Several senior African government representatives who have recently come through my door have told me that they have been “instructed” and “warned” not to meet or talk with me/STTEP by the “US Government”. But, they also tell me that for too long they have been misled and will now meet with whomever they wish to meet. Like me, they too believe that African governments have a rightful say in terms of who they want to talk to and get advice from and not be dictated to whom - and who not - they may talk to. (See my previous posting titled “HYPOCRISY AND THE POWER OF PERCEPTION”).
Then I recalled that several years ago, a senior US officer said to me: “If you are not with us, you are against us – if you’re against us, then you are the enemy. It is as simple as that”. I shrugged off this comment as it merely smacked of playground bullying. Little did I realise just how prophetic his words would become. By implication, no one is allowed to criticise anything the US does in Africa – even when it fails dismally - as it seems criticism is now construed as “terrorism”.
Earlier this week, I had a conversation with someone in the US who told me that during a discussion with a congressman it had been emphatically stated that STTEP has been blacklisted by the US Department of State (DoS). We are now “persons of interest”. We are now placed in the same category as subversive groups. Was I surprised? No, not really.
But, I suppose that makes anyone who speaks to us or is in any manner or form associated with us also “persons of interest” and therefore attempts will be made to blacklist them as well.
I was aware of the fact that the FBI had spent time, money and effort investigating a totally legitimate contract a US company had with STTEP so I knew that for some reason we were considered as “unsavoury” in their eyes. We also know the US company was threatened if they did not terminate the contract with us. Was the US concerned that we were about to succeed and that questions would then be asked and which they would not be able to answer?
One does not have to be a rocket scientist to see certain indications and footprints on the ground and then be able to make a fairly accurate prediction of what is coming. These predictions are usually correct – and they hold no good for Africa. The examples are there to see for anyone who follows happenings in Africa.
As I was told earlier this week: “In times of universal deceit, the truth is a revolutionary act”. We have been there, done that and patiently waited for the truth to surface – which it now finally seems to be doing.
I often wonder if US citizens are aware of the duplicitous nature of US foreign policy in Africa? I am sure that many would disapprove if they really knew and understood what was happening. I know that many US servicemen are equally alarmed at what is happening but they go where their government orders them to go. We understand that as we too have walked that path. We also know that many fine US citizens are really keen and willing to invest more than just talk to make Africa work and conflicts end. Conversely, we are also aware of the immense anger, distrust and dislike that is gradually building up against the US from numerous quarters in Africa. We are privy to that on an almost daily basis. When I mentioned our being blacklisted to an ambassador this morning, his response was “Then it proves you are doing something right - don’t stop!”
One would therefore think that as the US is trying to win friends they would not make such an effort to alienate people who simply disagree with them.
Recently, one of our directors was apprehended on arrival in the US after “babysitting” a US NGO in a conflict zone. He was subject to a lengthy interrogation and his laptop was confiscated and sucked dry. If they were so keen to know what was on his laptop, all they had to do was ask but instead, he was treated like a criminal. Two subsequent “interviews” have since followed. Since the return of his laptop, it has never been the same. It appears the DoS even regards Africans who assist US citizens and NGOs as threats to US national security.
We have again become the “bad guys” despite the fact that neither EO (1989 – 1996) and later STTEP (2006 -) had and have never acted illegally – although we were constantly subject to such untrue claims by those who wanted the conflicts to continue - never invaded countries but were always invited there by the governments, worked alongside government forces, were/are always accountable to the contracting government, never attempted to depose governments, always fulfilled our contracts, never raped women and children, never smuggled opium or any other drugs, never lied to and/or cheated a government, never murdered civilians, never bribed or blackmailed government officials into giving us a contract, actually ended long-running conflicts rapidly, always been honest with African governments, never engaged in criminal behaviour, never engaged in acts of terrorism against the US or any other government and so forth. This appears to be simply a continuation of trying to prevent an African company that has a record of success of working in Africa and solving African problems. That right is apparently solely reserved for the US DoS despite the fact that success remains sadly elusive for them and that destruction and destabilisation in Africa will continue to be their legacy.
This may also explain the reason my blog’s comments are being tampered with and on occasion blocked or deleted before I can post and respond to them.
Be that as it may – STTEP and I will never give up on Africa as we were born here and will die here. We love our Continent despite its many problems which we are very well aware of. I believe we understand those problems better than most who live beyond our shores.
If it is the desire of US DoS or any other foreign government to promote conflict in Africa, we will criticise that approach and when we are asked by the targeted African governments, we will work at ending conflicts and trying to see this wealthy continent flourish.
If our desire to see a peaceful, prosperous and successful Africa has resulted in us being blacklisted by the US, then so be it. At least, we now know where we stand.
But, if we stand for nothing, we will fall for anything.
We are not prepared to do that.
We will leave that to the so-called superpower which is now fast losing its power in Africa.