Tag Archives: Ghana

HOLLYWOOD AND THE BENGAL LANCERS

IRONY

Robert Osborne knows more about movies than anybody in the United States.   He has been introducing movies on TCM (Turner Classic Movies) for over twenty years.   His introductions to old movies are always very welcome and often fascinating.

But he doesn’t know so much about history.

When introducing a 1951 movie titled “Soldiers Three,” a bit of a comedy based on a Rudyard Kipling story, he commented on how, quite often, in Hollywood’s golden period (the thirties and forties) movies were set in India under the British Raj.   He described this as “a time when there were always some Bengal Lancers ready to jump in to help out a noble cause.”   He spoiled this when he added:  “We now know, of course, what really happened in India under the British, that it wasn’t so noble at all . . . ”

This might not have bothered me too much, except that I had just heard something similar from a doctor at the University of Michigan Hospital.   We shared a very amicable conversation about Diego Garcia, of all places.

Diego Garcia is an island in the Indian Ocean that has been turned into a major military base.  The island has been a British possession for two centuries, having been acquired from France following Napoleon’s defeat in the Napoleonic Wars.   According to the doctor, there are only 55 Brits on the island today, while there are over 2,000 Americans.  The Brits have the unenviable task of policing the island, where the only trouble the Americans can get up to involves alcohol!   There really is nothing else to do.   Even swimming is out as the island lies in shark-infested waters.

Towards the end of the conversation, my doctor made a derogatory remark about the colonial period in Africa and how much better off the Africans are now.

I instinctively came to the defense of the colonial period pointing out that this was not the experience my wife and I had – that Ghana and Zimbabwe, the two countries we lived in, were much better off under British colonial rule than they have been since independence.

Which brings me back to Robert Osborne’s comment.   “We now know, of course, what really happened in India under the British, that it wasn’t so noble after all . . . ’’

This is a loaded statement and very misleading, to put it mildly.

There is nothing we know now about colonial India that we did not know under the Raj.  The same can be said about Africa.

What has changed is the attitude toward empire.

The movies Mr. Osborne was referring to, made prior to “Soldiers Three,” a movie frankly not worth watching, were movies like “The Lives of a Bengal Lancer” made in 1935.  They were all pro-British and showed what the British were doing in India, notably policing the North-West Frontier, where hostile tribes were always causing trouble.   This area was arguably the most violent part of the empire during the two centuries of British rule.   Today, it is a stronghold of the Taliban, al-Qaeda and now, of ISIS.   Neither the Pakistani nor the Afghan government has a handle on the situation there.   Looking back, it would have been better to keep it under British control, thereby avoiding 9-11.  Twelve years after independence, the movie “North-West Frontier” (1959) showed the British role in the region in a positive light.

But in the following decades, attitudes changed toward the empire, just as they changed in the United States toward its own history.   Instead of being proud of past accomplishments, in the 1960’s history was taught with a sense of shame.   This self-loathing on both sides of the Atlantic has led to what African-American writer Shelby Steele calls “White Guilt,” the title of his 2006 book.  Whites now feel guilty about everything in their collective past and constantly fork out billions to try to “put things right.”  Those billions have achieved nothing.   Given to Africa and India, the money is siphoned off by the wealthiest people with little benefit to the poor, while in the US, they have produced an underclass perpetually dependent on welfare.

This change in attitude was partly the fault of Hollywood, which started making movies that made Britain and America look bad.

But it can be largely blamed on academia.  Liberal socialist (even communist) intellectuals got control of western universities and started filling the minds of young people with anti-western propaganda.

When asked what Britain had ever done for India, Indian writer Dinesh D’Souza responded with the following words:

‘Apart from roads, railways, ports, schools, a parliamentary system of government, rights, separation of powers, checks and balances, the rule of law, and the English language . . . nothing!’”

The same gifts were bestowed upon the British colonies in Africa and the Caribbean.   Sadly, since independence, many of these countries have endured dictatorships and debilitating poverty as the dictator keeps all the wealth for himself.

This is why people are fleeing their home countries in the millions, seeking a better life, ironically in the countries that used to rule them.   What a pity the Bengal Lancers aren’t around today to take on the noble cause of ridding the world of some of these evil despots!

 

 

Advertisements

OUR CONTRIBUTION TO TERRORISM

Bin_Laden_Poster2

Shortly after September 11th, 2001, I was visiting Ghana in West Africa.

