Transcript of Namibia Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) Radio interview done 5th April 2011
MR !GOAGOSEB: It is the 9th Hour on National Radio. My name is Ricardo !Goagoseb and I will be keeping you company in today’s edition of your favourite topical discussion programme. We look at issues of national, continental as well as global interest that is here on the power of National Radio 92.6 FM. This morning, as you know, since the beginning of the year there has been a lot of news that has been coming in from the continent. It seems it is nothing but bad times for the continent. Last year or the year before that, since 2009, there has been economic troubles and now it seems like political troubles are rocking us. For today we are going to be focusing on one that has been making news headlines for the past couple of weeks, zooming into Libya, primarily on its leader, the history of Muammar Gaddafi and his influence on the continent as well as with regards to African and Arab relations as well. So, we are going to be focusing on Muammar Gaddafi, the enigma of him as well. A very good morning to you and welcome, you have definitely made the right choice to tune into the right station at the right time. I am joined in the studio by Africa-Arab Relations Specialist, Bankie Forster Bankie, as we put detail and skeleton into the man that is making such much news these days. A very good morning to you, Mr Bankie, and welcome.
MR BANKIE: Thank you very much for having me.
MR !GOAGOSEB: Mr Bankie, let us quickly zoom in and start off with Muammar Gaddafi and how he got into power.
MR BANKIE: Muammar Gaddafi obtained a law degree from the University of Benghazi. He attended Sandhurst Military Academy in the United kingdom. He was the one who engineered the coup which took out King Idris. He is highly intelligent, intellectual and devious. He is very trained and he is a man who Africa has to acknowledge for his substantial contribution to Afro-Arab relatiins.
MR !GOAGOSEB: You mentioned two things, you said that Africa has to acknowledge his contribution to Afro-Arab and you said substantial contribution as well. Those are two things. Let us talk about the acknowledgement part, how should he be acknowledged?
MR BANKIE: Well, I think that what is going on in Libya at the moment, that is the issue where African States can show appreciation. That is how best it should manifest itself, but in terms of the history he is a man who will go down in our history because he did a number of remarkable things. He stated on one occasion that Libya should be grateful to Black Africans who were the original inhabitants of that area. He also said that the African Diaspora had a right to be within the African Union. He also apologized for Arab slavery of Africans.These things have never been done by an Arab leader before, they are very remarkable. It is unlikely another such visionary Arab leader, especially as regards Afro-Arab relations, will emerge again in our lifetimes – even this century.
MR !GOAGOSEB: Some of those contributions that you have mentioned, as you know, he has been a leader that been in office for over four decades and one of those leaders that assisted many progressive counties in Africa. What were some of these contributions?
MR BANKIE: Well, talking from my own experience, I know that Rawlings and his government in Ghana would not have survived if it had not been for Muammar Gaddafi and Libya, because initially when Rawlinggs took power for the second time in 1982, there was an embargo put on Ghana and there was no credit available from international institutions. During a period of some two years and more it was Gaddafi who kept the economy of Ghana afloat and there are many other instances in Africa where Gaddafi assisted Pan-Africanists add progressives, not only from within Africa but also from its Diaspora - Stokley Carmicheal/Kwame Ture was an example. This would be the appropriate place to say that Arabia never wanted proximity with the Western African Diaspora in the Americas and Carribean. North Africa did not feature in the Pan-African narrative, only Sub-Saharan Africa. These things have never been discussed in the AU, but they are a fact.
MR !GOAGOSEB: Can you mention some of those instances for us?
MR BANKIE: I think you said it yourself when you said he helped Zuma’s ANC massively, etcetera. Libya paid for Lithuli House and so it goes on and in fact, some of these things we are only learning about now, that they were done voluntarily. I would like to also mention one particular thing, that is the UNESCO history of Africa. It was Libya who funded that project to the tune of multi-millions. This in one of the few enlightened authorative sources of the history of the African continent. We know of no other Arab leader in the perid since the Euopeans came here, to support the accutate recording of the history of the Africans. On the contrary Arabia has denied the African origins of world civilization. There was no other country which came forward for philanthropic reasons to do that and Gaddafi did that and that is probably the most accurate history we have of Africa in these days. Nigeria had enough resources to have funded that history. A nation which cannot write its history will be exclude from history.
