Professor George Ayittey
Iron Law No. 5: There is a Price to Pay for Intellectual Prostitution, Collaboration and Sycophancy.
The most painful and treacherous aspect of Africa’s collapse was the wilful and active collaboration by Africa’s own intellectuals, many of whom were highly “educated” with Ph. D.s, and who should have known better. “Painful” because this concerns my own profession.
You would think that with all our education and strings of diplomas, PhD’s, and titles, Including AGRICOMETRIOLOGY — the application of nuclear technology to the cultivation of cassava — we would understand such basic concepts as democracy, oppression, rule of law, accountability, transparency , free and fair elections. We should condemn flagrant violations of human rights by our own leaders just as vehemently as we did during colonial rule. But no! A multitude of us sold off our conscience, integrity and principles to serve the dictates of barbarous regimes. As prostitutes, we aided and abetted – even partook of — the plunder, misrule and repression of the African people. Said Ghanaian columnist, Eric Bawah:
”Sometimes one cannot help but blame Africa’s intellectuals for what is happening in some African countries. Many of these intellectuals happen to be educated by the tax payers’ money but they turn out to collaborate with dictators and end up impoverishing their people while they grow rich and Epicurean. They disgracefully lick the boots of despots to the disadvantage of their people who look up to them for their wisdom. They throw dignity to the dogs and act as if they are hypnotized. How sad indeed (The Daily Guide, Nov 20, 2001; p.6).
In fact, according to Colonel. Yohanna A. Madaki (rtd), when General Gowon drew up plans to return Nigeria to civil rule in 1970, “academicians began to present well researched papers pointing to the fact that military rule was the better preferred option since the civilians had not learned any lessons sufficient enough to be entrusted with the governance of the country” (Post Express, 12 November 1998, 5).
The irony is, intellectual prostitution doesn’t pay. It may bring short-term benefits but causes irreparable damage to reputations. In the short term, the prostitute may enjoy being a government minister – a post that comes with substantial perks – government mansion, car, driver, etc. But when the prostitutes are no longer useful to the regime, they are tossed aside like a rag or even killed. Even if they escape death, that brings no end to their tribulations. They are reviled by civil society groups and member of the opposition because of the sensitive intelligence they pass on to the brutal regime when they “defect.” They may flee the country but that brings no relief as diasporan African groups hunt them down.
One such prostitute was Kokou Koffigoh who joined the military regime of President Gnassingbe Eyadema as Togo’s Prime Minister in 1992. New African (January 1993) wrote that “the opposition thinks Koffigoh has sold out the gains of the Togo National Conference by not carrying out its decisions and by allowing President Eyadema to return to power” (19).
In Gambia, when Captain Yahya Jammeh overthrew the democratically electedgovernment of Sir Dawda Jawara on July 24, 1994, the only minister from the Jawara administration enticed to serve the military regime was the finance minister, Bakary Darbo, a very well respected economist — even in international circles. He was instrumental in getting the World Bank to resume aid to The Gambia. On 10 October 1994, he was fired by the military junta: He was no longer useful to them. Then on 15 November, he was accused of complicity in the 11 November abortive coup attempt. He fled to neighboring Senegal with his family.
Next to assume the finance ministry portfolio was Ousman Koro Ceesay. “When he became no longer useful to the military junta, “they smashed his head with a baseball bat,” said Captain Ebou Jallow, the number-2 man in the ruling council who defected to the United States on 15 October (The Washington Times,20 October 1995, A15).
Time and time again, despite repeatedwarnings, highly “educated” African intellectuals throw caution and common sense to the winds and fiercely jostle one another for the chance to hop into bed with military brutes. The allure of a luxury car, a diplomatic or ministerial post and a government mansion often proves too irresistible. Nigeria’s Senator Arthur Nzeribe once declared that General Babangida was good enough to rule Nigeria. When pressed, he confessed: “I was promised prime ministerial appointment. There is no living politician as hungry for power as I was. Who would not be seduced in the manner? I was to invest in the ABN, with the possibility and promise of being Executive Prime Minister to a military president” (The Guardian, 13 November 1998, 3).
