Friday, September 8, 2017

Race relations in the USA

My Research Fellowship also permitted me to discover that, in the United States, race still had too much influence in the way people reacted or judged those with different skin colours. I will never forget this incidence that I will want to share with you. The reason why I am sharing it with you is to support my latter claim that, in the US, race still influences the way some Americans do judge others. One day, where I was living in Silver Spring, I came home one evening and had difficulties to open my door.  I decided to call the landlord to find out whether, there was a special instruction or an astute way needed. His response left me spell bound. He said: “Elie, what is difficult in opening a door?” He went on: “I had two white boys who opened that door without any problems and you a Blackman, why should you face difficulties?”  My landlord was an African American, who saw the world in black and white. But my question to him was this: “what has white and black got to do when one needs help?” I concluded that, it might be based on the past history of America that compelled some Americans act the way my landlord acted.


However, having made my observations known above about NED and some of its staff, I still think that they (NED) as an organisation created in 1984 to support and promote liberal democracy around the world are already doing a tremendous job, but they could do more. For example, while they are already doing a praiseworthy job, there is need for them to have or create specific targets and objectives, which at this stage I doubt whether they have. In my humble opinion, NED needs to increase their funding to media, especially in regions and countries where free speech and democracy is either threatened or where governments have preponderant control. This measure will encourage the rise and consolidation of independent media organisations and professional journalists, who will be able to independently carry out investigative journalism and also be able to report accurately on cases of financial fraud or corruption and also on human rights abuses.  One reason among the many that has caused or made democracy to roll back in most of Africa, in particular in central Africa is the absence of independent media for reasons earlier mentioned. Besides increase in financial and material assistance, which is needed for both old and new media, NED needs to increase its assistance or grants to pro democracy activists and organisations within the central Africa region, in particular in the following countries: Congo Brazzaville, Cameroon, Chad, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. As noted earlier, NED is doing a considerable job in promoting prodemocracy groups in Nigeria, the DRC and Zimbabwe, but there is need for them to do more, especially in the central African countries mentioned earlier. One way of helping prodemocracy activists and their organisations in the central African countries above mentioned could be to target and help genuine prodemocracy groups and activists. But how can genuine prodemocracy groups or group be distinguished from fake ones? It is difficult, but due diligence process needs to be put in place within NED to make sure that, those offered grants are not just genuine but result oriented.   Furthermore, country specific approach is needed in whatever assistance or arrangement NED may want to device. This is so because, while African countries or central African countries may look similar, they are fundamentally differences within the same country: cultures and traditions vary from one region to the other.

The case of Cameroon

In Cameroon, NED must not have a one size fit all support programmes for prodemocracy organisations and activists. Their approach must respect the cultural and linguistic divide of the country. They should not be deceived into thinking or buying the official propaganda that, Cameroon is a united country.  The country is divided along linguistic lines and as the current Anglophone crisis has demonstrated, the gap between the majority French-speaking Cameroonians and their English-speaking counterparts are wider than officially presented. For example, English-speaking regions of Cameroon have greater experience in terms of social networking or civil society organisations management than the majority French-speaking Cameroonians. This simply means that, supporting prodemocracy activists in English-speaking Cameroon is far easier and more likely to attain results faster than in French-speaking Cameroon. Whereas in French-speaking Cameroon, more training for pro democracy organisations and activists are first needed and followed by the proper process of scrutiny before any results could be expected. Failure to respect the latter, the consequences are that, it is more likely that, any investments in French-speaking Cameroon for prodemocracy is bound to fail or produce limited results. Another dimension with Cameroon is its Greater north region, whose culture is different from those of greater south. Here again, a different approach is needed and more, the fundamental desires of the people of the Greater north region are special or specific. The Greater north of Cameroon certainly needs help for its pro democracy activists and organisations. However, unlike the Greater south, the priority in the Greater north is the girl child education, female rights, education and religious tolerance.  The success in campaigns to increase the girl child education or gender equality can only succeed if grants are awarded to activists claiming to work in the latter mentioned domains only after thorough introspection, have been carried out on organisations and individual seeking grants in the region.  Furthermore, grants should also be granted first only to organisations and groups that are in the fight to improve or that will have greater and immediate impact in the area.


I have sadly observed that, it seems grants are too often given to people and organisations without verifying whether their projects align with the needs of the regions or areas that the grants were sorted for. The other sad observation is that most grantees are in fact by default supports of the very dictatorial regimes that should be fought and changed. Hence the necessities for proper scrutiny before any grants are offered. As I had stated earlier, the National Endowment for Democracy was helping prodemocracy activists on the continent, but like Oliver Twist, I need them to do more and to be very selective with the projects that they are supporting. Some proposals like that which concerns Cameroon have been made earlier, but I have the impression that, in other countries, NED is supporting programmes that are having little or no impact on the promotion of human rights or democracy. Hence as already mentioned, it would be good that, while NED monitors those that, they offer grants, NED itself, must be evaluated on how successful they have been in their support for prodemocracy projects or grants around the continent since its creation in 1984.  If NED doesn’t want to waste US tax payer monies as I think they are doing in some projects that they are sponsoring, they must create or have clear cut objectives as earlier mentioned instead of their vague notion of support for prodemocracy. NED must start thinking how best prodemocracy activists can succeed in countries that are governed by dictators such as those in central Africa region. This means that, she must only support organisations that are genuinely supporting the promotion of democracy and free speech. And finally, NED needs to try to help consolidate free Speech by supporting media houses and media bodies around the continent, in particular within the Central Africa region, which is suffering from the absence of truly independent media organisations.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Monitoring NED / some NED staff

As I began observing and monitoring NED as an organisation and some NED staff, my objective went beyond finding out whether they were genuine or different from other dubious western organisations. I also wanted to find out whether they (NED) were impartial in their handling of Africa in comparison to other parts of the world: Eastern Europe, former Soviet Union and China.  The other dimension to my investigations or observations was to find out whether their staff or workers were genuinely dedicated and truly loved what they were doing.  And to my greatest surprise, I discovered that or should I say, barring some inherent errors of appreciations or evaluations on my part, that a majority of NED staff or at least those that, I came across, really loved their job and above all, they were fastidious and were devoted at what they were doing. They were not a pretending lot, they really meant business as far as the promotion and defense of democracy and pro democracy activists were concerned. My final observation was that, Research Fellows came from all over the world and as such, their cultures might deeply be at variance with American values, hence the need to have Research Assistants who were capable to work with people from different race and religion. Here again, I was positively impressed.  It looks as though, a proper vetting system was put in place in order to make sure that only those who really have the spirit of the organisation should filter through.  I was equally glad to discover that NED paid attention to Africa, especially Nigeria, the DRC and Zimbabwe to name these few and many others. Regarding NED staff, besides Marlena that I had already made my observations on her known from day one at the start of this chapter, below are my observations of other NED staff that I came across:  

Megan Caro

She seems at first sight a reserve and distant person or even a tad arrogant. But her true self can only be discovered or revealed when you get closer to her and have the opportunity to speak with her. She is in my opinion extremely, humble, intelligent and shows concern and equally takes great interest in Research fellows and their difficulties. She also has a sound understanding of international affairs, in particular the Middle East. Her regard toward Iran is something that I admire, because it is not dictated by popular believes within the established press and intelligentsia in the United States, who are more often than not, pro-Saudi and anti-Iran. She looks independent minded and it is a quality that I treasure in people, because, personally, I am independent minded and I don’t like to be told what to do.

