opinionBy Nicholas Sengoba
Ivory Coast and Libya are countries on the African continent. In both nations, leaders Laurent Gbagbo and Muammar Gaddafi respectively, are up in arms against sections of the population. Gbagbo was beaten convincingly in an election and chose to hang on the old-fashioned way; persecuting and killing those who oppose him. Gaddafi faces an uprising that is following in the footsteps of the revolutions in neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia that swept aside the autocratic governments of Hosni Mubarak and Ben Ali.
The so-called international community is responding in two different ways. Gbagbo is being slapped on the wrist. He is constantly urged to stand down and respect the will of the people. Or at worst form a coalition government. On the other hand, the knives are out for Gaddafi and he is on the ropes.
No sooner had the UN Security Council passed resolution 1973 calling for a no-fly zone over Libyan air space than fighter jets from Canada, UK, France, and Denmark started flying over Libya carrying out 'pre-emptive strikes' disabling that country's air capacity. No doubt Both Gbagbo and Gaddafi have blood on their hands. But Gaddafi is a special case. He has torrents of 'white blood' while Gbagbo's sinister machinations only account for ordinary blood - 'black blood' - the blood of African people, which following history, is made to appear of less value.
The vast amount of Africa's colonial and post colonial history has this fact painted all over it. From the slave trade, to King Leopold 11's conquest of the Congo, African's died in great numbers for the sake of European civilisation and enrichment. Mass genocide took place. Yet the great writers of history portray this period as one for the benefit of Africans who where brought out of the bush and taught how to read, write and cloth their bodies.
Most of the independence period was about the cold war in which the same international community looked the other way while African autocrats killed their own people in order to perpetuate themselves in power. There was seldom any concern since most of these African leaders were acolytes of either the East or the West.
Now back to Gaddafi's predicament. The Libyan leader's name has always featured in most of the 'terrorist attacks' that have affected the West. The 1986 Berlin Discotheque bombing. The 1988 bombing of the Pan-Am Jet over the Scottish town of Lockerbie. The 1984 killing of a British Police woman in London. The Rome and Vienna Airport attacks of 1985. etc.
Unlike Black people, who mourn, bury their dead and go about the streets, the White-led world never lets its blood to flow in vain. They never forget and always make it a point to remind the perpetrators of acts against their people that there is always pay back time. And Gaddafi's time is now! His crimes against his people will be made to look 10 times worse than those Gbagbo has perpetrated against Ivorians in order to justify incessant bombardment and eventual overthrow. Blood, they say, is thicker than water, but the blood of white people is indeed thicker than the blood that flows in the veins of the rest of us.
The African leaders who have understood this point to a fault will do as they please as long as they appease the white crowd in the international community. Whoever upholds that position lives another day even if he tramples over his people.
That is the reason why bad elections in some countries are condemned while others are tolerated. If the African country is serving the interest of the West, the failings of dictators are trivialised and they may go on to live many other days in comfort. Elections in Zimbabwe may pass in the same fashion as those in Uganda but the consequences for the leaders will not be the same.
It is all about knowing who rules the universe and treating them right. Gaddafi, the self-proclaimed King of Kings, will soon learn this the hard and costly way!
Mr Sengoba is a commentator on political and social issues