So hordes of politicians, lecturers, professionals, lawyers, and doctors sold themselves off into prostitution and voluntary bondage to serve the dictates of military vagabonds with half their intelligence. And time and time again, after being raped, abused, and defiled, they are tossed out like rubbish —- or worse. Yet more intellectual prostitutes stampede to take their places. And they wouldn’t even hesitate to sell off their own. In Kenya, pro-government scholars supported the arrest of several of their peers who attempted to unionize in 1994. Said one prominent professor, who fled into exile: “We suffered as much from some of our colleagues as we did from the Special Branch, the secret police” (The Chronicle of Higher Education, 23 January 1998, B9).
Another expendable intellectual prostitute was Abass Bundu of Sierra Leone —- the former secretary-general of ECOWAS —- though his fate was less horrible. When he was appointed by the 29-year-old illiterate Captain Valentine Strasser to be Sierra Leone’s foreign minister in early 1995, he left home to grab the post in a cloud of dust. In August 1995 he was tossed into a garbage bin in a radio announcement. He claimed in a Voice of America radio interview that “he never applied to join the junta” (African News Weekly, 8 September 1995, 12).
”We just discovered that he’s an opportunist and one cannot trust such people. So we kicked him out,” said spokesman of the Strasser’s National Provisional Ruling Council. “When we appointed Abass Bundu through a radio announcement, he didn’t complain but when we fired him though another radio announcement, he wants to make noise” he added (The African Observer, 8-21 August 1995, 5).
Another case was that of Sierra Leone’s fearless human rights lawyer, Sulaiman Banja Tejan-Sie. He was a vociferous critic of the ruling NPRC over human rights abuses and was reported to have a personal dislike for the military. He was hailed on student campuses as a young radical barrister and was invited to student conventions, giving lectures on human rights and negative consequences of military rule. On several occasions he called for a national conference to prepare the way for civilian rule. Then suddenly in April 1995 he joined Sierra Leone’s military-led government as secretary of state in the Department of Youth, Sport and Social Mobilization. His detractors never forgave him.
Then there was Paul Kamara of Sierra Leone —- a fearless crusader for human rights and ardent advocate of democracy. He published and edited the widely respected For Di People, whose circulation exceeded 30,000 copies a week. In January 1996, he joined the military government of Brigadier-General Maada Bio —- a decision that by his own admission, “disappointed many people” (New African, May 1996, 14). On election night, February 26, five men dressed in military fatigues with guns waited for him at his newspaper offices. When he left his office and got into his official four-wheel-drive car, the soldiers chased him and opened fire. “We’ve got the bastard at last,” one of them shouted. But luckily, the “bastard” escaped death and was flown to London for treatment. But his troubles did not end there. On August 20, 1999, he was assaulted by three Revolutionary United Front (RUF) commanders following an article alleging laziness and corruption by RUF commanders based in Freetown. “An ECOMOG officer declined to intervene while the attack took place” (Index on Censorship, Nov/Dec 1999; p.249).
Then there was the case of Phillips David Sesay, with various academic degrees including a doctorate in philosophy. He was the head of Sierra Leone’s chancery in Washington. For three years, he was not paid; yet he remained at the post. In 1996, he left his wife and son in Washington and returned to Sierra Leone in a hurry to accept promotion as Acting Chief Protocol at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the country’s ruling military regime. That the former protocol at the ministry had worked with the junta for only 4 days and had fled the country did not bother Sesay, who took that post. Following a coup on 23 May 1997, Sesay fled the country. “When his plane landed in New York on 20 December 1997, Sesay’s diplomatic passport with a multiple-entry permit to the U.S. was found to be insufficient. His visa was canceled at the behest of the State Department and he was placed in detention by the Immigration and Naturalization Service” (The Washington Post, 2 January 1998, A30).
