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.

Proposals

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.

Observations

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.