One bright idea, one idea, sparked in the inner sanctum of one individual, and one idea acted upon by one such individual changes everything in the world. All through human history, global development and human progress or advancement have depended on sparks of ideas by individuals, whether such an idea concerns scientific breakthrough, democracy or social justice.
One person's idea of justice as exemplified by Mohamed Bouazazi by the selfless action he took at the beginning of 2011 resonated with millions of people worldwide.
He reacted against overwhelming injustice by a government actor.
In doing so, he defied the regional stereotype bandied about for so long. He certainly did not fit the regional stereotypical narratives of every Arab as a blood thirsty Islamic terrorist thug with anti-democratic mindsets, and lacking a keen sense of personal freedoms, democracy and liberty. Mohamed Bouazazi demonstrated his sense of inviolate personal dignity, integrity. He resented the unmitigated affronts committed against his life and liberty by wrongful actors and agents of the government of Tunisia during the administration of Ben Ali.
Impunity by governments and agents of governments are all too routine; and too often, these acts of gross impunity in the extreme, clashes with the health, wealth and happiness of innocent citizens in Tunisia and elsewhere worldwide. And there are those with the courage and audacity to push back, resist, or protest egregious acts by government actors and this is what Mohamed Bouazazi did
Mohamed Bouazazi expressed umbrage and personal indignation in resistance to the disgusting overreach of a government agent-actor. A government actor is said to have repeatedly humiliated this hardscrabble fruits and vegetable vendor. A Tunisian government agent-actor was said to have seized or confisticated Mr. Bouazazi's goods, properties or wares without just cause and without due process. He was extremely agitated and frustrated by the overbearing actions of the Tunisian government.
On January 24, 2011 the action of this one man resonated with millions of his fellow citizens in Tunisia. Mohamed Bouazazi in frustration, and in reaction to the stranglehold by agents of the Tunisian government, self-immolated to protest the wrongful and unlawful seizure of his property and robbed of his sense of human dignity, all these inflicted by an agent of the government of Tunisia under Ben Ali. Mr. Bouazazi's supreme sacrifice illustrated his extreme agitation, aggravation and frustration caused by the anti-people government of Tunisia at that time. He had, had enough and this sense of haven had enough reverberated across Tunisia, North Africa, the Middle East, across the region and across the world.
This has been a year of discontent, and it is still unfolding, even as I write this. Here in the United States, we have had Labor raising the din of public debate as some state governments, notably, Wisconsin and Ohio, have tried mightily to whittle down collective bargaining by Labor. We have also witnessed the happy phenomenon known as Occupy Wall Street which has gone viral and global. OWS have since been replicated across the nation and across the world. Mr. Bouazazi, even in death, he stands tall, even taller in death than many persons who are complicit in inaction today.
2011 began with the audacious and auspicious actions by Mohamed Bouazazi against the dictatorship in Tunisia which was then headed by Ben Ali as the tyrant in-chief. And 2011 is ending with the deaths and overthrow and killing of totalitarian government leaders in various parts of the world. Hosni Mubarak of Egypt was eased out of power by adamant and insistent protesters at Tahirir Square in Cairo.
Moumar Gaddahaffi was expelled from power by NATO, after he had vowed to crush Libyan protesters in Benghazi and their clandestine supporters in Tripoli. Ben Ali fled Tunis and Tunisia into exile. All of these, received their inspiration, motivation and impetus from the acts of a lowly fruits and vegetable vendor, in the streets of Tunisia, a man known as Mohamed Bouazazi and for that reason, he merits and deserves the man of the year title. Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has announced her desire to participate in parliamentary elections next year in her country, for which she has been a staunch, strident and vociferous advocate for democracy and social justice.
She is just one person, with one great idea. Lech Walesa was one individual; his action in Gdansk Poland helped to advance the cause and course of democracy in that nation. Nelson Mandela is just and individual, he too, had a great idea about equality of the races, social justice, democracy and freedoms; he endured demeaning inhuman treatments and extreme suffering, and hardship in the prisons of Apartheid South Africa.
