Of kings and monsters. World history is replete with tales and sagas of these characters. Some formally crowned, whilst others were comic caricatures of self-coronated creatures. Whatever category they fall into, theirs is a unique brotherhood. They have shared bonds of amorality, lack of conscience and zero empathy for fellow humans. Ultimately, their grim handiwork finds expression in usurping the role of God, in determining who should live and who should die.
Not enough can be said about Adolf Hitler and the industrial scale human, economic and environmental carnage he wrought; and no warnings can be too dire or hyperbolic about similar events occurring in the 21st century. Willfully discarding trumpeted admonitions, which grow louder by the day, is done at the collective peril of humanity. A sizable number of mankind put their faith and trust in the stupendous scientific advancements of the age, which they erroneously equate with the prevalence of commensurate advanced human values. This Pollyannaish thought process, also extends to equating the existence of sophisticated levels of political machinery and state craft, characterizing most world governments, with high levels of moral rectitude within society writ large. These thought patterns are buoyed by the fact that the United Nations birthed in 1945 is still functioning, albeit, with the same ease and nimbleness a person may possess, having to drag an attached third leg behind them. Surely, this global political body is a testament, that one of the darkest and bloodiest chapters of human history, can never be repeated?
Hitler, an abject specimen of a human being, envisioned establishing a thousand year Reich, led by him in which a master race would subjugate all other "lesser races," who would exist in varying degrees of perpetual servitude; with some forming a reservoir of slave labour. Others deemed sub-human and not fit to live were destined for the gas chambers. Marrying tyrannical powers with his evil, reprobate genius, Hitler, initiated the 2nd world war (1939-1945). The conflict was responsible for the death of 70 - 85 million people.
The African continent has also witnessed reigns of despotic terror, which evoke sorrow until this day. Idi Amin rose to power in Uganda on the crest of grave ethnic marginalization and hostilities, which had caused widespread suffering. His military dictatorship lasted from 1971 - 1979. One of Amin's first policies was the immediate expulsion of the 80,000 strong Asian community, which formed a vital part of the back bone of the Ugandan economy. Although claiming that he acted to redress the rights of the common man, he parcelled out the confiscated businesses and property within the Ugandan army. He further cajoled and pacified elements within his military junta, by lavishing on them, costly Western luxury goods. In explaining his rationale, he quoted an old African proverb: "A dog with a bone in its mouth can't bite."
The Ugandan economy spiralled downwards as a result of mismanagement, corruption and nepotism. Amin engaged in indiscriminate acts of state-sanctioned terror, giving rise to countless, egregious human rights abuses, which did not even spare honoured senior members of the judiciary. Also not spared were Christian leaders, including priests and ministers who were "disappeared." Being a moslem and seeking to elevate Islam over Christianity, Amin fanned the flames of religious conflict and eventually banned all Christian activities. Amin's destructive instincts led to the escalation of environmental sabotage and degradation, due to poaching and smuggling activities of Ugandan army soldiers and career smugglers. Wikipedia reported that "Uganda lost 75% of its elephants, 98% of its rhinos, 80% of its lions and leopards, in addition to numerous species of bird."
Although I do not possess any medical training whatsoever, I nevertheless grew up surrounded by the higher echelons of the medical community in Lagos, Nigeria. My father, the late Professor Wensley Vidal Fowler, was part of the cadre of earlier generations of Nigerian doctors who trained in the United Kingdom , and returned to Nigeria to form the lynchpin of medical training and practice in the nation. "Wensley enrolled at the University of Glasgow, in 1945, aged 22 to study medicine. He graduated MBChB in 1950, attending further classes in clinical surgery and pathology in 1951. Upon returning to Nigeria Dr. Fowler became a fellow of the West African College of Surgeons in 1960 as an anaesthetist." - The University of Glasgow Story. My father was the first Nigerian to head the Department of Anaesthesia, at the Lagos University teaching Hospital, the largest teaching hospital in Nigeria. His professional services and skills were called on personally by the Head of State at the time, General Gowon.
My father's colleagues and friends were comprised of a multi-disciplinary phalanx of medical practitioners. Of that close-knit fraternity, his intimates included Professor Lambo and Professor Asuni. Both were internationally renowned psychiatrists. Professor Lambo was the first Western trained psychiatrist in Africa and would rise to become the Deputy Director-General of the World Health Organization. Professor Asuni , studied medicine at Trinity College, Dublin. His recollections of practicing medicine in Nigeria in the 1950's amid scarce resources, included operating under a bush lamp, using improvised uterine clamps and being ably assisted by nurses as his anaesthetists. After meeting Professor Lambo on a holiday trip, he was inspired to change his career to psychiatry. He was Director of the United Nations Social Defence Research Institute, Rome, from 1979 to 1984 and Chief Examiner at the Faculty of Psychiatry, West African College of Physicians.
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