MR !GOAGOSEB: If one looks at it a bit early, you also mentioned the issue of him being, I think, one of the most forthright and upfront Arab leaders with regards to Arab and African relations. Why was that the case? Is there something which we do not know, the reason why he was more pro-African than Arab or was he more Arab than African, trying to influence the two? What was his strategy?
MR BANKIE: Well, it is a long story, but it has to do with the factsof his family originating from the southern psrt of Libya,from the Sahara, Lockerbie and then the sanctions which were imposed on Libya and Libya then falling back on its African origins to get support from the African States and thus the sanctions were broken.
MR !GOAGOSEB: So, it was because of the support?
MR BANKIE: It was because of his family origins and the support that he gave to Africa and this was unique.No other Arab leader has embraced Africa culturally. None in the last hundered years or more. has done such a thing. That is why some of us are saying that Gaddafi is an extraordinary leader. Of course, it can be said that he did these things for his own survival, to get around the sanctions. It is said likewise with Mugabe, that Mugabe only went for the land issue to perpetuate himself in power, but I do not think that in historic perspective those things are important. The fact is that no other contemporary Arab leader has shown such interest in Africa. Sometimes people refer to the Algerians, but that was more out of solidarity. If we remember whsat happened in Algeria after Fanon passed, we should understand that Algeria, in it’s relations with Africa was more concerned with political solidarity.Cultural affinity did not enter. Also Algeria, like most Borderland countries has an invisible Black population. Only in Libya have we seen Blaks achieve some visibility. Gaddafi was extraordinary because he was interested in African culture and I mentioned the African history project of UNESCO. There were many, many indications of this. He was interested in African languages, etcetera. This is unusual, we have to accept the fact that generally the Arabs do not have high regard for Africans and in fact, I have lived in the verges of the Arab world in South Sudan and can tell, Arabs generally consider Africans as abd., as slaves. Gaddafi was unusual, whatever his reasons, his love for Africa, even though it was expedient, because he was able to break sanctions through the support of Africa, was extraordinary and it seems to me his downfall has to do with the fact that he drew too close to Africans. The West felt he was a bad influence.After he got readmitted to the international community because of the Lockerbie compensation that Libya paid, he started to move away from Africa back towards the West. This was a mistake, in my view. Arabs in generl see Africa as a cultural vacuum waiting to be filled by Islam. They have little or no regard for African culture. In that regard Gaddafi was different. No doubt to his fellow Arabs this interst of his was foolish, even unbalanced. We are unlikely to see such an Arab leader again. Gaddafi, in our case, made history.
Obviously in, for instance, Nile Valley history, the roles of today between the Afrcan and the Arab, would have been the reverse of what we have today.
MR !GOAGOSEB: Why did he start moving away, because that has been a question. A bit earlier you said when the Lockerbie incident came, he started moving closer to Africa and after the sanctions were made, he started moving back to the West?
MR BANKIE: An analysis I have done comes to the conclusion that basically Gaddafi was an Arabist. He put Islam first, then the Arab heritage and sfter that the fact that he is rooted in Africa.Even though he had an interest, a certain love for Africa and Africans and I think that is genuine, he was of course, first an islamist and secondly, an Arabist. The confirmation of that comes from the Southern Sudanese who said that Libya and Egypt, were the most difficult countries they had to deal with, because their position on self-rule for South Sudan vacillated, but was more anti than pro. Gaddafi was complex.
MR !GOAGOSEB: Complex?
