Puppets? no, they are darlings.

Author:Ankomah, Baffour
Position:View from the Editor

"What troubles me about Baffour's statements is that he (of all people) should write as if African leaders are puppets in the hands of the US and Britain, who can be bought to pursue interests other than their own" -- Colin Legum.

This is what, in Ghana, our elders would say: "Wo di kotrobankye abo engo mu". An approximate English translation would be: "Thank you for bringing it up because I'm really waiting for it."

In fact, to be fair to myself, my first reaction after reading Colin Legum's letter was to take refuge in a recent letter to The Guardian (London, 18 Dec 2001) by a Mr Brian Robinson from Brentwood, Essex.

"So members of the clergy," Mr Robinson wrote, "are to get self-defence lessons. What happened to turning the other cheek?"

That really appealed to me -- turning the other cheek. But then I realised that you just can't turn the other cheek when a very senior member of your profession throws down the gauntlet and then invites you to dinner.

Colin Legum is one of the long-lasting journalists on Africa. He was even once a contributor to New African. So welcome to our family debate.

For starters, his letter reminded me of Kwame Nkrumah's letters from Conakry published in 1990 by his literary executrix, June Milne, under the title, Kwame Nkrumah: The Conakry Years.

On page 224 of that book, Nkrumah writes to June Milne about a recent article on Ghana written by Colin Legum. The letter is dated 16 February 1968. For background, that is how long-lasting Colin has been in journalism.

But listen to Nkrumah telling June Milne: "I have read the Colin Legum article you sent me. He should come off the fence. If Legum stayed in Ghana for one month, he must have known the truth, and unmistakably must have known where the wind was blowing. He is one of those humdrum journalists who think they have the last word on Africa."

Nkrumah could be uncharitable at times. And this was one of those times. It doesn't help that Colin, 34 years on, still appears to be sitting on the fence, or just refusing to acknowledge the truth.

For example, he says: "The only foreign troops in Rwanda are under the flag of the UN... I don't know of any American troops in Uganda."

Well, a journalist of his pedigree must know what "covert activities" mean. If he cares to ask any Ugandan, he will be told, as one told me last month, "but this is an open secret".

Perhaps Colin did not read Wayne Madsen's 17 May 2001 "prepared testimony and statement for the record" before the US Congress, which New African printed in full last September (p18-22).

Madsen is an investigative journalist and author of the book, Genocide and Covert Operations in Africa 1993-1999. He told the Congress that the book "involved some three years worth of research and countless interviews in Rwanda, Uganda, France, UK, United States, Belgium, Canada and The Netherlands".

In both the book and the testimony, Madsen is clear on one thing: American troops on covert activities in the Great Lakes Region did not...

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