In Burkina Faso, Clement Oumarou Ouedraogo was not so lucky. He was the number- two man in the barbarous military dictatorship of Blaise Compaore. He resigned and launched his own Burkina Labor Party. On 9 December 1992, he was killed “when unidentified attackers threw a grenade into his car as he was returning from a meeting of the opposition Coalition of Democratic Forces” (West Africa, 16-22 December 1991, 2116).
Most of the African countries that have imploded in recent years were all ruined by the military: Algeria, Burundi, Ethiopia, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, and Zaire, among others. [Recall Law No.4]. In country after country in Africa, where military rule was entrenched, educational institutions (of the tertiary level – universities, and colleges) have all decayed —- starved of funds by the military. Although the official excuse is always lack of funds, the military predators always find the money to purchase shiny new pieces of bazookas for their thugs. But the real reason? “It is not in the best interest of these military governments to educate their people,” says Wale Deyemi, a doctoral student at the University of Lagos. “They do not want people to be able to challenge them” (The Washington Post, 6 October 1995, A30).
In Nigeria, the sciences were hardest hit. Science teachers were vanishing with such alarming frequency that Professor Peter Okebukola, the president of the National Science Teachers Association of Nigeria, lamented at the association’s thirty-sixth annual conference at Maiduguri that “good science teachers are increasingly becoming an endangered species” (African News Weekly, 13 October 1995, 17).
In spite of all this evidence, some African intellectuals and scholars still vociferouslydefended military regimes while their own institutions —- the very places where they teach or obtained their education —- deteriorated right under their very noses. One would have thought that these professors and intellectuals would protect their own institutions, just as the soldiers jealously protect their barracks and keep them in top shape. But no! For a small change, the intellectuals were willing to help and supervise the destruction of their very own university system.
In neighboring Niger, when Lieutenant-Colonel Ibrahim Barre Mainassara seized power in the January 1996 coup, overthrowing the civilian regime of President Mahamane Ousmane, the first civilian to join the new military regime as prime minister was Boukary Adji, who was deputy governor at the Central Bank of West African States in Dakar (The Washington Times, 1 February 1996, A14). Do Africa’s intellectuals learn?
There are universities and there are thousands of university professors. Are they saying that they see none of the rot going on in Angola, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and many other African countries. If so, then why are they so quiet?
In Nigeria, Baba Gana Kingibe, a career diplomat, was the vice-presidential candidate of Moshood K. O. Abiola in the 12 June 1993 presidential elections . Abiola won the election fair and square, but the result was annulled by the military government of General Ibrahim Babangida. Baba Kingibe then accepted the post of foreign minister from that same military regime. Nor did he raise a whiff of protest or resign when his running mate, Abiola, was thrown into jail. Neither did Chief Tony Anenih, the chairman of the defunct Social Democratic Party, on whose ticket Abiola contested the 12 June election. In fact, Chief Anenih was part of a five-man delegation, sent by General Abacha to the United States in October 1995 to “educate and seek the support of Nigerians about the transition program.” At an 22 October 1995 forum organized by the Schiller Institute in Washington, “Chief Anenih and Colonel (rtd) Emeka O. Ojukwu took turns ripping apart the reputation of Abiola. Anenih took pains to discredit Chief Abiola, whom he said was being presented by the Western media as the victimized President-elect. Some of the Nigerians in the audience denounced the delegation as `paid stooges’ of Abacha” (African News Weekly, 3 November 1995, 3).
