A terrorist by its simplest of definitions is anyone who uses violence to achieve political objectives. The word became rampant only after 9/11. Consequently the Middle East and Palestinians, Mandela and ANC, Osama and other Jihardists, Independence Freedom fighters of West Africa and Asia, Homegrown terrorists and even countries like the US, Russia that use war to achieve political aims like democracy and socialism are terrorists. Israel too would be a terrorist nation to the Palestinian. There could be state sponsored terrorism as seen when the US invaded and occupied Guam in 1898 until today. The news that ricochets in the attacking country is that those resisting are terrorists. My task this morning will be to differentiate between terrorists and Freedom Fighters.
Therefore this tag and stigma will be very subjective depending on who is using the term. For example: during the first Indochina war from 1946-54 the French called it “Indochina War” and the Vietnamese called it “The French War”. In the second Indochina War (1959-1975) the Americans called it the “Vietnam War” but the Vietnamese called it “The American war in Vietnam”. According to the Vietnamese, the French and the Americans are the aggressors as such they could be called the terrorists. On the other hand the French regarded the freedom fighters as terrorists and the Americans considered the Vietcong; terrorists. But ask any of the Vietnamese fighters they will tell you they are freedom fighters; fighting to liberate their land.
Another example is the use of the word “Maquisard” (UPC freedom fighters). The French and Ahidjo government called anyone fighting them Maquisards (equivalent of the term terrorist) but people like Um Nyobe, Ernest Ouandie and Felix Moumie were called “Les liberateurs”. They were fighting to unseat the French who were colonizing them and the French considered them as terrorists. So who are the Maquisards? Isn’t the colonizer?
A third example is when the Arabs say suicide bombers but the Americans and British say homicide bombers. To the Arabs they are killing themselves to show their plight but the West considers them killing innocent people. Indeed one easily agrees with the West that it should be called homicide bombers because there is no reason killing the innocent American, British or Israeli who is on his or her vacation just because his or her country has bad policies. Who told you that every American, British, Israeli agrees with every foreign policy their government employs?
I have been privileged to preach in some of the Bassa regions and there is not a single Bassa who calls Um Nyobe Maguisard: (guerrilla) terrorist. The Palestinians and many Arabs call Israel a terrorist state. The problem with that is that Israel has the right to exist which the Arabs and Palestinians adamantly reject. No matter how they are appeased they only want to annihilate Israel. In that case Israel is fighting for survival. As such Israel is the freedom fighter while the Palestinians and Arabs are the terrorists: using violence to achieve political aims.
Yet there lies another serious consideration for the term when you consider what happened in America on 9/11. The terrorists murdered people not for political but for religious reasons. Look at what happened in Mumbai, India just of recent . In 2005 a resort beach hotel was bombed by people fighting for nothing indeed; just targeting foreigners . In November 2002 an Israeli owned resort hotel in Kenya was bombed, many people were killed and Al Qaeda claimed responsibility . Take note again in November just like in Bali and Mumbai. It should also be noted that all these attacks are orchestrated by Muslims fundamentalists that reechoes the assertion that Islam is a violent religion. These types of killings do not really further any cause; rather they lose empathy and create more alienation of the perpetrators.
On the contrary, those who used violence for political gains in Latin America (Che Guevara), Asia (Viet Cong) and Africa (FLN of Algeria, Jomo Kenyatta, Robert Mugabe, Jonas Savimbi, Julius Nyerere, Ndabaningi Sithole, Mandela, Tabo Mbeki, Jacob Zuma and the crops of Cameroon like Um Nyobe, Felix Moumie and Ernest Oundie in the 19th century cannot be qualified as terrorists even though initially the oppressors did. That is why Mandela was in the US national books as a terrorist. These are nationalists fighting for the liberation of their national front. Those in Bali, Mobassa and Mumbai are not. They are merely using terror to achieve private aims. Those are the terrorists!
There is a major difference between the Kamikaze and suicide bomber. While the Kamikaze was fighting to defend is national territory the suicide bomber is not. It is one of those cases where religion has gone wrong and the hermeneutics have led the manslayers to believe they will obtain virgins in heaven when they meet Allah.
The dynamics of this world have changed that everywhere terror strikes someone near to you must perish. Therefore, it may not be the best of methods to achieve political aims since looking back at Muñoz Rivera who fought the US by law up to a point of making Puerto Rico a US territory, Mahamat Gandhi (Satyagraha) and Jawarharalal Nehru, Martin Luther King Jr (Civil Rights) and Nelson Mandela (Non Violence) one realizes peaceful demonstrations would achieve a political aim. Nowadays in the 21st century the populace and masses are more receptive in joining demonstrations as compared to in the 20th Century as we have seen in Orange Revolution, Pakistan of recent and Ghana.
In addition to the politicians, the creative writer, journalists, teachers, lawyers and other professionals should thrust themselves as the first freedom fighter of their cause. The world is now a small village and no need for terrorism: individual or state. Nationals and individuals should strive to go to the polls or follow the examples of Ukrain and Pakistan. Ghana is teaching the brutes of Africa (military juntas) that the time for armed conflicts to gain power has expired. Now we live in era where the internet and other technologies create a ready soapbox for anyone with the volition to bring change to do so without lifting a gun.
Until then, I wish people will stop killing one another!
Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk
“Go for the person who loves you most and not the one you love most for the one you love most may not give you the love you need most because though love is blind marriage is an eye-opener” (Hamilton Ayuk).