Sunday, 10 October 2021

Annual Boxing Memorabilia Fayre (2021)

I was back at London’s Boxing Fayre after a gap of a few years at the event held at the Dick Collins Hall in Camden, North London on Saturday, October 9th 2021. And as ever, it provided a superb meeting ground for aficionados of the fight game. On display at my stall were copies my biography of Frankie DePaula, Jersey Boy: The Life and Mob Slaying of Frankie DePaula and the Cambridge Companion to Boxing for which I contributed two essays: “The Africans: Boxing and Africa” and “Jose Torres: The Boxer as Writer”.

With Chas Taylor, the man who along with wife Kym makes it all possible

John Henry Lewis, the American world light heavyweight champion prior to defending his title against Len Harvey, a Briton, in November 1936

Nigerian featherweight Rafiu Joe King while preparing for his non-title bout against Howard Winstone of Britain in March 1964

Nino Benvenuti absorbing an uppercut from Emile Griffith during their World Middleweight title contest at Shea Stadium, New York on September 29, 1967

© Adeyinka Makinde (2021).

Adeyinka Makinde is an author and writer based in London, England.

Thursday, 23 September 2021

The Life and Death of Lieutenant Colonel Michael Iyorshe

Lieutenant Colonel Michael Aker Iyorshe captured during filming of the 1986 PBS series “The Africans: A Triple Heritage”

Iyorshe was a brilliant Nigerian Army officer who was implicated in an alleged conspiracy to overthrow the military regime led by (then) Major General Ibrahim Babangida. He was arrested in December 1985, sentenced to death in February 1986 and executed on March 5th 1986.

. Lt. Colonel Iyorshe was an infantry officer born of the Tiv ethnic group.

. He won the Sword of Honour at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) for achieving the best overall performance during his initial officer training.

. He came first in the officer promotion exams respectively for Lieutenant to Captain and Captain to Major.

. He was the best foreign officer at junior staff college in Canada.

. He attended senior officer staff training at Camberley in England where he excelled at fieldcraft

. As a Major he commanded a battalion at Birnin Kebbi in North Western Nigeria and then served as Brigade Major in the Brigade of Guards in Lagos.

. He was promoted from Major to Substantive Lieutenant Colonel with effect from September 20th, 1984.

. In 1984, he was appointed as a member of Directing Staff (DS) at the Command and Staff College in Jaji soon after the coup which brought Major General Buhari to power.

. Controversy still surrounds the alleged conspiracy which some refer to as a phantom coup. Others believe that general discussions which were critical of the Babangida regime were misconstrued as evidence of an intent to proceed with a plan to overthrow the military government.

. Iyorshe was perceived to be a non-political officer as was evidenced by his negative attitude to the 1983 coup which overthrew the civilian government of President Shehu Shagari. However, he is said to have had misgivings about the government of Babangida, a man who he described as a "master of intrigue".

. The following quote is attributed to Iyorshe:

"What I personally feel is that the nation itself needed a better deal. There have always been people whose only ambition is to lead, not serving any national interest. There has always been individual, tribal or business rights, never the rights of this nation to a better image; social, economic, political and military programs and plans. Nigeria deserves a group of people or leaders transparently honest enough to publish all their assets and liabilities on the pages of newspapers for the world to see. Not a nation where anybody will be allowed to have a foreign bank account let alone the millions stored away. The nation should be such that any Nigerian regardless of his tribe or religion will have the right to aspire to the leadership or rulership of the country. Nigeria was fast sinking to a state of despondency and anarchy. They never and still never trust their leaders. The anarchy at our airports characterises the state of the nation. Corruption is rife in this country and transcends all spheres of life. It is something the nation has to solve. Professional incompetence and mediocrity are rewarded whereas hard work is mocked.

Within the military, the situation was and still is very tense. The welfare of soldiers is totally neglected such that soldiers still live in batchers over ten years after the civil war; no uniforms, no drugs in the hospitals; soldiers are being subjected to too much guard duties, little or no chance to themselves and their families. The discipline in the army in particular was deteriorating rapidly as exemplified by the report of what happened in Lagos on August 27th, 1985 (Iyorshe was referring to the looting of Buhari's personal possessions from his home by coupists).

The question of leadership was not discussed quite seriously, but it was with one exception, felt that the army had always dominated leadership. This was not an issue anyway as there were no solid plans regarding such things, the method of operation and the question of finance. I never considered myself for any higher military or political appointments. In fact, at first, all of us believed that if we succeeded, some senior officers of honesty would be called to rule.

Personally up till quite recently, I never believed that coups solve any problem or else Bolivia would be paradise on earth. But then things seemed to get worse and worse."

. Iyorshe is said to have been calm at the execution stake and is claimed to have even directed some lighthearted words towards Major General Mamman Vatsa who was tied to the stake next to his. Both men laughed.

. Iyorshe was executed on the birthday of his only son.


. Both Iyorshe and his fellow instructor Lieutenant Colonel Moses Effiong were filmed performing their duties at the Command and Staff College in 1985. The footage appeared in Episode 6 of PBS-produced series The Africans: A Triple Heritage. The episode was titled “In Search of Stability”.

