Tuesday, September 30, 2008

6th ACP Summit Diary: Day One


This was how it all started:a quiet room that would not quite be filled to capacity, but would resonate with the francophone and anglophone voices, chiming along with Arab-looking faces, glum, bright, broad-smile, contemplative faces.

That most of the people in the room were in smart suits, and mostly men only went to remind one of the gender equality challenges that exist--note that the theme of the Sixth ACP summit is "Promoting Human Security and Development"--as well as the challenge on keeping one's time. I don't want to believe that if the world were run by Africans, we would all be late! Ghanaman time (gmt) is bad enough; I do not want Africa Man Time!

The Council of Ministers was supposed to start at 9h00. It is some two minutes to 10! Although I have had the opportunity to do some mobile blogging, I would have preferred we start on time so that we finish accordingly. Still, it has given me the opportunity to observe and witness sycophancy and deference at work.

Sycophancy as exemplified by posse of delegates hovering around a plenipotentiary who might know next-to-nothing about the meeting, but have the lucky break of being a career diplomat who has happened to pull strings to become ambassador; and deference as evidenced by men and women dressed in sharp suits giving muted bows to passing plenipotentiaries.

If I have given the impression that I am this side short of cynical about this whole process, you would not be far off the mark! After all, I have heard enough of the anecdotes, and seen enough--both first-hand and otherwise--to convince me that gatherings like these are not just a dull affair, but ones that do little to advance things considerably.


Having said all that, I am paradoxically excited to be in here to observe and witness a bunch of diplomats read speeches and pay lip-service to promoting human security and development when a large number of the

leaders of the 77 ACP countries chose to perpetuate human insecurity a liberalisation of everything that ineluctably produces poor development. If that were not the case, Sudan would be the last country to have been given face here.

And what of Mauritania, a country that the AU has suspended I believe on account of staging a coup?

A quick stroll down reveals two delegates from Mauritania are here.

Enter formalities.


Everyone is seated at 10h18. I see Mr.Bradley, husband of an official of a United Nations University - run programme in Brugges, Belgium, looking smart, and, erm, very assistant to the Secretary-general of the ACP-like.

He hasn't changed one bit from last I saw him in the <a href="http://www.acpsec.org">ACP building</a> four years ago...

languages are: English, French, Arabic...
(council of minsters giving one minute silence to Mwanawasa, victims of cyclone of oregon, and to Baah-Wiredu)

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