On the African continent, there have been a bevy of individuals with bright ideas and with the courage and boldness, and they acted in resistance to colonialism, apartheid and minority rule. A passing mention of such great persons will suffice. Kwame Nkrumah, Mariam Makeba, Steve Biko, Patrice Lumumba, Winnie Mandela, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Aminu Kano, Augustinho Neto, Joshua Nkomo, Robert Mugabe, Abel Muzerewa etc all belong to this pantheon of heroes.
Elsewhere, Václav Havel, writer and former president of Czechoslovakia was one such individual, with a bright idea, who also dared to act when it counted and the rest is history, even as he is buried this week in Prague. Last year, I selected Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks as Man of The Year in view of his activities which put immeasurable and invaluable information concerning wrongdoing and governmental and corporate corrupt practices in the open and available to citizens of the world at the click of a computer mouse.
Internet and the modern world of information superhighway have made vibrant and robust Citizen Journalism or Independent Journalism grow exponentially. Nigeria, indeed Africa, now has a version of WikiLeakswhich is known as Sahara Reporters founded by Omoyele Sowore who advocates accountability, transparency and good governance in Nigeria, nay Africa. Sahara Reporters exposes corrupt practices in Nigeria and throughout Africa. Omoyele Sowore just like Julian Assange, has done Citizen Journalism-Independent-Journalism proud. Information Is Power. Information Empowers. Sahara Reporters, through Expose' Journalism empowers citizens with immeasurable information which empowers hardscrabble citizens to take the next logical steps in espousing and entrenching justice, equality and robust regime of social justice.
In the information age, Social Media and Instant Communications, there is much more that the individual can now do, to improve his neighborhood and invariably, the entire world, through The World Wide Web's so-called Information Superhighway etc. There is so much more power to do so much more good for all of mankind... So much more information is now available to us all, and we must actively seek and use information at your fingertips and find more information to increase the health, wealth and happiness of all humans on earth.
To drive this important point further home, I recently received a note from Facebook friend in London, sent as a private message to me which read, "We are in the information age. Information Applied is Power" This is absolutely true. What use is a great book you have which you have never read? AND what use is great information if you are not using the information to empower yourself and the rest of humanity? WE, the citizens should and must use available information to our advantage and for societal advancement.
Sahara Reporters regularly and frequently, provide us, empowering information concerning our "leaders" gross ineptitude and their allergy to good governance ... It is our responsibility to deploy the information at our disposal for our common-good, the public-good. Mohamed Bouazazi was the inspiration for regional protests which started in Tunisia to condemn government action, which led Mr. Bouazazi's self-immolation. The protests in Tunisia became a regional wildfire, or the so-called Arab Spring, which spiraled and morphed into global protests, with birthplace in Tunisia and travels through Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Britain and even here in the United States.
The world must not forget the roles played by Social Media, Citizen Journalism or Independent Journalism which enabled and facilitated information sharing in furtherance advocacy, even the shrill-shouting kinds on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube etc. In all of these, individuals were the originators and key actors in promoting and serving common-good, public-good, locally, regionally and globally.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is world renowned for his nonviolence and message of peace, equality, justice and freedoms. He was just an individual with a bright idea, an idea which he acted upon. Paul Robeson, Harry Belafonte, Rosa Park, Thurgood Marshall and even John Brown, etc were mere individuals with ideas of freedom, liberty and justice, ideas which they all acted upon.
Mohamed Bouazazi is a reminder, an inspiration, a motivation and an impetus of the crucial importance of the power of one brilliant idea and an equally brilliant act of courage and defiance by one individual. Fertile minds pollinate ideas and sprout them, then, such great ideas do resonates and reverberates, such ideas frequently, are replicated widely, regionally and globally. A reminder to all of us humans, that there is always something that we can do to resist oppression and to advance the worthy cause and course of freedoms, democracy, the rule of law and due process globally.
Mohamed Bouazazi has given his life in protests against oppression and injustice. He serves as a reminder to all of us, even as he lend profound credence to the fact that there is always something that we humans can say, and or do against oppression and injustice.
We must think globally and act locally, and that, all through history, have always begun with an idea from an individual, you, me, everyone … saving the world, one idea, one individual…
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