. Effiong, whose sentence was commuted to a term of life imprisonment, denied being a part of the plot and claimed that he was implicated by Iyorshe, with whom he had fallen out in 1983. Effiong’s wife died in a road accident while on her way to visit him in prison. He was released in 1993.

.  Effiong was pardoned in 2020 by President Muhammadu Buhari whose military regime had been overthrown by Major General Babangida in August 1985.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2021)

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

Saturday, 18 September 2021

Capitalism Has Not Served the American Economy Well But Nancy Pelosi Has Done Little To Ameliorate Its Effects

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Oil-on-Canvas by Rebecca Lazinger, 2020)

In a speech titled “State of American Democracy” at an event held at Chatham House, London on September 17, 2021, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that capitalism “has not served (the U.S.) economy as well as it should”. Yet Pelosi, who argued that “you cannot have a system where the success of some springs from the exploitation of the workers”, has over the years demonstrated her support for corporate interests over those of workers. She has also been a keen backer of the Military Industry and the National Security State in the wasteful wars of regime change which have hugely profited a few while costing her country trillions of dollars that could have been purposefully spent on alleviating poverty, tackling homelessness and giving young people a debt-free college education.

Pelosi’s statement will inevitably invite an examination of her record in confronting the excesses of capitalism in all its manifestations during her political career.

Where was she when the out-of-control investment banks were bailed out after bringing the US economy to the brink of ruin in the late 2000s? Pelosi voted to bail them out because they were "too big to fail". But more damming, Pelosi did nothing to save those who had their homes and properties foreclosed after being set up to fail by the financial institutions.

Indeed, she has accepted election contributions from the criminally-orientated Goldman Sachs which made a fortune by betting against its own clients prior to the aforementioned financial meltdown.

More recently, Pelosi was not active in attempting to extend the moratorium of evictions caused by the prevailing circumstances of the covid-era. Nor has she vigorously sought to extinguish student loan debt.

She is a great supporter of the US National Security State and its financial and morally costly policy of regime change. She stood up and applauded the C.I.A. stooge Juan Guaido when President Donald Trump pointed him out at the State of the Union Address during which Pelosi theatrically tore up her copy of Trump’s speech.

Pelosi's support for Guaido, whom the US was using as the figurehead of an opposition movement designed to overthrow the legitimate government of Venezuela, is not surprising given that she has received campaign money from powerful elements within the Military Industry such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

This sheds light on the hypocrisy of so-called "liberal" support for interventionist wars on the grounds of "humanitarian bombing". It explains why Pelosi the "liberal" not only supported the decade-long endeavour by the United States and its regional allies to overthrow the government of Syria, she opposed Trump's policy of getting out of Syria (the eastern part of which the U.S. illegally occupies), and continues to support the harsh regime of sanctions against the Ba'athist-led nation which after frustrating the concerted effort to destroy it, is in desperate need of all the resources it can muster from reconstruction. In 2019, Pelosi had even tweeted that Trump's anti-Syrian sanctions package was not strong enough.

Today, the wealthiest corporations get away with paying minimal or no tax at all while making tens of billions in profits. That lost revenue together with the trillions lost through futile efforts made at effecting regime change and nation building such as in Afghanistan (described as a “wealth transfer from U.S. taxpayers to military contractors”) could be better spent at alleviating poverty, tackling homelessness, and providing young people with a debt-free college education.

Pelosi is a wealthy woman. If she was genuinely left-wing, she could be described as a "Champagne Socialist". As things stand she perfectly captures the appellation of what is pejoratively termed a "Shitlib".

© Adeyinka Makinde (2021).

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Africa Speaks | "So What is New in Africa?" | September 14, 2021

Tuesday, September 14th 2021.

A dialogue with Steve Mulindwa on his programme “Africa Speaks”. We will be discussing issues related to the present and future of the African continent including regional insurgencies, secessionist movements, ethnicised politics and the role of women in politics and national reconstruction.


.  Adeyinka Makinde

The host was Steve Mulindwa.

Tuesday, September 14th, 2021.

Original Programme Link

© Omega Live TV (2021).

Monday, 13 September 2021

Forthcoming Interview on "Africa Speaks"

I am scheduled to join Steve Mulindwa tomorrow for an interview on his programme “Africa Speaks”. We will be discussing issues related to the present and future of the African continent including regional insurgencies, secessionist movements, ethnicised politics and the role of women in politics and national reconstruction.

It will be streamed live on OMEGA Live on YouTube and Facebook on Tuesday, September 14th 2021 between 7.30PM and 8.30PM British Standard Time.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2021).

Adeyinka Makinde is based in London, England.

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Do Jake Paul and Tyron Woodley have a Legally Binding Contract to Rematch?

The recent boxing match between the much-followed YouTuber Jake Paul and Tyron Woodley, a former welterweight champion of the UFC, the world’s premier mixed martial arts organisation, ended in a split decision victory for the 24-year-old Paul over the 39-year-old Woodley. During the post-fight interview conducted in the ring, Woodley demanded an immediate rematch and Paul responded by extracting a promise from Woodley to have the words “I LOVE JAKE PAUL” tattooed onto his body. But given Paul’s evident reluctance to pursue a rematch which included his 25-hour ‘retirement’ from the sport and Woodley’s reluctance to get a tattoo until he “sees some paperwork”, the question is whether both men already have a legally binding agreement.

