Tuesday, April 5, 2011

This is not Kansas - Harbouring dangerous despots in Ghana

It’s definitely surreal. My ipad perched on my lap in bed, I read of human rights atrocities, people being burned alive, rebel troops from two sides of a political struggle killing and maiming innocent citizens in a city less than 300km from me. For months this chaos has been brewing. Laurent Gbagbo, Ivory Coast’s incumbent president has refused to leave his post after losing a democratic election last October.

Although international media is less concerned as they are with the developments in the oil-rich middle east, Ivory Coast has been heading toward the brink of an all-out civil war for months. Local media and that odd BBC article have been following.

Sometimes the lines are blurred between the good and the bad, the right and the wrong.

And in the middle are the people. The industries. The entire society is at a standstill, cowering, hiding from the bloodshed in the streets. Banks packed up so people cannot get paid. Sanctions have crippled the biggest industry – cocoa.

And at the heart of it all is one man’s insatiable ego.

And then yesterday, local media publishes a photo of a glamorous lady in designer shades, with her little boy – they are staying at Ghana’s finest hotel – The Labadi Beach. It is Mr. Laurent Gbagbo’s second wife.

How quaint. Apparently first wife is staying in my neighborhood as well.
It also comes out that Gbagbo owns a mansion in a near by luxury housing estate.

So here we are, in the middle of something ugly.

It’s days like this when the distant din of news – of CNN and BBC and Al Jazeera reporters ‘on the ground’, reporting disasters and developments around the world, come just that once step too close to home.

Dorothy ain't in Kansas anymore. Or in this case, Mississauga Ontario.

Could Ghana offer asylum to a man that has allowed close to 1000 citizens violently and senselessly murdered to keep his power for a few more days, weeks, months?

Will his wife be offered a luxury suite with money earned on the backs of those who lie dying in the streets in our neighboring country?

Will we all just watch it happen and turn the page to a new story?

In the meantime, the streets of Abidjan are in turmoil. And they have apparently descended on Gbagbo's residence. But they cannot find him... The family is not inside...I wonder where they are.
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Celeste said...

Eeesh! Be careful, sounds like a pretty delicate situation.
I never cease to be amazed about the bias the press has towards certain countries. I have been able to follow what is happening in the Ivory Coast via the BBC but if I had to rely on the American press I would have no idea at all.
I don't know maybe African despots are old news??? But when so many innocent people are involved it should be covered.

Andrew said...

Fascinating, and tragic, story....
Keep posting, and stay safe.

Atlanta Roofing said...

Toussaint is absolutely right! It is up to the people of the Ivory Coast to decide who they want to lead them. Toussaint's boss FORMER President Gbagbo is a sore loser who would rather destroy that country rather than step down gracefully because he still can't accept the fact that he didn't win re-election. Alassane Ouattara had 54% of the votes making him the winner, sorry about your damn luck.

krissy said...

hey holli, how do you find al jazeera as a news source on ghana and west africa, compared to other news sources?

The pale observer said...

Thanks for the comments. All seems quite safe in Accra, but it's amazing to hear that the world media are under the impression Gbagbo and his family are holed up in their basement bunker, when us in Ghana hear the wives and kids are safely over here!

Krissy - BBC has been the best on coverage of Ivory Coast...

Anonymous said...

I live in California and get my news from the local TV and radio channels, and they have been covering this news since the elections. Perhaps not as much as you would like, but the story has indeed been in the local news here in Los Angeles.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he took up Obama's offer of a professorship in Boston? Seems it is not only Ghana trying to lay out the red carpet.

The pale observer said...

To me - if anyone watches the live footage of people being literally burned alive for no reason - just because of a feral ego, they would all change their minds about offering asylum!

I'd offer a firing squad.

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