by: michael eli dokosi
Veteran journalist Kwesi Pratt Jnr speaking as the guest speaker of the unveiling of the book ‘Nigeria’s Diplomacy in Perspective: Issues, People and Diplomatic Ties in West Africa’ authored by Ajayi Oluwapelumi Tobi has charged African diplomats to improve the relations between African people and countries in a bid to strengthen long held ties.
Charged with offering a lecture on the theme: ‘The Role of the Press in Improving Diplomatic Relations in Africa’ the Nkrumahist noted that but for the partition of Africa in Berlin setting up boundaries, Ghana, Nigeria, Togo and Benin could have been one kingdom covering many grounds and ethnicities stressing in Africa there is common histories, kinship and future.
He asserted that in the peculiar case of Africans, the role of diplomacy ought to aim at uniting our people and getting together to solve common problems often instigated by greedy oppressors.
“It is inconceivable that the resources of one people continuously extracted benefits other people while those whose resources are extracted continue to contend with disease, poverty and sham laws” the ‘Masa chief’ said.
The Managing Editor of the Insight newspaper observed Africans are as brilliant and creative as any other group pointing out Kofi Annan from Ghana and Wole Soyinka from Nigeria as examples. He however decried the fact that Cuba a country of 11 million islanders depending on sugar export to boost their economy manages to train and export doctors to varied countries including African states while Nigeria which pumps 2 billion barrels of oil a day is ridden with poverty and pot holes.
“Is it not shameful that the Ghana’s finance minister Seth Tekper recently stated that public sector wage of 600,000 staff consumes about 70% of accrued tax revenue leaving little for school and hospital construction.” Mr. Pratt mused.
According to Mr. Pratt Jnr, the real danger for Ghana is that most of its exploited resources (gold, gas, oil, cocoa) is not renewable stressing given that 50 years from now such resources will be exhausted, the fate of the next generation looks bleak indeed.
He said diplomacy must aim at addressing such threats noting that in Ghana’s case even though the country is noted as a gold producer, the 3% revenue given the government and chiefs as against the 90% concession the mining companies enjoy transferring millions of dollars to their home countries must be revoked.
Mr. Pratt Jnr urged Africa to join forces as a block as the South Americans have done while entering into negotiations be it G7, G8 or G21 stating that individual African countries going into meetings with the EU is detrimental and an exercise in futility.
“George Bush’s and Tony Blair’s false claim and role in the Iraqi war which led to 2m deaths and US soldiers roasting Somali’s on fire like barbecue yet facing no sanction exposes the hypocrisy of geopolitics” adding “did Charles Taylor commit more atrocities than P.W Botha of apartheid South Africa, George Bush and Tony Blair?”
If Taylor and Bashir must be punished, our diplomats must push for Bush, Blair and all other European criminals to also face the Internal Criminal Court, Pratt added.
The social commentator opined that the press is not homogenous as there are progressive and reactionary press houses stating that some are for Zionism and work for corporate agencies like Shell, Cadbury, Anglogold Ashanti which is fine but has issues with progressive press houses which operate in Africa and uphold Nkrumah, Fela, Sekou and Patrice and whose duty it is to advance the African unity agenda but are not doing enough.
He added the role of the African media is to avail a platform for the African masses to speak up about their frustrations and anger pointing out that the African press has a duty to tell the African story with the aid of history.
The husband and father who attended the event with his son observed that since religion was an emotional thing for people, they hardly think through issues but asked that if Africans had advanced civilizations some 2000 years before a supposed Christ, can the bible be trusted when African presence has deliberately been diluted?
According to ‘Massa Kwame’, it is often the case that geographical location determines the faith of people adding that all faiths including Islam, Christianity and Judaism are all competing superstitions but one must allow conscience to populate the evidence.
“This is the tropics, it makes no sense that our law people dress like folks in winter while those who adorn native attires are deemed uncivilized.”
He added “the trouble is neither Nigerians nor South Africans trading in the country but allowing Europeans to continue to steal our resources without let or hindrance. The problem is that apartheid still exists” he summed up.