More pathetic was the case of Alex Ibru, the publisher of The Guardian Group of newspapers in Lagos who became the internal affairs minister. On 14 August 1994, his own newspaper was raided and shut down by the same military government under which he was serving. He did not protest or resign. After six months as interior minister, he too was tossed aside. In October 1995, his two newspapers, shut down by the military government for more than a year, were allowed to reopen after Ibru apologized to the authorities for any offensive reports they may have carried. Then on 2 February 1996, unidentified gunmen in a deep-blue Peugeot 504 trailed him and sprayed his car with machine-gun fire. The editor-in-chief, Femi Kusa, said that the car was bullet-ridden and Ibru was injured. He too was flown to Britain for treatment. The assassins were later apprehended but guess what happened to them:
“FORMER Chief of Army Staff Lt-Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi and former Lagos State Police Commissioner James Danbaba were arraigned before an Ikeja chief magistrate’s court with conspiracy in 1996 to murder The Guardian publisher Mr. Alex Uruemu Ibru. They faced a two-count charge, along with three other persons, of conspiracy and attempting on February 2, 1996, to murder Mr. Ibru. Others charged with him are former Zamfara State Administrator, Col. Jubril Bala Yakubu (rtd); Chief Security Officer to the former Head of State, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha and Chief Superintendent of Police Mohammed Rabo-Lawal. Both Al-Mustapha and Rabo-Lawal have already been arraigned for the 1996 murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola” (Guardian News, 24 Nov 1999)
After the annulment of Nigeria’s 12 June elections, General Babangida was eased aside by the military top brass and Ernest Shonekan became the 89-day interim civilian president until he too was removed by the military despot, General Sani Abacha. On 19 September, Shonekan accompanied Nigeria’s foreign minister, Tom Ikimi, to London to deliver a “confidential message” to British Prime Minister John Major. Nigeria’s military junta told Westminster that it would pardon the 40 convicted coup plotters if British would help with the rescheduling Nigeria’s $35 billion debt, and support its transition program to democratic rule, its bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, and its attempt to gain U.S. recognition of its effort to fight drug trafficking.
First of all, how could Ernest Shonekan act as an emissary for the same barbarous military regime that overthrew him? Not only that, he accepted an appointment from Abacha to a committee of experts to plan for “Vision 2010.” Second, who thought that 35 years after “independence” from British colonial rule, Nigeria’s government would be holding its own citizens as hostages, demanding ransom from the former colonial power? It did not occur to any of the “educated” emissaries that their mission sank the concept of “independence from colonial rule” to new depths of depravity. Mercifully, the British refused to capitulate to these terroristic demands.
Dr. Tom Ikimi was the activist, who, in 1989, formed the Liberal Convention party to campaign for democracy in Nigeria. In June 1989 he launched a branch in the United Kingdom, where he made glorious speeches about participatory democracy and denouncing military regimes. In 1994 he became Nigeria’s Foreign minister under the military dictatorship of General Sani Abacha. He even appeared on The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, on 3 August 1995, and strenuously defended Nigerian military government’s record on democratization, calling General Abacha “humane.”
Ghanaians would point to a swarm of intellectual prostitutes who sold out to join the military regime of Fte./Lte. Jerry Rawlings: Dr. Kwesi Botchwey, the former minister of finance; Totobi Kwakye, minister of communication, who as a student leader battled the former military head of state, Col. I.K. Acheampong; Dr. Tony Aidoo, a presidential adviser; Dr. Vincent Assisseh, a press secretary; and Kow Arkaah, the Vice-President who was beaten up by President Rawlings in December 1995.
Vile opportunism, unflappable sycophancy, and trenchant collaboration on the part of Africa’s intellectuals allowed tyranny to become entrenched in Africa. Doe, Mengistu, Mobutu, and other military dictators legitimized and perpetuated their rule by buying off and co-opting Africa’s academics for a pittance. And when they fell out of favor, they were beaten up, tossed aside or worse. and yet more offered themselves up.
In Liberia, these highly educated individuals scrambled to serve the dictates of the murderous military regime of General Samuel Doe: Senate President Tambakai Jangaba; Justice Minister Jenkins Scott, Information Minister J. Emmanuel Bowier, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Elbert Dunn, Finance Minister Emmanuel Shaw, Deputy Minister of Agriculture Kekura Kpoto. What happened to them?