MR BANKIE: Yes, complex. What I mean by that is that Gaddafi was a person who could finance your opposition and he very often did and he was never interested in Southern Sudan’s independence, at least verbally years back, but he gave money to the SPLM. In the last year or so, he came out to support self-government for South Sudan and the same with Egypt, along with Khartoum and probably others.. Egypt was said to be funding the LRA. But as I said, you have to match this against the fact that no other Arab leader has shown an interest in South Sudan, including initially, Arafat. The Arssb League supported Khartoum in the long war with South Sudan. Nasser was interested in African political liberation and even lead the liberation of the Africans and we know that SWAPO and ANC were headquartered in Cairo, but that was not cultural. Gaddafi was unusual because he actually seems to have been interested in African culture.
MR !GOAGOSEB: So, what you are saying is, at the end of the day what we can
draw from this is that he had a love for Africa as well as support for that, but in terms of culture it was at the level of research and in terms of support for Sudan his interest was ambiguous. In Arab-African relations his interst was far-sighted and in North East Africa he wsas backing both sides.
MR BANKIE: I do not know why you would say that in North East Africa it was a different perspective. I think what one should understand is that basically the man is an Arab and he is a Muslim. In fact, his son is called Seif Islam. So, he never lost that, but what he showed was a great research interest in Africa. Whether it was expedient or not, he did show that and we have never seen that in any Arab leader in history that I know of. So, he was extraordinary and in fact, it is those characteristics which we need to encourage amongst Arabs. They have to come to terms with African culture, they cannot continue to think that Africa is a culture vacuum and Gaddafi was the first leader we saw moving in that direction. That is why I said we have to acknowledge his contribution to Afro-Arab understanding..
MR !GOAGOSEB: If you have just joined us, a very good morning to you and welcome, you are listening to the 9th Hour on National Radio. This morning we are talking to Africa-Arab relations researcher, that is Bankie Forster Bankie. I am zooming into Muammar Gaddafi’s profile as well as his influence on the continent. Muammar Gaddafi, the enigma, that is what we are focusing on for this morning. Mr Bankie, you mentioned the issue and said that he had relations with the continent and he had an interest in the continent and yet right now, different results have actually accrued from what has happened over the past couple of weeks. We have seen few African countries actually showing their support for Muammar Gaddafi. If he was so popular on the continent and such a revered leader, why have we not seen any support for him right now? I do not know if Gaddafi was popular or expedient. There are a number of interpretations for the silence of the African leaders - on the issue of Libya Africans have been of onr voice in criticizing their leaders – one is cowardice, another ingratitude and yet another, their comparative weakness.
MR BANKIE: You know, he was an enigma, that is that it was zigzag, it was never very consistent. For instance, he supported Charles Taylor and Sanko in Sierra Leone. The basic purpose of that was to destabilize West Africa, most parts of West Africa, in order to create something like a vacuum for Libya to come in and be influential in that part of Africa.
MR !GOAGOSEB: So, Libya was behind or wanted to have West Africa destabilized.
MR BANKIE: Yes, because the idea there was that in creating a vacuum he would be able to move in, replacing the British and the French, and I cannot say that he was universally popular, he wasn’t. With the united states of Africa, you remember that African States were very, very hesitant and reluctant and suspected that his ultimate objective was hegemony. I believe that project was for Arab hegemony, that ultimately he would have used it to control Africa in Arab interest. So, all I am trying to say is that one has to acknowledge that he showed an interest in Africa culture.
MR !GOAGOSEB: But not necessarily for the right reasons, like you said he wanted regime change in West Africa.
MR BANKIE: Yes, exactly, exactly.
MR !GOAGOSEB: What happened that he did not succeed in West Africa? What prevented the hegemonic takeover of West Africa by Libya?
MR BANKIE: Well, I do not think terror is ever very popular and I would not want to go into the history of Charles Taylor and Fodi Sanko, who met in a military facility in Libya,but in the end their misrule brought them down. Gaddafi is an extremely complex personality. All I am saying is that in terms of his showing tangible signs and actions of interest in Africa culturally, this was never seen before by an Arab leader, at least for a long time . Maybe in some time which we do not know about but it has been seen before. So, ultimately Afro-Arab relations are going to depend on Arabs coming to terms with Africa, rather than being masters and we being slaves, seeing ourselves as equal. This is going to be a long journey, it is not something which is going to be realized in our lifetime. But I am saying that Gaddafi saying that Arabs have to apologise for the enslavement of Africans was a very, very progressive move.