I remember being stuck in a traffic jam with a fellow minister, observing all that was going on around us.   The streets in African countries are always full of people.   At the side of the road, there are stalls selling everything you can imagine.

At one stall on this particular visit was a rather large painting of Osama bin Laden. It must have been 4 feet tall. I turned to my friend and asked him why it was for sale.

Ghana’s Muslim population is about 14% of its total. Most Muslims live in the north and we were on the south coast.

He explained to me that people feel America is trying to take over the world and that Osama bin Laden will stop them.   I was rather taken aback by this remark.

I was shocked on future visits to see many pictures of OBL in Christian homes.

He had clearly made a positive impression on many people.   I also remember seeing a popular calendar on peoples’ walls showing people jumping out of the twin towers. Why would anybody want to be reminded? They were, in fact, celebrating a humiliating defeat for the most powerful country in the world.

My friend’s explanation interested me. Why do people think America is trying to take over the world?

The answer lies in America’s cultural pervasiveness, from the style of clothes to the type of movies and television programs we produce, the music, the attitudes and the language.

I also remember an incident on another visit. We had stopped for refreshments halfway from Kumasi to Accra, a five-hour journey. A vehicle pulled up next to us. A number of people got out. They all seemed to be Ghanaians. Then we heard the most awful language. Every sentence included at least one four-letter word. A Ghanaian minister leaned over and said they had all been in America.   Ghanaians frown on the use of the “F” word – any Ghanaian using it is likely to have spent some time in America. That’s the perception, at least, and perception is reality.

In another memorable incident, I was asked why Americans allow their children to talk back to them. I asked the individual what made him think this was the case. He replied that he had seen it many times on American TV shows.

American television shows are shown all over the world. I should elaborate and say that the worst American TV shows are shown everywhere. Jerry Springer fills the airwaves. Violence (“Action!”) is preferred over sex.   And we certainly have a lot of violent shows for export. Is there any wonder that we are seen as a violent country? America’s wars seem like an extension of that violence.

Thinking about the events of the last ten days, the terrorist attacks in Paris and subsequent events, we need to ask ourselves: How much have we in the West contributed to the present situation?   Nothing could possibly condone acts of terrorism but we may be inadvertently contributing to it.

Second generation Muslim immigrants are, in far too many cases, turning to extremism. Could this be their way of dealing with the daily contradiction that is their lives – trying to reconcile a strict religious upbringing with the degeneration they see around them?

President Erdogan of Turkey warned today of a “clash of civilizations” between Islam and the West.   Many Muslims already see themselves as being in a war against “Christianity,” not realizing how unchristian the West has become.

Islam has very different values to those of the secular West. Muslims are deeply offended by the content of entertainment emanating from the West. Yes, they could turn their television sets off, just as they can refuse to buy copies of Charlie Hebdo with a cartoon of Mohammed on the cover.

But we could also stop producing trash! Sadly, in the world of entertainment, there’s little money to be made by adhering to the words of the Apostle Paul. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (Phil 4:8)

There was a time when America was highly respected around the world. At that time, the country was more Christian with a population living more in accordance with the scriptures, though not perfect by any means.   Today, the US flaunts its immorality, especially in its entertainment.

The US and, indeed, the whole western world, would be wise to remember the words found in Proverbs 14:34: “Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people.”

POSTSCRIPT

After seeing the endgame from Paris, I braved the snow and went out to the post office.   While on the way, I heard a few minutes of NPR.

An unidentified “expert” was talking about how the French have not done enough when it comes to assimilating Muslim immigrants.

Now, I’ve been an immigrant three times.   In turn I immigrated to Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Ghana and the United States.

I always understood that I was the one who had to adapt to my new country.   I did not for one minute expect the people who were born there to adapt to me!

Muslim funny

YET ANOTHER BEHEADING

Peter Kassig

Sadly, ISIS has chosen to behead Peter Kassig, a 26-year-old man from Indianapolis. Peter, who converted to Islam while in captivity and changed his name to Abdul Rahman, was a humanitarian. He went to Syria to help people suffering in the Civil War there and was captured by ISIS.

It seems his captors cannot understand the concept of humanitarianism, even though charity and charitable works is one of the five pillars of Islam.

I am reminded again of our experience in Ghana, where we lived for seven years. Frequently, people would accuse me of working for the CIA, in spite of my protestations to the contrary. At the time, I had never even lived in the United States, let alone worked for the American government. I came to the conclusion that they could not comprehend why any westerner would live in West Africa when they didn’t have to; that trying to serve people was an alien concept to them.