United States contract law is similar to that of England's.

To establish whether there is a legally binding agreement, there must be an element of bargain. This is known as 'consideration'. A promise for a promise or a promise for an act would suffice.

So, applying this to their post-fight exchange, both men appeared to make unequivocal promises to the other:

Paul: "If you get the tattoo 'I LOVE JAKE PAUL', I'll run it back"

Woodley: Bet. Let's go!"

Then Paul follows up by saying "deal".

Paul's initial words could be construed as an unequivocal statement indicating a willingness to be legally bound, while Woodley's riposte can be construed as an unequivocal intention to be legally bound by the terms of the offer. In other words, an acceptance of an offer. Both men consolidated the exchange with a firm handshake.

An agreement has been reached.

Now, the saying goes that "All contracts are agreements, but not all agreements are contracts". There must be serious intent; that is, an intention to create legal relations.

This can be a problem where both parties are related (by consanguinity or affinity) or are friends. Thus, agreements made within a commercial setting, here in the ring after a prize fighting contest, are more likely to be construed as legally binding than those which are made in a social or domestic setting.

Evidence of the seriousness of intent is arguably solidified by Jake Paul's brother Logan's eye-socket popping reaction of disbelief in the background when Woodley accepts the condition.

If Paul reneges on the agreement, Woodley ought to have grounds to enforce it in court where an order of specific performance could be reached, that is, Jake is ordered to stage another prize fight, or an order for the payment of damages to Woodley, in lieu of a fight.

Might Paul have a defence?

Paul might argue that as Woodley had already agreed to the idea of affixing a tattoo at a pre-fight conference if he lost the bout, Woodley would only be performing his side of an earlier bargain.

That might somewhat murky the waters although Woodley might want to argue that the nature of their exchange in the fight’s aftermath was enough to create a fresh set of obligations that are legally enforceable.

Ultimately, the existence or non-existence of a contract would have to be determined presumably under the jurisdiction of the laws of the state of Ohio.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2021)

Adeyinka Makinde is a law lecturer who is based in London, England.

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Africa Speaks | “Should the UN and the World call the War in Tigray a Genocide?” | Tuesday, August 24th 2021

Tuesday, August 24th 2021.

I was part of a panel on “Africa Speaks”, a programme on Omega TV Live which discussed the topic “Should the UN and the World call the War in Tigray a Genocide?”


. Dr. Medrid Gebru

. Alex Berhanu

. Adeyinka Makinde

The host was Steve Mulindwa

Original Programme Link:

© Omega Live TV (2021).


“The Iron Fisted Ethiopian State”. An essay of mine from 2016.

Monday, 23 August 2021

"War is a Racket": The US War in Afghanistan Validates General Smedley Butler

“I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.”

- Major General Smedley Darlington Butler (1881-1940) in his book “War is a Racket” (1935).

The ending of the 20-year-war in Afghanistan, the longest ever engagement in a single conflict by the United States armed forces, has been variously described as a “catastrophe”, a “disaster” and a “debacle”. Yet this national failure from which parallels have been drawn with the Vietnam War has not had the same ring of misfortune for some. Indeed, long before the recent scenes of calamity and collapse in Kabul brought home with resounding finality the futility of a supposed nation-building exercise, the profit-motive for the initial US invasion and the preservation of an enduring occupation was an open secret to anyone who bothered to embark on the slightest inquiry. The gravy train of American defence spending was in full effect, facilitated by the tentacles of what US President Dwight D. Eisenhower prophesied would become the Military Industrial Complex. For the last two decades have witnessed what has been described as a “wealth transfer from US taxpayers to military contractors”.  But the war, apart from confirming Afghanistan’s reputation as the “Graveyard of Empires”, also validates the phrase coined by US Major General Smedley Butler that war is a racket.

The blame game currently being played out in the United States media by the political class risks obscuring one fundamental issue: the centrality of money and the profit motive in the waging of America’s two-decade-long war in Afghanistan.

The invasion of that country had been planned well in advance of the attacks of September 11th, 2001, the event which provided the impetus for mounting a military response including the country's occupation. The United States has long coveted gaining access to the mineral and oil rich Caspian region and Central Asia, and the coming to power of the fundamentalist Islamic Taliban movement was not seen at the time by US policy makers as an impenetrable obstacle.

As the French writers Jean-Charles Briscard and Guillaume Dasquie wrote in their book Forbidden Truth: U.S.-Taliban Secret Oil Diplomacy and the Failed Hunt for Bin Laden, which was published in 2002, the American government had been prepared to accept Taliban rule on condition that they agreed to the construction of an oil pipeline across Central Asia.

Thus, it was that in February 2001, the administration headed by George W. Bush entered talks with the Taliban, a group which along with al-Qaeda had germinated from the remnants of the local and foreign recruited anti-Soviet Mujahideen insurgents which had been supported by the American during the Afghan-Soviet War of 1979-1989. At one point during the negotiations, noted Briscard, the US representatives told the Taliban, ‘Either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs’.”

