The legacy of the late Muammar Gaddafi is a complex one to look at, especially from an external perspective. When one looks at the current deplorable situation prevailing in Libya, it becomes clear that Gaddafi should not have been killed. But then, it is well documented that he ruled Libya with an iron fist and was inimical to tolerating dissenting opinions and views.
The late colonel was essentially the embodiment of despotism. All he wanted was to feed his cult of personality, an exercise that required a lot of resources to effect. He was the god in Libya, answerable to no one. Muammar Gaddafi never cared about the Western dictates of democracy, it was all a fallacy to him. He boasted in assassinating political opponents, cementing fear in the people he presided over.
He was quoted in 2006 saying, "In the Middle East, the opposition is quite different than the opposition in advanced countries. In our countries, the opposition takes the form of explosions, assassinations, killings."
With no doubt, this is how Gaddafi managed to be the ruler of Libya since he took power via a military coup in 1969. And yet, there is a striking, fundamental aspect to his authoritarian political views that is always a bone of contention. His vision for a "United States of Africa" was pretty much revolutionary. It was a vision that would massage his despotic ego, but one that when carefully looked at, could make some little sense.
The vision of a one, unified Africa was first espoused by Gaddafi in 2000 at the African Union Summit in Lome, Togo. In 2010, he said that he still kept his vision alive, hoping for a one Africa that is not disturbed by Western interference and influence. Not everyone was a fan of this, however. The reasons cited for disapproving such a vision were that it was not practical to effect this, and that it would render the sovereignty of other African states useless.
His way around this would be providing financial incentives so that everyone else would be in alignment and in accordance with his vision. It is reported that at one point Gaddafi chose to sponsor the African Union expenses by providing at least 15% of the African Union membership fees and helping nations in arrears like Malawi clear their balances. That would gain him some favour and support.
But to have this idea implemented sounds like a child dreaming of larger-than-life goals that can never be attained in any sense whatsoever. And yet, what we have in Africa is simply mirroring the imperialistic notions of Europeans, right from the Berlin Conference. Where there is no Western influence on African politics and governance, it is China making all sorts of moves on the continent. And do not ever think these moves by China are done in good faith to develop Africa. It is all for their benefit. Nothing on the African continent is free from external influence. And this is precisely what Gaddafi was against. He may have sounded hypocritical considering the egregious corruption he was involved in, treating Libya's vast oil reserves as his personal property.
The fundamental aspect in Gaddafi's vision, whether practicable or not, is a call to every African country to be fully independent. This independence entails both political and economic independence. Africa should not even be relying on IMF, World Bank or China for "debt relief" or any kind of debt-trap diplomacy. The aim is to be fully free from their influence, to have leaders (not rulers) who are self-conscious of their identity and who can assert and defend their independence no matter any amount of pressure.
The current state of many African countries is an attestation to the fact that the continent has not yet received full independence, both economically and politically. The aim is to be self-sufficient and be free from the excesses of external influence - the kind of influence enshrouded with ulterior, destructive motives.
Header image credit - Black Opinion