Emily Milestein

Even though, she left for law school while my fellowship was ongoing, I kept fond memories of her. The ever smiling research assistant did not only loved Africa and immigrants; she had visited and stayed in a number of African countries which made her to master African history and politics, better than most Americans that I have come across during my stay in the US and at NED. She also has a knack for details and for work that is well done.

Evan Abramsky

Until I met this very intelligent young research assistant, Emily was the only one I thought in their group who had genuine interest for Africa. Evan also has excellent knowledge and understanding of Africa added with a great sense for details. He is also ever ready and willing to help research assistants in their various challenges and difficulties.
Ian Graham
I also came across the football or as the American would call it, the soccer loving research assistant from Utah who also likes eating carrots.  Perhaps it was for vitamins or for more hair growth. He was the only research assistant that, I came across who loves soccer, in particular the English Premier league and his favorite soccer or football team was Arsenal FC. I noted that, Ian Graham was a man who takes interest in people or in Research Fellows and he likes to talk or he is a tad chatty, which is in my opinion a thing in a rather sometimes doll environment. And just his colleague, Emily Milestein, Ian is always ready to help and makes sure research fellows have all the need. And finally and which endears him and distinguishes him, is the fact that he has a generous heart.

Eshe Hill

I admired her first because she was the only African American Research Assistant that I met while at NED. I must be honest to point out that, the fact that, there weren’t any single African American Research assistant at NED made me sometimes felt uncomfortable. I did ask myself this question: is the management of NED trying to tell the world that, there were no competent or interested African Americans for the post of research assistant? However before I could leave, that anomaly was corrected with the recruitment of Eshe Hill and I hope many more African Americans will be given the chance in the future should the need arises. Her presence among the group of research assistants was to me a welcome relief.  Later on, my admiration for Eshe Hill went beyond her ethnic background, but was more based on her professionalism. She assisted me enormously before and during the preparation of my presentation on Kleptocracy.  She was the one who prepared slides for the presentation and she equally helped me in the selection of pictures.

Zerxes Spencer

At NED, I was impressed by the neatness of the manager of Fellowship programme and also the way he takes his time to chose and pronounced words. It was as though, he was taking some extra time to mold every word that he wanted to pronounce in the English language. In short, he was careful the way he spoke, I suspect because he did want to hurt or he wanted to make sure that, whatever he said was properly understood by his interlocutor. I later on noticed that, he was an excellent writer with a gift in brilliant formulations of sentences and phrases. He would make an excellent teacher if he chooses to and he could easily blend into any multicultural milieu. I don’t know whether the fact that, he is originally from Pakistan has any influence in the way he looks and handles things. This is so because, I sensed that, he understands people better or Research Fellows from developing countries and their preoccupations.  Even though he doesn’t talk much, I also noticed that, he understands the intricacies and challenges of working and living under dictatorial regimes, perhaps more than most of his colleagues. This was demonstrated by his desire to listen and willingness to offer assistance to me while I was still a Research fellow. He personally took me to a lawyer when I was at one point considering to stay in the US, but I  later on changed my mind because of two things: my younger sister and what I thought I could contribute in my country in her quest to become a liberal democracy.  
Sally Blair

Dr Blair had one thing that I admired very much in her, besides other qualities that I dictated. She was/is a modern and well educated woman, who above all else had great respect for family values. I was always happy whenever I overheard her talk about her son and husband and also when she said or told us via mail that, she was traveling to see her family or in-laws. Her outstanding educational background, excellent job, where she had executive position and by extension power and influence did not make her to be distant or arrogant with Research Fellows, especially those from developing countries. Instead I suspect, her position has forced and forged her to become an extraordinary kind and humane person, who takes great interest and pleasure in listening to the stories of Research Fellows. The other thing that I admired in Sally Blair was that, like Zerxes Spencer, she spoke perfect French and Russian. She also knows how to keep or make research fellows comfortable. When I newly arrived in DC, she sensed quickly that, I wasn’t fully equipped for the wintery weather and she brought me some warm cloths and some Tea bags. Those are positive gestures that I can’t easily forget and I will want to thank her hereon.

Carl Gershman

He is the President of NED. He is an amazing man who does his job with passion. Although he seems advanced in age, he exudes an extraordinary youthful vigor in the discharge of his duty. He is earnestly focused in his campaign for the promotion of democracy and respect for human rights around the world. I also observed during my stay at NED that, he genuinely loves Africa and wants Africa to improve positively in all aspects.  I had meetings with him twice in his office courtesy Melissa Aten.  And through the assistance of Mr Gershman, I was equally able to meet some staff of the US Energy Department in order to explain to them how Congo Brazzaville was circumventing EITI regulations to the advantage of the system: government and the ruling Nguesso family. While he is passionate at promoting democracy around the word, sadly, the US government and other Americans don’t share his zeal.

Melissa Aten

When I was at NED, besides knowing that, she was a staff, the only other thing that I knew about her was that, she loves her dog very much. Anyway that was what the pictures posted regularly on her Facebook page showed. It might sound strange, but I discovered more of her very late and in the process, I saw her astonishing potentials and equally the love and concerns that she exudes, in particular for Research Fellows from dangerous parts of the world with hostile governments. She seems to keep track of all Research Fellows who have left and resides in high risk countries. She is simply amazing with a gift for details and organisation of events. She also seems to be a person who is very punctual all she does and always determined to make the most difficult task look simple and workable.

Dave Peterson

Within the Africa team of NED, I discovered a gem, a person who does his job with honesty and dedication. He also truly loves Africa because he seems to have crisscrossed the continent as a reporter and adventurer. Whenever I entered the office of Dave Peterson, I was impressed by the number African handicrafts and other crafts he had that relate to Africa that he exhibited. In the office of Dave, I noticed that, it had a large map of the African continent that was occupying an entire section of his wall. It is not often common to see or find a Whiteman who openly shows his love for the African continent the way I have seen Dave do.

Kamissa Camara  

The other person at the Africa team who impressed me was Kamissa Camara. She loves her job and loves Africa, in particular, Mali her country or that of her parents. Her love for Mali was surprising, giving that, she was born in France. And most often, children of immigrants, especially females born in France that, I know, do prefer their country of birth over that of their parents, especially if their parents were Africans. She is an ambitious young woman, who if she properly harnesses her potentials, she will go places. I also sensed that, NED was not giving her the position that she might inwardly desire; hence I don’t think she will stay longer than necessary.

