Obama and Zuma high pro­file win­ners in a year of fool­ish awards

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - ISSUES -

IT LOOKS like this is go­ing down as the year of fool­ish awards. Barack Obama got the No­bel Peace Prize and Ja­cob Zuma has been de­clared the African Pres­i­dent of the Year. And there are still seven weeks to squeeze in Julius Malema as Hu­man Rights Pro­tec­tor of 2009.

Nei­ther the Amer­i­can nor the South African pres­i­dent de­served his ac­co­lade, if for no other rea­son than nei­ther has been in of­fice long enough to re­al­is­ti­cally judge ei­ther one’s per­for­mance. Un­for­tu­nately, both men were too vain to turn down the hon­our.

Or pos­si­bly the two are work­ing on the prin­ci­ple that they had bet­ter grab what is of­fered be­cause it might not come around a sec­ond time.

There is a world of dif­fer­ence, of course, be­tween the No­bel Prize and the African Pres­i­dent of the Year award. The for­mer at least has some lin­eage, the lat­ter is a pub­lic­ity gim­mick and this first-time award has as much cred­i­bil­ity as one of the shiny bot­tle tops that Idi Amin used to wear on his chest.

The stunt was ar­ranged by an out­fit called African Con­scious­ness Me­dia which, when one cuts through all the pre­ten­tious waf­fle on their web­site, turns out to be a Sand­ton events and mar­ket­ing com­pany.

The other spon­sor was the Kenneth Kaunda Foun­da­tion, headed by KK him­self, who we know is the very em­bod­i­ment of demo­cratic com­mit­ment, scrupu­lous gov­er­nance, and im­pec­ca­ble moral char­ac­ter.

Let us draw a dis­creet veil over the fact that he presided over a oneparty state that re­duced Zam­bia to eco­nomic ruin. Aside from the fact that KK got to give out the prize, it is dif­fi­cult to see how the Foun­da­tion fits into the pic­ture.

To give it its full name, the Kenneth Kaunda Chil­dren of Africa Foun­da­tion was set up in Fe­bru­ary in Nige­ria to help the “vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren of Africa”, es­pe­cially those with HIV/Aids. It claims no spe­cial in­ter­est or ex­per­tise in mat­ters of po­lit­i­cal gov­er­nance or lead­er­ship.

The KKCAF does, how­ever, ex­tol in atro­cious English, the virtues of KK whose dis­tin­guish­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic as pres­i­dent of Zam­bia – aside from au­toc­racy and in­com­pe­tence – was the pro­mo­tion of the KK per­son­al­ity cult.

In case you mis­re­mem­ber KK, the KKCAF pro­claims, “This great African son has also touched the lives of many through his mas­ter­piece lit­er­ary works. It is on ver­i­fi­able record that (he) has led a true self­less life im­bued with such dogged­ness, pa­tri­o­tism, fo­cus and forthright­ness that is still be­ing cel­e­brated.

At the en­tire African level of gov­er­nance, and ad­min­is­tra­tion, this elder-states­man (sic) could be linked to many en­dur­ing poli­cies and pro­grammes that harp on the li­bra­tion (sic) of Africans so­cially, poli­ically (sic) and eco­nom­i­cally.”

The pa­trons of the KKCAF are KK, a re­tired Nige­rian air vice-mar­shal, a Nige­rian for­mer min­is­ter of avi­a­tion, the chair­man of ACM Ltd, and a mys­te­ri­ous Jef­frey Bay­man who is CEO of KKCAF but for whom there is no bi­og­ra­phy.

The gov­ern­ing board is a re­tired mi­nor Nige­rian civil ser­vant, a Nige­rian evan­ge­list and “busi­ness mogul”, and a Nige­rian phar­ma­cist who is also founder of the DNA Foun­da­tion. In case you as­sume the DNA Foun­da­tion is at the cut­ting edge of sci­en­tific re­search, let me dis­abuse you.

The Foun­da­tion seems to be a com­plete fic­tion and there is not a sin­gle ref­er­ence to it on the web. This hodge-podge of nonen­ti­ties got to de­cide that Ja­cob Zuma is African Pres­i­dent of the Year? Kinda fig­ures.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.