Lessons from the pyramids

ALL dictators have their apologists or sympathisers.

Nearly 66 years after he killed himself, along with his mistress, Eva Braun, Adolf Hitler’s movement has many sympathisers in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

In other countries, the Holocaust is seen as a propaganda tool created by the Jews to advance their cause.

Six million of them did not die, Hitler’s sympahisers insist.

What they decline to tell the world is who, then, killed those people – the Allies or the Martians?

It’s within human nature to admire people of power. Attila the Hun, Genghis and Kubla Khan all had their admirers.

They insist that there was “a good side” to these men’s odious characters.

Yet if Africans, in particular, insist that Hosni Mubarak is not the monster that most Egyptians today insist he is, then there is a real danger that a cult of some sort could be built around all the men who have brutalised their own people since the end of colonialism.

We are about to be convinced that all that we have ever believed about the heartless characters of these dictators is not anchored on evidence of their cruelty or barbarism, but on propaganda – from the West or from African sympathisers of the West?

Mubarak has ruled Egypt for 30 years.

The demonstrations in Cairo are a culmination of the Egyptian people’s fury at the savagery of his reign  – state-sanctioned  killings of so-called “enemies of the state”, the creation of poverty as a perfectly legitimate state of material deficiency and the creation of an elite class, which includes the army and Mubarak’s political hangers-on.

Let’s not forget there were people who were outraged at the ousters from power of Uganda’s Idi Amin and Zaire’s Nkuku Ngbenda wa Za Banga – aka Mobutu Sese Seko, or Joseph Desire Mobutu. 

Between them, these men were responsible for the deaths of millions of their own people during their terrible reign – 1975-2003 in Amin’s case and 1965 to 1997 in Mobutu’s case.

Their apologists today cannot identify one benefit they created for their people during their dictatorships.

Both men amassed illicit personal wealth to an obscene extent while their people wallowed in poverty.

Mobutu promoted the myth that he was pro-Western and anti-communist.

In truth he was pro-Mobutu and anti-people.

Amin made no secret of what really mattered to him – the continued prosperity of Idi Amin.

Mubarak has found sympathisers on the grounds of his insistence that he must stay on until he is assured that the reforms are in place and are working.

Meanwhile, many more people are killed, either by his soldiers or by his sympathisers.

The anti-Mubarak demonstrators have said they want him out now, which is logical, considering that any extension of his stay is bound to increase the torment he has already inflicted on his people in 30 years of anti-democratic, brutal rule.   

Why would he suddenly become sympathetic to their cause when, in the last 30 years, he spent very little time planning to improve their lives?

He was always too busy crafting new means to silence them and fatten the purses of his allies with taxpayers’ money. 

Egypt has this glorious history of enlightenment, of founders who built the great pyramids which today still attract millions of tourists to the country, despite the squalor in which most of the people live – thanks to the concentration of the government on the advancement of the welfare of the army and Mubarak’s civilian fat cats.

There has been an attempt to ease him out of power in a civilised manner.

Even the United States government now wishes to see him walk tall, with his dignity intact.

What possible logic would there be in extending such sympathy to Mubarak? The young people who launched this campaign said they had had enough of his cruel ways.

There has been as much sympathy for Mubarak as there was for Idi Amin and Mobutu.

The lesson we must learn from the pyramids is that sympathy for all dictators is dangerous.

They have no sympathy for the poor.

There ought to be no sympathy for them, now that the shoe is on the other foot.

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