MR !GOAGOSEB: From the side of the African leaders, in terms of acknowledgement, is there any progressive move for that?
MR BANKIE: I think that he helped many African States and I think that if there is any part of the world that is supporting Gaddafi, maybe not vocally at this time, is sub-Saharan Africa. We know Musoveni in Uganda has offered refuge to Gaddafi if he so chooses, but Africa is weak and in the world order we are the weakest, so we are not in a good position to be of any practical assistance.
MR !GOAGOSEB: That is something of interest, you say Africa is weak in the world order.
MR BANKIE: Yes, absolutely. We are the weakest. We have no nuclear capability. South Africa which was given it by the West, had it, like Israel, but it was not allowed to fall into the hands of the African on majority government. Africans being considered unpredictable and therefore irresponsible.
MR !GOAGOSEB: It means that if, for instance, the international community decides to invade any other country, even if we are against it, there is nothing we can do about it.
MR BANKIE: There is very little and in fact, that is what the main lesson of what is going on in Egypt should be for us. AFRICOM is involved in the Libya invasion, in that attempt to take Gaddafi out and AFRICOM headed by an African American General is looking for headquarters somewhere in Africa. AFRICOM is going to come into Africa, we are going to find in Africa a similar situation to what we saw in Latin America and South America in the sixties and seventies.
MR !GOAGOSEB: What was the situation?
MR BANKIE: Well, the situation was that US forces will start interfering in the internal affairs of African States. I think that that is the clear scenario for our future and this just amplifies and illustrates our weakness, that in a situation of Libya at the moment, the AU has not been able to impose any type of solution. The AU’s line and it is correct, is a diplomatic solution, there has to be peace talks. This is absolutely correct, but the AU is not able to impose that in the current situation.
MR !GOAGOSEB: In terms of the evidence, what evidence is there that that indeed is the master plan for AFRICOM to come in and for them to get involved and get a base and so on?
MR BANKIE: The best one can do is study, research, analyse and try to make projections based on those scientific criteria. That is what that I am doing.
MR !GOAGOSEB: Can you share some of those criteria with us?
MR BANKIE: I said I studied Latin America and South America, they moved out of that phase, that phase was when United States of America was imposing its Monroe Doctrine on South America ( which holds that Latin America is the backyard of the US and must therefore be under total US control, which was why Cuba and Haiti received such harsh treatment from the US ) and it controlled the internal affairs of most of the South American countries. During the Bush era America moved towards the Middle East and it has lost influence in South America and now we see South American States, like Brazil, emerging as economic powers, but for a long time, and Haiti is a very good illustration, South America was ruled by the United States Army. Today the stakes are the contestation around strategic minerals.
MR !GOAGOSEB: It is the 9th Hour on National Radio, I am joined in the studio by Bankie Forster Bankie. We are talking about the Libyan issue and Muammar Gaddafi. Mr Bankie, right now let us come to the current events, what is happening in Libya. Gaddafi is accused of holding onto power. Is it exactly what he is doing? Is he rightfully holding onto power or is what he is doing wrong at this stage?
MR BANKIE: I think that was a major mistake he made, he should have handed over some many years ago and his son, Seif, had been identified to take the power from the Father, but I would say unfortunately he failed to implement that and that is a failure which most of our leaders have.
MR !GOAGOSEB: Which is the grip or the hold on power.
MR BANKIE: Yes, the inability to let go of power.
MR !GOAGOSEB: What about the interference or the intervention that is being made right now by the West to get him out of power?
