International Holocaust Remembrance Day has lessons for Africa

29Jan 2019
Editor
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
International Holocaust Remembrance Day has lessons for Africa

International Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27 which this year was on Sunday is one of those United Nations Days that are profoundly inspiring and controversial. It tackles a perennial problem that has lost its Second World War edge, the killing of an estimated six million Jews in gas-

chambers in death camps scattered all over occupied Europe where forces loyal to German fascist dictator Adolf Hitler held sway. Auschwitz in Poland has down the decades come to represent the face of that horror, and January 27 was its final day then.

Chroniclers say that it was on January 27 1945 that the last prisoners were liberated from Auschwitz, as US forces swept through Western Europe to reach Soviet forces rolling from the other side of Europe. As the Nazis fell, a new confrontation arose - of world revolution pushed by the Soviet Union, and a liberal order led by the United States. The West won 30 years ago as the Berlin Wall tumbled down and people streamed from east to west Berlin, leading to the reunification of Germany. Soon the Soviet Union also collapsed; Russia reformed and like reformed China, it remained nationalist.

Hatred for Jews is rife today in Europe and North America in a saga that began in 1917 at the time of the Balfour Declaration of the UK cabinet. It said that Jews should be helped to migrate to find a national home where in future they could become a majority, an idea that the Arabs rejected. Jews nevertheless returned to a hostile environment, settled on portions of unused land and soon created armed groups to push out Arabs.

This culminated in the 1948 partition of Palestine, which the Arabs call Naqba - catastrophe, the rape of Arab lands. Left liberals believe Israel should leave the occupied West Bank as well as east Jerusalem so that Palestinians take over and create a country with clear borders. They fail to see that rockets of Hamas and Hezbollah would then be able to reach every Israeli household whether in Jerusalem, Jaffa, Tel Aviv or elsewhere, unlike at present where they fire from neighbouring states.

For us in Africa, the Holocaust Remembrance Day is a reminder of where the world came from, but as we did not learn enough of what hatred is all about, we have had a fair share of semi-holocausts since then. The most important one is the Rwandan genocide whose 25 years we shall be marking in three months time or thereof, and there was the Congolese civil war where millions died after an invasion from Rwanda and Uganda topped the Mobutu regime and put in a non-elected government. The Congo is still smouldering as are plenty of other African countries, and the reason is that we have never felt ourselves to be part of world history where we share the sin that brought about the Holocaust.  Aren't those who do not learn from history condemned to repeat it?