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In The Name Of God, Leave Us Alone!

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In The Name Of God, Leave Us Alone!

“Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence, the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake; since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government” – George Washington in his presidential farewell address, 17 Sept 1796.

On 20 April 1653, something dramatic happened in Britain that Africa would have to emulate. On that fateful day, Oliver Cromwell, then the most powerful figure in Britain (he was the Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland), sensing that British national interests were under threat, marched to the Rump Parliament in London and put every MP in the then damned House to flight. “Make haste! Ye venal slaves be gone!”, he ordered the MPs.

The speech he made that day deserves to be set in stone. Here is a portion of it: “It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonoured by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies of all good government. Ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would, like Esau, sell your country for a mess of potage; and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

“Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God. Which of you have not bartered your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth? Ye sordid prostitutes! Have you not defiled this sacred place, and turned the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices?

“Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redressed, are yourselves become the greatest grievance? Your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse this Augean stable by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings in this House; and which by God’s help and the strength he has given me, I am now come to do. I command ye therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of this place; go, get out! Make haste! Ye venal slaves be gone! Take away that shining bauble there [the maze], and lock up the doors. In the name of God, go!”

No wonder, Oliver Cromwell’s already decomposed corpse was dug up in 1661, three years after his death on 3 September 1658, and, after his skull was decapitated from his decomposed body, strung up on a pole and taken to various parts of the UK as an exhibit. And these people now come to us preaching human rights and make us look like we are the most barbaric creatures God ever created! Have you ever heard of an African government that digs up the grave of a former leader and cuts off his decomposed head, and strings it up on a pole, and mounts it as a public exhibition that moves from city to city, town to town across the length and breath of the land?

Well, wait for this. First it was David Cameron, now it is Barack Obama issuing a “presidential memorandum” on 6 December directing “all US federal agencies engaged abroad to ensure the human rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) persons globally”.

Obama’s order came right on the heels of, in fact barely a week after, Nigeria’s new anti-gay law criminalising same-sex marriages. That law, enacted by the Nigerian Senate, was met by pro-gay protests in some Western capitals, the protestors urging their home governments to intervene in Nigeria.

Which forced the president of the Nigeria Senate, Senator David Mark, to say, while receiving the German ambassador to Nigeria, Dorothee Janetzke-Wenzel, that the ban on same-sex marriages was “irrevocable”, and that it would remain so despite the threat by Britain and other like-minded Western nations to cut aid to Nigeria. Senator Mark told the German: “It is unfair to tie whatever assistance to aid to Nigeria to the laws we make in the overall interest of our citizens, otherwise we are tempted to believe that such assistance comes with ulterior motives. If the assistance is aimed at mortgaging our future, values, custom, and ways of life, then they should as well keep their assistance.”

Across Washington, Senator Mark’s words were not music to the ears. Obama’s “presidential memorandum” was quite specific: It directed all federal agencies engaged abroad [and this included the Departments of State, Defence, Treasury, Justice, Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, the USAID, Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Export-Import Bank, the US Trade Representative, and such other agencies as Obama may designate] to ensure that US diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect gay rights.

The memorandum said: “Under the Obama Administration, agencies have already begun taking action to promote the fundamental human rights of LGBT persons everywhere. And now, following an interagency process coordinated by the National Security Staff, this memorandum directs the first-ever US government strategy dedicated to combating human rights abuses against LGBT persons abroad.”

Specifically, the memorandum directs US agencies to, among other things, (a) combat the criminalisation of LGBT status or conduct abroad; (b) leverage foreign assistance to protect human rights and advance non-discrimination; (c) ensure swift and meaningful US responses to human rights abuses of LGBT persons abroad; (d) engage international organisations in the fight against LGBT discrimination.

“Even before today’s memo,” the White House continued, “US agencies have been working to protect and promote the rights of LBGT persons around the world. Since January 2009, Secretary Clinton has directed the Department of State to champion a comprehensive human rights agenda – one that includes the protection of LGBT people.

“Around the world, the State Department is; (a) engaging bilaterally and regionally in conjunction with US embassies, civil society, and multilateral agencies to encourage countries to repeal or reform laws that criminalise LGBT conduct or laws; (b) reinforcing the human rights of LGBT people in multilateral fora… (c) US embassies are declaring US support for the human rights of LGBT people through innovative public diplomacy. Ambassadors and embassies have hosted public discussions and private roundtables, published op-eds and supported [Gay] Pride events; (d) supporting LGBT human rights defenders and civil society groups, with programmatic and financial assistance…”

I can hear you say “Jeez! Does this amount to a declaration of war on what Senator David Mark calls ‘our African values, custom, future, and way of life’.” Which means “African national interests” are under threat! Which should remind us of Oliver Cromwell and what he had to do on 20 April 1653.

In short, what is Africa going to do now? Are we going to just bend the knee and roll over, because Washington and London want us to roll over? Or are we going to stand up and puff our chests as proud and patriotic Africans who want to safeguard our “way of life”? Are we going to issue a counter memorandum saying “We hear you, Mr Obama, but we won’t be ordered around by people who, not too long ago, were jailing Oscar Wilde for being gay! And anyway, how many states in the USA have legalised same-sex marriages? How many?”

A quick check on Wikipedia reveals the following: “The [US] federal government does not recognise same-sex marriages in the United States, but such marriages are recognised by some individual states. The lack of federal recognition was codified in 1996 by the Defence of Marriage Act, before Massachusetts became the first state to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2004. Such licenses are granted by six states: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, plus Washington DC, and Oregon’s Coquille and Washington’s Suquamish Indian tribes. Same-sex marriages could be legally performed in California between 16 June 2008 and 4 November 2008, after which voters passed Proposition 8 prohibiting same-sex marriages…

“As of June 2011, 12 states prohibit same-sex marriage via statute and 29 via the state’s constitution.”

Does President Obama know what pertains in his own country? In the name of God, he and David Cameron (of good, old, prudish Britain) should leave the Africans alone to learn how to come to terms with their LGBT communities!

In the name of God, they should stop forcing their values on us! If they were wise, they would keep quiet and leave the Africans to their own devices. This way, they would better help the LGBT persons in Africa and their cause, for the Africans generally don’t mind what one does in the secrecy of his own bedroom. But trying to force them to legally accept something that so abhors them is tantamount to asking them to pick up arms and fight. And they will fight if pushed around!

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Written by Baffour Ankomah

Baffour Ankomah is New African's current Editor at Large. He has spent much of his 39 years of journalism at the magazine, having served as its Assistant Editor for 6 years, Deputy Editor for 5 years, and Editor for 15 years, retiring from active service in 2014. In 39 years of his journalism career - Africa and his many causes have been his passion. His personal column, Baffour's Beefs, which has been running continuously in New African since 1987, is a big hit and a must-read for the magazine's worldwide readers. He is now based in Zimbabwe, where he and his wife Elizabeth run their own media consultancy and fashion house called "African Interest" which trades under the trademark "I am African".

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