Monday, August 29, 2016



When Mohamed Bouazizi, a common citizen of Tunisia made the ultimate sacrifice on the 18th December 2010 to bring world attention to the sufferings of his fellow compatriots by setting himself ablaze, it can be said that the man simply had had enough.  That triggered the Arab Spring which in turn created the tsunami that still engulfs the Middle East today.

It is true that the likes of Saddam Hussain of Iraq and Muammar Gaddafi of Libya managed to keep on 'lock down' the ever bubbling lid of discontent in their respective country.   Punching a Machiavellian fist in the air, whilst holding a flaying whip in the other hand, they ruthlessly kept their peoples on tight leashes.  Terror being their favoured modus operandi and their role models being the likes of Stalin, Hitler and those post Empire African dictators, they were always ready to arrange a one-way ticket to the Great Allah for those who dared think of an alternative.

The Middle East is indeed going through a most testing period.  But unlike other periods in its previous turbulent history, the ongoing sufferings today can be most graphically viewed right in our sitting rooms and in real time, encouraging the false argument that appeasement is less chaotic than standing up to dictatorship and corruption.   There are those (even the supposedly most enlightened) who may now prefer the devil they knew, forgetting that they also must accept the consequence of them having turned a blind eye to the devil's dance in the first place.    Such turbulent times also draws in those who are prepared to perch themselves on the fence and become lecturers and professors of hindsight.   I personally subscribe to those who somehow knew that the world was not flat and dared look towards the horizon.  

But the fall from grace of the leaders of Libya, Tunisia, Yemen and soon others may follow, could have been avoided had they been able to spot the wind of change that blew right across their doorstep.  With clear foresight, they could have considered an inclusive team on the bridge to help steer the ship and avoided falling over-board.  Like President Frederik Willem de Klerk of South Africa who must be given immense credit for his role in taking a troubled South Africa from the past to the present.  And whilst all glory centred on good old President Mandela, the ability for de Klerk to detect that Mandela was a person who could be trusted must not be belittled in any measure.  But again it is not necessarily about the ability to single out any special individual.  It is more about being able to appreciate the true mood of the public and acknowledging the surge of the wave for change.  Thereby being able to seize the opportunity and become part of smoothing its progress towards its defined course instead of futile resistance until it is too late.  Change is no doubt a most healthy moment for a country.  However, in changing a fatigued and corrupt system, the compass of democracy must direct our path towards inclusivity so that a vacuum is not created for another devil to own that space.  This is an area where the Middle East is facing its biggest challenge.

There is no doubt that the mood for change here in Seychelles is unstoppable.  There is nothing more powerful in life than the true discovery of freedom within one's self.  It starts with the simple absence of fear which takes its form through one's innate thoughts.  But once a person discovers a true and noble purpose, fear will simply disappear.  Similarly soldiers with a clear mission and purpose also experience the calmness before a major battle, and in the same way the nuns and priests who dedicated their lives to treating lepers in those early days were also fearlessly committed, not forgetting those who recently treated the victims of the Ebola virus.

And once the power of freedom is tasted, it cannot be washed off with a forced gulp of arsenic and ratcheting up the flow of intimidation.  Freedom is contagious and sooner or later, it is replaced with something even stronger - individual pride and self-worth, .known as 'esprit de corps' by the military.   And this phenomena is what is presently taking place here in Seychelles.  To have men, who having been invited to State House with the subtle offer of a fat envelope, turn their backs, walk purposefully down the lane, with head up and chin forward after refusing to swallow hook line and sinker, is not only commendable, but  was a shattering rebuke  to the offerer.  Those are marks of true patriots, who must at some future period be considered to receive the citation of the Freedom of Victoria in time to come.

Those great acts prove that the common Seychellois bears an  immense quota of pride which have been suppressed for too long.  And had we nurtured those qualities over the past 39 years, instead of the practice of manipulative politics, our country could have been the best place to live in the world.  Our service levels could be the best, our tourism industry past anything we know of today, and our youth would be full of dreams with no heroine running through their veins.    But being an optimist, I am indeed hopeful for the future.  And as we leaders set an example of pride and unselfishness, we can start claiming the future of our country for a better and refreshed Seychelles.

The public's mood is clear, eager for change.  The downtrodden have picked themselves back on their feet.  The numerous tapes of lies and promises have been rewound once too often.  The people have been pushed to their limits and cannot be fooled any further.  Like a swarm of bees, self purpose directs their movement and no-one is without labour.

On the other side, bewilderment masks those previously well favoured as they watch a determined public demanding their right to free and fair elections, demanding an end to nepotism and deep-rooted corruption, demanding an impartial judiciary, demanding an end to victimisation, and insisting on good governance.  Those demands are being persistently made in a high spirited atmosphere and through respect for the law.  Contagious optimism fills the air and smiles and laughter are back amongst the once oppressed.  'What do these guys know which we do not' the new bourgeoisie ask themselves.  Freedom and self-respect is the answer my friends.  Some suddenly realise that the light that was directed at their eyes had been masking the darkness around them and quickly jump sides.   For the rest, it is never too late to walk towards betterment.  I say come and join us, there is room for everyone on this train of democracy.

As for the President, he must find himself between a rock and a hard place as he continues to use the election commissioner to engineer more obstacles along the voting process.  Gerrymandering and threatening to strike off the electoral register, his main opponent, he continues down an old path of futility.   Unfortunately that's all he knows.  In the absence of having anyone he can trust around him, he must find himself as being in a lonely place.  Unlike FW de Klerk, he has failed to create a visionary team.  He is left surrounded by only those who believe in self-interest. 

Foresight and opportunities, are either quickly grasped or very soon become elusive.  The President could take some lessons from de Klerk and turn this present scenario in his favour.   Pick the phone up and speak to FW de Klerk, I say.  And that is sound advice.  No doubt there will be reluctance from those close to him cunningly eyeing the crown.  But has the President got what it takes?  Only time will tell.

God bless Seychelles.

Roy Fonseka