The invasion of Afghanistan which commenced in October 2001, and which led to the overthrow of the Taliban two months later formally inaugurated the war that was ended by this month’s American withdrawal and the swift capitulation of the US-trained Afghan military.

“Operation Enduring Freedom” was described as a “police action”, but it had decidedly mixed results. While the Taliban was overthrown and several Islamist training camps were overrun and their inhabitants apprehended, the main objective of the operation, the capture of Osama Bin Laden did not come to pass. Furthermore, the Taliban remained as a guerrilla force whose control of territory would increase with the passage of time.

It is against this background that the colossal waste of American taxpayer’s money and the corresponding enrichment of American military contractors, as well as members of the Afghan elite can be documented.

The cover for this was the stated goal of “nation building”. In other words, Afghanistan was to be transformed socially and economically into a modern progressive society which would exhibit the panoply of Western values through the creation of strong democratic institutions, the equal treatment of females, as well as a free market economy.

But evidence of the waste of American taxpayers’ money eventually surfaced.

In 2015 ProPublica, an independent investigative news concern unveiled a report which revealed that the United States had blown $17 Billion through a number of uncompleted projects. There was the story of patrol boats which never left the factory and of planes which could not fly. After the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) ruled that the planes, which cost $486 million, were a “death trap”, 16 of the planes were sold as scrap for a total of $32,000. 

The report referred to many more including the $14.7 million spent on a storage facility for the military, which was never used, a $456,000 police-training facility that disintegrated owing to poor construction, as well as a $335,000 unused power plant. It is worth reminding that waste is not an uncommon issue with the Military Industry given the debacles surrounding the development of the F-35 fighter jet and the Zumwalt Class naval warships.

The issue of accountability of these wastages were never satisfactorily addressed by Congress, the Department of Defense, the State Department and SIGAR.

The following year, the fifteenth of the conflict, it was estimated that the war had cost the American taxpayer more than $737 billion and was consuming another $4 million per hour, every day that it continued. The most recent estimates put the total cost at $2.26 trillion which divides into $300 million per day over the 20-year period of occupation.

And who profited from all this? The answer is the Military Industrial Complex; the “network of individuals and institutions involved in the production of weapons and military technologies” that typically lobby lawmakers for increased military spending. They consist of former senior ranking members of the US armed forces, former defence secretaries and a range of companies including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, Northorp Grumman, and General Dynamics.

Needless to say, the value of stock in each of the corporations has increased to extraordinary levels given not only the duration of the Afghan war but also interventions in countries such as Iraq, Libya, Syria as well as the ongoing policy of expanding NATO and ratcheting tension with Russia after the departure of Boris Yeltsin and the coming to power of his successor Vladimir Putin.

For instance, a purchase of $10,000 worth of stock in 2001 is worth an estimated $133,559 in Lockheed Martin; $129,645 in Northrop Grumman; $107,588 in Boeing; $72,516 in General Dynamics; and $43,167 in Raytheon. Unsurprising among the board members benefiting financially from this are an array of admirals and generals who held positions such as the Chief of Naval Operations and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Many names may not be familiar to the public although the name of James Mattis, a former marine corps general who served as a Secretary of State for Defense stands out.

The interlocking and interdependent structure of interests results in a revolving door culture of former military men becoming paid lobbyists and media pundits. The industry is also aided by an array of think tanks and members of congress who receive campaign donations from military contractors and the energy industry.

It is not hard to see therefore why US military intervention has been consistently encouraged and why specifically the war in Afghanistan was allowed to endure for so long: it is clear that the war provided a corporate welfare program for both the defence and chemical industries. The contractors benefited from the numerous projects including those designated as white elephants, while the chemical industries were keen to benefit from the exploitation of Afghanistan’s rare-earth minerals.

When in 1961 President Dwight Eisenhower warned about the “unwarranted influence” by the then burgeoning Military Industrial Complex in his farewell address to the American nation, he might as well have been referring to the conduct the Afghan war. He clearly foresaw the threat it could pose to America’s “economic, political (and) even spiritual” wellbeing.

So far as the corruption of America’s political institutions is concerned, Michael J. Glennon, a Tufts University professor has identified what he terms the “Trumanite” institutions of government, in contrast to the “Madisonian” institutions of state governance prescribed by the American constitution, which consist of an unaccountable collection of former military, intelligence and law enforcement offices whose influence has been pervasive enough to guarantee that America’s national security policy, one of consistent militarism, has essentially remained unchanged through successive presidential administrations.

On the economic front, an earlier speech given by Eisenhower in April 1953 which was dubbed the “Chance for Peace” speech, gives illumination to the claim that the Afghan War can be characterised as a “wealth transfer from US taxpayers to military contractors”.

Eisenhower said that “every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

His words could be extrapolated to mean in present terms that the excesses of the military industry in its ruthless extraction of taxpayer’s money, has taken away the opportunity to get rid of student debt, to tackle homelessness, alleviate poverty, put young people through college and increase spending on scientific research.

