Sunday, 9 December 2007

Why We Need to Hear More Voices Like Archbishop Sentamu's...


In between 'Fight Morning' rounds of Mayweather outclassing Manchester's Ricky Hatton, a heated discussion about Robert Mugabe kicked-off in the common room. Zimbabweans support him as a liberator, the land reforms are a better alternative to South Africa where the white minority retain a stranglehold on the best land, it is the sanctions that are causing the economic damage etc etc. When I pointed out that Zimbabweans were so liberated that half of them have left their own country I felt like a typical armchair pundit that Mugabe would no doubt describe as some kind of 'neo-colonialist'.

That is why returning to my room after Hatton's KO I was delighted to read about the actions of Ugandan-born and Makerere-educated Dr John Sentamu, now the Archbishop of York. He tore into Southern African leaders for failing to criticise a man in charge of a country which is now totally food dependent and has inflation running at over 8,000%. Sentamu made the comparison with West African leaders (eventually) standing up to Charles Taylor of Liberia. The key point he was making though, is that it is far easier for Mugabe to dismiss Western criticism (especially British) than it is for him to ignore other African leaders, who are currently acting as 'sycophantic hero worshipers'. He also argued that if the current situation was happening in a white country it would not have been tolerated for anywhere near this long. While I'm sure that is accurate I think it is more a reflection on the failure of Africa to unite against him and his regime, than it is on global indifference.

The Bishop then chopped his dog collar into pieces and handed them over to Andrew Marr, vowing not to wear one until Mugabe had left office. A dramatic gesture and one that needs to be matched by the actions of Mbeki and Co if Zimbabwe is not to descend further into crisis.

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