Twenty six years back I attended a Commonwealth Study Conference hosted by the Duke of Edinburg in Oxford, England.
The conference pulled together representatives of all Commonwealth member countries to deliberate on how best to make the world a better place for all to live in. The conference broke up in groups and I joined the group that visited Northern Ireland, the contested country, also known as Ulster by sections of the Irish community that forms that society.
During that time the militant Irish Republican Army (IRA) was locked in war against the British army for control of Northern Ireland. Among the sites we visited was a prison called The Maize that at the time was the only prison that housed prisoners from both the IRA and fighting forces ancillary to the British army.
I spoke to a prisoner who had killed a whole family from the opposing group. I asked him whether he had changed his mind after the years he had spent in prison and when his response was negative, I asked whether he would do the same thing. His response was: “It does not matter; I shall kill them all if I find them”.
Derry United Football Club played a visiting team from Scotland and supporters turned up in thousands, wearing shirts with various messages and two of these caught my eye. One said: “Live free or die”. The other read: “In truth I have travelled the wide world over but Ireland is my home and a dwelling for me. And oh, that the turf that my old bones shall cover, be cut of the soil that is trot by the free”.
But my experience of the visit came from a 70-year-old professor of economics who had spent half his adult life in a British prison, having been captured in battle as an IRA recruit against the British army. Professor Perbeddy asked me the question: “How is Namibia?” I said that we were fine, not sure what he wanted to know.
He gave me a wry smile and said: “This world is a vicious cycle, you have the era of corruption leading to the era of revolution that gives birth to the era of freedom, which again feeds into the era of corruption; discontent, the cycle recurs”. Each time I follow developments around the world, my own nation included, the words of Perbeddy rings into my head.
I watched a documentary about the war in Iraq and I saw American troops dropping consignments of food and then airlifting families that were trapped by the war situation in the mountains. A mother rushed forward with her seven-year-old daughter and they made it through the stampede into the helicopter before the doors closed. The girl inspected the lines and when they cleared the windows, she looked outside as the helicopter lifted into space, she curled on the lap of her mother and cried loudly: ”Where is my father?”
All in the helicopter quietly pushed back their tears as they knew that the little girl was not alone.
Aljazeera reported of these 400 000 documents that were leaked from the Pentagon files a few years back. They detailed war atrocities by forces involved in the war in Iraq. Subsequently, names of some of the culprits were released, leading to intense debates in the United States of America and Iraq. I recalled similar reports of atrocities and espionage from past wars spanning a number of decades as documented in books over time, and I exclaimed to myself, “these parallels are frightening”.
John Stockwell wrote a book titled “In Search of Enemies” in which he gave details on America’s involvement through their CIA in the Angolan war in the 1970s. The book provided instructive reading with regard to the politics of that era and its global ramifications.
Medelin Kalb wrote a book titled “The Congo Cable”, in which she dealt with the war in the Congo circa 1960s, which war led to the partition of the Congo between Congo Brazaville and Zaire of the time (now DRC). This war created problems, one such problem was the arrest and killing of the Congo’s elected president, Patrice Lumumba, by Belgium and her allies. Like with our Hendrik Witbooi, Patrice Lumumba’s grave is yet to be discovered.
So many literary contributions were written about the role stronger nations played in campaigns to marginalize weaker and vulnerable nations, mostly passing as saviors. Closer to the Southern African region, Ken Flower wrote a book titled “Serving Secretly”. The book opens with Prime Minister-elect Robert Mugabe, having a conversation with Ken at a British hosted reception on the eve of Zimbabwe’s independence. Mugabe says to Ken: “We know the role you played in the Ian Douglas Smith regime against our war of liberation. But I want you to serve the nation of Zimbabwe as head of our intelligence”.
Ken accepted the offer and that is how the real Ken Flower comes to light in his book. Another book on Zimbabwe was written by an author whose name I forgot and it is titled “I See You in November”. The book revealed the backdrop to the assassination of Herbert Chitepo of ZANU-PF and illuminates - the puzzle that surrounded the assassinations of key role players in the struggle for Zimbabwe, among them Dr. Parirenyatwa and General Tongongara of ZANU-PF.
World tensions are as old as the human race and they are not in a hurry to subside. As I follow these events I increasingly form the impression that the cold war has returned to the world, only with a paradigm shift with regard to political and economic interests and this shift carries with it the propensity for contemporary strategic alliances.
Only time will tell where countries like Namibia will feature in the larger scheme of things and the extent to which our nation is bound to be affected.
New Era Reporter
2018-11-28 11:04:52 6 months ago