MR BANKIE: I think whenI was on your programme not so long ago, I said that
that was not going to succeed unless the West could put boots on the ground and I still maintain that that is so, and there has to be a negotiated arrangement, because now this situation has received such international exposure that it would not be possible in any sort of way to smuggle troops in, even trainers to train the so-called rebels for military proficiency. So, there has to be negotiations. I do not know much more about it than you, but it seems to me what happened was that the Security Council passed that resolution, it was very elastic and France especially was hoping to use that resolution to be able to take Gaddafi out. I do think it was well thought through, they were hoping that they could do all sorts of things and this has not proven possible because countries, even like Germany, have said that what is going on now, the bombing, is not covered by that UN resolution. So, there has clearly to be a negotiated settlement.
MR !GOAGOSEB: But what the allies are doing is clearly in breach of the resolution itself. Do you think there should be any action taken against that, any sort of retribution?
MR BANKIE: No, international law, I happen to be a lawyer and I did actually specialize in international law, public and private, is not precise and has few if ny precedent.It is subject to a lot of interpretations. It is only recently that some of these international courts have been established. Western gun boat diplomacy in Africa has always been that might is right and that was the basis under which the West went into Libya. They were hoping to be able to annex the oil reserves of the country and I think there is going to be some lessons to be learned, because in this one I do not think the West is going to succeed.
MR !GOAGOSEB: You do not think the West is going to succeed?
MR BANKIE: They may overthrow Gaddafi in some shape or form, I mean transfer power away from Gaddafi, but I do not think they are going to be able to put the boots on the ground and be able to influence the events by putting boots on the ground and taking physical control of Libya. In a diplomatic solution that is where the AU should be able to play a more meaningful role.
CALLER: Good morning, Mr Bankie. I think Gaddafi is being punished by Arabs because of being a Pan-African on one side although he is an Arab. That is one. The problem with us as Africans, I think we are too slow in action. Gaddafi supported most of the African States financially and this is what they call the “brown envelopes.” Now they are all quiet. Where are they? In the time of need they are not there, but when it comes to the resolutions, the three African States voted for the resolution. Why did they not vote against? That was the option that they had as they do not have any influence. That vote for the resolution shoed that there is no coordination among them in the Security Council and at the AU itself. For the change, who is going to take over? I think Gaddafi has shown some sign of being willing to leave by proposing his son to take over from him and then another move, I think is the Libyan Foreign Minister visted Greece recently.. What did Africans do at the last meeting in London? Were they invited? I do not think so, but the Arab League were there and all other leagues were there, including the whole of the West. We are not organized and until we organize ourselves at home and abroad. I think that Gaddafi has been sold out by Africans, the Arabs have already sent planes to go and fight Gaddafi. Qatar is one of them, I think it is well-known. Why do Africans not now say anything in this transition? They have to come together and a major meeting is supposed to be called to discuss Libya. Libya is an African country, I do not know why are we quiet.
MR !GOAGOSEB: I believe you want to add something to that.
MR BANKIE: Yes, according to the information I have, the reason the African States, the three states, may have voted for that resolution is that they were under pressure from the Arabs. What happened in the situation of Libya was that the Arabs were used by the West against the Africans. If you do an analysis this becomes clear. The Arabs were co-opted at the beginning of the process by the West. Moussa, the Egyptian,the head of the Arab League, was part and parcel of the initial arrangements made on Libya by the West, as was Ban Ki-moon, one of the most reactionary Secretary General’s of the United Nations [I recall his first visit to Juba when he ascribed the loss of life in Darfur as due to disputes over access to water resources] we have seen who does not understand the Bandung spirit which originally inspired Asia’s relation with post colonial Africa, probably because South Korea was and is firmly in the Western sphere of interest and was never non-aligned. Africans were pressurized to attend and vote for the resolution in the United Nations. That is the information I have. On Seif Islam, Gaddafi’s son, everything I have read about this man, he has a doctorate degree from London School of Economics (LSE), is highly educated, indicates that he is a Pan-Africanist like his Father. By Pan-Africanist I mean he is a continentalist,ascribing to the geographic unity of the African continent, as distinguished from those inspired by Cheik Anta Diop, who see unity based on Sub-Saharan Africa abd it’s Diasporas, East and West. He is more pragmatic and reasoned, in my view, than his Father’s Pan-Africanism, which like Nkrumah’s is emotional without sound historical base.If we are looking for a successor to the Father or the Father’s tendency in Libyan politics, it should be Seif. I think with Seif we have a safe pair of hands. If it is not Seif it would be another Libyan reflecting Gadaffi’s stance on Africa and it’s future. And finally, Africans were invited to the London conference, but the Secretary General of the AU chose not to go, because he said he was not interested in meals and photo opportunities. I think that was absolutely correct on his part and what we have seen the AU doing is distancing itself increasingly from this Western initiative on Libya. It is true that we have not been aggressive in imposing our view at the AU level. It is worth noting that the AU’s first attempt to send a team to Libya was halted by the UN.
