By Albert Mirirayi Chekayi
The day was the 24th of October 2005. It was United Nations Day. The UN was turning sixty. The venue was Harareâ€™s national Arts Gallery. I was then a college student and with my college mate Patience Gumbo were part of the participants at a public speaking contest dwelling on the topic â€œDoes the World need the United Nations?â€The auditorium was full. Various speakers glowingly narrated the achievements of the organisation. So much researched data! When my turn came, I nervously climbed the steps to the podium. I have never been a good speaker. Just like the Biblical Apostle Paul, I am more powerful with my pen (Or is it keyboard now?) than with my mouth. But here was an opportunity to prove otherwise.
Slowly, I adjusted the microphone to match my not so short frame. And I began my address.
I took the audience down memory lane to the formation of the United Nations. I retraced the meeting between the then British Premier Winston Churchill and American President Franklin Roosevelt aboard a battleship on the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The meeting gave birth to the Atlantic Charter. I argued that the United Nations was indeed a creation of the British and the Americans. That was where my problem was. All the other countries which later joined were never part of the early plans.
â€œBut what has the United Nations achieved?â€ I continued. â€œThe UN has been a total disaster. Where were they when the Korean crisis was threatening to burn that peninsula? Where was the United Nations during the Congo crisis? Where were they when Brother Patrice Lumumba was being murdered by the CIA? Where was the UN during the Bay of Pigs Crisis? Nicaragua 1982. Britainâ€™s invasion of Falklands Islands? Invasion of Grenada in 1983? Invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Invasion of Iraq in 2003, the bombing of Sudan by the US?â€
Like one possessed, I continued, â€œHistory is littered with the failures of this great beast…Yes I said beast. For I imagine the UN as a very big and fiery beast with its head in Europe. Its breasts are in North America feeding its children with milk from the plunders of the world. One foot is stamping upon the Aborigines of Australia and the Maori of New Zealand while the other foot is trampling upon the unfortunate Hispanians. This beastâ€™s hands are tightly clutching Africaâ€™s genitals squeezing life out of the cradle of mankind. This beastâ€™s back is in Asia where it is soiled by millions of gallons of Arab and Persian blood…,â€- the auditorium erupted in delirium.
As you might suppose, I did not win the competition. I had played to the gallery in a gallery. One of the adjudicators, the late Professor Walter Kamba (may his soul rest in eternal peace) later remarked that the African culture forbids one to insult his hosts. Insulting the UN which had organised the function cost us (with my colleague) and we came second.
Six years down the lane, a lot has changed. I believe I am now a mature journalist. I have grown up. Probably wiser, is it not true that wisdom comes with grey hair? Of course my hair is not yet grey, but years have been added on me. But some things never change. For the feeling I had as I spit venom on that hot October day is still the same feeling in my gut. On 24 October this year, the United Nations will turn 66. I hate that number. I have to confess. Though I believe I am a modern person, I am also superstitious to an extent. I hate sixes, be they two or three. Be it being caught at them (caught at sixes and sevens, hey). There should be something bad about that number. When I visit the book of Daniel in the bible, there is a chapter which has always scared me.
â€œNebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold whose height was threescore (sixty) cubits and its breadth thereof six cubits. He set it up in the plain of Dura in Babylonâ€ (Daniel 3 verse 1, King James Version).
The image was supposed to be worshipped and the rest of the story is known. How three young Hebrew heroes – Shadrack, Meshach and Abed-nego – emerged after refusing to worship the image. After all, my fears of the number six are not unfounded!
So as we prepare to commemorate the 66th anniversary of the United Nations this year, is there something to celebrate? What have we seen? What have we gained? Has the UN started accepting African brothers as equals? Have they improved their reaction time to African conflicts? How many people have died in South Sudan while UN troops watch? For we know in some eyes, the death of an African is just a statistic, wait till a white man dies! As I write, Libya is on fire. Bahrain is burning. Yemen is aflame and Syria is in serious trouble. It started with Tunisia, then came Egypt and the Middle East erupted. But where does the UN come in here? Ben Ali, Muammar Gaddafi, Saleh, Mubarakâ€¦ where does the UN fit?
I donâ€™t believe there is a genuine United Nations. There is instead the United Nations of America and Europe. The UN has lost trust. It has lost credibility. One just needs to rewind to pre-2003. It was the UN which acted as a forerunner in disarming Iraq before the US and Britain followed with an invasion. When in April 2003, American and British troops marched to Baghdad, Saddam Hussein had no defence. Like a rabbit, he was captured and publicly hanged for sins which George Bush had committed tenfold. Where was the UN when Allied Forces invaded Iraq without the World Bodyâ€™s mandate? Can the same power which has never batted an eyelid as Saudi Arabia oppresses people (do you know that a Saudi woman cannot acquire a passport?) yet puts Zimbabwe on the agenda of its Security Council. A world body which ignores the plight of Palestinians in Gaza for 63 years is surely a monster. A world body which allows the US to dorminate and set agendas cannot be deemed to represent the whole world.