The same could be said of Afghanistan, the focus of a “nation building” project. Despite the colossal amount of money directed to the country, in 2015 the World Justice Project ranked the country at 111 out of 113 on the Rule of Law Index. Not only had the goal of creating a more ethical society with strong political institutions failed, it scored poorly in the areas of corruption and the operating of a criminal justice system.

Government services ranging from the prison system to the education system were found to be inadequate or poor. Roads were not built, sub-contractors not paid as indeed were a range of low-tier servants of the state including the police. This meant that to gain an income of sorts, members of the Afghan police were reduced to kidnapping people and then ransoming them to their families.

In Afghanistan, illiteracy and poverty reigned. The money pouring in from the United States stopped at the corrupt elites with a connection to the Afghan government and the US military. Fabulously wealthy Afghans who were invariably government officials of the US sponsored regime who owned ostentatious mansions and castle-like edifices in the upmarket districts of Kabul preferred to rent out the properties to expatriate contractors and corporate employees while they lived in parts of Pakistan and in Dubai.

“War is a racket”, wrote Smedley Butler. “It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope.” These words must surely resonate with any objective bystander when examining the US occupation of Afghanistan.

But any form of national self-examination must necessarily go further than the usual grind of political scorekeeping between the two major parties. For the wars waged by the United States have all had bipartisan approval. Those media figures identified with the “liberal left” are complicit in the militarism that has characterised the post-Cold War era. They subscribe to the doctrine of so-called “humanitarian wars” which fit hand-in-glove with the war agenda constantly pushed by the Military Industry.

This is also true of figures in the Democratic Party establishment. For while Democratic Party Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, theatrically tore up her copy of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address in 2020, she rose to applaud Trump’s expression of support for the US puppet Juan Guaido, the man who was being used by the US National Security State in an attempt to overthrow the legitimate government of Venezuela.

Given this background, it would be difficult to proffer that the expensive foreign adventures of the money-seeking Military Industry will end with the humiliating withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan. Some neoconservative figures are already calling for a redeployment of resources towards applying military pressure against Iran, while efforts aimed at confronting China in the Pacific have been steadily increasing. The American public must, as Eisenhower warned, “guard against” this constant promotion of a war agenda by the combination of Wall Street and military contractors’ who surely have long inherited the mantle of Basil Zaharoff, the notorious Greek arms dealer and industrialist who came to be known as the “merchant of death”.

As the political scientist Chalmers Johnson once noted:

When war becomes the most profitable course of action, we can certainly expect more of it.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2021).

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

Sunday, 15 August 2021

About "Der Bomber": Gerd Muller (1945-2021)

Photo: Muller putting the ball past goalkeeper Peter Bonetti during the FIFA 1970 World Cup Quarter-Final in which West Germany defeated England 3-2.

It is fair to opine that Gerd Muller was one of the greatest strikers in world football history.

He was part of the generation of West German footballers who consolidated the resurrection of German football begun by the FIFA World Cup-winning team of 1954. Muller was part of the team that earned the third-place spot in 1970 during which the team participated in two of the greatest games in World Cup history: the 3-2 come-from-behind victory against England in the quarterfinals and the "Game of the Century", the 3-4 loss after extra time to Italy in the semi-finals.

Muller emerged as top goal scorer in the tournament with 10 goals.

Four years later, he scored the winning goal in West Germany's 2-1 victory over the favoured Dutch side in the World Cup Final on home soil.

He was of course a stalwart of the dominant Bayern Munich team of the 1970s and along with the likes of Franz Beckenbauer and Sepp Maier won a slew of trophies including several Bundesliga and the European Cup of Champions tournament (now the Champions League).

He was also part of the West German side which won the European Cup of Nations in 1972.

He was a small, compact man who was tremendously gifted at finding goal scoring opportunities. His record of 68 goals in 62 matches stood for a long period of time before being broken by Miroslav Kloser who needed 132 games to reach 69.

He scored a total of 722 goals in 779 matches, a fitting testament to the prowess of the man who was known by the moniker "Der Bomber".

© Adeyinka Makinde (2021).

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

Sunday, 1 August 2021

Abortive Coup in Kenya Instigated by Junior Air Force Personnel Against the Government of President Daniel arap Moi, Sunday, August 1st 1982

Senior Private Hezekiah Ochuka in handcuffs (left) and article in The Daily Sentinel, Monday, August 2nd, 1982.

. The backdrop to the coup related to dissatisfaction in the military which centred on the air force. There was low morale and tribally motivated grievances.

. The wider background was of declining living standards in Kenya with an increasing population size causing strains on urban resources and attendant high figures of unemployment, underemployment and crime.

. Both Kenyan Special Branch and Kenyan Military Intelligence were aware of a brewing mutiny.

. The mutiny kick-started in a chaotic and uncoordinated manner with bursts of gunfire unleashed by airmen at the air base within the old Embakasi Airport which is near Eastleigh Air Force Base. Both were taken over by the mutineers between 3-4am.

. The Voice of Kenya radio station was surrounded and taken over by airmen and at 6am, the man who emerged as the coup leader, Senior Private Hezekiah Ochuka forced Leonard Mambo Mbotela, a popular broadcaster, to announce that the government had been overthrown by the military (court documents identify the announcer as having been a Miss Pamela Mburea). With him was Sergeant Pancras Okumu. The announcement of Moi's ouster was made in both English and Swahili.