Pierre Tchantou

I had known Pierre a year before officially starting my Research Fellowship. He is a hardworking young man who likes his job and he is also very careful with what he does or says. He talks very little about politics, perhaps he is afraid to expose his real opinion or that he may not have one. While his love for Africa and his native country, Cameroon is not in any doubt, unlike me, he handles or treats African political subjects as a man who is walking on eggshells. He doesn’t seem to relish adventure or speculations. And he seems an enigmatic person whose true thoughts and feelings are difficult to decipher. He will make an excellent career in politics should he ever desires or should leave NED one day.

Rudy Massamba

I came to be very close to him perhaps because he was originally from Congo Brazzaville, a country that I love. But one other thing that made me to be closer to him was that, I noticed that, he was sincere toward me and he also believed in increasing financial support for prodemocracy across Africa, in particular for prodemocracy groups and activists within the Central Africa region. My admirations for him amplified when I realized that, he has not forgotten where he came from and he seems to be a good practicing Christian. My stay or Research fellowship period was a great and an outstanding experience, partly because of Rudy Massamba who made me more than other NED staff to feel at home away from home. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

My first Days at NED

As I do whenever arrive newly anywhere, I first start by making an observation and in the process asking questions. I did the same when I arrived at NED. I took time to observe and start asking questions. Hence I did not immediately focus on my research topics. I first spent some time observing the behaviors of a few permanent staff that I could go close or speak with them. Secondly, I focused at understanding how NED functions, especially that, prior to coming to NED, I had heard a lot of stories about its capacities and influences.  The aforementioned observations were necessary because, as a black African and a journalist, even though I love and respect the United States and the entire western democracies, I am still suspicious of westerners, their governments and all institutions that they are or may be sponsoring. My suspicious are based on the fact that the African continent and its people have throughout history been exploited and abused by the same western governments and institutions that, they support financially or materially.  Even though the United States and most liberal democracies have strong institutions and strong independent media and well organized civil society organisations, which would have been enough to check the excesses of their governments, I have discovered sadly that, those hurdles/checks are not elevated or solid enough. This is so because the rise to power of people such as Donald John Trump in US or Viktor Orban in Hungary with the propensity of attacking or defying democratic institutions. And in defying or attacking democratic institutions, cracks have appeared on the walls of those institutions and through them, most western governments and their sponsored institutions have carried out actions which are at variance with what they most often promote: liberal democracy. Fortunately for me, I discovered that, NED might be sponsored by US government and institutions, it was genuine in its support for democracy and free speech around the world.

Questions & contradictions

Although western liberal democracies do champion the promotion of good governance or liberal democracy around the world, there are nonetheless questions or doubts about their sincerity in most cases of regimes and causes that they do on occasions support. For how can liberal democracies from the US to Australia possibly conciliate their promotion of democracy, respect for human rights and free speech, while they have as strategic friends, dictatorial regimes such as Saudi Arabia and many others? How can they claim to fight against corruption while at the same time still allowing most African leaders to steal wealth from their respective countries and secure them in western banks? Why will western governments supported organisations, such as the UN, UNDP sponsor associations and organisation promoted by wives and children or family members of African despots? The above questions are where my suspicions of western governments and institutions stands and equally the enigma and contradictions that they willfully or not, entertained. Hence, some African journalists and prodemocracy activists are shocked and disgust whenever they discover that, most dictatorial regimes in Africa do survive or generate their legitimacy from the same western governments that claims to be against dictatorship. 

Open Society Foundation

As already mentioned above, my second research at NED focused on the corrosive impact of Kleptocracy at home and abroad: the case of the Republic of Congo.  The idea to add or include Kleptocracy in my research programme was ignited or inspired by Rudy Massamba. How? It all began when I accompanied Rudy Massamba at his request or suggestion to attend a conference organized by Open Society Foundation. The said conference focused on Kleptocracy in Equatorial Guinea, Uzbekistan and Ukraine. I can’t recall when exactly, that conference took place, but all I can recall is that, while attending the conference, I was impressed by an Uzbek former staff of that country’s ministry of finance, who was a panelist. The former staff of Uzbekistan ministry of finance used the platform provided by Open Society Foundation to expose corruption in his country in a brilliant way and it occurred to me that, I could do the same for Congo Brazzaville, which was equally corrupt. Even though from the period I saw how Uzbekistan corruption was exposed at the Open Society Foundation, I immediately thought of doing the same for Congo Brazzaville, whose corruption ring was lead by the Nguesso family, I didn’t move my attention from my primary research focus: the role of Social Media in the promotion of free speech and democracy in central Africa.  

As already mentioned, while working in Congo Brazzaville as a journalist, I discovered the power of Social media in circumventing draconian press laws in t and also the role that its plays in the promotion of democracy.  I therefore felt that, I could also use social media to denounce and expose corruption and equally all those benefitting from the corrupt system in Brazzaville and elsewhere.  My expulsion from Congo Brazzaville to Cameroon helped me to also discover that, social media could not only help promote free speech and democracy in the Republic of Congo, but in the entire sub region. In Congo as I have explained severally before, I saw firsthand the dangers of a dictatorship that has been transformed into a Kleptocracy, hence I was impressed by the brilliant exposé earlier mentioned which was made by the Uzbek economist and also the description of Kenneth D. Hurwitz on the corruption of the Obiang Nguema family in Equatorial Guinea, which is also another Kleptocracy within the region. Most of what I have denounced in the preceding chapters would not have happened if Congo weren’t a Kleptocracy.  An as a direct consequence, the country is not only ruined economically, it is also ruined morally. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Glamorizing America and its racial tolerance

Not all is well in the US

Even though earlier, I seem to glamorize America and its racial tolerance and opportunities that she offered people from all over the world irrespective of race and religion, I quickly pointed out that, my statements or observations didn’t in anyway mean that, there aren’t any problems in the United States. My write up was a fruit of a genuine observations carried out within a specific area.  Regarding my earlier statement on how compassionate and welcoming were Americans, I even added that, perfection was not of this world. This simply meant that, I was and still aware that, America had and still has its share of challenges. But I must still insist that, globally, especially among liberal democracies, America offers more opportunities to foreigners than most.  Whatever its positives aspects, not well in the US and as prove, when I arrived, the country was at the height of record killing of black people by the Police. The wanton killing of Black people also gave rise to a group known as Black lives matters movement, a group denouncing Police violence against black people. Following all the killings, I was afraid of an open confrontation between the Police and Black Youths. It was as if good and evil were at competition in arguably the best country on earth.  It was appalling what was going on regarding the wanton killing of black people. I felt very bad, because I love America and thus consider her to be the symbol of hope for everything positive in liberal democracy around the world. I was more affected negatively by what was going on in the US because, as a journalist and a prodemocracy activist from Congo Brazzaville and Cameroon, I regularly quoted America and in chief, American Police as an example, whenever I wanted to denounce the abuses of the Congolese or Cameroonian Police. Therefore what was going on became fodder to my detractors and all those who abhorred liberal democracy.  Enemies of liberal democracy in the Republics of Congo Brazzaville and Cameroon, quickly zeroed on what was happening to black people in the US who were being mowed down daily by the very American Police that I marketed as paragon of professionalism and human right respect, to water down all my arguments or all what I stood up for.   The reality is that, dictatorial governments like those of Congo Brazzaville and Cameroon, almost always exploits loopholes like those of Police brutalities in the US, to justify their excesses.