In the 20th century alone, the US used its veto power 70 times. In short, no matter how much the 94 percent of people in the World (US has 4 percent of the worldâ€™s population) want anything, the US can still flex its muscles and block while the UN watches. This includes even resisting the ban of chemical and biological weapons and the ban of new weapons of mass destruction in 1984. In both instances, the US arm-twisted the UN after using its veto power to block the resolutions. Probably one British baseball commentatorâ€™s note might shed light on the American mentality regarding the world. â€˜Only the USA could have a World Series and not invite the rest of the worldâ€™.
To those who thought this world is innocent, wait a minute. In 1987, a UN resolution to prevent international terrorism by studying the underlying political and economic causes of terrorism was blocked by the US. The resolution had also sought to convene a conference to define terrorism and to differentiate it from the struggle of people from national liberation. With a vote of 153-2, that resolution died just because the US and Israel were against it.
But who has now assumed the title of liberator of the world against terrorism? What a monster! Who was hurt the most on September 11 2001? Who spent billions of dollars and sacrificed innocent lives hunting for Osama Bin Laden? In Shona they say â€˜Ndomene haichemedzeâ€™. But only if such informed policies were going to affect Americans alone this would apply. As I write, there is great wailing in Pakistan after yet another drone attack killed civilians. And who cares? Does the US care? Does the UN care? Probably Franz Fanon was prophetic when he wrote â€œTwo centuries ago, a former European colony decided to catch up with Europe. It succeeded so well that the United States of America became a monster, in which the taints, the sickness and the inhumanity of Europe have grown to appalling dimensions.â€ If the US is a creation of Europe, then the UN is an incestuous creation of Europe and the US. While it is clear that the US is an unrepentant beast, the UN is a ravenous wolf clothed in sheepâ€™s skin. For on the outside, the World Body looks like a saviour of the world yet it is nothing more than Nebuchadnezzarâ€™s sixty by six cubit golden image that wants to usurp the authority of God.
While it is easy to blame George Bush and the new killer on the bloc Barrack Obama for the evils perpetrated by the US, it should not be hidden that the the United Nations is a willing partner in all this. While an ordinary person might attribute the UNâ€™s failure to the fact that the world body is a eunuch, I believe it is an accomplice. A willing socius criminis. The question can only be whether there is need for drastic reforms or it has to be dissolved. It sounds impossible. Because there are some who own the UN. A true case of some animals being more equal than others. But why will I not find support from the academia and todayâ€™s politician? Why do I sense such a resistance as if I am plotting a coup dâ€™Ã©tat on God himself? I understand it.
Gone are the firebrand Africans who would question the worldâ€™s unfairness. Gone are Lumumba, Kwameh Nkrumah, Samora Machel, Steve Biko, Govan Mbeki, Julius Nyerere and Hebert Chitepo among others. The harvest is plenty but surely the labourers are few.
Sam Nujoma and Robert Mugabe with help from Thabo Mbeki cannot do it alone. Especially surrounded by white washed graves who pose as African leaders to the shame of the motherland. For each generation must out of relative obscurity discover its mission, fulfil it or betray it. The old school African nationalists played their part and brought independence and the present crop wants to betray the revolution. Can anyone explain why Africa still has no permanent seat in the UN? What share do we have in the house that Churchill and Roosevelt built? What portion do we have in the beast that was formed sitting upon many waters aboard a battle ship? And what has our generation done? They have accepted. That the US is God. That the UN is above God. They set laws more than God (God set only ten!). It has become the undisputed truth.
How I long for a revolutionary like Fanon who once remarked, â€œSometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalise, ignore and even deny anything that doesnâ€™t fit in with the core belief.â€
I refuse to be such. Oh, my body, make of me a man who always questions! I want to know, why the Motherland has been plundered by the West under the supervision of the UN. I want to know why the West who are guilty of depleting the ozone layer putting the whole earth at risk are being allowed to get away with murder. In between some bold voices have spoken but as usual, the brave are few and rare. Rewind to December 16, 2009 at the UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen, Demark when President Robert Mugabe delivered a masterpiece of a speech.
â€œWe raise these questions not out of spite or vindictiveness, but out of concern for our very endangered livelihoods. When these capitalist gods of carbon, burp and belch their dangerous emissions, it is we, the lesser mortals of the developing sphere who gasp, starve, sink and eventually dieâ€. As expected such great speeches will eventually be drowned in a sea of mediocre ideas inspired by the desire to bootlick the false prophet called the UN and his false God called the US. For a planet that has survived for many millennia, are we aware that under the UN, the earthâ€™s continued existence is actually under threat? All this in just 66 years. What about when this beast turns 666 years, will there be earth at all? Thank God, I will be resting on Abrahamâ€™s bosom!