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Category: Activist
http://www.voiceofafricaradio.com/
Posted: Sat Dec 02, 2006 4:01 pm Post subject: Bob Geldof's right to criticize?

'Self-determination is not a tactical tool to be used when it is convenient'
Dr. Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem
written 2005-03-24

The former Pop Star, of Boomtown Rats fame, Bob Geldof, (also known as Sir Bob or Saint Bob) is not a very popular man in some very powerful quarters in Uganda these days.

Nothing new in that because even in the Irish republic where he was born and in Britain where he made his Pop name and was later Knighted by the British Queen - not for his Pop Music, but for inspiring the Band Aid appeal that caught global attention in 1984 in response to the Ethiopian famine - he is not universally popular.

He has earned a well- deserved reputation for being a loud-mouth (and here I should declare a potential personal conflict of interest because my mouth does not often have a stopper), rubbing people the wrong way and ruffling all available feathers in his crusade against hunger, debt and poverty in Africa.

I have had occasion to observe that he sometimes appears to be crying more than the bereaved. It is easy to be taken over by the cause and sometimes that may lead to the precipitate road of the end justifying the means. If there is a Guinness Book of Records entry for using expletives without caring whether it is president or prisoner, diplomat or peasants, that are listening, Bob Geldof should be a runaway winner. It is part of his stock in trade. Sometimes the theatrics stand in the way of the message he has which makes many to accuse him of either insatiable individualism or petulant exhibitionism. I have had one or two run-ins with him where it was bull for bull . But his publicity tactics have worked well for him because whatever he says often gets global attention.

And so it was typical of him at the launching of the Blair Commission for Africa report two weeks ago to send a verbal missile in an aside about President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his worst kept secret attempt to tinker with the constitution of Uganda and lift the restriction on two terms for the presidency so that he could stand again. Ekisanja (as the self succession bid is known in Luganda) has now reached global media. Thanks to Geldof asking Museveni to move off the state lodge!

Not unexpectedly the Ekisanja supporters have been up in arms decrying his impertinence: how dare he interfere in our sovereign affairs? What does this foreigner, a musician for that matter (some say with angry disbelief, as if musicians should have no political views), know about Uganda to be asking Mzee to step aside?

The uproar culminated in an obviously orchestrated demonstration by supporters of the President last Monday condemning Geldof’s brash pronouncement. While they were at it they also had non-diplomatic words for the British government for meddling in Uganda’s affairs. The UK High Commissioner to Uganda has been grumbling rather too loudly of recent and also a recent statement by a British Foreign Office Junior Minster voiced concerns about Uganda’s transition to a genuine multi party democracy.

According to newspaper reports there were many placards and slogans on display. They were broadly nationalistic, anti imperialist, very Pan Africanist, anti neo-colonialism, etc. But one in particular caught my attention: It said ‘yes to aid but no to foreign intervention!’

While Bob Geldof may not be surprised (and would have been disappointed if people were indifferent to his remarks) at attacks on him, I am not sure how he would react to a planned demonstration today by anti-Museveni, anti-third term and opposition supporters or activists in his support. They must be hoping they can enlist his support as a veteran global publicist for their local cause. In addition to Bob’s crusade to feed starving Africans the Ugandan opposition is adding delivery of democracy too! The bad news is that only recently Geldof in yet another choreographed outburst openly said he was tired of being regarded as ‘Mr Bloody Africa’.

The banner that said ‘yes to aid but no to intervention’ exposes the self-inflicted humiliating contradiction confronting many African leaders. They expect foreigners to build their roads, feed their people, construct their stadiums and hospitals but at the same time they want to assert their independence. Uganda under Museveni is typical of this disease. The country is talked up as a success story, though it is fast losing its shine to new ‘miracles’ like Mozambique. Yet its budget and development plans are more than 50% dependent on foreigners. How sustainable is this in the long run? No doubt the country has seen some economic growth under Museveni’s laissez fair economics but real development is still very much elusive. But it is a country that has now become an Aid junkie.


Continued (at length) below
THIS IS UNEDITED
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