Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Mbeki, Kingibe and Africa Day

May 25 every year is celebrated in Africa and the diaspora as Africa Day to commemorate the 1963 founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).
On the 1994 anniversary of Africa Day, it so happened that the newly elected democratic and non racial government of South Africa appeared before the UN Security Council to "terminate the mandatory sanctions" imposed in 1977, 1984 and 1986. Heading the South African delegation on the day was Deputy President, Thabo Mbeki. In closing his speech on the occassion, Mbeki remarked that:
"We are especially pleased that today we meet under your (Mr. Kingibe of Nigeria) presidency"
The Mr Kingibe in question was none other than Babagana Kingibe his school mate from their student days at Sussex University who was now Nigeria's Foreign Minister. Kingibe had controversially joined the regime of Gen. Sani Abacha who took power in a palace coup in November 1993 following the military's cancellation of Presidential elections in June 1993. Kingibe was the running mate to Moshood Abiola who was later arrested by Abacha and subsequently died in detention, exactly a month after Abacha's own equally mysterious demise on June 8 1998.
In the late seventies, the paths of the Sussex alumni had crossed when Mbeki was appointed as the ANC's representative in Lagos. Kingibe was a ranking diplomatic staff in the Head of State's office in Dodan Barracks and both men (and their wives - Ireti Kingibe and Zanele Mbeki) were quite close...

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