MR !GOAGOSEB: But what would it help and that has been the question. A bit earlier you mentioned and said that despite what happens, there is not much that we can do pragmatically. So, if we are airing views, what difference will it make at the end of the day?
MR BANKIE: Well, that is it, internationally that is the way it operates and might is right and that is why we are trying to reform the Security Council, etcetera. But I think that we have been consistent. At the level of the AU we have been consistent in the line we have taken, that the parties should sit down and there has to be a negotiated solution. We have been kept out and in fact, what has happened is what the West has always done in the history, it uses the Arabs against the Africans. When you have lived in North Africa, you will find that this was the tactic. Like Sudan had the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium where Egyptians were used as collaborators with the West in order to rule the Africans of Sudan. That is an old tactic and it worked very effectively
MR !GOAGOSEB: But one of the most interesting things you also mentioned here is that even within the African Union, many countries seem to be dis-united. Recently Botswana denounced what is happening in Libya and clearly showed that they are not siding with Muammar Gaddafi on this one. They have called the Libyan representatives to order in the country and probably, I think, also threatened to break ties with Muammar Gaddafi in terms of diplomacy. Does that not pose a challenge at the end of the day?
MR BANKIE: I have lived in Botswana. When I was in Botswana, I do remember that was 1982, there was a Libyan office there, but I would not expect Botswana to be well-disposed to Gaddafi’s Libya. Countries which are generally well-disposed to Gaddafi’s Libya are what we call progressive countries. Most of the countries in southern Africa which got their self-governance through armed struggle are supporting Libya. Botswana we know is not in that category, so that is the way it is.
MR !GOAGOSEB: In which category are they?
MR BANKIE: Botswana in it’s history, you should remember, was a ‘Protectorate’ and the Boers, the Afrikaners were moving up from the Cape and they sought refuge or the protection of Queen Victoria. So, they have always tended to be more, how would I put it, more prone to Western pressure than other countries which in the region had to fight to get self-governance.
MR !GOAGOSEB: The situation is quite clear, there is a lot of fighting happening. Many international critics and academics also claim that it is clear that the West has not gone in there to protect civilians, but has gone in to take sides with the revolutionaires as well, which at the end of the day leaves a lot of casualties on the ground. What should be the way forward?
MR BANKIE: As I said, I am not an expert in military matters. I was more concerned about what Libya had done for Africa in the history, but I think it is clear, there has to be a negotiated arrangement and the fact that the Libyan Foreign Minister has been in Greece and in Malta and, I believe, in Italy is an indication that we are moving towards that scenario. I think what is interesting to see is that we see it is Gaddafi’s Libya which is making these moves towards reconciliation, not the West. Do not forget, still to this day Gaddafi’s government is the legitimate government of Libya, it has not been overthrown yet, so it has the right to raise its issues in the Security Council, in the United Nations and in the international fora.
MR !GOAGOSEB: One thing that we cannot leave out when we are talking about African-Arab relations and Gaddafi’s involvement in that, of course, is what is happening in Abyei and Darfur as well, what has his influence been in Abyei?
