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But less well known is Gaddafi’s insulting treatment of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. When Gaddafi’s efforts to lead the Arab world were frustrated, he turned to the continent’s poorer areas where his oil wealth gives him influence and leverage over other African leaders. His greatest dream in this area is to create a United States of Africa with himself, of course, as its leader. When speaking to the UN General Assembly last year, for example, he offered greetings on behalf of all of Africa, although he is only Libya’s president.
Unfortunately for Gaddafi, his dream of self-aggrandizement has been blocked by African countries like Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya. Rather than a dream, these states see nothing but a nightmare for Africa in a quick transformation to a single government, Gaddafi’s stated goal. Besides, the corrupt oligarchies ruling some African states would never give up the power that creates the opportunities for their personal enrichment.
Gaddafi has circumvented this opposition by currying favour with tribal and cultural rulers in different African countries. Last September, for example, Gaddafi paid for 22 Kenyan tribal elders to fly to Libya. In his quest for “a throne of his own”, in 2008 in Libya, he even had an assembly of such native leaders, “sultans, chiefs, kings and princes”, bestow on him the title of “King of Kings.”
While such antics appear laughable, observers note some African leaders are uneasy that elements in their society, some of which are unfriendly towards their national governments, have access to Libya’s huge financial resources. They well remember Gaddafi’s interference in African civil wars of the past, including his strong support for Ugandan dictator and mass murderer Idi Amin, whom Libyan troops defended during the Tanzanian invasion that toppled him.
Already, Gaddafi is suspected of having a hand in the Uganda’s Buganda riots of last September in order to undermine President Museveni, one of his African unity project’s staunchest opponents. Gaddafi also insulted Museveni and Ugandan Christians on his 2008 visit when he called the Christian Bible and the Jewish Torah fakes. Besides attempting to promote division between Uganda’s majority Christian community and minority Muslim community, it was pointed out Gaddafi knew Museveni and other sub-Saharan African leaders were sworn into the office on the Bible.
Such brutal and offensive behaviour contains the real danger when the wealthy Gaddafi comes to poor African countries, flexing his muscles. The Libyan leader’s inflammatory and dangerous remarks could well spark the next devastating African conflict of tomorrow. And for that, he deserves more than a slap.
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