Commissions of enquiry

But amid my disappointments, especially at the killing of black people, one thing which struck me positively were investigations that were taking place after every killing of a Blackman and also the media scrutiny that followed after each murder. US media played a major role in exposing the abuses of US Police, a thing which was alien in Congo Brazzaville. What US media did could not happen in Congo Brazzaville because the media in the West African state is everything but independent. The media in Congo Brazzaville is not independent because as severally mentioned earlier, the whole media landscape is either controlled by one family: the Nguessos or people gravitating around the Nguessos and the Congolese government. In the US, amid every dark cloud like the killing of any Blackman, there is a silver lining. This silver lining is symbolized by investigations carried out by the media and the Police. It was another quality which was alien in Congo Brazzaville or Cameroon. And more, those commissions of enquiry set up were not mere formalities to please and appease, as it were more often the cases in both aforementioned West African countries. As I noticed via TV and newspaper reports, in the US, unlike Cameroon and Congo Brazzaville, commissions of enquiry delivered reports that were not satisfactory to any of the concerned parties, but at least, it had some merit. It greatest merits were that, Police officers were tried and prosecuted as opposed to Congo Brazzaville or Cameroon where in spite the summary executions and all kinds of abuses carried out by the Police, nothing is done to the accused or suspects. In both Cameroon and Congo Brazzaville, the equanimity and boldness with which some state security officials do carry out their crimes, was as though they were commandeered by the state.

Charitable and Compassionate American People

Observing Americans

In all fairness, Americans are truly compassionate, charitable and welcoming people. These are aspects marketed or promoted in most American films and media, which are not false or fictions, but an accurate reflection of the United States and its people. American cultural promoters: writers, film producers and musicians, truthfully expose or represent their society or country in their work. The only other country in the world that I know and whose men and women of culture do market or exposes  in their productions the factual faces of their country through their work is Nigeria. Certainly there many other countries around the world whose men and women of culture are their genuine ambassadors, but I have chosen to mention the United States and Nigeria because both are leaders in their world.  The US in the western world or globally and Nigeria is champion in Africa, as their film industry and writers have demonstrated.  As far as Americans are concern, I have noticed that, they are markedly different from other westerners, especially some French people or to be specific, French people living within the Greater Paris Region, which I know very well for having spent more than a decade with them.  But make no mistake, there are equally some extraordinary compassionate, charitable and welcoming French men and women, that I have come across.   I am not in any way saying or writing that, Americans are perfect people or that their country is paradise on earth. Perfection, they say, is not of this world, but in heaven and the preceding saying is justified as recent events in Charlottesville and also the strange reaction from Donald John Trump have established. 

For the world seems shocked to see assertive Nazi groups and other racists marched in broad day and worse, the lukewarm criticism that, the extremists received from the President of the leading liberal democracy in the world has irritated many. What happened in Charlottesville and other US cities demonstrates that, the America has its limitations as will be elucidated more later on. But the truth  remains that, they(US) remains a beacon of hope and  more than others in the world,  she offers greater chances or opportunities to none natives or none nationals. My first focus or evaluating point of the American society was to find out or see how tolerant Americans are. And my evaluating benchmark on how tolerant American people were, was made, whenever, I took or boarded the Washington DC Metro every morning. The Washington DC metro, it is true, is not the United States, but at least, it provided a sample of what to expect or how Americans, in particular the majority White Americans, treated minorities. Hence every morning, as I boarded the DC metro, I first cast wide view in the wagon on which I was to see ethnic composition. And in most cases, in particular the line I boarded, was overwhelming White. But there are equally some lines such as the yellow or blue lines, if am not wrong, that, I sometimes noticed that, the ethnic composition was predominantly African America with pockets or dots or Hispanics, Asian or Chinese and White Americans. Second, while on in the wagon, I start observing how most white passengers reacted at the sighting of blacks and other minorities and vice versa. And here again, I was surprised at how blacks and white were mixing up without any detectable sense of suspicions and tensions in both predominantly white and African American metro lines. Another observation that I made was that, I did not hear the speakers of the subway blaring the cautionary calls of: “beware of pick pockets”, as it was the case in Paris, whenever the CCTV cameras caught  disproportionate presence of people of North African, afro-Caribbean ancestries or Roma people in the subway.  

Monday, August 28, 2017

My fellowship at NED (Part 3)

Assistance from NED staff

While I am happy to have been able to partly expose the corrupt system in Congo Brazzaville and its ring leaders, I must also quickly and humbly state here that, without the help or assistance from Rudy Massamba, Melissa Aten and Chris Walker, my presentation on Kleptocracy won’t have materialized and touched or reached all those it seems to have. Staff of NED latter mentioned assisted me in structuring and also on how to best present all the information that I had on the government of Congo and the ruling Nguesso family. It is not enough to have information, but the way and manner that you want to present it and the objective that you want to arrive at is important. And it is in the last phase that, those I have mentioned were of astonishing help.  And regarding Chris Walker, in my humble opinion, he doesn’t only master Kleptocracy, he perhaps more than others, understands best, the devastating effects that Kleptocracy has inflicted in countries and people where it is practiced. Chris Walker also understands best the necessity of using soft power: blocking bank accounts, travel bans and denying medical treatments or education to children and family members of all those supporting, promoting and sponsoring Kleptocracy. The latter “antidotes” could gradually and effectively crippled or weakened encroached Kleptocratic systems and permit liberal democracy to roll forward in the countries and regions where it is being rolled back. Sadly, no matter the determination and brilliance of Chris Walker and others like him, Kleptocracy can’t be fought and won, if Western governments continue to have double standards, contradictory or conflicting interests and policies toward Kleptocrats around the world.

Coming to America

As already mentioned, I began writing this chapter, on the 1st of August 2016. I was in my final month as a Research Fellow at the NED. It is a fellowship which began on the 20th of January 2016. But I arrived in the United States, precisely in Washington DC on the 19th of January 2016. It was not my first trip in the US. It was my fourth. And on that day, it was not only freezing cold, it had even snowed. I was shivering from cold immediately I left the hall of the Dulles International airport for the parking lot where was stationed the car that came to take me for my Hotel: The Virginian. The person who came to receive me at the Airport was Marlena Papavaritis. She is a wonderful person who seems to be the archetype of what American media and films would want the world to think every American citizen is: humane, generous and friendly. In reality, she was and is still truly humane, generous and friendly as at when I was leaving. 

