Magazine article New African

Do as We Say

Magazine article New African

Do as We Say

Article excerpt

"The moral and political meaning of nuclear weapons is that states which
renounce their use are acquiescing to the status of vassal states. All
those states that feel satisfied with possessing conventional weapons
alone are fated to become vassal states"--Munya Mardoch, director of
Israel's Weapons Development Programme, 1994.

As I was pouring over my notes, checking how long my column has gone AWOL (absence without leave, in military-speak), I came across the following conversation between John Clarkson, brother of the famous and indefatigable anti-slavery activist, Thomas Clarkson, and a proslavery bishop of the Church of England whom the two brothers were lobbying:

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Clarkson: "My Lord, what makes you so angry with these poor black people?"

Bishop: "Oh, they are a disagreeable set of people. They have such ugly noses."

Clarkson: "Well, my Lord, you'll be pleased to recollect they did not make their own noses."

What a great sense of humour and wit, this John Clarkson! He may well have been the sage direly needed in the portals of the UN Security Council these past few days to bring some sanity to the place after North Korea made an honourable but "unwelcome" entry into the Nuclear Club. I even hear the UN is going to impose sanctions on North Korea for daring to enter a club whose membership includes Good Old Uncle Sam and his little cousin upon whose empire the sun once never set. Well, what a club! Other members include France, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Israel ... and now North Korea--nine of them!

As usual, President George Bush has been at his bombastic best, pontificating on the need to teach North Korea a lesson for defying world opinion not to build nuclear weapons. His reaction reminded me of the speech he gave at the UN in November 2001, which prompted a Mr Mike Campbell of Bristol, UK, to write to The Guardian newspaper in these terms:

  "History", President Bush said in his UN speech on terrorism, "will
judge or justify every nation in this hall." In December 1987, the [UN]
General Assembly passed a resolution condemning terrorism and urging
"effective and resolute measures for the speedy and final elimination
of international terrorism". It was passed by 153 votes to 2, the two
being the US and Israel. The US vetoed the resolution. It was not
prepared to affirm the right of people to struggle against racist and
colonialist regimes and foreign military occupation. If it had supported
the resolution, it would have legitimised the resistance to Israeli
occupation of southern Lebanon and elsewhere.

I have often asked myself what kind of food Bush, Blair and the other Western leaders (now we can add the leaders of Japan, China and Russia) eat? Seeing what they do, and hearing what they say, I tell myself, these leaders can't be eating the same food as the rest of humanity! Potatoes, vegetables, rice, pastries, beef chops, Christmas pudding, and the like. Please don't tempt me to include sadza, fufu, yo-ke-gari or plain eba with egusi soup. That would be asking for far stronger stomachs.

But tell me, do Bush and Co. eat the same food as we the mere mortals eat? Food grown in the same soil of the Planet Earth we all live on? I doubt it. Else they would see that what they do and what they say just do not make sense! They would stop the hypocrisy because the sense of shame that overwhelms all of us when we speak at both ends of the mouth would overcome them and force them to stop making the kind of statements we have heard from them since North Korea joined the Nuclear Club.

As Dan Plesch, a fellow at London University's School of Oriental and African Studies, wrote in The Guardian on 10 October: "North Korea's nuclear test is only the latest failure of the West's proliferation policy ... Far from being crazy, the North Korean policy is quite rational. Faced with a US government that believes the communist regime should be removed from the map, the North Koreans pressed ahead with building a deterrent. …

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