Some critics have argued that Africa has been the birthplace of dictators. From “Field Marshal” Idi Amin of Uganda, “Emperor” Jean-Bedel Bokassa of Central African Republic, General Sani Abacha of Nigeria, Mobutu Sese Seko (DRC) to Hissene Habre (Chad), the long list is endless. These and more African heartless dictators have – even though they may have been dead – milked, plundered, wretched their countries, and caused immense hardship to their subjects. The dictators systematically turned their various countries into a political abattoir and create inflammable hatred amongst their subjects due to the ignominious legacies they have left behind. Sadly, in most cases, the dictators and their immediate families are, ironically, rewarded with the billions of dollars stolen from the government. The cheated African countries, financially raped by these dictators, often do not go after the stolen properties and money left to the families of the dictators. The relatives, in most cases, still enjoy the loots and bounty inherited from the dictators, while the masses bear the blunt repercussions. The blueprints of the legacies of corruption linger.
You could say that, but that is not the end of the story. More often than not, some groups argue, various governments – the Western governments included – have indeed found another way of making billions from the dark dictatorial past of their former leaders through building museum and exhibition centers. While some have called such a decision unfortunate and an ironic glorification of tyranny, others even go farther. They insist that such a move by the governments would, in fact, encourage dictatorship, making the dictators believe that their evil acts will one day benefit the State financially. However, the governments have denounced such and pointed out that they simply want to put the historical records straight. They argue that such historical awareness will, in fact, deter others from following the repressive path of the dictators. That sounds convincing. But not everyone is convinced. Some activists accuse the various governments of pocking billions from income from tourists who visit the museums. By so doing, they argue, the names and the infamous dark regimes of the dictators are promoted and ironically glorified and indeed immortalized.
But to be fair enough, would the government ignore to sensitize the past for the fear of promoting autocratic leadership? Should the States build the museums and enlighten the public on the despotic past of the dictators, free of charge? Would teaching history be tantamount to promoting dictatorship and tyranny?
The debate can go on and on. However, whatever the outcome of the debate is, the one thing that is clear: the terrible acts of the dictators can never easily be swept under the carpet of history. It will take much more than museums and financial gains to erase the psychic impact of the dictatorship atrocities on the masses who have always been at the receiving end of the miserable years of killing, plundering and murdering of the innocent by the bloodthirsty dictators.
COMMENT: Will the building of museums over dictators help sensitize their dark past and discourage repression or will it just encourage tyranny?
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