Recently in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
AT the extraordinary African Union (AU) meeting in Addis Ababa last weekend to discuss the indictment of Uhuru Kenyatta at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged crimes against humanity, African leaders displayed profound solidarity and power some of them did not know they possessed.
And it surprised our former colonisers a bit, but they had seen it coming.
The day before the meeting, you read the mood in the corridors of the Conference Centre: a sprawling and sparkling gift from the Chinese government to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), forerunner of the African Union (AU) that cost over US$100 million and several years to build.
In the corridors, the leaders were already being grouped as hawks and doves: those who were likely to support the ICC and those who were likely to oppose Kenyatta going there at all.
There was a woman from Austria called Nagwa Gadaheldam who admires President Mugabe.
A holder of a Masters Degree in Sustainable Development, she follows him at international conferences to listen to him speak.
In the corridors in Addis Ababa, she was still overwhelmed by his speech at the United Nations two weeks before and the famous words shame, shame, shame that echoed around the world.
She said the meeting of the African leaders the following day was President Mugabe’s moment, that he would be the last man standing in the battle to defend the African identity against the onslaught by the West through machinations like the ICC.
She dreaded how Africa will be when he is gone; where Africa would draw inspiration and focus and strength.
President Mugabe was the embodiment of the spirit of the African identity espoused by the continent’s founding fathers.
In the corridors, people swore President Mugabe would lead Anglophone Africa to stand by Kenya’s Uhuru; even to threaten to pull out of the ICC altogether.
It was speculated Francophone Africa would take the side of the ICC because they were afraid of France.
Ivory Coast’s Alassane Ouattarra was touted to lead the other bloc.
The leaders did not come into the AU’s circular conference chamber in any particular order.
They filed behind Nkosazana Zuma, the Chairperson of the AU Commission and Ethiopian Prime Minister and Chairperson of the AU, Haile Marian Dessalegn.
The most conspicuous leaders were Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni and Sudan’s al Bashir both wearing Stetsons.
The two had something else in common: the axe of the ICC hanging ominously over their heads.
Other African leaders and countries on the ICC waiting list are Laurent Gbagbo of the Ivory Coast, the volatile Eastern DRC, Sierra Leone and the ongoing search for people accused of abetting the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.
The ICC has become an African affair.
The most inconspicuous was Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta in a brown gabardine suit and wearing dark glasses.
He followed the proceedings dispassionately, as if it wasn’t his case the meeting had been called to discuss.
Nkosazana Zuma’s icy opening remarks set the tone: while Africa cherishes cooperation with global multilateral institutions, the continent had the capacity to find solutions and to solve her problems.
The die had been cast.
There were dissenting voices within the conference; Francophone Africa.
They were terrified of the punitive backlash from France, such as withholding of aid, if they supported the call to quit, but their protests were drowned by the anger from those that charged that the ICC was an instrument Africa’s former colonisers were using to continue their control and dominance over Africa.
The Ethiopian Prime Minister, Haile Marian Dessalegn, pointed out the chaos that would visit Kenya if its President and Vice President William Ruto were convicted and jailed at The Hague. He asked how the ICC would escape accusations of contributing towards such a situation.
There were also dissenting voices around Africa outside the conference.
South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu for instance; likened Africa’s threat to walk out of the ICC as an attempt to give itself “the licence to kill its citizens.”
He also likened the battle by the ‘civilised world’ to keep Africa bound to the ICC statutes as a ‘fight for the soul of the continent.’
There had been idle talk in the corridors that Botswana had sent an SOS to the EU and Security Council urging them to ensure African countries remained in the ICC otherwise it would spell disaster for a small and weak country like itself. Someone joked that seeking white protection against their fellow blacks was in Botswana’s DNA; that a long time ago, Kgosi Khama, the leader of the Bamangwato people and the great grandfather of the current Botswana President, Iain, had sought protection from the British against the threat of the Ndebeles and the Zulus in the middle of the 19th Century. So Botswana was never a colony, but a protectorate of the British.
The British controlled Botswana by invitation.
After the disagreements and acrimony, then Africa took a stunning decision: it sent an ultimatum to the ICC to stop prosecuting the Kenyan presidency and to communicate that position to the AU before November 12 or else the Union would convene another emergency meeting to pull out of the ICC altogether.
There is a theory that the Westgate terrorist attack in Nairobi a month ago was masterminded by the CIA to avert the confrontation between Africa and the ICC that was witnessed in Addis Ababa last week.
There is speculation the terrorist attack sought to generate public sympathy for Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy before the West and common sense prevailed on the ICC to withhold the case from prosecution.
Already, foreign ministers of the European Union are working on a draft to the United Nations Security Council to ask the ICC to withhold the case.
If the theory is true, that is the devious and evil manner in wich the West operates.
The confrontational stance that Africa took seems to be the language that the West understands.
Leaders of Francophone Africa need to understand that the French’s theory of assimilation is an illusion.
No matter how much they try, they will never be accepted by the whites as equal partners.
Africa’s destiny and future lie in the hands of its citizens.
The ICC is an instrument by the West to continue controlling Africa and its resources.
If events in Addis Ababa last week are anything to by, there is a growing realisation and appreciation of that fact in Africa.