MR BANKIE: Well, as I said, he was schizophrenic, he was for and against the SPLM in South Sudan and it is only in the last year or so that he came out categorically, as Egypt did finally, to say that he was in favour of self-government for South Sudan. In Abyei I do not think he has had any direct influence. The Abyei situation today is that the Khartoum is poised to actually invade Abyei, because I do not think Khartoum is readyto lose its revenues, because they make up a substantial amount of the budget of Khartoum. It is in Darfur that Gaddafi has influence. Khalil Ibrahim is still detained in Tripoli, as far as I know. You should not forget that Sudan and Libya have a common border and we have recently been informed that Gaddafi’s Libya was supporting one of the so-called rebels factions in Darfur.
MR !GOAGOSEB: Supporting in what way? Financially?
MR BANKIE: Well, it was not spelled out but I presume it would have been financially and in terms of military equipment. There is another disturbing development in Darfur that I would like to brief the public about. That is that it is now being said that Bashir intends to have a referendum in Darfur. The idea of that is to cut out liberation movements and so he will go to the people in the camps, because most of the people of Darfur are living in camps, and hope to be able to win their votes and be able to impose his will that way and of course, no election in Sudan is free and fair under Khartoum’s administration. So, that is an important development in Darfur and I am sorry to say that the AU is in some way complicit in that new development, because Mbeki, head of the AU peace mission to Sudan has been saying for some time, that it is legitimate now to go for an internal, solution in Darfur, that means, and he has been saying this for some time, to cut out the liberation movements. Bashir is saying he is going to have a referendum, that will effectively cut them out. So, Darfur is looking increasingly complex and we are not sure how it will pan out. As I have sort to inform the public out there many times on your program over recent years, for which I thank you - Africa in general, especially Sub-Saharan Africa, is largely indifferent, or uninformed of the realities in Sudan, of the people of the South, those in Darfur, the Nubians and the marginalised in general. The Arab expansion project in Africa is real, so is forced Arabistion. In a situation of ignorance, he who controls the media has the power.The problems of the Afro-Arab Borderlands, the ‘other apartheid’ will be with us for the foreseeable future. They will not disappear.
MR !GOAGOSEB: Quite an interesting development - what you mentioned, the support for Darfur and relations with regards to that. Are we looking at, if Gaddafi gets out of power, that having a significant influence in terms of Arab-African relations. We saw what happened when the south got its liberation, there was a level of satisfaction for Africans. If Gaddafi gets out of power are we looking at some significant changes in Africa.
MR BANKIE: I think so. In large measure that is why the West wants Gaddafi out. I think if he goes and Seif does not come in, in some shape or form, then we are looking at a significant reorientation, I would call it, in African affairs. Gaddafi has been there for forty years, that is a very long time and he actually put his money where his mouth was and he actually funded substantially the AU, to the extent that people were afraid that if he withdrew from the AU, as he threatened to do over his wish for a United States of Africa, that the AU would not be able to survive very well. So, if the influence of Gaddafi’s thinking is taken away from the African equation, then I think that the likely result is that we are going to see reaction, getting more influence in African affairs and, of course, that is one of the reasons why the West would want to take him out.
MR !GOAGOSEB: If that is the case, what will happen, how will the African Union survive because it seems he is going to be leaving involuntarily if this whole thing reaches the climax wanted by the West.