. Ochuka informed listeners that he had assumed the mantle of chairman of the People's Redemption Council and declared that "Moi's bandit gang is gone!"

. Acting under instructions from Ochuka, three fighter pilots at Nanyuki Air Base (100 miles north of Nairobi) were taken at gunpoint to their aircraft and ordered to bomb State House and General Service Unit (GSU - a paramilitary wing in the Kenya Police Service) headquarters in Nairobi. The pilots played along.

. Major David Mutua deliberately performed manoeuvres designed to disorient Corporal Bramwel Njeremani who in the beginning had pointed a gun at him from the back compartment. The aircraft, 2 F-5s and a Strike Master jets, dumped their unarmed bombs while flying over Mount Kenya Forest.

. Returning to Nanyuki base, Njeremani staggered out of the cockpit and reported to his rebel colleagues that the bombing mission had been accomplished.

. James Kanyotu, the head of Special Branch, who was a wily long serving spy chief had been aware of the plans for the mutiny but had failed to get permission from Moi to arrest the suspected conspirators before the coup. Kanyotu secured a safe house for the duration of the coup from which he oversaw the jamming of air force signals.

. At 10am, the government commenced a counterattack. They attacked Nanyuki Air Base and surrounded airmen barricaded at Eastleigh base which they proceeded to shell. Both operations were coordinated by General Mohamud Haji Mohamed Barrow, the former army commander who later became the Chief of General Staff.

. Fierce fighting raged on the streets of Nairobi with corpses left on the streets. Among the victims were students who the rebels urged to demonstrate in favour of the coup.

. Widespread looting directed against Asian-owned shops took place. This was concentrated mainly in Nairobi's central business district. Around 80% of the retail trade was claimed to have been controlled by members of the Asian community who were widely viewed as symbols of prosperity and "economic oppression".

. General Mohamed assigned a small group of troops to infiltrate Nairobi, through which access had for a time been curtailed due to roadblocks, with the objective of storming broadcasting house. The airmen, who thought the approaching force were GSU men (the army had been on exercises outside of the capital city) were surprised at the fighting proficiency of the combatants. It was retaken with relative ease and the airmen who survived the assault took flight.

. General Mohamed then made his way to the studio and ordered the broadcaster Leonard Mambo Mbotela to play a record and announce a list of officers who were inside the station. Most were not, as it was a psychological manoeuvre aimed at reassuring the listening public that the government had prevailed.

. President Moi was later brought to the studio under armed guard to announce that he was in control of the situation.

. Both Ochuka and Okumu temporarily lost contact until Okumu discovered his colleague at Eastleigh Airbase trying in vain to direct air strikes from Nanyuki against approaching pro-government forces.

. Both men became apprehensive when they saw helicopter gunships approaching over the horizon but were uncertain as to which side the pilots were on.

. They were army MD500 helicopters sent by Major General John Sawe, the Commander of the Kenyan Army, to destroy the communications facility at the base. Ochuka had spent considerable time sending insulting and threatening messages to Sawe through the internal armed forces communications network. He called on Sawe to stop resisting.

. Sawe's special force successfully disabled communications at Eastleigh base rendering continuation of the rebellion a futile exercise.

. Ochuka and Okumu commandeered an air force plane and fled to neighbouring Tanzania where they applied for political asylum.

. The presence of both men in socialist Tanzania created problems with the pro-Western government of Kenya.

. In 1984, both Ochuka and Okumu were returned to Kenya in exchange for Tanzanian exiles including Gregory Ngaiza, a former aide to President Julius Nyerere who had been implicated in an army mutiny which took place in northern Tanzania in late 1983. Two other exchanged Tanzanians were the army captains, Christopher Kadego and Eugene Maganga.

. The Kenya-Tanzania exchange was criticised for violating international norms and principles concerned with the protection of refugees who have been granted political asylum.

. Although both countries were not party to the 1951 Geneva accords on political refugees because they were colonies at the time, they had nonetheless signed a similar agreement which was ratified by the Organisation of African Unity in 1969.

. Air Force Senior Private Hezekiah Rabala Ochuka and his co-conspirator Sergeant Pancras Okumu were executed by hanging on July 9th, 1987, at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison. It was the last such execution to take place in Kenya.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2021)

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Roger Degueldre: De Gaulle's Lost Soldier

Portrait of Lt. Roger Degueldre by Paul Anastasiu

“...Once the State and the nation have chosen their path, military duty is spelled out once and for all. Outside its guidelines there can be, there are only lost soldiers.”

- President Charles de Gaulle addressing 80 generals and admirals and 2,000 other officers in Strasbourg, November 23rd, 1961.

Born in France in 1925 on the border with Belgium, the young Roger Degueldre contrived to join the French Foreign Legion under an assumed name and saw action first in Indochina and then, after a correction of his name and a transfer the airborne regiment of the Legion, in Algeria.

He was rewarded with medals for his service in both theatres.