Most of them, including top banking officials, fled, abandoning their posts in July 1990 during official missions abroad and searching for political asylum. Mr. Kpoto, the deputy minister of agriculture, was discovered in hiding in Bo (Sierra Leone). A few unlucky ones did not make it out of Liberia; they were killed.
Another was Gwanda Chakuamba of Malawi, who was appointed the chairman of the “presidential council” by former Life-President Hastings Banda in 1993. As The Economist(20 November 1993) reported: “Chakuamba was an old Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and ex-minister, who was jailed in 1980 for sedition and released in July 1993. He then flirted briefly with the opposition United Democratic Front, but, while Dr. Banda was in hospital, suddenly emerged as secretary-general of ruling party and acting head of state” (47). Chakaumba’s move was roundly denounced “as a betrayal to the opposition, who had tirelessly campaigned for his release following local and international pressure on the MCP government’s poor human rights record. “Reliable sources reported that whilst he was in prison, Chakuamba was subjected to immersion in water and was chained hand-and-foot for months on end” (African Business, December 1993, 29). How could an educated man, whose basic human rights were viciously violated in detention, suddenly decide to join his oppressor?
Paul Tembo, was Zambian President Frederick Chiluba’s former campaign manager. He headed Mr. Chiluba’s re-election campaign in 1996 and spearheaded the bid by Mr. Chiluba to seek an unconstitutional third 5-year term in office. A divisive congress of the ruling Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) voted to allow Mr. Chiluba to seek a third term.In May 2001, Mr Tembo quit President Chiluba’s MMD, saying the president had rigged internal polls to prevent him (Mr. Tembo) from becoming vice-president. In June 2001, Mr. Tembo then joined the opposition Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD), in a bid to unseat his former boss.
”On July 6, 2001, Mr. Tembo was shot dead, execution-style at his home in front of his horrified wife and children. According to Tembo’s attorney,
“Three killers forced their way into the compound, roughed up Paul, led him to his bed, made him lie on it and then shot him in the back of his head. They made his wife watch” (The Washington Times, July 7, 2001; p.A5).
Another bizarre and unresolved case was the 1998 murder of former Finance Minister Ronald Penza, shortly after he was fired by President Chiluba.
In Zimbabwe, one vapid prostitute wasPROFESSOR Jonathan Moyo, who was partly educated in southern California and used to teach political science at the University of Zimbabwe. He was a fierce critic of the Mugabe regime, writing newspaper articles that condemned President Mugabe in the strongest terms. The Professor sent such scathing comments to the Zimbabwe Mirror
”His [Mugabe’s} uncanny propensity to shoot himself in the foot has become a national problem which needs urgent containment.”
”Does the president not realize that when he belittles universal issues such as basic human rights he loses the moral high ground to his critics?”
Suddenly, within months of that writing that article, the same PROFESSOR Jonathan Moyo, joined the Mugabe government, describing the opposition as “plagiarists, sell-outs, shameless opportunists and merchants of confusion.” He was made the Information Minister.
But a former friend, who worked with Professor Moyo at the University of Zimbabwe before he launched his political career, said he was shocked to see Professor Moyo as part of President Mugabe’s government: “He was so anti-government in those days. He was the loudest critic. And now here he is as Mugabe’s main cheerleader. I just don’t understand it.” During a chance encounter at a local luxury hotel, the former friend asked, “Are you the same Professor Moyo I used to know?” (BBC News, 28 February, 2001,http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/1194553.stm)
But aarh the sweetness of prostitution. Indeed, from Dec 27 to Jan 8, 2003, Professor Moyo checked into the Mercure Hotel in Bedfordview, South Africa with four children and his wife, Betty. While there, he went on a shopping spree – surrounded by his bodyguards – and bought thousands of randsworth of food to take home to Zimbabwe, where more than two-thirds of the population of 11.6 million were desperate for something to eat. According to the Sunday Times (Jan 12, 2003),
“He bought a big-screen TV and a home theatre system. When he ran out of packing space in his luxury vehicles – a Pajero (registration number 752-098X), a Mercedes-Benz car (registration 752-082E) and a bakkie – Moyo filled a trailer (registration HYF 394 GP) with cooking oil, canned food , rice, sugar, mealie meal, polony, macaroni and bread.
