The Sacred Right Of A People To Break The Yoke Of Tyranny By Samuel Adjei Sarfo, J.D. Sovereignty resides in the people. This simply means that governments derive their legitimate powers from the governed; and therefore any government that does not show a clear and unimpeachable vindication of its source of power from the governed is fair game to the peoples uprising.
The prefatory to Thomas Jeffersons Declaration of Independence states in paraphrase that all peoples have the inherent right to establish their forms of government, and that whenever governments so subvert the interest of the people for their own selfish ones, it is the right and responsibility of the people to replace the government with a more suitable form. Our own Ghana National Anthem says in part, "And help us to resist oppressors rule with all our will and might forever more..." It should not suffice that a people have food, infrastructure, comfort and security; they should also have a voice in their government and the ability to hold their leaders accountable. Furthermore, they should be governed by laws of their choice and have access to due process for the assertion of their rights or the deprivation thereof.
That is what freedom is all about. If at any time, the government fails to institute freedoms for its people; to guarantee their right to the suffrage, their rights to free speech, to association, to the due process of law, and their ability to validly and peaceably change their governments, the leadership becomes fair game to the popular wrath of the people. And in asserting their sovereign rights, no danger is too dangerous! Kwame Nkrumah himself spoke for this popular proposition when he declared, We prefer self government with danger . A philosopher once imputed that those who choose security over liberty will have neither security nor liberty. To analogize this saying in our own traditional wisdom, the woman who sacrifices her happiness to endure a bad marriage due to the welfare of her children will lose both the welfare of her children and her own happiness. In short, the best government in the world is no substitute to the inalienable right of a people to be governed by a government of their own choosing, and at the time and place of their own prescription.
The 1969 Libyan revolution under Gaddafi was a popular one whose proclaimed aim was to free the people from the yoke of a tyrannical and dynastic monarchy which was perceived to be corrupt and oppressive. But over time, it took on the trappings of tyranny far worse than the monarchy which it overthrew. There were extra judicial killings, imprisonment without trial, abridgment of the people[s right to the freedoms of association, of speech and of worship. There was neither a proper justice system nor any due process for the assertion of rights and the redress of grievance. We will concede that the Libyan people had food and clothing and shelter. We will even grant that they had every conceivable material thing for their satisfaction and that they lived in the utopia of perpetual fulfillment Will such material fulfillment take away the peoples inalienable right to self determination and shut off their power to overthrow their yoke of oppression? The answer is a big no!
And help us to resist the oppressors rule with ALL our WILL and MIGHT forever more..." We prefer self government with danger .. These two statements capture the perpetual right of a people to be truly free and foreclose the morbid proposition that a tyrant can shortchange the inalienable right of the people by supplying all their physical needs. True freedom is ethereal and must necessarily trump every material need. Yet this is not by any means to aver that freedom is exclusive of material satisfaction; far from this. Total freedom embodies both the ethereal and the material, but implanted in the spirit of man is the instinct of his freedom, and the lessons of history teach us that freedom cannot be sacrificed on the altar of material acquisition.
The oppressors and their acolytes will have us quantify the success of their governance in terms of the crumbs which they successfully provide. In exchange they will ask for our very souls, our freedom from tyranny and even our right to be enlightened. We must answer that even heaven will not substitute for our inalienable right to be free from the oppressors rule .. to be capable of throwing away the tyrants yoke. The oppressor will attempt to establish a travesty of democracy and shout that we live in its protection, all in an attempt to consolidate and perpetuate his stranglehold on power. Our answer should be to demand that which allows us to choose freely, to speak freely, to hold accountable those who rule over us .. to demand that we are ruled by laws, not by lords. We must prefer self-government with danger!
And as to the Libyan situation, let us not make any mistake there will be danger; nay even chaos. There have been nearly two generations of a dictators rule with no democratic institutions, nothing by way of quality education for the establishment of a democratic government or for the thriving of business . Therefore it should be obvious to the Libyan people that the road before them is going to be pure hell! But this should not proscribe or diminish their popular revolution. This day was bound to come and if they had failed to rise up against tyranny, posterity will have inherited the duty to do tomorrow what they have done today, and they would have been remembered with calumny as the subservient ones who failed in their sacred duty to overthrow tyranny.
And now to the question about the involvement of the Western powers ..It is true that they also have their national interests to protect but these interests are never automatically inimical to ours. Sometimes, their interests coalesce with our popular national interests, and when that happens, the pragmatic thing is to allow them to piggy-bag their interests on ours. For example, I see no conflict of interest in engaging Western powers to overthrow any African tyrannical regime where the purpose is to facilitate democratic dispensation, and where there is absolutely no way to overthrow the oppressors yoke. For example, it will be laughable to assume that without the fighting power of four Western nations, Gaddafi will have been toppled.
The rebels would have been exterminated like rats and cockroaches, just as Gaddafi himself said! And why are the western powers there? For the oil of course! Does this fact alone obviate the tyrannical acts of Gaddafi against his own people or nullifies the peoples uprising? No. Where all options are barred, western nations are best positioned to intervene to help remove a tyrant whenever their interests coalesce with that of a people struggling under the yoke of tyranny. Doubting Thomases should note that when the Akuapems were struggling under the yoke of tyranny from the Akwamus, they solicited the help of the Akims, and in exchange gave up their own right to choose their kings to the Akims.
When the Akwamus brutalities on the Guans and the Kyerepongs had gone beyond control, the leadership the Akuapem settlers summoned a meeting to chart and discuss a way out of their predicaments. Gyadu Nkansa, then the King of the Guans and in that capacity the leader of Akuapems, gave authority to Ofei Agyemang, chief of Gyakiti and Sediesa, chief of the Kyerepongs, to extend an invitation to the Akims for assistance to fight the Akwamus. The Okyenhene and elders readily agreed to help. He therefore dispatched his warrious led by his nephew Safori to join the bandwagon of the Guans and the Kyerepongs. A thousand forces (Akuw apem) thus swooped down the hill unto the Akwamu regiment at Nsakye as they advanced. Unable to withstand the shock of this highland change, the Akwamu forces broke, scattered and fled across the Volta river to the present day Akwamufie
In the same way Louis XVI helped the American revolution not merely for the love of the Americans but to punish the Brits for his humiliation in the Treaty of Paris in 1763. Thus an uprising against tyranny is not diminished because it has support from foreign powers. There is no known uprising in the history of the world that did not thrive on the support of a foreign power.
In conclusion, the people of Libya have the inalienable right to overthrow the repressive regime of Muammar Gaddafi. By losing touch with the rights of the people and establishing a dictatorship to replace the monarchy, Gaddafi lost any right to rule the Libyan people. He may have succeeded in providing the material needs of the Libyan people but that will not justify his right to oppress the people. The fundamental freedom of all peoples is sacred and it is a mistake of any leader to presume that he has the legitimacy to rule forever just because he provides largesse for the citizenry.
The freedom of a people is not purchased by the provision of material needs, neither is it vouchsafed by any pretext to a democratic dispensation that has the sole purpose of perpetuating tyranny. Finally, the mere involvement of a foreign power in the Libyan uprising does not diminish its value. This is because throughout history, foreign forces have taken part in the overthrow of tyranny, and where as in the Libyan case, the foreign interests coalesce with the interests of the Libyan people, a revolution is enhanced, and never diminished.
Source: Dr. Samuel Adjei Sarfo
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