We in the West can be quite naïve when it comes to other cultures. We cannot understand how different the thinking is. Another victim of this failure to understand was a British taxi driver who was beheaded a few weeks ago. Again, like Peter Kassig, he had gone to Syria to help alleviate suffering.

A further example of the incredible gulf between west and east lies in history. In the West most people are not interested in history. This is especially true of the United States.   It comes as quite a shock to find that in the Middle East, history really matters. When Peter Kassig’s executioner referred to Coalition soldiers as “Crusaders,” he was referring to the crusades that began in 1095 and continued for two centuries. Frequent references to the crusades show that, to many in the Middle East, it’s as if they were a recent event. Israel is often referred to as “the Crusader State,” thereby avoiding the use of the word “Israel.” Westerners in the Middle East are seen as the modern equivalent of the Crusaders, out to conquer the region at the earliest opportunity.

The author Salman Rushdie, who came from a Muslim background, explained in a speech some years ago, that when a Muslim from the Middle East comes to Detroit, he is not looking for an opportunity to better himself, to take advantage of the American way of life. Rather, he sees himself as part of the advance guard that will spread Islam to the United States. With this intent in mind, perhaps it’s not surprising they cannot understand why Americans go to their part of the world.

A third lesson from this tragic incident is that the West is going through a prolonged period of religious confusion. After decades of anti-Christian propaganda in schools, it’s not surprising that so many of our young people, like Peter Kassig, convert to Islam, which is a simpler religion. Islam is even propagated in schools in an attempt to promote multiculturalism. However, converting to Islam, as some captives have done, does not gain any mercy from ISIS captors.

There will no doubt be more beheadings. American troops are still in the area. If any of them are captured, they can expect the same fate, along with any other aid workers from western countries still hoping to make a difference.

REMEMBRANCE DAY OBSERVANCE

queen_lays_wreath_remembrance_day 2008

Late night arrests at the weekend foiled a terror plot in London, England. Speculation was rife that the plot involved an attack on the Queen and other members of the Royal Family at the Cenotaph on Sunday morning. This did not deter the Queen from carrying out an annual duty, which she has never missed.

This was the occasion of the annual commemoration of Armistice Day, the day that ended World War I. “At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month,” was exactly when the war ended, having claimed almost a million British lives.   Observance is held on the Sunday closest to the actual day.

The Queen not only leads the nation at this ceremony. She is also leading the Commonwealth, that quarter of mankind that comprised the British Empire and Commonwealth during both wars. Without their contribution, the allies might never have won. Together with Britain, they were the only allied nations that were in both wars from beginning to end.

It’s hard to imagine now but a century ago when the Great War (World War One) began, hundreds of thousands of people around the world volunteered to fight. Many faked their age to qualify.

I read recently that many were motivated by deep religious convictions.   According to this website, a significant number of men in the trenches believed in British Israelism, that the British Empire and the United States were the fulfillment of the promises made to Joseph in Genesis chapter 48:

“15 And he blessed Joseph, and said:  “God, before whom my fathers Abra

ham and Isaac walked, The God who has fed me all my life long to this day,

16 The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil, Bless the lads;
Let my name be named upon them,

And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

17 Now when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took hold of his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 

18 And Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”

19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.”

20 So he blessed them that day, saying, “By you Israel will bless, saying, ‘May God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh!’” And thus he set Ephraim before Manasseh.”

The United States is big at 3.9 million square miles but the British Empire was vast at 13.9 million square miles. Many believed it was the prophesied “multitude of nations.” Its formal name was the British Empire and Commonwealth, the latter being the independent countries of the Empire that remained loyal to the Crown. These nations, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, together with the self-governing colony of Southern Rhodesia, all sent troops to help “mother England” when the country was threatened by the Axis powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary.   As Germany had colonies close to South Africa and Australia, these nations also brought about German defeats on a regional level.

The independent nations that formed the Commonwealth were known as Dominions. Canada was the first country to become a dominion in 1867, independent but loyal to the Crown. The word “dominion” was taken directly from Psalm 72:8: “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea.” The fact that the term dominion was inspired by scripture shows the founders of Canada were far more biblically aware that most recent leaders, the current prime minister being an exception.

It wasn’t just the dominions that sacrificed for Britain.   In World War II, two million Indians volunteered to fight for Britain, the biggest volunteer army in history.

