AU risks being consigned into dustbin of history with dinosaurs of yesteryears By Barrack Muluka At the apogee of its largely disgraceful 39 years existence, the defunct Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was an irrelevant talk shop in the hands of continental dictators. Heads of state and government shifted from this capital city to the other, year after year, to enjoy an annual jamboree that meant nothing to the people of Africa. The joke of it was that even bloody dictators in full military regalia chaired the OAU, one year at a time. Gen Joseph Desire Mobutu of Congo Kinshasa was in charge from September 1967 to 1968, only six years after he had assassinated Patrice Lumumba, at the behest of the American CIA. Lumumba's murder was a conspiracy that men and women of goodwill have never gotten over, 50 years later. The Butcher of Kampala, Gen Idi Amin, was in charge from 1975 to 1976, when the human mass murder machine was in its element in Uganda. The list of OAU chairmen reads like who was who in Africa's register of shame. There was Jaffar Nimeiry of Sudan, Mengistu Haile Mariam of Ethiopia and Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso. Others were Denis Sassou Nguesso of Brazaville, Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo, William Tolbert of Liberia, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, ad infinitum. Tragically, some of these dinosaurs still cling to power. An organisation that set off with the primary objective of unifying the African people and speaking for them became a biodegraded dictators' club. The disconnect between the leadership and the people is perhaps best encapsulated in Tolbert's tragic story. Tolbert was murdered and disemboweled in his bedroom at the Executive Mansion in Monrovia by junior military officers when he was chairman of the OAU. Monrovians burst into the streets to celebrate the demise of this American-Liberian dictator. They did not know the worst was yet to come. For, they would again explode in the streets when unprintable things were done to the Master Sergeant Samuel Doe who had killed and taken over from Tolbert. Shamefully, the OAU recognised and welcomed to its summits whoever materialised from whichever nation as the head of state, or of whatever. Is it not instructive that while 30 heads of state signed the original OAU charter in 1963, only seven of them were still in office by 1980? Two had been murdered by their own soldiers and another 17 overthrown in military coups. In 1979, Ghana executed three former presidents. Yet OAU was on standby, to accept whoever would materialise at the summit in Monrovia as the new head of state. Such is the hindsight that we should bear in mind as heads of state and government assemble in Addis Ababa today, at this year's summit meeting of the African Union (AU). When the AU took over from the OAU in 2002, Africa was once again upbeat. The dream of uhuru, frustrated by corruption, famine, debilitating poverty and the seven plagues of misrule, was coming to birth afresh. President Mbeki of South Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal imbued Africa with fresh hope. They spoke of the African Renaissance and of New Partnerships for African Development (Nepad). You do not hear much of this today and there is real danger that these noble dreams at the turn of the last century could dry on our lips. These fears are real. Africa's angels of disaster are at work. Election losers do not want to concede defeat. They cause chaos in the hope the world will help them to share power with the winners. Kenya was the mother of this inglorious model. Others seem to like it. Laurent Gbagbo, the latest member of this intransigent club, has sent emissaries to Addis to lobby for recognition. The hour of truth for the AU is here. Will it cave in to Gbagbo's wiliness? But Gbagbo is not the only lobbyist. The most scandalous of the lobbying of the AU has been going on these past few weeks. Kenya is knocking at virtually every palace door. Our so-called diplomats want to block justice for the victims of post-election violence. If not, they should pull Africa out of the Statute of Rome. Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, has told us that his panicky tours around the continent are at the behest of President Kibaki. But that is just part of the story. The VP has confounded friend and foe alike. For, he says that in Kenya, the President's wish cannot be questioned. And I would have thought that we had left that mindset and era behind? Did the VP think about the implications of these remarks? What should Kenyans make of his presidential dreams? Does he wish to become president so that he cannot be questioned? If the VP seriously intends to rule Kenyans, he has to deeply reflect about his confounding current activities and pronouncements. From the disgrace of KKK to everything around The Hague, he is steadily acquiring the image of the patron of impunity. Is his eagerness for power so burning that the means does not matter? Everybody in the streets is saying that the VP is desperately ingratiating himself with some Hague candidates and their followers. That he prays of reaping a windfall when some people go to The Hague. Outwardly he speaks for them. Inwardly he prays for them to go to The Hague. Whatever the case, the VP seems to have lost modest sense of balance and occasion. He seems to be trapped in the mindset of the 1970s and '80s. Too bad. For its part, the AU will this weekend decide whether it is moving ahead with the long suffering people of Kenya, Ivory Coast, Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria, or whether it wants to be consigned into the dustbin of history with the dinosaurs of yesteryears. Our people say that the foolish fly will be buried with the corpse. The writer is a publishing editor and media consultant. SOURCE: The Standard HOJA YANGU: Viongozi madikteta barani Afrika wanapokutana African Union (AU) kule Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, huzungumzia namna ya kuwaachia huru wananchi wao waliotiwa kifungo kwenye umasiki wa kutisha au hutafuta tu namna ya kulindana hata wanapokataliwa nchini mwao?