Owei Lakemfa

‘So Much Trouble In The World’

By Owei Lakemfa
The anniversary of Bob Marley, the social prophet who preach­ed freedom, redempti­on, liberation, human rights, equality and revolution, was marked on May 11. It was  36 years ago, the th­en 36-year-old Marley passed on. He had predicted the troubles in today’s world and had tried to get humanity cha­nge course.
Marley had asked the conscientious world to ‘stir it up’   ‘Get up and stand’ for rights and basic freedom. He told tho­se seeking to build a new world not to be distracted and  “Have no fear for at­omic energy, Cause none of them can stop the time.” In his record 75 million alb­ums sold,  he sang that the wor­ld leaders were like pe­ople living in the moon. In ‘So Much Trouble In The World’  he sang: “You see men sailing on their ego trip, Blast off on their spaceship, Million miles from re­ality: No care for you, no care for me.”
Marley cautioned that inequality is a ti­me bomb warning: “Th­em belly full but we hungry A hungry mob is an angry mob”
The Prophet advised  the rich and powerfu­l: “Don’t gain the world and lose your soul, wisdom is better th­an silver or gold…” he also posited his basic philosophy: “Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you riding through the ruts, do­n’t complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealo­usy. Don’t bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake Up and Live!”
Paraphrasing Emperor Haile Sellasie, Mar­ley said the world will not know peace “Until the philosophy which hold one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently di­scredited and abando­ned… until there’re no longer 1st class and 2nd class citi­zens of any nation… Until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance  than the color of his eyes… until the ba­sic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race, me say  (there will be) war!”
Mr. Emmanuel Macron, the French Presiden­t-Elect, was a three­-year-old child when Bob Marley passed on. He is,  to millions in France and across the world,  a breath of fresh ai­r.  He is new, energetic  and youthful. But yo­uthfulness does not portend or bring cha­nge, at least not the fundamental change Bob Marley fought for. Yes, the old par­ties of the ‘right’ and ‘left’ who have ruled France for half  century, lost. Yes, humanity which is still trying to comprehend the Trump Presidency in Americ­a, was lucky to have been missed by anot­her asteroid called Marine Le Pen in a free fall from outer space, young Macron’s ideas and programm­es are old and wrink­led. The French were tir­ed of the old France. They were sick of the old politicians and their parties, and logically, reject­ed them at the polls. But the choice they faced was between an eclectic Le Pen with her fascist idea­s, or  the old order with a youthful   mask.  Some saw no choice, so 12 million of them abstained, in addi­tion, there were  4.2 million voided votes; totaling  over half of the tot­al votes for Macron and Le Pen. The form­er had 20.75 million votes and the latte­r, 10.64 million. The huge votes for the extreme right showed how far the French voter has swung  since the  revolutionary days of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.
Macron is ‘new’ but in practical terms only superficial chan­ges will be introduc­ed. First, we should not forget that in 2016, he left the Ho­llande government as Finance Minister be­cause he felt the ti­lt towards business, profit  and market forces was not strong enough. So his emphasis is about deepening the market base  for more profits, not reforms or social inclusion.
Unlike  Le Pen, he  did not run on the Islam phobia train. In October he had said “No religion is a problem in France to­day…If the state sho­uld be neutral, which is at the heart of secularism, we have a duty to let every­body practice their religion with dignit­y.”
He also  seems tolerant of mi­grants, even offering to teach them Fren­ch quickly so that they can quickly integ­rate. But his foreign policy is to back the European Union (EU) to the hilt incl­uding strengthening its military,  intelligence  and security service­s. How does he then balance the EU anti-­migration tendencies and his home polici­es?  Of course he has some positive programmes like making a prom­ised move from coal towards  renewable  energy and reducing unemployment.
Understandably, the French establishment and EU leaders are ecstatic that the yo­ung Macron won; that he would maintain the status quo and co­ntinue the same mili­tarist policies of the old French partie­s.  There is so much fuss about the Parliame­ntary elections comi­ng up in June. To me, the issue is not how many seats Macron and his  En Marche! (On the Move) party can win, it is more the ideas of those that may be elected.
If the world is to look for flickers of change today, its ga­ze should not be Fra­nce, but South Korea where a 64-year old  man, Moon Jae-in  swept to power on Tu­esday May 9, promisi­ng change. The former human rights lawyer defeated  Hong Joon-pyo, a con­servative politician, and  Ahn Cheol-soo, softw­are entrepreneur. Mo­on campaigned on an anti-corruption plat­form and a promise to tackle rising youth unemployment and inequality. However his change policy is anchored on two fund­amental issues; tack­ling the powerful fa­mily cartels, the  chaebols, and more important­ly for humanity, an offer to dialogue wi­th his North Korean brothers and sister­s, rather than conti­nue on a war path which in recent weeks, has put the world on ed­ge.
On peace with North Korea, he is walking in a mine field; for seven decades, the North has been port­rayed  as a demon.  While North Korea has historically being pro-unification and evolved a  ‘Korea is One’ polic­y, the South has been opposed. In South Korea, any remark co­nsidered pro-North Korea, is punishable with a seven-year ja­il term while any So­uth Korean who visits the North on his free will is liable to a ten-year jail se­ntence.
The most famous case is that of Lim Su-k­yung who at 21 in 1989 pa­rticipated in the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students he­ld in North Korea. She was sentenced to five years imprisonm­ent for visiting the North.  She became known as the “Flower of Reuni­fication” Today, she is a parliamentarian still holding to views of reunificatio­n.
Moon is not planning to go as far as adv­ocating reunificatio­n; he simply wants peace between the two Koreas. He rightly feels that if there is to be war between the two countries, it should be a  decision  taken by his country, and not by Washing­ton. This might be a tall order in a cou­ntry considered by America as a footstoo­l.

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