Even India’s sacrifice was not as great as that of Southern Rhodesia, proportionate to population.   Sir Winston Churchill lauded the central African nation’s loyalty by describing it as “the most loyal colony.” Sadly, twenty years later, one of his successors was to betray the country, which now no longer exists.

Other colonies also contributed. The Gold Coast, now Ghana, raised up the Royal West African Frontier Force, which saw action in Burma and Ethiopia.   Nigeria also sent troops to Burma. It was felt that Africans could handle the heat a lot better than the British in the steaming hot jungles of Burma and Malaya.   Indian troops comprised the majority of soldiers fighting against the Japanese in this particular theater of war. Many sacrificed their lives for King and Country.

The Queen appreciates the sacrifice of all these nations more than most, as she lived through World War II and knows how easily Britain could have been defeated. Memories of the bombing of Buckingham Palace will still be with her. She will also remember that the wartime leader, Winston Churchill, had lunch with her father, King George VI, every week, keeping the king abreast of all developments in the war. It is said that Churchill would give the young Princess and future Queen informal history lessons. Churchill was later to write his monumental “History of the English speaking peoples,” a book that thankfully was written before political correctness and revisionist history.

At the Cenotaph, the war memorial in the center of London, the Queen remembers, at 88, far better than most of her subjects, the sacrifices made and the struggles that still continue. Her grandson, Prince Harry, missed the service in London, choosing instead to commemorate the day with British troops in Afghanistan, where he served three years ago.

The Commonwealth will likely survive the Queen’s passing. Prince Charles, who will take over as king upon the death of his mother, is getting more involved with the organization while his son, Prince William, together with his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, are immensely popular, especially in the Commonwealth Realms, those member countries that retain the Queen as Head of State.

The organization may survive but it will never again be in unison in fighting a global conflict. It is no longer a military force and its members now have conflicting loyalties that preclude action on a universal scale. And, with the Queen’s passing, remembrance of two world wars will further diminish.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

(Before the main content of my blog today I wanted to thank everyone for visiting the blog and especially the thought-provoking comments and emails.  I do like to read comments on the posts even if I don’t agree with them and will try to answer those who require a reply.  The blog continues to do very well; last month was one of our best with over 5000 visits.  It certainly encourages me as we see the numbers grow.

While the blog will continue to be totally free, those of you who have asked about helping defray the costs of media subscriptions and the internet may do so using the Paypal link on the left-hand side menu.)

Zambia-Scott

The Middle East remains the focus of Bible prophecy with Jerusalem as its epicenter.

And Jerusalem is very much in the news just now.

Following an assassination attempt on a right-wing Jewish leader, Israeli soldiers shot and killed his assassin. The Israeli government then thought it prudent to close the Temple Mount to all three religions. This was temporary but a Palestinian leader declared the decision “an act of war.”

The Temple Mount reopened in time for Friday prayers but the city remains tense and the prospect of a renewed intifada remains high. At the close of prayers moments ago, Palestinian youth were starting to riot.

Meanwhile, relations between Israel and the US are at an all-time low, with Obama Administration officials using bad language to describe the Israeli leader, Benyamin Nethanyahu. The Israeli Prime Minister this week authorized the building of over 1,000 new homes in East Jerusalem, which the US protested. Natanyahu, a conservative, had little choice if he hopes to win the election scheduled for next year.

————————————————————————————————-

News out of Africa this week has been very interesting, even without Ebola, which continues to rage in West Africa. The BBC today described the region this morning as one of the worst governed parts of the world. We used to live in Ghana, so I can echo those sentiments. Whereas Ghana itself has greatly improved, neighboring Burkina Faso is quite different.

President Blaise Compaoere was finally forced to resign this morning, after 27 years in office. He came to power in a violent coup in October 1987, overthrowing the previous president ,Thomas Sankara. I have been continually reminded of Sankara’s assassination throughout the years as a traffic circle in Ghana’s capital, Accra, is named after him. Ghana’s leader, Jerry John Rawlings and Sankara were close friends, both left-wing revolutionaries in the mould of Che Guevara.

Their devotion to revolutionary fervor did not, however, deter them from personal gain while in office. Compaoere was just the same.

The capital of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou, has witnessed considerable violence for some days now, following the president’s request to the national assembly to approve a change to the constitution, which would allow him another 15 years in office. Tired of all the corruption, the people rose up and said no. Sadly, though, whoever takes over is likely to be just as corrupt. Coups and corruption are the order of the day throughout the continent of Africa. With each change of president, there is short-lived hope of real change,  hope that is soon dashed with the first signs of corruption.