Denis Sassou Nguesso: A Vicious manipulative man

Even though Denis Sassou Nguesso might not appear to be a firebrand anti-imperialist or rabble-rouser in the shape or character of Robert Gabriel Mugabe, late Hugo Chavas or his successor, Nicolas Maduro, he (Denis Sassou Nguesso)  not only surreptitiously offers moral and financial support to most despots and even liberal democrats as mentioned in the chapter: the Nguesso: The Kleptocratic family, he equally during continental and regional meetings of African head of states and governments, encourages his peers not to yield to western pressures on free speech, democracy and respect for human rights.  This last point, I suspect, could even be supported by Dr Christopher Fomunyuh, deputy Director for Africa at the National Democratic Institute, NDI, who knows best or understands best, how most African despotic leaders do operate. Denis Sassou Nguesso, as you have already read, is a calm but vicious manipulative man, who encourages various members of his family, government ministers and officials, especially officers within the security services to fight each other to their mutual deaths as the arrest and death of Colonel Marcel Nstourou in prison has demonstrated. Colonel Marcel Nstourou’s home was attacked in a spectacular manner in December 2013, under the guise that, he was in possession of weapons and harboring criminals. He was over powered in the gun duel that lasted over 5 hours, arrested, jailed, released on bail and then rearrested. But it was later discovered that all allegations heaped on late Colonel Marcel Nstourou were results of intra service rivalry encouraged by Sassou Nguesso.   

Denis Sassou Nguesso, it is now well known, relish pitting his top ranking military officers against each other. The same practice is done or perpetuated within the government, where he encourages unhealthy rivalries among government ministers. Even families have not been spared of his devilish instinct to divide and destroy. He has divided several families and broken up several marriages. The most recent example is the children of Bernard Kolelas: Guy Brice and Landry. He removed the first from government and replaced him with the second, then dumped the second out of government, after sowing the seed of discontent within the Kolelas family. Denis Sassou Nguesso also breaks up marriages or separates couples by taking the wives of political allies and also rivals or even their daughters. The latter is a specialty of the Nguessos, for one can’t count the number of marriages the president, his elder brother or sons have destroyed.  Sassou Nguesso and his family members in particular his elder brother, Maurice or his son, Denis Christel do all the above in a bid to maintain his grip on power. For they think seizing the wife of an ally or rival or sleeping with the daughter of an ally or rival procures them not only political domination over the country but also prolongs their lives. Furthermore, by sowing the seeds of discords within his own army and security apparatus or within the hierarchy of the ruling party or even destroying families by encouraging adultery and other vices, it only lays credence to the fact; Sassou Nguesso’s lust for power knows no bounds. He is simply the most corrosive figure the country has ever known. Besides his delight to see members of his government or Congolese fighting each other, he also relishes and encourages gossips and salacious life styles. That is why no day passes by in Congo without a story on how one of the Nguessos has slept with the wife or daughter of a political rival or even ally. His governing behavior has bred a culture of suspicions within families and also among friends, hence the existence of a phenomenal breakdown of trust in the country. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

My fellowship at the NED

This part or chapter, like the whole of this book, was written in two continents and in three countries. The idea first began in the Republic of Congo, but was actualized in Cameroon after I was expelled from the former. It was improved in the United States with the additions of this chapter and also that on Kleptocracy, in titled: The Nguessos: the Kleptocratic Family.  It was precisely on the 31st of August 2016 that, I decided to make the aforementioned additions.  However, unlike the other additions and modifications, this chapter was written to show my deep appreciations to two organisations: Committee to Protect Journalists, CPJ and National Endowment for Democracy, NED, both have been of great help to me when I was expelled from the Republic of Congo. The first offered me an emergency fellowship that enabled me to leave Cameroon, while the second extended my Research Fellowship beyond the official end date. The extension of my research fellowship permitted me to put in writing what I knew about Kleptocracy in Congo Brazzaville and also share it with US  based NGOs fighting against corruption and human rights abuses in Africa  as well as  officials from the State  and Justice Departments among others. The opportunity to present the latter was done on the 23rd of July 2016 and the theme was: Kleptocracy and it corrosive effects at home and abroad: the example of Congo Brazzaville. And as the preceding chapters have demonstrated, the long reign of Sassou Nguesso has had negative impacts not only in Congo but also beyond: Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  

My July 23rd 2016 presentation was held in close door. It was unlike my first, which was focused on social media and had as theme: the role of social media in the promotion of Free Speech and Democracy in Central Africa.  As earlier mentioned, my Kleptocracy presentation was meant to reveal to the world that, Congo Brazzaville is a major player in the galaxy of Kleptocracy on the same level as other well known Kleptocracies such as Azerbaijan, Angola, Equatorial, Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.  The Congolese Kleptocracy may regroup several people, but it is led by one family: the Nguessos. And as elucidated in the chapter: The Nguessos: the Kleptocratic family, their stranglehold onto power has had a negative or corrosive impact not only in Congo Brazzaville, but equally abroad:  Central African Republic, DRC and also in Burundi. And in Burundi, a man working at the presidency of Congo, who doesn’t want to be named, confided to me that, Sassou Nguesso offered financial support to Pierre Nkurunziza at the height of that country’s crisis. The aim of the financial support, he told me, was to help Burundi’s President, Pierre Nkurunziza  and his regime to withstand economic sanctions imposed by the European Union and also to resist the internal prodemocracy up rising. While my informant did not offer any proves other than claiming that, monies left Brazzaville for Bujumbura via Dakar to boost up the regime of Pierre Nkurunziza, I don’t have any reason to doubt him. I don’t doubt him because it looks every inch what Sassou Nguesso is capable of doing.  

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Congo Brazzaville:Consequences of Denis Sassou Nguesso's long stay in power


There are several adverse effects that the Kleptocracy imposed by Denis Sassou Nguesso has done in the Republic Congo. The first victim of Sassou Nguesso’s long misrule, is Democracy and the second, is the absence of free speech. And because the Nguessos, through Kleptocracy have amassed enormous wealth, they are today present in all aspects of life in country. Furthermore, all gains made in the democratic dispensation of the 90s, which culminated with the holding of the country’s first post independence genuine democratic presidential election have been reversed.  A prove that, democracy in Congo has reversed its progress is that, today, the Republic of Congo is not only a violent dictatorship, she has become a Kleptocracy. Besides the Republic of Benin, Congo was one of the rare countries in French-speaking black Africa that held a sovereign national conference, to discuss and prepare the country from one party rule to multiparty democracy. And as a direct result of holding the sovereign national conference, Congo as already mentioned, held its first post independence democratic general elections that were won by Pascal Lissouba and the PCT, lost its majority in parliament in favour of the UPADS. The other consequences of the long reign of Denis Sassou Nguesso are excessive corruption, immorality and laziness. Furthermore, the excessive accumulation of illicit wealth by the Nguessos equally obstructs the advancement of genuine democracy because they buy political loyalties, precisely by corrupting members of the opposition and civil society organisations.  The trend in Congo Brazzaville of the creation of fictitious political parties and civil society organisations is equally a direct result of manipulations orchestrated Denis Sassou Nguesso and his clan, the Nguessos. Besides using their wealth to destroy genuine opposition political parties, civil society organisations and control the press, they have also bought or are investing massively in the purchase of weapons for the national army and also the Congolese Police Force. By arming the security forces, especially the Congolese Police, which is headed by General Jean Francois Ndenguet, the ruling Nguesso family are shielding or protecting themselves from any eventual uprising from the population. Any attempt by the population to rise or protest the misrule of Denis Sassou Nguesso is violent repressed by a Police force that is known for its brutality and human rights violations. And that partly explained the reason why, major political party leaders of the opposition, civil society activists and journalists are either in jail or banned from holding meetings or carrying out any activity independently.


