African leaders lap up the honours
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