After Moyo had departed, escorted by bodyguards, the Sunday Times
went inside room 806 and found five staff cleaning up the mess. The family had been enjoying appetizing holiday takeaways. Bits of uneaten food were lying on the floor. Empty bottles of beer were scattered about and at least four unopened dumpies of Moyo’s favorite beer had been left behind. Two trolleys were needed to remove the garbage.
The leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan
Tsvangirai, said he was horrified.
“This man has no shame at all. He goes to South Africa to buy his food while Zimbabweans are struggling to buy salt and bread. Where did he get the foreign currency when we do not have any in Zimbabwe? [President] Robert Mugabe is ordering food from London and Moyo is shopping in South Africa. These people are hypocrites” (Sunday Times, Jan 12, 2003).
During his tenure as information minister, he authored laws that restricted even the most basic political actions, such as handing out campaign materials or knocking on doors. Human rights groups rated Zimbabwe’s government as one of the most hostile in the world to press freedoms. He dismissed freedom of expression as “an outmoded concept,” shut down most independent newspapers and banned foreign correspondents from reporting without explicit official approval. He even crafted a law that imposed a two-year prison sentence on any journalist who slipped into the country. His harsh media law led to the arrests of journalists and the shutting of several newspapers, including the Daily Newsand The Tribune.
The end of Moyo’s career in government came at a ruling party meeting in November 2004 where he backed a candidate for vice president who was not favored by Mugabe. Moyo soon found himself marginalized, and in Feb 2005 he announced that he would leave the party to run for parliament as an independent candidate, defying a party decision to reserve the Tsholotsho seat for a female candidate. Mugabe promptly fired him as a cabinet minister and expelled him from ZANU-PF, denouncing him as “enemy number one,” and gave him 48 hours to vacate his government house. Ministry of Local Government permanent secretary David Munyoro accordingly wrote to Moyo:
“I regret to advise that you are to vacate the villa with immediate effect. You are aware of the circumstances surrounding your occupation of villa 14262 Gunhill. Handover of the keys to my ministry should be done by/or before 1600 hrs on Sunday 27 February 2005.”
But like a political chameleon, he re-invented himself to stand as an independent candidate in his hometown of Tsholotsho. He described the party he served for five years as aging, undemocratic, riven by internal disputes, filled with “deadwood” and likely to fall from power over the next several years.
Mugabe promptly fired back, warning Moyo against breaking with the government, telling him, “The whole machinery of the party will fall on you and you will be demolished.” Mugabe claimed that Moyo had plotted a coup in his final days as information minister, meeting with senior military commanders and doing “terrible things.” “When Moyo was privately confronted with evidence of his duplicity, the president said, “tears started flowing down his cheeks.” (The Washington Post, March 26, 2005; p.A8).
Though he won his parliamentary bid, his attacks on ZANU-PF did not cease. In 2007, he described the party as a “dead duck on the shelf, only breathing from evils of state security and the abuse of funds.” In a Dec 2008 interview with Reuters, Moyo denounced ZANU-PF as a “tribal clique” with no respect for democracy. The party was full of geriatrics clinging to power. But Tsholotsho North was too confining for Moyo’s super-sized ego and ambition. Like a frog out of a swamp he needed to get back in. Accordingly, he resorted to the old art of scrofulous prostitution. When Vice President Joseph Msika passed away and buried on Aug 19, 2009, Moyo sent a letter to secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa, seeking re-admission into ZANU-PF.
Shed no tears for Africa’s intellectual prostitutes. Their days are numbered; if their masters don’t get them, their victims will.