Over the weekend, Bafana Bafana (the South African soccer team) played the Eagles (
I’m taking much of my information and flow from a Dr. Adebajo, a Nigerian who works at the Center for Conflict Resolution here at UCT. We actually have a number of Nigerians in the country. Most of us have bad names. At a recent talk, Adebajo introduced himself by saying “First of all, I would like to say I’m a Nigerian and I don’t sell or traffic drugs. I’m an academic and I make an honest living. . .” I thought it was funny.
Anyway, like the
1960 – 1993
The year was 1960 and
However it was
And in 1990, Mandela visited
Well, this changed and it changed quickly. This was an issue between two countries but also between two men—General Abacha (ruled from 1993 – 1998 when he died) and Nelson Mandela. I would love to write more on each, but I’m sure you’re familiar with Mandela, the British-educated lawyer and “anglophile” from a royal Xhosa family, who united a country and received various international awards recognizing him as a great world figure. Abacha was a soldier who joined the army at 19, fought in the civil war (1967-1970) and rose through the ranks to become next-in-line under military leader General Babangida. He took power in 1993 after jailing the person who was believed to have won the elections.
Well, the “dangerous” and “ruthless” Abacha succeeded in creating a bad image of
Adebajo carries the comparison further:
Well, Mandela had been working on the release of political prisoners (including Obasanjo) in
In the end Mandela failed to get even one African nation to levy sanctions against
- Remember all
did for us while we were under apartheid Nigeria
- What happened to African unity?
- You’re being used by Western powers to dismantle African unity.
This is where Mbeki came in and started his “quiet diplomacy” policy that you see today with
- pulled out of the Commonwealth Action Group on
- canceled a major conference of Nigerian pro-democracy groups (supposed to be in Joburg in 1996)
- and we had the first Nigerian ambassador in
in 1996 as well South Africa
Mbeki said that
Then Abacha died (with Indian prostitutes) in 1998 and the new military leader Abubakar tried to restore civil liberties and release political prisoners. He oversaw a real transition to democratic rule in 1999 when Obasanjo was elected. This mirrored De Klerk overseeing the transition from apartheid to real democracy in
Again you have the same contrast set up. There’s the Sussex-educated, elegant, pipe-smoking Mbeki who seems rather British (incidentally so is Robert Mugabe) versus the engineer and solider Obasanjo. And just as Mandela was invited by Abubakar to attend an ECOWAS summit in Nigeria, so Obasanjo used his first presidential foreign visit to attend Mbeki’s inauguration (remember they know each other from Mbeki’s time as head of ANC in Nigeria; Obasanjo also visited South African leaders as co-chairman of the Commonwealth Eminent Person’s Group in 1986).
Mbeki is known as the architect for the African Renaissance which is a call for Africans to use and embrace democracy, globalization, and development without sacrificing representation and accountability. He also led the formation of New Partnership for
Both men were able to set up a peer-review system and found 28 signers (28 heads of state who are willing to be reviewed in their governance of their countries). They both support a gradualist approach compared to Qaddaffi (he wants an immediate USA-United States of Africa similar to the EU). They set up the BNC—Binational Commission between
But here is where the tensions arise. Nigerians don’t like that there are many Moroccans, Indians, Pakistanis, Chinese, Russians, etc. that are trafficking drugs but are not painted desultorily by comments (people jokingly ask me if I push drugs). A radio station had to apologize after it stated that Obasanjo (on a visit in 1994 for Mbeki’s inauguration) was carrying cocaine. The Nigerian consulate in
Moreover South African firms have invaded
Some Nigerians think it’s great while others see it as a type of neo-colonialism without reciprocal opening of the South African market to Nigerian goods. Though that may be true, I don’t think
Two newspapers “The Day” and “FS African Standard” aimed at West Africans or Nigerians in South Africa both closed (in 2004 and 2006 respectively) after not enough financial backing or support. And SAA (South African Airways) ended its relationships with Nigerian Airways over stringent requirements
Today, Mbeki will most likely be gone next year and a new president elected. And Obasanjo is already gone as Yar’Adua was elected last year. Mbeki and Obasanjo ended on a sour note because Mbeki wanted Mugabe invited to the Commonwealth Summit in 2003 in
Moreover 3 years ago in both 2005 and 2006 the BNC meetings failed to happen. There are reasons given for this but one would think you could overcome any issues to at least hold a BNC (Bilateral National Commission) meeting. So the two superpowers in