Degueldre however became disillusioned with French policy in Algeria. Specifically, he considered de Gaulle’s decision to direct the French people towards accepting the inevitability of Algerian independence as a “betrayal” of de Gaulle’s pledge in 1958 at Mostaganem to keep Algeria French.

He banded together with like-minded soldiers and joined the Organisation de l’Armee Secret (O.A.S.) which had been formed by General Raoul Salan in the wake of the failed Putsch des generaux (Generals’ Putsch) of April 1961.

Tall and blonde, the charismatic and forceful Degueldre, an NCO who had reached the rank of lieutenant, became the de facto chief of operations of the O.A.S. although he was specifically in charge of the Delta Commando.

Degueldre was at the heart of terror outrages in the cities of Oran and Algiers where for a time the O.A.S. struck at any time and place of its choosing. This included Operation Rock n’ Roll which involved the detonating of 120 bombs over a two-hour period in Algiers while independence talks between the French government and the F.L.N. were going on. When the final talks were concluded, O.A.S. gunmen roamed the streets of Oran and Algiers and shot Arabs as they walked the streets.

When de Gaule sent in the Barbouzes, a secret squad of security agents to purge the dissidents, Degueldre was behind the countermeasure that virtually wiped them out. The O.A.S. finally bowed out with a scorched earth policy which involved the burning of the main library in Algiers at the cost of 60,000 books.

But Degueldre paid the price.

One of Delta’s most prominent victims had been Roger Gavoury, the Police Commissioner for Algiers. Deguledre was arrested in April 1962. Tried and convicted by a military tribunal, he was sentenced to death.

His death on July 6th, 1962, before a firing squad at Fort d’Ivry*, an army barracks situated on the outskirts of Paris, was a prolonged and painful one. His agonisingly slow death, recounted to the press by his lawyer Tixier Vignancour, was caused by the fact that only one bullet from the team of 11 shooters pierced his body. 

Most of them had refrained from shooting the condemned man.

Vigancour claimed that Degueldre died eleven minutes after the order to fire had been given, succumbing finally after the coup de grace, three bullets was administered.

Three officers who had refused the order to command Degueldre’s firing squad were demoted. The “sympathetic passivity”, as author Geoffrey Bocca termed the attitude of the mainstream French Army, was one reason why de Gaulle had refrained from ordering a mass crackdown on O.A.S. men such as Degueldre, all of whom he described after the Evian settlement as “misguided chiefs and criminal adventurers”.

It was a description which Degueldre, who sang the Marseillaise as he awaited death while tied to a stake, resolutely disagreed with to the end.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2021).

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

* Fort d’Ivry was the site at which Air Force Lt. Colonel Jean-Marie Bastien-Thiry would be executed the following March after participating in the last major attempt on the life of de Gaulle at an ambush in Petit Clamart on August 22nd 1962.

Monday, 28 June 2021

Tony Benn: Socialism Via Christianity & Non-Conformity - Not Marxism

Tony Benn by Graham Lewinton

My understanding was always that Tony Benn, the late and influential Labour Party M.P., came to his brand of leftist politics via what may be termed "Christian Socialism" and not Marxism. His reference to "dissent" in his statement regarding "Dissent and Protestantism and Non-Conformity" presumably includes the radical movements of Diggers and Levellers, both of which developed around the time of the English Civil War.

"I was brought up on the bible. But I'm not practicing. First of all I think that the moral basis of the teachings of Jesus - Love thy neighbour - is the basis of it all. Am I my brother's keeper? An injury to others is an injury to all, you do not cross a picket line; and that comes from the book of Genesis and not the Kremlin. And my mother brought me up on the Old Testament, in the conflict between the Kings and the Prophets, the Kings who had power, and the Prophets who preached righteousness, and I was taught to believe in the Prophets and not the Kings. I mean, my cultural roots of Dissent and Protestantism and Non-Conformity all come from there. But it doesn't mean I'm trying to impose my religion on anyone else, or that any of the mysteries - the virgin birth or the ascension - interest me in any way. But I think if you are going to relate to a society with arguments that make sense, you have to relate to your common cultural background. And if I say, when Cain killed Abel in the garden of Eden - am I my Brother's keeper? - and that's really why we don't cross a picket line, people register. Whereas if I say, in my particular socialist sect it makes it clear that it's a treachery to the working class to cross a picket line, they might say, oh hell, there he is, he's at it again. So it's partly presentational. It's a cultural, historical, traditional presentation of that."

- Tony Benn (1925-2014) in conversation with C.J. Stone in November 2000.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2021)

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

Saturday, 26 June 2021

Roll Call of Death: The Tragedy Of A Fair Number of West African Military Officers Who Graduated From Sandhurst

On June 26th 1979, six senior military officers were executed by firing squad at Teshie Military Firing Range in Accra by decree of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) which came to power after an uprising in the junior ranks of the Ghanaian Armed Forces.

Among the executed were two former Heads of State; Lt. General Akwasi Afrifa and Lt. General Frederick Akuffo. The others were Major General Robert Kotei, Rear Admiral Joy K. Amedume, Air Vice Marshal George Boakye and Colonel Roger Felli.

