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We don't need secret societies.

Your February issue cover story suggests that secret societies are "the way forward for Africa." Baffour Ankomah, the magazine's editor, in a wide-ranging peace, then proceeds to argue that it is about time Africa joined in the fest.

In his argument, he helpfully draws on what he considers to have been both positive and negative experiences with secret societies around the world, including: Skulls and Bones, The Bohemian Grove, The Round Table, The Inquiry, Council on Foreign Relations, Trilateral Commission, Bilderberg and Afrikaner Broderbund.

It is an open secret that most prominent figures in global business, politics, religion and culture are associated with these and several other societies. In suggesting that Africa goes that way, Ankomah raises several assumptions, mostly faulty.

First, it is assumed that Africa has no secret societies, yet nothing could be further from the truth. Traditional Africa had its own secret societies, some of which were key in the continent's nationalist and independence struggle movements.

Equally important, some of Africa's pre-independence leaders, as indeed those who followed them, are known to have joined the secret societies we have conventionally associated with the global North.

In the 1990s, official investigations were launched in Kenya into the activities of some of the societies owing to their influence on public life. But the government never released the findings, as it was thought too many prominent figures were members of these societies.

The Kenyan government's failure to release the report points to the other assumption in Ankomah's piece--that these societies can be used for good, contrary to experiences in nations across the African continent.

Interacting with and talking to friends across the continent, I have come to the conclusion that most African movers and shakers are linked to most of the secret societies discussed in the Ankomah piece; the professions of law, academia and journalism are especially central to this trend in Africa.

Also closely linked to this are those in politics and faith, and those we have come to designate as captains of industry, as well as countries which run some security systems.

The most influential secret society in Africa, thus far, would appear to be the Freemasonry. In the final analysis, it would appear as though we already have our politics, economics, and popular culture infiltrated by secret societies.

I belong to no secret society myself, and yearn to join none, since my experiences as a young Kenyan journalist, politician and Christian have had me conclude that secret societies portend little good for my country and wider society.

The political crisis following Kenya's disputed polls in December 2007, an event in which I participated as a parliamentary aspirant in rural Kenya, has made me appreciate a little more intimately the nature and effects of these societies on the conduct of public affairs and policies in my own country.

Secret societies in Kenya, as indeed the rest of Africa, have occasioned the emergence of a special interest group whose socio-economic and political vision has made me wonder if Ankomah really appreciates what this could be all about.

In his book, "In the name of God", David Yallop has suggested that it is not quite rosy in the grander scheme of things with such societies--no less a person than Pope Albino Luciani who was killed over it. He had been in office for only 33 days, but was killed supposedly because he could not fit into the competing secret interests in the Vatican.

Let us keep our state secrets where we can and should, but for God's sake let's steer clear of secret societies.

Jesse Masai

Nairobi, Kenya

Editor's note: Before the debate on my article on secret societies veers off course, let me make it clear that the "secret societies" I meant in my article are not the Freemasons and other such occultist groups. The secret societies I had in mind are the Bilderbergs, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Trilateral Commissions and suchlike whose interests and activities cover both national and global issues, and are not occultist.

I mentioned the Skull & Bones and the Bohemian Grove as examples of what pertains in the West--and I was categorical in the article that Africa could only emulate their "good side", not their "sinister side".

Anybody who insists that the Bilderberg, CFR, and Trilateral Commission (or even the Round Table) have not been a force for good for the West and its component countries, has not really bothered to study these "secret societies". I will recommend their "good side" for Africa any day. It has helped the West; it will help us too!
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:New African
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Apr 1, 2008
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