Archive | January, 2015


17 Jan

By Javas Bigambo

Plaints and counter-plaints are flying across the global web and media in the aftermath of the fatuous Paris attack. The Pan-African jingoists are whispering incomprehensible things while Euro-centrists are rising to eminence over the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Je suis Charlie” is now a global slogan, a magnetic and profound worldwide meme that everyone is struggling to identify with. It is emerging as a powerful symbol of the struggle against terrorism. It may easily rise to be the face of defiance and a flash in the face of intolerant religious extremists. The Charlie Hebdo incidence as it place in history already.

A sea of humanity descended upon the streets of Paris, held hands, and some pushed others over for a moment with the cameras, and many remained in their homes chocked with grief, while others supported the weight of their heads with their hands, wondering what an intolerant world we have become. The world mourns the brazen shooting of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, and it is fitting as the world mourns the death of cartoonists and top editors, and condoles with their families, the veil is lifted at this timely hour.

World Leaders guiding the International March of Unity in Paris after Charlie Hebdo attack.

World Leaders guiding the International March of Unity in Paris after Charlie Hebdo attack.

As the world reflects upon the impact and related interpretations of the power of satire magnificently shouldered by Charlie Hebdo, an expressively artistic newspaper, I remember a long departed Ugandan author, lyricist and towering poet called Okot P’Bitek.

While he is remembered for ingenious works such as Song of Lawino, there is a small great book he wrote titled “Artist, the Ruler”. While that book is a collection of essays on Art, Culture, and Values, including extracts from Song of Soldier and White Teeth Make People Laugh on Earth, that title alone could invite us to think, in appreciation of art.

Art is powerful. It is works of art that invited an unwarranted attack on Charlie Hebdo. It is the work of artists that now has the world talking. The 21st century’s global agenda continues to be shaped by acts of and responses to acts of terrorism. Since September 11, the devastating attack on America’s soil and the attendant response to counter-terrorism, the world has changed, the ground immensely shifted.
Terrorism is now a global problem in all its forms. Grief has no shades of black or white, neither is it grey. All continents must unite against terrorism. The fight against terrorism must gain the necessary prominence even in foreign policy and international diplomacy across all continents.

Yes, the attackers on Charlie Hebdo were just as prejudiced as the newspaper itself, and that is why it is vital to start entertaining deeper reflections on the place of literary freedom and religious chauvinism in the advancement of global peace.
Few questions may arise over the solidary march in Paris. What exactly was the march about and what was it not about? Was it about solidarity with the families of those exterminated by the dishonourable bullets of the intolerant terrorists? Was it a depiction of solidarity against attack on Charlie Hebdo and thus a voice against all forms of terrorism? Was it a voice in line with anti-semitism? Or was it a march for freedom of expression? We may not necessarily isolate the questions, but if it was objectively a march against terrorism, why didn’t it stretch from the cold streets of France to the dusty scotching heat of Nigeria?

It is sad that 17 people were killed in the Charlie Hebdo intolerable religious ignominy, but 2000 people were killed in Nigeria by the nefarious arm of Boko Haram, yet the world wept inconsolably for the 17, and left the 2000 with unnoticed pity in Baga, Borno state Nigeria. What yawning indifference this is! Why the cacophonous near-racist response to terrorism?

Boko Haram Militants: They are a dangerous terror group like Al-Qaeda.

Boko Haram Militants: They are a dangerous terror group like Al-Qaeda.

The Paris protest, fitting as it was, has degraded Africa even further, and positioned the continent merely as a hostage of western interests.

The march in Paris was supremely a white protest against terrorism, and world leaders striving for political mileage and angling for significance in the global political currency. The indifference of the Western powers, and their unmistaken decision not to march on the streets of Nigeria as they did in Paris 3.7 million strong protesters, remains a self-evident shattering blow to the hopes of the African continent that the commitment of global powers to combat terrorism is unbiased around the world. Africa remains forlorn, recoiling in self-pity, and occasionally bathed with the sloppy dozes of Western sympathy.

The African continent is incessantly drenched in miseries of terrorism, the original tragedy of shouldering Western interests, wiping off black tears of anguish that cannot attract white protests of solidarity as witnessed in Paris.
Admittedly, the stridency of cluelessness of America and Europe on how Africa feels should be unveiled the prevailing circumstances. Since the attacks on Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam in 1998, to Kikambala in the Kenyan coast, flowed by numerous other terror attacks in Nairobi, the Kenyan coast, in Kampala and the situation now running out of hand in Nigeria, major world powers have kept a convenient silence, and demonstrated their concern by issuing travel advisories against the countries in distress.

Acts of terrorism in the past one and a half decades and gradually transformed from being an attack on western interest in Africa, to a global problem pitting cross-continental interests. There is no doubt that terrorist groups across the world continue to advance their sources of financing, arms and recruits, and their reliance on technology and sophisticated intelligence and media exposes just how intricate the different terror groups and their networks are.

Look at Nigeria. Recall the abduction of young girls by the Boko Haram. All that the world could do was suggest photo sessions requesting the terrorists to “bring back the girls”.
Terrorism has affected economies in the global East of Africa; whole industries such as tourism continue to suffer because of inconsiderate travel advisories, thousands of lives have been lost, many survivors are maimed, and on their part, the terrorists continue to be more sophisticated.
America and the Western powers must reawaken their consciousness and stand for something greater than them. What we need is a global protest against terrorism, depicted in singular strategic efforts against the vice. Not isolated white protests against terrorism, pitted against overwhelming black tears mourning the death of thousands in the hands of terrorists.