Please Don’t Tell Me That Hugo Chavez Was Great By Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo

Somehow I was taken aback by the somber posturing of Africans on the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. It took a while before I understood what Chavez meant to many people living today in Africa and other Third World countries. It happens that Chavez was to them what Gaddafi was to me living in the 80s Africa.

As kids growing up in Nigeria in the 80s, Gaddafi’s greatness was so huge in our minds then that the Gaddafi that was killed like a chicken in 2011 had no semblance to the Gaddafi that we grew up holding in awe. The tale then was that Gaddafi was the best fighter pilot in all of Africa. When he travelled he was surrounded by these daredevil all female soldiers who were invincible to any radar. As kids, we were told that Gaddafi’s planes could summersault from one star to the other. The myth began to wear off the day in 1984 when cowboy Ronald Reagan sent in fighter jets to bomb Gaddafi’s home in Tripoli. We were told then that American pilots were tracking Gaddafi’s underwear right from Washington DC.

You can forgive us for believing all that nonsense. Those were the days before we could read the real stories in newspapers ourselves. Those were the days before the internet when we could not google UN reports and find countries indexes of development.  Those days we could not read tweets from Tripoli or join Facebook groups that could provide us with real information in real time. Those were the days when we measured achievement by the noise a country’s leader makes rather than the people’s standard of living and levels of freedom, life expectancy, education achievements and income differences. At the very formative age, when it came to leadership the default position was for most people to like the little guy who poked his fingers at the big guy.

Chavez’s claim to fame was that he challenged the United States. That he told truth to power. I must confess that I too enjoyed his theatricals, but I managed to separate it from the reality. His performance at the United Nation where he called then President George Bush a devil who left a smell of sulfur at the podium was probably the most hilarious. Unfortunately, I never considered how that performance would be seen and interpreted by people in Africa.

The African reaction to his death tells me that some people still confuse platitude with substance. Some people confuse showmanship with accomplishment. Don’t get me wrong: Chavez delivered some fundamental changes in Venezuela. In 14 years he was able to transform the order of things in his country by overthrowing U.S.-backed neo-liberalism. With a population of 29 million, GDP of $375 billion dollars and a per capita of $10, 610 and oil selling at over $100 a barrel, the quality of life of the poor improved significantly. But at some point replacing one order with another is not enough. The jury is still out as to whether the people of Venezuela are comparatively better off today than they were 14 years ago and whether the changes he made are sustainable and as such enduring. That question I must leave for Venezuelans to answer.

What concerns me is the image of Hugo Chavez as the fighter who challenged the West on behalf of the oppressed poor peoples of the world. That character has been a permanent fixture on the international scene for a long time. Fidel Castro once headed the group. Gaddafi also played that role in Africa and beyond until he reduced himself to an aspiring King of Africa. Saddam Hussein gave up being the puppet of the West to a challenger, like an overfed Nza bird.

These comical figures have since stopped impressing me. I agree wholeheartedly that the West could be self-preserving and self-righteous. I will be first to acknowledge that the West is primarily interested in pursuing its own interest, most often, at the detriment of others. I also realize that it doesn’t take a lot for a leader, in the service of his people, to find himself in the bad books of the West, as in the case of Kwame Nkrumah. Where I part ways with Chavez and Castro and Gaddafi and Hussein and Ahmedinajad is on how best to take on the West. Since Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba failed to get his Belgian pilot to fly his plane to Katanga, all opposition to the West should have learned the lesson in fighting for Land without a tool and re-strategized.

For over 40 years, Gaddafi was in power in Libya. He spent the years firing verbal missiles on the West. However he did not develop his country to be independent of the very West that he blamed for oppressing poor countries like his. Instead, the more he bought one token weapon after another, the more he ran his mouth. Even as Saddam Hussein foamed in the mouth and expired, Gaddafi still maintained his posture as the rescuer of the weak nations of the world.

Nothing is as foolish as fighting those who make the plane you fly, the cars you drive, the phones you use, the liquor you drink, the perfume you wear and the noodles you eat.  Whose plane was Chavez flying? How much of what was in the plane did Chavez know? If there were listening devices planted on the plane would Chavez know? It is the same with the cars he drove, the gadgets in his offices down to the marbles on the grounds of his presidential palace.

In the case of a country like Nigeria, you add the designer clothes and shoes our leaders wear, the hospitals abroad that they go for treatment and the college roommates of their children abroad. Never mind those leaders who own homes in the West – homes that are bugged by spy agencies of these foreign countries. These are potential avenues to compromise a leader and destroy him if the enemy he is attacking wishes to. Imagine Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe ranting about the West but every now and then flying to the West to service his plane and his aged body.

