Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria are burning: Should we rejoice? M. Frindéthié

President Gbagbo of Cote d’Ivoire likes to tell an interesting allegory about the carelessness with which African countries, instead of denouncing the Western financed destabilization of their neighbors, have actually been complicit in escalating and taking advantage of these troubles. In Gbagbo’s story, as is not unusual, two brothers have a squabble. Instead of seeking ways to reconcile, one of the brothers calls on God to punish his sibling.

“What do you want done to your brother exactly?” God asks the petitioner.

“I want you to remove my brother’s eyes; I want him blind,” the plaintiff replies.

“I will take your brother’s eyes out, but for that you have to be willing to lose one eye, too,” God explains.

“I am willing to lose one eye,” the plaintiff replies, “as long as my brother loses both eyes.” So, God gives the petitioner his wish. He takes one eye from the complaining brother and removes both eyes from his sibling.


This parable is meant to illustrate how successful the colonial policy of divide and conquer has been in Africa and how far Africans have been willing to go to see their neighbors suffer so they can profit from their neighbors’ distress. Gbagbo was evidently referring to the negative roles his counterparts in Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Nigeria, Gabon, etc., played in helping Chirac, then Sarkozy organize the Ivorian crisis and carry out the squeeze on his administration; but he was also referring to African leaders’ roles in other regional conflicts, such as the protracted Congolese “civil war.” Today, several of the countries that President Gbagbo was alluding to are facing their own crises, the origins of which are not totally divorced from the divide and conquer policy. Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria, those countries whose leaders have participated in the fall of President Gbagbo, are on the brink of collapse. Should Ivorians be spiteful and celebrate or should they instead lament? Being human, all too human, perhaps they should be expected to do a little bit of both before getting back to the daunting task of implementing Africa with leaders for the twenty-first century in place of the marionettes that are laboring for the interest of the core states.


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