Events in Burkina Faso bring to mind Christ’s profound observation on gentile government:   “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.” (Matt 20:25).   Abuse of power in most African countries is an every day occurrence.

A more orderly transition is taking place in Zambia, another African country considerably to the south and east of Burkina Faso. The 77-year-old President of Zambia, Michael Sata, died in London earlier this week while undergoing medical treatment. Under the constitution, his Vice President is taking over and must preside over an election within 90 days. He himself cannot stand for election as his parents were not born in Zambia, a constitutional requirement when standing for the office of president. What is remarkable is that the interim president is Guy Scott, a white man born in Livingstone in what was then Northern Rhodesia. His ancestry is Scottish. This is the first white man to rule an African nation since F.W. deKlerk, President of South Africa in the last years of apartheid.

Unlike Burkina Faso, Zambia has been quite stable since independence, fifty years ago. Under its post independence leader, Kenneth Kaunda, it pursued a socialist course that set it back economically. But, in recent years, it has been catching up.

Zambia and Ghana are two countries that give some hope to Africa. Sadly, Burkina Faso is another country that reminds us of Africa’s tumultuous post-colonial history.

————————————————————————————————————

I’ve often wondered if Vladimir Putin, Russia’s eternal leader, might one day have himself proclaimed Czar.  His determined swagger through the Czar’s palaces conjure up images of a bygone era.

A friend has just sent me a couple of articles showing that support for a monarchical form of government is growing in both Russia and Rumania.

According to the 24/7 news channel, “Russia Today”, quoting the All Russia Center for Public Opinion, almost a third of Russians support restoration of the monarchy. Only 6% feel that a candidate must be from the Romanov dynasty that ruled Russia for over 300 years.   The vast majority feel the Czar must be Russian Orthodox. 13% feel a prominent Russian could fill the role (Putin?), but a further question and answer showed that 80% feel that no contemporary Russian can fit the role. So, that leaves Putin out. The results were announced by the head of the organization, Valery Fedorov, at a Moscow conference dedicated to the 400th anniversary of the Romanov Russian royal house.

In Rumania, the current Prime Minister, Victor Ponta, is running for the figurehead position of president. If he succeeds, he is promising to hold a referendum on restoration of the monarchy, which was abolished by the communists in 1947. King Michael is still alive, aged 93, and is well thought of in the country.

As disillusionment with the present systems of government grows, nostalgia for an older, more stable and seemingly better time will increase. But it remains the case that only a dramatic upheaval is likely to result in the restoration of ancient crowns.

PAPAL NUNCIO – FIRST CLASS AMBASSADOR

vatican-city_1

In the evenings, we would regularly take our children for a walk around the neighborhood.   As fuel was severely rationed, there was little danger from traffic – though the occasional goat could get too close!

One of the homes we frequently passed was the residence of the papal nuncio – the “Embassy of the Holy See”.

The papal nuncio at the time was described in the national newspaper as “the doyen of the diplomatic corps”.  In other words, the senior ambassador.   It was his job to organize the diplomats of the various nations represented in Ghana, whenever the Ghana government had something special going on and wanted to invite ambassadors to be in attendance.

Arguably, this made the papal nuncio very influential.

It struck me at the time that the Vatican had the world’s best diplomatic corps – far better than the United States.

In 1979 when the Shah of Iran was overthrown, we were in Ghana.  It was a tumultuous year for both countries.   The US Ambassador to Ghana was informing the State Department in Washington DC that the pro-US military government of Ghana was stable and that the people were loyal to it.   Many of us were better informed – we knew the people were greatly suffering contending with serious food shortages and an inflation rate of over 600%.   Non-diplomats were expecting trouble!

We were not surprised to learn that the US Ambassador to Iran was informing Washington that the pro-American Shah of Iran was stable and popular.    Early in 1979 the Shah was overthrown and replaced by the Islamic theocracy that still rules the country.   Some say this event was the start of World War III, which is still going on – the never-ending conflict between the West and Islamic militancy.   The then Ambassador’s ignorance cost the US dearly.

In Ghana, the government was overthrown on June 4th and a radical, revolutionary government took over, backed by Libya’s madman, Colonel Gaddafi.  Other Gaddafi sponsored coups followed in other west African countries.   Once again, a serious failure of US intelligence.

The doyen of the diplomatic corps was always better informed.