Kleptocracy is detrimental to democracy and economic development in any country where it is practiced. Sadly, this form of governance is not only practiced in Congo Brazzaville but in almost all countries within the sub region albeit with some variations as already mentioned. While in countries where Kleptocracy is practiced, citizens don’t fold their arms or are resigned, they try as best as they can, to fight against entrenched Kleptocratic values through one form or the other. However, as the examples of the cases of Burundi, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, DRC and Congo has shown, in spite all internal efforts carried out by prodemocracy activists, without the support of the international community, Kleptocratic systems can’t be conquered easily. Hence the fight to end Kleptocracy in Congo Brazzaville can only be successful with the help of the international community and it must not be a country focused fight only, but expanded regionally or in all countries where Kleptocracy exist. If the international community ever decides to fight sincerely and boldly against Kleptocracy, it should have a strategy that is synonymous to casting a wide dragnet around leaders of countries such as Congo, DRC, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Angola and Chad. This is so because the leaders of the aforementioned countries are those promoting and sustaining Kleptocracy, the most within the region. In my humble opinion the following steps should be used by the international community to weaken and eventually destroy all Kleptocracies that are expanding around the central Africa region:

                        - A name and shame campaigns with the help of the international community should be launched in local and international media, in order to expose Kleptocrats and those supporting them
                        -Kleptocrats and their supporters should be restricted from purchasing properties in western countries. Their families and close family members should equally be restricted from sending their children in western school schools or being given medical treatment in western countries.
                        -The international community should support journalists, journalist trade unions and independent media in the areas of investigative journalism.
                        -The US government must increase its influence in the promotion of liberal democracy in countries targeted by the scourge of Kleptocracy and if necessary, use its military power to overthrow dictatorial regimes and also use military might to enforce liberal democracy, which is the only deterrent against the expansion of Kleptocracy.

-Furthermore, the US should use its influence on France by forcing or compelling her to change her blind eye approach toward Congo Brazzaville and other dictatorships/Kleptocracies within the sub region.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Denis Sassou Nguesso: how he squandered Congo's oil windfall

Denis Sassou Nguesso: Cheerful giver

At the height of his political and financial power and this because of the high cost of Oil and the financial windfall it created, Sassou Nguesso decided to extend his influence beyond Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Sassou Nguesso who considers state coffers as if it were his private safe, doled out money in forms of loans to several West African states:  Guinea, FCFA 50 billion, Niger, FCFA 50 billion and Ivory Coast, FCFA 100 billion. Furthermore, while there is no freedom of speech and democracy in Congo Brazzaville, Denis Sassou Nguesso, paradoxically, decided to export multiparty democracy and multiparty elections in other African countries. How? As already mentioned, he promotes or promoted free and faire elections in Central African Republic, even though as already mentioned, he tried to dictates or pull the strings from behind in a bid to dictates the outcome. Sassou Nguesso acted the way he did in Bangui because he doesn’t want the people to decide freely. He wants puppets in Bangui not just because he hates genuine democracy, but more because of his rivalry with Idriss Derby Itno of Chad of the control of Central African Republic. It is also alleged that, Sassou Nguesso sponsored Macky Sall during Senegal’s last presidential elections. The go between or the persons who transported the financial wallet  from Brazzaville to Dakar  were Jean Dominique Okemba, Senegal’s ambassador in Brazzaville and Michel Nguimbi, Congo’s ambassador in Dakar. He is also reported to have supported financially, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in his successful presidential bid in Mali. 

The Republic of Congo-Brazzaville has become too small for Denis Sassou Nguesso; hence his expansion across central and West Africa in a bid to transform some of the countries in dictatorships or to have elected leaders in those countries that are electoral or liberal democracies to be at his beck and call. Because Alpha Conde, Alassane Ouattara, Mamadou Issoufou, Macky Sall and Ibrahim Boubacar Keita partly owes their electoral successes to the financial support they receive or have received from Brazzaville, the aforementioned leaders have become lobbyists for Sassou Nguesso in France, especially among the French Socialist party, that are hostile toward Sassou Nguesso. It is also claimed that, one of the aforementioned leaders contributed in softening Francois Hollande’s initial stands against Denis Sassou Nguesso, especially on his plans to change the January 20th 2002 constitution.


Congo’s President is a Kleptocrat and the business and financial empire that he has built from the proceeds of loot are sometimes difficult to trace or to prove officially belong to Sassou Nguesso and the Nguesso family. However the good thing with Congo-Brazzaville is that, the truth, especially when it comes to illicit money, business or investments owned by the Nguessos and all those gravitating around them are well known by all. Sassou Nguesso claims that, his reason to have changed the January 20th 2002 constitution that barred him from seeking a third mandate was because he wanted to consolidate the country’s democratic experience, is absolutely wrong.  The reality is quite different. He wanted to stay in power because of two reasons: preserve the wealth that his family with his support has amassed and secondly: it was to lay the foundation for his son, Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso to succeed him when he leaves office between 2021 or 2023.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Corrosive influence of Sassou Nguesso beyond Congo Brazzaville: the case of CAR

Beyond Congo Brazzaville

Like any other Kleptocracy around the world, Congo’s Kleptocracy led by Denis Sassou Nguesso, wants to extend its influence beyond the borders of Congo Brazzaville. Interestingly or not, he is not the only Kleptocrat within the region with the ambition to extend their powers beyond their respective countries. Obiang Nguema Mbasongo of Equatorial Guinea and Late Omar Bongo of Gabon are the other Kleptocrats who share the same ambitions with Sassou Nguesso. In  the case of Obiang Nguema Mbasongo, his first known attempt at  extending his influence beyond Equatorial Guinea are his  financing  of the so-called pan African media such as Afrique Media and Africa 24 and also  sponsoring the translation of documents at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa from English, French , Arabic or Portuguese  into Spanish. It is Obiang’s own brand of Soft power. Besides the latter, Obiang Nguema Mbasongo is also investing in countries such Liberia by helping to construct in the Monrovia international airport and offering asylum to dictators such as Yaya Jammeh of Gambia. As for late Omar Bongo, when he was at the pinnacle of his political and financial power, he was sponsoring a pan African radio called Africa Number 1 and a pan African television, Telesud. He was also involved in multiple political mediations across Africa, especially in Central Africa Republic and Chad.  Late Omar Bongo was also involved in banking and oil sectors. One of his banking legacies that have outlived him is BGFI Bank SA, which is present in 11 countries in west and central Africa.

