From the New York Times:
While Libya’s former rebels and many Western nations welcomed the end of the country’s long and brutal dictatorship, many sub-Saharan Africans are mourning the death of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, celebrated as much for his largesse as for his willingness to stand up to the West.Does this sound familiar? (scroll down)
To them, his violent death was another sad chapter in a long-running narrative of Western powers meddling in Africa’s affairs.
“We are the 1 percent who are not celebrating,” said Salim Abdul, who helps run a major mosque in Uganda’s capital named for the former Libyan leader, who provided the money to build it.
“He loved Uganda,” said Mr. Abdul in an interview at the mosque, in Kampala. He noted that Colonel Qaddafi had committed to paying the salaries for the staff of 20 for the next 20 years. “His death means everything comes to an end,” Mr. Abdul said.
On Friday, approximately 30,000 people packed the mosque to pay tribute to the slain leader, according to local news media in Uganda.
The Daily Monitor, a prominent independent Ugandan newspaper, reported that Sheikh Amir Mutyaba, a former ambassador to Libya, wept as he told followers that Colonel Qaddafi had “died as a hero.” He added that while “Allah will bless him,” foreign “oil diggers will be punished,” likely alluding to a perception among some that the West intervened in Libya mainly because of its oil riches.
In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and about half Muslim, a senator told local news media that Colonel Qaddafi “was one of the finest African leaders we have.” And a former Nigerian militia leader, who said he was once financed by Colonel Qaddafi, told Agence France-Presse that the former Libyan leader’s death would be “avenged.”
The colonel “spilled his blood as a martyr to rekindle the fire of revolution all over the world,” said Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, the militia leader. “The people of the world will rise up against this.”
In Zimbabwe, where President Robert Mugabe led a liberation struggle against a white-minority regime that ended in 1980, a presidential spokesman said Colonel Qaddafi would be remembered there for his support of Zimbabwe’s independence fight and railed against foreign interference in Africa’s affairs.
“The government cannot accept drawing blood as a model for changing political systems on the continent,” said George Charamba, the spokesman. “Moreso when that blood is drawn at the instigation of foreign countries.”
Zimbabwe, of course, has had its own run-ins with West, facing intense criticism for a bloody, discredited presidential election in 2008. “As a matter of principle,” Mr. Charamba said, “Zimbabwe does not believe it is the duty of the West to tell us who our friends are and who our enemies are, who the beautiful ones are and who the ugly ones are.”
Even some Africans who said they did not necessarily support Colonel Qaddafi were stricken by the way he was killed and argued that he had left behind an important legacy.
“I had never been really a fan of Qaddafi, but now I am touched by how he died,” said Manny Ansar, the director of a popular annual music festival in Mali. “Love him or not, we must recognize that this is one of the greatest African leaders who influenced several generations, including mine, and found in the constancy and courage of his positions what we research in a hero. In a word: pride.”