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Alone with Cholera.

Byline: Ghassan Charbel

He reads foreign newspapers and laughs. Journalists exaggerate. They are impostors too. They ignore the international financial crisis and focus on my fate. They are afraid of talking about their countries and prefer to attack mine. Leaders in the West are funny. They forget that what is good for them is not good for us, and that their words are different from ours.

A passing president is not allowed to talk to a historic leader in such a manner. He, whose mandate's end is known by people, is not considered a president. In a few weeks, George Bush will become nothing. He will be known as a former president. He will build a library and sell his memoirs. The teenager residing at the Elysee is no better. He runs away, travels and maneuvers. He is afraid of the Constitution and ballot boxes. The West is sick. Charles de Gaulle himself was sent to exile and death by a poll. The era of the great is gone.

It is the impudence of the white man. Bush says, "I have to leave." Sarkozy says, "I have to go." Kofi Annan has joined the band. Bernard Koushner used foul language. The Africans have also lost their sound judgment and immunity. Nobel peace prize winner Desmond Tutu compared me with Frankenstein. Nelson Mandela talked about "the tragic failure of leadership" in my country.

Robert Mugabe.

They are presidents, yet cowards. One fears the rise of the price of a gallon of gas, or a catchy headline in the New York Times. Another is afraid that Le Canard EnchainE[umlaut] will spread his dirty laundry. I fear nothing and no one. They say the rate of inflation has reached 4500%, that the rate of unemployment is at 70%. They say that violations of human rights take place on a daily basis; that the regime faces its opponents with cleavers. They also say that the country that was all cattle and farms is now filled with starving crowds; that many have fled, while others are waiting for a chance to escape.

Universities have wrecked minds. They now believe that a president comes and leaves. They believe the lies about the alternation of power, and about free and transparent elections. They also believe that a member of the opposition has the right to jump into the palace because ballot boxes are guilty of favoring him. I humored them when they considered that the rule of one party has become a thing of the past. I said multiplicity is fine. My hidden condition was that the elections would confirm long term delegation of authority and not bring men without a history to power.

I did not lie to them, but they refused to believe me. I said that "the people are happy, very happy." I said that "only God can remove me from power" and that "the opposition shall not rule as long as I am alive." I also said that "the country must not be offered to traitors", and that "saving the country from traitors deserves to wage a war against them, and I shall do this without any delay."

I have a feeling that those who advised me to leave do not know who I am. This country's name was South Rhodesia and I renamed it Zimbabwe. I changed the name of its capital from Salisbury to Harare. It was in the hands of a bunch of white people before I created its independence, disseminated them, confiscated their farms, and watched them flee in terror. It was not an easy ride. I tried the prison of the racial discrimination system and its misfortunes. In prison, I obtained university degree in education, then later on another degree in law.

The historic leader does not borrow the power delegated to him from ballot boxes or CNN. It shall come from history, once and forever. Their arrows lost their way, so they found nothing to talk about, other than wave of cholera. The white man failed in taking his revenge from us, so he sent cholera. All these games amount to nothing. This country shall either remain under my control or go with me. It is not a country that gave me birth. I gave birth to it. I will defend it even if everyone fled, even if I stayed alone with cholera.

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Publication:Dar Al Hayat, International ed. (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:Dec 12, 2008
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