MR BANKIE: I think it is too early to say that Gaddafi is going to be taken out. Most of the commentary we are getting is western influenced. This has been a propaganda war from the beginning, so as I said, he is still the legitimate ruler of Libya and there is an attempt to overthrow his government and we have heard many Western governments saying that they are for regime change. In my thinking that can only be executed by boots on the ground, that is why I was talking about with the inability of NATO to invade Libya, then there is going to have to be a negotiated settlement. The influence of Gaddafi in the affairs of Libya is not going to change overnight. As we move towards a diplomatic solution, I think that is going to become more and more apparent. Gaddafi, or what he represents will have to share in the new arrangements. So, I do not think the influence of Gaddafi in African politics is going to disappear, it is not going to disappear, it will remain but it may be weakened. Unless, of course, they are able to kill Gaddafi. In fact, Gaddafi’s influence is likely to be diluted in some shape or form.The rebels who are sometimes being referred to as revolutionaries, are in actual fact sympathizers with Al Qaeda. Gaddafi said this at the very beginning of these difficulties, as did Seif, but the fact is that I have heard reliably that when the Afghan situation and Bin Laden and Al Qaeda was starting, the biggest group of Jihadists to go to Afghanistan were the people from Benghazi, that part of eastern Libya and when the current troubles broke out, Gaddafi said that it was being led by Al Qaeda. What I think has happened, some of these Al Qaeda elements who were in Afghanistan have returned to Libya and are behind the current problems. The so-called rebels are interested in downgrading Libya’s relations with Africa and switching the alignment to Europe. All this will become clear with time. I do not know if it will be in one year or two years, in time we will get to know all the details, but I think it is apparent that the propaganda aspect of the media coverage of the current problems in Libya has been very heavy handed. What happened in Bahrain about a week or so ago when the Saudi army went in there in order to prop up a reactionary monarchy, was not covered in the international press, it was mostly ignored and a lot of people lost their lives in that intervention into Bahrain. Maybe more than in Libya. I’m not sure. So, these things have to be carefully scrutinized and one speaks in favour of Gaddafi’s influence in African affairs with a serious amount of moderation because unfortunately, I think as you have been saying, we tend to keep quiet as a people and we do not defend our interest publicly.
MR !GOAGOSEB: I just want to zoom on the issue of the media before we conclude. You said that it has been propaganda war and that it has been one-sided, it has been westernized, most of it, but has Libya been denying the media or African media from getting in there and getting the right information? Or has it been a matter of disinterest from our side?
MR BANKIE: No. I think that the media, as I understand it and I am a member of the Media Complaints Committee in Namibia and I follow the media which is generally dominated by the western press houses. The western media was invited very early on by Gaddafi to go to Tripoli and they have been there almost since the beginning of the thing. They are complaining that they have not been able to see what they want to see, but they have been there. The African media I do not think has the capacity to be able to join such an exploratory or investigative delegation, so that is probably why the African media has not been able to talk authoritatively about what is going on.
MR !GOAGOSEB: And this brings us to the question, because it is two sides of the coin, first of all is the issue that you mentioned a bit earlier, we do not have the capacity to be able to articulate our own standpoint on a particular issue and now we do not have the capacity to send our media there. What is it that Africa has the capacity to do right now? After so long we still seem to be the backbenchers in everything.
MR BANKIE: As far as the media is concerned, there was PANA, the Pan-African News Agency, it was first to based in Dakar, that was some years ago, it did not work and it does not exist anymore. No, we do not have the capacity and that is why our leaders choose to keep quiet. It is not a question of cowardice. If you do not have capacity to back up your pronouncements in military capacity, economic capacity, then you had better keep quiet. The answer to your imbedded question is that until a critical mass of our thinkers and doers are driven by African Nationalism and by that I mean not the neo-colonial state nationalism, but an African Nationlism which has the interest of ALL Africans at its core, we will continue to be beholden to others.,
MR !GOAGOSEB: So what should we do now to get that capacity or is it to go on for the next century?
MR BANKIE: I think the line the AU has taken is absolutely correct, consistently to demand that the parties sit down and talk, because ultimately that is the best we can do and we should persist in that. Maybe we should become more vocal about that, I think that is the best we can do.MR !GOAGOSEB: In conclusion from your side, Mr Bankie, thank you so much for making time to come and join us here in the studio as well. Quite a number of serious issues are going to be unfolding on the Libyan issue going forward. It is a matter of just keep your ears open and showing interest in some of these issues that are going to be developing in Libya. There are a number of other interesting developments that are taking place continentally. From Ricardo !Goagoseb, I will be back in the studio between one and two. Stay tuned for the 10:00 news update