wpid-mali-516722186.jpgThe decision by the Mahama government to involve the Ghana Armed Forces in the fierce battle between Islamist insurgents and the Bamako junta may be good in principle, but in reality it may well place Ghana on the hit list of Islamist terrorists who may be staunch of the insurgents (See ?Annin Lauds Ghana?s Intervention in Mali Crisis? RadioxyzOnline.com /Ghanaweb.com 1/17/13).


Dr. Kwesi Annin, of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center, may be quite right in lauding the move. But the question that ought to be adequately addressed before the first batch of the reported 120 soldiers scheduled to participate in the intervention set foot on Malian soil, regards the extent to which Ghana has adequately prepared itself to ward off any possible acts of mayhem that may be engineered inside the country by supporters of the Malian insurgents in the name of Muslim/Islamic brotherhood, such as have occurred in countries like Nigeria, Somalia, Algeria, Libya and elsewhere in the so-called Middle-East.


Simply placing Ghanaian soldiers in harm?s way merely for the sake of fulfilling our obligations as a member of both the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU) will not cut it, as it were. And the fact that it was France, the former colonial master, that was first to take the initiative of putting troops on the ground to ward off the Islamist insurgency, rather than the African Union, or even ECOWAS, ought to tell us something sobering about the state and caliber of leadership, in general, on the African continent.


Dr. Annin, who is also the Director of the Faculty of Academic Affairs and Research at the Kofi Annan Center, may also be quite right that Ghana has considerable experience in international peacekeeping; but, here again, whether such experience is actually relevant to the festering Malian crisis which has roots predating the existence of modern Ghana as a polity remains to be seen.


Needless to say, what I have in mind here is whether, indeed, both sides of the conflict are willing to accommodate a remarkable presence of ?peacekeeping soldiery.? In other words, what needs to happen before a peacekeeping intervention can be deemed to be politically relevant is a military stalemate, whereby either side in the conflict finds it virtually impossible to overrun the other side and effectively dominate the battleground. So far, in the Malian situation, what we know and/or have learned is the fact that it was the Bamako junta that called in ?Uncle Francois? to the rescue.


And so properly speaking, the contingent of troops that Ghana dispatches to Mali is more likely to be engaged in counter-insurgency than simply help keep the peace or truce; for, really, there is no peace, whatsoever, to keep at this juncture. I hope therefore that Dr. Annin and his staff at the Kofi Annan Center have conducted the necessary research in order to enable him to confidently make the sort of largely theoretical observations that Dr. Annin is reported to have made.


Yes, it is significant for Ghana?s military presence in Mali to be seen to be healthily guided by our Pan-Africanist ideology, but I just don?t see much by way of Pan-Africanism here. What I clearly see, instead, is what may be aptly termed as ?Enlightened Self-Interest.? We live in a neighborhood that has been set alight by the Malian equivalent of the Taliban; and unless we quickly and concertedly act to quench this raging fire of Islamic fundamentalism, verging on outright terrorism, we may soon witness our own house/country irreparably engulfed in this potentially volatile and/or contagious conflagration.


On the practical side, and I pretty much hate to say this, the Ghana Armed Forces need the veritable testing ground that is Mali to keep its personnel in shape and fine-tuned for the possibility of a revolutionary outbreak right here at home, in the quite likely possibility of the refusal of the Mahama government to accept an unfavorable Supreme Court verdict on Election 2012. But whether the experience of a piddling 120 combatants would be adequate to stop the snowballing Ghanaian revolution is patently moot.


Rather, the Malian experience ought to teach both the Mahama-led National Democratic Congress and the country at large as to what the alternative to the peaceable rule of democratic governance may well entail, should the key NDC operatives refuse to respect the verdict of our august Supreme Court, as they have cavalierly done in the past.


At any rate, it goes without saying that Africa is in dire need of a new kind of leadership that is more progressive and puts the rapid and massive enlightenment of the people ahead of all else. In brief, we ought to be fostering more cultural and intellectual exchanges in a practically concerted manner than neocolonially being, literally, led by the nose once awhile to put out brush fires in the poorly fabricated ?or tinder-box ? homes of our neighbors.


*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Department of English

Nassau Community College of SUNY

Garden City, New York

Jan. 17, 2013



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