According to the United Nations Human Development Index and the Africa Development Bank country profile, Libya under Gaddafi rule was rated the best place to live in Africa.
The criteria employed by UN when measuring this index is life expectancy, availability to health and educational services, poverty index and access to other basics of life. These achievement was not based on oil revenue - other countries like Nigeria and Gabon rank better in this regard - but sheer work of Libyan leaders. For example, Libya has the biggest man-made river in the world, established in 1984 to irrigate the entire country and which supports 70 per cent of the country's population.
But now the sovereign government of Libya has been overthrown in a blatant Western armed, sponsored and supported coup by the striking arm of the new imperialism - Nato. Six months ago, the French and British governments sponsored a UN resolution to "protect the civilians of Libya from its own government."
Never mind that this sovereign government was facing an armed revolt by a dissident region of the country; never mind that these "rebels" had no legitimacy whatsoever; never mind that the so-called "democratic protesters" were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of black Africans in xenophobic racist pogroms in the year 2000.
None of this mattered. What mattered was that the turmoil of the so-called "Arab Spring" presented the West with an opportunity to get rid of a political thorn in its side, one that was leading Africa dangerously close to realising autonomy.
Gaddafi has consistently sought to involve his country in unity with, first the Arabs and then the Africans. When Gaddafi proposed pan-Arab unity, he was scoffed at, ridiculed as an ambitious madman and insulted by the Arabs. He finally and sensibly gave up and turned his eyes to Africa, believing that Africa held out more hope for unity.
While under sanctions by the West, the Africans unswervingly supported Gaddafi. Nelson Mandela upon his release from apartheid's prisons defied Western sanctions and went overland to visit and thank Colonel Gaddafi for his moral and financial support during the long struggle against apartheid. Other African leaders followed and regular visits with Gaddafi made the sanctions totally irrelevant.
After the Bush administration declared war on Iraqi, Gaddafi cut a deal with the West - relinquishing his weapons programmes, which included nuclear weapons, for re-inclusion in the global economic system. Gaddafi sought to develop African unity and relieved the continent of the burden of paying for satellite usage which was costing $500 million annually to Europe.
At his encouragement Africa bought its own satellites and now the continent communicates without relying on Europe. African leaders should have denounced with one voice the aggression cravenly acquiesced with the Nato war.
What happens in Libya is a harbinger of what the West has in store for Africa. Africa is too rich in resources that the world needs to be allowed to control its own destiny. This war is not just about Gaddafi. It is an opening salvo in a war to reclaim the continent for foreign interests, just as it was in 1896 in the Scramble for Africa.
The AU could have called for the expulsion of diplomats from the Nato countries taking part in the war, they could have urged their citizens into the streets to demonstrate for "hands off Libya." The oil-producing countries could have slowed down their oil taps! What will happen after Gaddafi is overthrown?
Foreign economic interests will come in to carve up the pie, instability will take root as in Iraq under the guise of multi-party democracy, the West will set up permanent military bases to control the Mediterranean Sea and a bridgehead for the re-conquest of Africa will have been established.
Irungu Kangata is an advocate who comments on topical issues.