Euro­peans.”

At a speech in Mum­bai in 1896, Gandhi said that the Euro­peans in Natal wished “to de­grade us to the level of the raw kaf­fir whose oc­cu­pa­tion is hunt­ing, and whose sole am­bi­tion is to col­lect a cer­tain num­ber of cat­tle to buy a wife with, and then, pass his life in in­do­lence and naked­ness.”

So much for a free­dom fighter whom Ntate Mo­sisili think we should fol­low!

It seems Ntate Mo­sisili is not the only one flour­ish­ing on the prize perch. An­other African “leader”, the un­la­mentable Robert Mu­gabe, has won what is re­garded as China’s al­ter­na­tive to the No­bel Peace Prize.

Mu­gabe, the nearly 100 year-old ma­niac, who is in­fa­mous for us­ing sys­tem­atic vi­o­lence and tor­ture to main­tain his grip on power, and who does not de­serve the ti­tle Ntate, has just be­come the lat­est re­cip­i­ent of China’s Con­fu­cius peace prize for sup­pos­edly “in­ject­ing fresh en­ergy” into the global quest for har­mony.

“Ever since Robert Mu­gabe was sworn in as the pres­i­dent of Zim­babwe in the 1980s, he has worked hard to bring po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic or­der to the coun­try and to im­prove the wel­fare of the Zim­bab­wean peo­ple by over­com­ing hard­ship,” the prize com­mit­tee’s chair­man Qiao Damo said of Mu­gabe.

Qiao claimed that Mu­gabe had pro­vided his peo­ple with a much bet­ter stan­dard of liv­ing than cit­i­zens of Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan. “It’s much bet­ter than Libya too,” he added. What the hell is this world com­ing to? Are the stan­dards of liv­ing in such hell holes as Syria, Iraq, or Afghanistan surely the best yard­sticks with which to mea­sure progress and good liv­ing eti­quette?

Such a stan­dard of mea­sure­ment is an in­sult to African peo­ple. Qiao surely shares Ghandi’s sen­ti­ments of us black Africans as be­ing an­i­mals. The mes­sage here is that if African lead­ers fare bet­ter than war torn coun­tries, then they de­serve to be hon­oured. Noth­ing is more con­de­scend­ing?

Cu­ri­ously, Liu Zhiqin, one of the com­mit­tee’s 76 mem­bers, ad­mit­ted the de­ci­sion had di­vided the group with only 36 vot­ing for Mu­gabe.

“Frankly speak­ing, there were in­ter­nal con­cerns about award­ing Mu­gabe the peace prize. I my­self have reser­va­tions,” he said. “Mu­gabe has been in power for such a long time that he could eas­ily be la­belled a dic­ta­tor, tyrant or despot.” This of­fers a lit­tle bit of re­lief from the cruel Chi­nese joke of hon­our­ing Mu­gabe. It doesn’t ex­cuse the whole fal­lacy though.

News of the Chi­nese award sparked de­ri­sion and fury among op­po­si­tion groups in Zim­babwe and ridicule among hu­man rights ac­tivists. What made all this, the even more cruel was the Chi­nese dis­patch that Mu­gabe had beaten off com­pe­ti­tion from can­di­dates in­clud­ing the Mi­crosoft founder and renowned phi­lan­thropist, Bill Gates, and the South Korean pres­i­dent, Park Geun-hye whose diplo­matic over­tures have avoided a war with despotic North Korean.

To put Mu­gabe at par with Gates and Geun-hye is off course the stuff of ig­no­ra­muses. But for a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of this cruel joke, one must con­sider the back­ground of the Con­fu­cius award.

The Con­fu­cius award was set up in 2010 as a Chi­nese al­ter­na­tive to the No­bel peace prize af­ter the Nor­we­gian No­bel com­mit­tee in­fu­ri­ated Bei­jing by hand­ing its an­nual peace prize to the jailed dis­si­dent writer Liu Xiaobo. Liu re­mains in pri­son for co-writ­ing a pro-democ­racy man­i­festo called Char­ter 08.

Pre­vi­ous win­ners of the Con­fu­cius peace prize in­clude the war­mon­ger Vladimir Putin who re­cently an­nexed a part of the sov­er­eign na­tion of Ukraine and former Cuban leader Fidel Cas­tro, who was praised by the com­mit­tee for “speak­ing out against nu­clear war­fare”. Iron­i­cally, Cas­tro held the world hostage in the 1960s by re­quest­ing Rus­sia to place nu­clear mis­siles in Cuba to de­ter the ag­gres­sion of the United States.

Even though he has pau­per­ized his na­tion, Mu­gabe is not a typ­i­cal fool in the mold of Idi Amin. He in fact com­mands seven de­grees, stud­ied while he lan­guished in the jails. He is a fairly ar­tic­u­late and in­tel­li­gent man. But it is his in­sa­tiable lust for sex, money and power that has caused him to de­stroy his coun­try.

Af­ter learn­ing that one of the ci­ta­tions for his prize spoke of his en­deav­ours in bet­ter­ing the stan­dards of liv­ing of the peo­ple in Zim­babwe to those in Afghanstan, Mu­gabe po­litely de­clined to ap­pear be­fore a gala, gala, gala Chi­nese din­ner to ac­cept the prize, The rea­son he ad­vanced was that the Con­fu­cius Peace Prize was not rec­og­nized by the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment.

In light of that re­al­ity, should Ntate Mo­sisili have chowed tax­payer resources to travel all the way to In­dia and col­lect a doc­tor­ate from the Lovely, Luvy, Dovey Pro­fes­sional Univer­sity. Make your own case. But I can’t wait to see this hi­lar­i­ous piece of pa­per pinned on our very own Prime Min­is­te­rial walls.


PRIME Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili (right) and his In­dian coun­ter­part Naren­dra Modi at the In­dia- Africa Sum­mit

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