Sadiq Manzan reflects on the overall impact of the George-Moses Debate
This debate on traditional African cultures, democracy and external aid is certainly one of the most important intellectual exchanges on Africa in a long time. It reminds one of the strenuous Marxist debates of the 1970s at the University of Dar-Es-Salaam, which the Ugandan Professor Yash Tandon has edited into a book, titled "The Debate" (I can't tell right now where to find copies).
In the "Dar Debates", as in this, the debaters pulled no punches, they were adamantly sure of their facts (historical, imaginative or just plan conjectural), and they never budged even in the face of debunking evidence or logic. The one big difference between the two debates, though, (other than the fact that they happened in different seasons) is that whereas the "Dar Comrades" were literally ready to kill each other (please note that they were in the same anti-imperialist trenches), today's debaters are quite delightful, and they caricature and tease delightfully (please note that they all seem to be ensconced in North American institutions and are connected only on cyber-space, thanks to Bill Gates).
Anyhow, from their latest pieces, I have two questions for both sides.
To Edmund Kissi: Why is it so important that we must hear from Mengistu so we can set the record straight? Don't we know enough about his actions and policies to form informed interpretations? Must historians have waited for Hitler or Mussolini or Stalin to write their memoirs before analysing and coming to interpretations of those leaders?
To George Ayittey: If you must insult bad African leaders so much, why would you get so upset about not having taken a photograph with President Bush? Is that any indication of your ideological cast and agenda? There is also the issue of foreign aid having a negative impact on Africa. Assuming the evidence supports your point, what then is the solution? Simply ending it?