Four of them had graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and another graduate had been executed alongside the former Head of State, General Ignatius Acheampong 10 days earlier.

The following is a list of "Sandhurst men" from Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone whose lives were cut short by either assassination or state-sanctioned execution, although it includes one who was killed in action during a civil war and another who died in detention under a military dictatorship.

. Brigadier Zakariya Maimalari; assassinated by Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna during the army mutiny of January 1966.

. Colonel Kur Mohammed; shot to death during the army mutiny of January 1966.

. Lt. Colonel Abogo Largema; assassinated during the army mutiny of January 1966.

. Lt. Colonel Yakubu Pam; executed by Major Christian Anuforo during the army mutiny of January 1966.

. Lt Col Arthur Unegbe; shot to death by Major Christian Anuforo during the putsch of January 1966.

. Major General Charles Mohammed Barwah; shot to death by Colonel Emmanuel Kotoka during the February 1966 putsch which overthrew Ghanaian president Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.

. Major Chris Anuforo; killed in early August 1966 by soldiers in revenge for his part in executing senior officers during the army mutiny of January that year.

. Major Kaduna Nzeogwu; killed in action in August 1967 during the Nigerian Civil War which largely stemmed from a mutiny in which he was a key participant.

. Lt. Colonel Victor Banjo; executed by firing squad in September 1967 during the Nigerian Civil War on the grounds of treason by the secessionist state of Biafra.

. Major Timothy Onwuatuegwu; a key participant in the January mutiny who shot Brigadier Ademulegun and his wife to death, is believed to have been murdered soon after the end of the Nigerian Civil War. Several narratives exist about how he met his demise.

. Brigadier John Amadu Bangura; executed by the government of Siaka Stevens, Sierra Leonean Prime Minister, in March 1970 for allegedly plotting to overthrow Stevens. Bangura had helped restore Stevens to power after "The Sergeant's Coup" of 1968.

. Brigadier David Lansana; executed for treason in July 1973 for mounting the military coup which deposed Prime Minister Siaka Stevens after a disputed election result in 1967. Lansana had himself not been permitted to assume power by surbordinates who posted him to New York where he served as Sierra Leone's Consul-General.

. General Murtala Muhammed; assassinated in Lagos during an abortive military coup in February 1976.

. Major General Iliya Bisalla was the most prominent figure executed by firing squad after the abortive coup which claimed the life of General Murtala Muhammed in February 1976.

. Major General Neville Odartey-Wellington; a member of the Supreme Military Council led by Lt. General Frederick Akuffo, was killed while attempting to crush a military uprising on June 4th 1979.

. Major General Edward Utuka; the former Border Guard Commander who was executed alongside General Ignatius Acheampong on June 16th 1979.

. Lt. General Akwasi Afrifa; executed by firing squad on June 26th 1979 following an uprising by the junior ranks of the Ghanaian armed forces.

. Lt. General Frederick Akuffo; executed by firing squad on June 26th 1979 following an uprising by the junior ranks of the Ghanaian armed forces.

. Major General Robert Kotei; executed by firing squad in on June 26th 1979 following an uprising by the junior ranks of the Ghanaian armed forces.

. Colonel Roger Felli; the former Commissioner for Foreign Affairs who was executed by firing squad in on June 26th 1979 following an uprising by the junior ranks of the Ghanaian armed forces.

. Major General Shehu Musa Yar'Adua; died while imprisoned by the regime of General Sani Abacha in December 1997. He had been charged with plotting to overthrow the military regime of Abacha and sentenced to death, although this was later commuted.

. Major Johnny Koroma; declared dead after fleeing to Liberia after he was one of the first persons indicted on on charges of being a war criminal. He is believed by some to have been secretly executed by Liberian warlord Charles Taylor who is said to have had ‘Mosquito’ Sam Bokarie, a commander of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) killed in order to coverup his involvement in bankrolling the RUF.


* Major Nzeogwu was a Lt. Colonel in the secessionist army of Biafra.

* Lt. Colonel Banjo was a Brigadier in the secessionist army of Biafra.

* Major Onwuatuegwu was also a major in the Biafran Army.

* There are about four stories about how Onwuatuegwu met his demise:

1. Onwuatuegwu was killed on the Cameroon border by Northern soldiers as payback for the murder of the Sardauna of Sokoto, as well as a number of Northern military officers during the January 1966 mutiny.

2. Onwuatuegwu was killed by Yoruba soldiers who lured him to a hotel in Owerri as payback for the murders respectively of Brigadier Samuel Ademulegun & wife, as well as Colonel Ralph Shodeinde.

3. Onwuatuegwu was killed by Brigadier Hassan Katsina in Kirikiri Prison, Lagos. Katsina is supposed to have flown from Kaduna to put a bullet in Onwuatuegwu's forehead.

4. A slightly different narrative puts the location of his execution as an Enugu prison.

Onwuatuegwu was supposedly shot with 2 other captured Biafran army officers and had been betrayed by certain civilians from Nnewi, the hometown of the Head of State of the secessionist state of Biafra.

* Siaka Stevens was the Prime Minister of Sierra Leone from 1968-1971 and President from 1971-1985.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2021)

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.