Central African Republic

Denis Sassou Nguesso has always wanted to play leading roles on the continent. Hence, he is mediator in various regional conflicts:  Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo.  He is also chair of the African Union on the Libyan crisis. Sadly all his mediations in Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and even his role in Libya have all failed. In Central African Republic, he doesn’t only want to limit is role as mediator; he equally wants to control how the country’s internal politics is run. For example: during CAR’s last presidential and legislative elections of December 30th 2015 and the run off of February 14th 2016, Sassou Nguesso played a major role in dictating the outcome. How did he proceed? He is reported to have financed three main candidates: President Faustin Archange Touadera, George Anicet Dologuele and Karim Mekasoua. According to one of the participating presidential candidates, Sassou Nguesso sponsored Faustin Touadera and Karim Mekasoua during the first round of the presidential elections. However when his two protégé were defeated in the first round by George Anicet Dologuele, Sassou Nguesso decided to sponsor Mr Dologuele during the second round. Sadly for him, Dologuele was not elected. He did not stop meddling into the internal affairs of Central African Republic with the end of the presidential race. During election within the Central African parliament to choose its speaker, Sassou Nguesso played another major role. From information that I gathered from some participants, when Congo’s President got news that, George Anicet Dologuele could be elected as speaker of parliament at the detriment of his protégé, Karim Mekasoua, he(Sassou Nguesso) dispatched funds to Bangui via an emissary ,  the said sum t were used to corrupt a large number of Central African members of parliament not to vote of Anicet George Dologuele for the post of speaker of parliament. The sponsorship or financial support that Karim Mekasoua received from Sassou Nguesso helped him to defeat George Anicet Dologuele and become the speaker of parliament of Central African Republic. Karim Mekasoua is therefore speaker of parliament in Bangui because of the manipulations or financial influence of Denis Sassou Nguesso. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

How the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, EITI, is abused by Sassou Nguesso.

The reasons why the Nguessos & Congolese government are members of EITI

All the ruling Nguesso family and the Congolese government that they(the Nguessos) are dominating want, when they join organisations such as EITI or Publish What You Pay, are the name tags of these organisations and the prestige that they generate. Conversely, they (the ruling Nguesso family and the Congolese government) will never implement the spirit of any of the organisations that she is a member. If the Nguesso family and Congolese government were serious, the regional bureau of EITI in Congo, would  been chaired by someone who is independent and  its board made up of people with the freedom to report honestly and independently, this in order to meet with the standards of EITI. Sadly in Congo Brazzaville, EITI Congo is everything but independent and most of the data that she feeds their (EITI) headquarters are false.

This is how it functions:

To begin with, how can EITI Congo be considered independent and upholds the standard of transparency when its chair, Michel Okoko is close to the ruling PCT party and the ruling Nguesso family?  How can EITI Congo be considered independent, when, most of those who are members of its board are either partner of the government or former members of local NGOs that have been bought over by the government? Worse, reports from EITI Congo on oil and mining companies are bogus.  This is how they are gathered: they are first collected manually with the consent of the companies that they are expected to audit and report accurately on their operations. Normally it would either have been gathered independently before comparing with the official ones. I was once present in the office of Michel Okoko, chair of EITI Congo, when I overheard him (Okoko) make phone calls to the executives of African Oil and Gas Congo, AGOC and Petroleum. In the conversation with the boss of AGOC, Mr Okoko, called the former requesting him to provide the exact reports or figures of the oil production that they (EITI Congo) should put in the report that they were to provide the EITI headquarters and which upon publication will become official regarding African Oil Gas Congo, AGOC activities. In normal circumstances, activities of EITI Congo or its evaluation reports should have been done independently rather than reporting statistics provided by oil and mining companies concern. Another observation that, I made while in Congo Brazzaville and also while visiting the office of EITI in Brazzaville is that, reports from companies in the liquid and solid mineral were collected manually, typed and sent first to headquarters of concern companies. After the evaluated companies have formally approved the information, it will be send back to EITI Congo and they will publish. It is this fictitious reports that don’t reflect the reality of the oil and mining sectors that are sent to EITI headquarters as authentic reports from oil companies operating in Congo Brazzaville. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Why anticorruption organisations can’t catch Brazzaville

Deceiving the world

As mentioned above, the Congolese government uses local and international NGOs to glamorize her cheatings and manipulations. One such organisation used by the Congolese government to deceive the world is EITI. But I wonder whether, EITI, which claims on her web site that, it is an organisation with a global standard, to promote the open and accountable management of Extractive Resources, is aware that, her name is being used or travestied by the Congolese government.  Whatever the abuses committed by the Congolese government with her none respect of the organization’s norms, EITI, nevertheless remains a prestigious organisation that The Republic of Congo is a member. Once again, it is wishful thinking to believe that, Brazzaville respects the standards of EITI. In spite the fact that, the Republic of Congo has succeeded a feat in hoodwinking the entire world with its false statistics in the areas earlier mentioned, what makes me to smile is the easy with which, the ruling Nguesso family is using the very instruments or organisations created to fight against corruption to deceive the world. Hence EITI reports from Congo Brazzaville need not to be taken seriously.   Given the glaring lies and manipulations of the Nguessos and the Congolese government as earlier mentioned, it is also beyond comprehension why the heads of EITI and other organisations with the same objectives can’t figure out that Congo Brazzaville is a deceitful, corrupt, dishonest, crooked and untrustworthy member.

Why anticorruption organisations can’t catch Brazzaville

To the discharge of heads or EITI or Publish What Pay and other western bodies such as the US Department of Energy, Department of Justice, they are unable to discover the deceitful attitude of Congo Brazzaville’s government because there is no logic for a regime that wants to hide things or that encourages corruption, to join organisations that are fighting against corruption. The simple fact that, the Congolese government is the one that solicits membership to the aforementioned organisations is where the tricks played by the Nguessos and the Congolese government lies.  For heads of such organisations think it is out good fate that, Brazzaville wants to join them, hence they can’t easily decipher the malevolent intentions of the Nguessos and Brazzaville government. Once again, by joining organisations such as EITI or Publish what you Pay, Brazzaville easily deceives everybody because all suspicions on her are dissipated. While organisations such as EITI or Publish What You Pay, have genuine objectives to brightened transactions between governments and mining companies, Brazzaville or the ruling Nguesso family have joined these organisations with their own agenda in mind.  

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Congo Brazzaville: Cesspool of lies and Manipulations

As already mentioned, the ruling Nguesso family and government is a bunch of professional lairs and manipulators. Hence after cheating her way into the Highly Poor and Indebted Countries scheme of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, they did not stop at lying or doctoring their statistics. They have embarked at lying and manipulating all information coming out from all organisations based in the country. Almost all figures coming out of Congo Brazzaville are wrong. The first wrong information from Congo Brazzaville is her population figure and the second wrong or doubtful figure from Congo Brazzaville is its oil production and the revenue generated from the sale of its crude. Even figures of its internal and external debts are wrong because of the opaque web under which she was contracted and executed. There is a reason why the government doesn’t want its people or its international trading partners to know the true figures or statistics on anything especially, its Oil production or the revenue that she generates from the sale of crude. In order to justify the monumental travesty of international norms set up to discourage corruption and encourage and enforce transparency, the Congolese government uses local NGOs. Paradoxically, some NGOs are used by the international community to promote the respect of human rights and also to fight against corruption or to expose corrupt practices of individuals and governments.

