The Problem With Mississippi’s Governor Phil Bryant Visiting Togo

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It was reported recently that Phil Bryant, the governor of Mississippi, will be visiting Togo from August 11 to August 14. This visit is the latest example of America’s hypocritical relationship with Togo. Togo is a country that has been ruled by the same family for the last 52 years, yet the United States continues to ignore the abuses that continue to take place in Togo. Faure Gnassingbé became the president of Togo in 2005 when the military seized power and installed Faure as president. Since then Faure has remained in power through subverting democracy in Togo. This has not only included rigged elections, but violating the rights of the Togolese people.

One of the reasons why Faure has been able to get away with such atrocities is because of the fact that the international community — especially Western countries — ignore these abuses and continue to maintain diplomatic ties with Togo. It was only a few months ago that Chatham House in England invited Faure to speak. Chatham House claims that that its “mission is to help governments and societies build a sustainably secure, prosperous and just world.” You cannot build a just world by ignoring crimes being carried out by dictators.

What is especially hypocritical about Gov. Bryant’s decision to visit Togo is the fact that in the past he has criticized Mike Espy for accepting “blood money” from President Laurent Gbagbo of the Ivory Coast. Going to Togo to help strengthen America’s ties with a bloody dictator is not much better, morally.

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The real double standard is that America will denounce dictatorships in countries like Venezuela and Iran, but continues to support dictatorships across Africa. In fact,Gov. Bryant supported legislation to divest from Iran. At one point Togo was ranked as the most miserable country in the world. This is how badly the people of Togo have been suffering under Faure, but it seems that like many American politicians Gov. Bryant can overlook dictatorships so long as those dictatorships serve America’s interests.

Dwayne is the author of several books on the history and experiences of African people, both on the continent and in the diaspora. His books are available through Amazon. You can also follow Dwayne on Facebook and Twitter.

Dwayne Wong (Omowale) is a Guyanese born Pan-Africanist, author, and law student.

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