Many Africans consider felled Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi a hero. It’s not uncommon to see people on social media people use his photo as their profile picture or even post comments about how his removal from power and murder robbed Africa of its best leader. That Gaddafi for some people shares the same exalted place in the pantheon of great African heroes as Nelson Mandela is a shame. Gaddafi only cared for Africans when he wanted something in return. Don’t take our word for it, here is the truth about what Gaddafi thought of Africans in his won words and those of the people close to him.
Like in the story of the elephant and the six blind men, slain Libyan strongman Col Muammar Gaddafi, came off as a different person to different people. Most of his countrymen knew him as thin-skinned dictator who broached no dissent. To the West he was bloodthirsty narcissist who meant them harm. The late US President Ronald Reagan famously called Gaddafi “The mad dog of the Middle East”.
Gaddafi the gift giver
But to many Africans, Gaddafi was a hero on a par with any the continent has ever produced. Many on the continent, till this day, mention him in the same breath as Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba and, yes, even Nelson Mandela. Why is that? Part of the reason for it was Gaddafi was never afraid to stick it to the West. For obvious and legitimate reasons, there’s a deep reservoir of anti-imperialist feeling in Africa and Gaddafi knew how to play to those feelings, whether at the United Nations (UN) or when he held court at African Union (AU) meetings.
The other way in which Gaddafi earned the affection of many on his continent was his reputation for showering people with gifts. The documentary “Mad Dog: The Secret World of Gaddafi” features many tales of people receiving wards of cash after meeting “The Brother Leader” . His largesse wasn’t just in the form of valuable currency either. He also showed his esteem in other more spectacular and permanent ways. For example, he built Uganda andTanzania the largest and second largest mosques in the region.
Many on the continent, till this day, mention him in the same breath as Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba and, yes, even Nelson Mandela.
The Real Muammar Gaddafi
Though he banged endlessly on about Pan-Africanism, Gaddafi at his core was an unrepentant racist who considered Africans to be beneath him. It is not hard to find out the truth about how Gaddafi felt about Africans. It is all on the public record. For example, during an official trip to Rome in August,2010 Gaddafi very openly warned the Europeans about letting “ignorant” Africans through their borders because the “barbarians” will destroy their “advanced” continent.
“We don’t know what will happen, what will be the reaction of the white and Christian Europeans faced with this influx of starving and ignorant Africans,” he said.
“We don’t know if Europe will remain an advanced and united continent or if it will be destroyed, as happened with the barbarian invasions,” he added.
According to the BBC, Gaddafi made all these repulsive comments while standing next to then Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
It is not hard to find out the truth about how Gaddafi felt about Africans. It is all on the public record.