But in Congo Brazzaville, as earlier mentioned, in spite all best efforts local NGOs or their representatives in particular, those heading them are either bought over or are too afraid to denounce or publish the true reality about the abuses of the Nguesso family or the Congolese government, as it concerns corruption. Fortunately, mindful of the limitations of local NGOs, the international community has stepped up its efforts by sponsoring local NGOs in a bid to put them beyond want. The international community has also increase the capacity building of activists on the ground. But the latter strategy has not been quite successful, for the mismanagement of Congolese natural resources by the Nguessos has not decreased but instead increased, hence the need for other international NGOs to develop new adaptable tactics in the fight against corruption not only in Congo but in most developing and African countries. One of such internationally created and sponsored NGOs whose expertise  has contributed to expose corrupt practices within the solid and liquid mining sectors is Publish What you Pay. This organisation through various pressure groups and tactics has succeeded in forcing mining companies operating in Africa to publish some parts of their contracts with various liquid and solid mineral producing countries. Besides the Publish and What You Pay group, other global initiative against corruption in countries such as Congo is the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative abbreviated EITI. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Sassou Nguesso's Media Obsession: Vision 4 TV and Africanews

Controlling pan African media

Before Africa 24 TV that is based in France could come and cover the March 20th 2016 presidential election, the Congolese government, I was told, owed the French based pan African TV broadcaster the sum of FCFA 1 billion for unpaid adverts. This information was disclosed to me by a management staff that is not authorized to speak to the Press. It is therefore certain that, in order for the French based pan African TV station, Africa 24 to come and cover the March 20th 2016 presidential election and promotes the country as a “paragon of democracy and respect for human rights”; the Congolese government must have settled its past debts and paid another an undisclosed lump sum. Not satisfied with the publicity she received from Africa 24, the Congolese ruling family and government, also paid the sum of FCFA 700 million to Amougou Belinga, in order for the owner of Vision 4 TV  Cameroonian based TV station to come open a subsidiary in Brazzaville for the promotion of Denis Sassou Nguesso, his family and government. Mr Amougou Belinga is the owner Anecdote Media Group and Vision 4 TV is a subsidiary of the group. Mr Amougou Belinga is not only an assertive pro-government media mogul, he also boast around or tells anybody who cares to listen that, support for his Anecdote Media Group comes from Cameroon’s minister of Justice and keeper of the seals, Laurent Esso. After controlling the media at home, in Francophone Africa, the ruling Nguesso family decided to strike a great coup by bringing the pan European TV, Euronews in Congo Brazzaville through its subsidiary, Africanews.

Media Obsession

The grand question that most Congo or Nguesso family observers have always asked is this: why are Sassou Nguesso and his family so obsess with media propaganda? The answer is not farfetched. The plan of the regime is to transform Congo into a pan African and international media hub. Hence besides Vision 4 TV that they courted to open shop in Brazzaville, the same proposals was made to Africa 24, Vox Africa and an obscure TV station called UBIZNEWS managed by Alain Mevegue, a staff of France 24. As far as Euronews is concern, they were paid an unspecified sum to convince the Lyon based pan European TV to open its Africa subsidiary, Africanews in Congo.  To entice the pan European TV to stay in a country where there is no freedom of speech, the government is building them an 8 storey building in the heart of Brazzaville to serve as headquarters of Africanews besides state financial subvention. Their ultra modern building will be located along the aptly called Boulevard Denis Sassou Nguesso and which is not far from the private home of Sassou Nguesso located at Mpila, Saint Denis.  Why are they spending large sum of money on the press at home and abroad? It is first to improve their filthy image and second: to hide its appalling human rights abuses and corruption at home.  

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Denis Sassou Nguesso and Jeune Afrique & Les Depeches de Brazzaville

While there is no doubt that, local media houses mentioned earlier have proven links to the Nguesso family albeit surreptitiously, but the media houses that have direct or glaring connections with Denis Sassou Nguesso are: Jeune Afrique and Les Depeches de Brazzaville. According to Apollinaire Aya, a staff at the Paris, France office of the department of Communications of the presidency of the Republic, headed by Claudia Sassou Nguesso, a lump sum of FCFA 2 billion is earmark annually for: Jeune Afrique and Les Depeches de Brazzaville. Remember, Les Depeches de Brazzaville is the only daily in the country and it is published by ADIAC media group. As if it were not enough to invest in Jeune Afrique, whose editor-in-chief is Francois Soudan, they ( the Nguessos) now control of Forbes Afrique, after the franchise for French-speaking Africa was bought by Lucien Ebata ( read previous article). In short, Forbes Afrique has become another tool in the Nguesso’s propaganda arsenal. While the ADIAC media group has the latest printing press and publishes Les Depeches de Brazzaville, the national printing press has not only been deliberately ruined, its staff are not paid regularly. More, the national daily La Nouvelle Republique publishes occasionally because it doesn’t have a running budget. Even the Congolese News Agency abbreviated ACP, has also been run aground, because the Nguessos wants ADIAC to substitute ACP as Les Depeches de Brazzaville has done with La Nouvelle Republique. The voracious love of the regime and the Nguessos for image makeover doesn’t stop at sponsoring print and electronic media at home or abroad.  As already mentioned, the ruling Nguesso family has destroyed the entire local press: print and electronic. Another example of how the Nguesso have orchestrated the decay of the press can be seen in how they treat or manage the national radio and television: CNRTV. The paradox is that, the national radio and television which is the pivot of propaganda of the system, sometime lack recording tapes, video cameras, microphones or its vans doesn’t have fuel to carry reporters around to cover stories or events. 

Nguesso owned Media Houses in Congo

To crown the Nguesso family capture and control of local media, each member of the Nguesso family has a TV or Radio station or is planning to create or launch one. Maurice Nguesso, the elder brother of President Sassou Nguesso as you already know, owns MNTV, which is a subsidiary of the media group, MNCOM. Claudia Sassou Nguesso, daughter of President Sassou Nguesso and his communications adviser, owns Top TV, while his nephew, Jean Jacques Bouya, owns Equateur Service TV through a proxy called Jean Didier Elongo. Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso owns VOX TV and Vox Magazine, General Norbert Dabira owns DRTV, Elvis Digne Okombi Tsalisant is the owner of TPT Pointe Noire, General Jean François Ndenguet owns Le Troubadour newspaper. And more, in their respective villages and localities, government ministers own radio and TV stations such as Radio Paris Abala, in Abala owned by Henri Ossebi (see profile) or Raymond Zephyrine Mboulou(see profile), who owns a radio in his village of Ngo in the Plateau region. The fact that, they are controlling the nation’s print and electronic media is not satisfactory   as far as they are concern. And as already mentioned they have also gone into frenetic investments into foreign media by buying advertorial spaces in pan African media such as Africa 24, Vox Africa, France 24 and TV 5. The advertorial binge of the Nguessos and their government increases during pre-presidential and post presidential election periods. For these media are needed to cover the way the presidential election is conducted in order to please and improve their image in the international community.