DEAR Sirs, I was recently shocked to see you flying to Ukraine on what the media called a peace mission. Dear presidents Azali Assoumani (Comoros), Macky Sall (Senegal), Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa), Hakainde Hichilema (Zambia), PM Mustapha Madbuli (Egypt), and unmentioned top envoys from the Republic of Congo and Uganda.
I’ve some questions for you. Who authorised you to represent Africa in this impossible mission in the first place? What did you achieve in your meeting with your host President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Zilch. Why? First, you goofed. Your dress code was a hoot. You didn’t do your homework well. Since the war started, Zelenskyy has never been in a suit. You’re in suits. What did this say to your host?
Peacemaking requires some tricks, one of which is knowing the behaviour, family, even the history of the “conflicants”. When former US President Jimmy Carter sought to reconcile Egypt and Israel in Camp David, he did a small trick that enticed and softened “conflicants’” stony hearts.
He said “instead of just saying best wishes Jimmy Carter, I got my secretary to get their names and I put ‘with love’ (the) names of his grandchildren” (CNB, October 2, 2014). Essentially, this trick solved the impasse that had existed for 13 days without any flicker of peace.
Dear presidents, you know as everybody does. Charity begins at home. Somalia, Sudan, Mali, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, CAR, DRC, South Sudan, and Zimbabwe are on fire for various reasons.
Why Ukraine first but not the African countries above? Somalia went to the dogs over three decades ago, and you didn’t and don’t bother about it.
Sudan is in hell. You didn’t and don’t bother! Burkina Faso and Mali are on the verge of becoming failed States like Somalia because of terrorism. You didn’t and don’t bother! Cameroon’s split down the middle between Anglo and Franco-speaking Cameroonians.
You didn’t and don’t bother! Who’ll bother? Why bother? A fool left his house on fire and went to douse the fire at his neighbour’s house. Is this love or candle love? A goat always leave pastures close to it and seek those situated afar.
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Dear Sirs, ironically, while the likes of Hichilema and Ramaphosa went there, their next door neighbour Zimbabwe is struggling with illegal sanctions. Egypt has Libya and Sudan on fire and it came to light recently that it is denying entry to Sudanese fleeing conflict (Al Jazeera, June 17, 2023).
Republic of Congo and Uganda have the DRC burning and Senegal has Mali in its neighbour. Why’ve you not gone to help your neighbours first? Do you think you can move Ukraine that enjoys the backing of the West even an inch? That’s why I see your impossible mission of peace as a goof.
Dear Sirs, let me ask you. Why did you go? Hichilema answers “life is universal, and we must protect lives — Ukrainian lives, Russian lives, global lives” (PBS, June 16, 2023). Ramaphosa adds that “this conflict affects Africa negatively” (Sky News, June 17, 2023).
Seriously? Aren’t the lives of the people of the above-mentioned countries, especially Zambia’s neighbour Zimbabwe universal, and thus, supposed to be protected? Are the conflicts in Africa affecting it positively?
Can Russia or Ukraine listen to such failures whose house is on fire but are going to douse the fire at a far away neighbour who is supported by the masters of the world?
What’s the rationale of doing so? Is it the lack of self-confidence and self-esteem or self-racism? Were you sent by Russia, which’s behind Brics for which South Africa is a member while Egypt is seeking to join?
Zelenskyy responds “every soldier, every new step we take, every metre of Ukrainian land freed from the enemy is of utmost importance” but not the noises of peace from those who can’t address conflicts next doors.
Have you easily forgotten how the world discriminated against Africans in offering asylum to Ukrainians?
In a nutshell, Dear Sirs, in other words, Zelenskyy is telling you to put your house in order first. Look at how Saudi Arabia and the US are busy in Sudan while you’re wasting hard-earned money of your poor people globetrotting for an impossible mission. If there is anything you achieved, it’s nothing but photo-ops. That’s that.
Nkwazi Mhango is a lifetime member of the Writers' Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador (WANL).