Honourable Folks, as a people who on July 20, 2011 witnessed State-sponsored massacre of 20 people who exercised their right to demonstrate against the wish of former president, the late Bingu wa Mutharika, the 50-year jail term slapped on Charles Taylor for war crimes can only serve as a ray of hope that God has denied the tyrants of Africa ultimate authority over our destiny.
Mr. Taylor, who abused his position while serving as president of Liberia by sponsoring a reign of terror in neighbouring Sierra Leone, has now made history as the first African head of State to be convicted of war crimes by the International Criminal Court at The Hague.
He will now spend the rest of his miserable life at a maximum security prison in the United Kingdom. Serves him right!
The ganja-smoking thugs through whom he established his reign of terror in Sierra Leone did not mete out to their victims half as fair a sentence as Taylorâ€™s 50-year incarceration: The choice was between â€œshort-sleeveâ€ (chopping upper arm) or â€œlong sleeveâ€ (chopping lower arm).
Â Some of the victims were forced to choose between having their legs chopped above or below the knee. Women were gang-raped while their children were watching. But not all were maimed or raped. Many were killed just as needlessly as did the 20 Malawians on the unforgettable July 20.
It is not very clear what Taylor paid his thugs apart from the warped fun they derived from humiliating and torturing fellow human beings created in the image of the Almighty. At least Mutharikaâ€™s police officers earned K60 000 each in allowancesâ€”some say this is more than a two-month salary for some of them!
But Taylor himself earned â€œblood diamondâ€, a useful tool for alluring beautiful women such as super-model Naomi Campbell. Ironically, she says she did not even recognise what stone it was that Taylorâ€™s bodyguard brought to her hotel room one morning while they were together as guests of Nelson Mandela in South Africa.
I wonder how she would have reacted had she known that the handsome gentleman who sent her the gift of a precious stone has spilt so much blood in human sacrifice for it!
But if Taylor ended up at The Hague, it was not because African Union sent him there. The general thinking of AU heads of member states is still that there should be no interference in the internal affairs of independent sovereign states. One wonders what has really changed to necessitate the re-branding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) to African Union at the dawn of 21stÂ century.
AU was happy to carry Robert Mugabe on its shoulders to world summits even when back home in Zimbabwe, Mugabe was busy maiming both the economy and his people with absolute abandon.
AU was clueless when in Kenya the incumbent president chose to play rough after apparently losing the elections in 2007. Violence ensued and innocent men, women and children were butchered, maimed and displaced.
I remember vividly images of children and mothers burning alive as the church building they had sought refuge in was set ablaze by a sadist who felt disenfranchised by peaceful co-existence with fellow Kenyans holding a different political opinion.
Thank God, the folks who have punished Taylor now want Uhuru Kenyatta, son of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, first president of Kenya, and other prominent officials in the Kenyan Government to stand trial for their suspected roles in that violence.
Laurent Gbagbo, the professor of history who resorted to killing after losing the vote in Cote dâ€™Ivoire, is already in The Hague waiting for his turn. Joseph Kony, who derives joy in raping and maiming women besides butchering the innocent in remote parts of Democratic Republic of Congo, is being hunted and will sooner or later also have his day at The Hague.
ICC has been criticised as targeting African leaders. It is seen as an imperialist tool for putting our leaders on a short leash. Some wonder whether a leader of a powerful country such as the US, the UK, France, Germany, Russia or China can be hauled there, Taylor-style, to answer for war crimes or crimes against humanity.
This concern may have some merit but it does not diminish the good job ICC is doing on behalf of the powerless citizens of Africa who are made to suffer at the hands of their own leaders.
Which reminds me of al-Bashir; could it be that AU is shielding another Taylor who may serve a long jail term for atrocities committed against his own people in Darfur?Â The continental grouping does not look good at all by championing rule of law while allowing impunity among bad African heads of states.
Al-Bashir must first protest his innocence at The Hague before being allowed the free pass to visit other countries. Who knows, we just might be hosting a criminal as bad or worse than Taylor should al-Bashir force his way here for the AU summit in July. God forbid!