The only people who can take on the West- China- are not making noise. They are taking their time. And China has legitimate reasons to. There is Taiwan, Tibet, and disputed territories with Russia and Japan. But China is not rushing out to take on the West. China is not firing the weapon of the mouth on the West. China is working hard to be fully independent of the West. It is not just building its own planes; it is also building its own aircraft carriers. It is not just preparing to take on the West militarily. It is also working hard to tie down the West economically. Now that is smart politics... not mouth gunning.

Africans and other Third World countries would do better if they stopped idolizing the likes of Chavez, Gaddafi, Castro and the rest. Before you start ‘making mouth’, show me your homemade drones; your fighter jet assembly lines; your aircraft carriers; and your homemade air-defense system.  What am I saying? Just show me the factory making uniforms for your soldiers, noodles for your citizens and baby milk for your children. Can your country survive six months of severe international sanctions or will it crumble like Iran in the face of sanctions?

Compare to most Africans leaders, especially his Nigerian counterparts, Chavez should be on Mount Rushmore. But whatever it is Chavez achieved, what is clear is that Venezuela is not yet Luxemburg. And it is not even on the path to becoming one. Rather than the noisy revolution that Chavez could not finish, I prefer the quiet revolution that Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva set in motion in Brazil. Lula didn’t need to be in power forever to keep the revolution going.

For all his demagoguery against America, including calling President Obama a clown, Chavez continued to sell crude oil to America. With a GDP almost twice that of Nigeria and a population that is about one-sixth of Nigeria’s population, the human development index of 73 in the world is nothing to write home about… unless you compare it with Nigeria’s ranking of 156 in the world.

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Its a Pity

Each time I read Rudolph's write ups i never get angry or upset because i understand his pains and his shames. if he is not blasting Christianity, He is blaming a good person. But I understand. What will I man who fled his own country to become a fugitive in another country do? Nothing but display mood swings and rubbish sentimental write ups. Rudolph Venezuela does not need you to know Chavez was their lifeline. At least he walked the talk. You have written more than one million words yet no valid contribution from you to your village. Pray what are u doing in obodo oyibo? writing half baked articles. Igbo people say play lets see ur hand. Come back lets see what you can do, stop hiding like a coward. Its a pity

No True Challenge Just Political Jagon

You are wrong and I boldly correct you. Mother Theresa was great, and soon to be a saint because she cared for the poor. Chavez cared for the poor. Bedeviling America was a sentimental means to appeal to his people and achieve political power as is done in Iran, Iraq and Zimbabwe. Do not confuse political rethoric with genuine challenge to economic and millitary power, i.e China

@Rudolph Okonkwo: Read and learn Chavismo !

@Rudolph Okonkwo

This is an article in New York times by Prof. Nancy Folbre, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts (so she ought to know more about economic development than you) on Chavismo !
Like someone had pointed out, before today's Chine, there was a Mao Tseung who made Chinese have self-believe, Chavez has given Venezuelans that self-believe, let Venezuelans build on that !

Please Don’t Tell Me That Hugo Chavez Was Great By Rudolf Ogoo O

Rudolf you are right. You have succeeded in articulating my thoughts and my discussions with friends over the years. Like you I heard similar stories about people like Gaddafi but I unlike you I did not get carried away by the sentiments as a young man in the 70s and 80s. Incdentally, my 1st trip abroad was to Japan, early 90s and the people I met showed me the way to go. The Japanese were silently achieving and never made fuss about it. Infact their modesty and humbleness were disarming. I wish we be less noisy and work hard. We have no reason to remain backward.

Please Don’t Tell Me That Hugo Chavez Was Great

My dear brother,

Anyone who genially championed to reduce poverty in his country and use the national resources to improve his country and his neighbour is a great person therefore Hugo is a great Leader

Who cares about your z grade

Who cares about your z grade opinions? You can't even speak properly (evidenced by your embarrassing weekly performances on Sahara TV) yet here you are, bold as brass, rubbishing a world-renowned champion of humanity and justice.

Shame on you. Cretin!

Rudolf is right.

The first question that I will ask the responders who decried Rudolph assessment of Chavez is, “where did Chavez receive his heath treatment”? I believe everyone knows the answer. Then the follow up question is “Is this not similar to what government functionaries and rich upper class do in Nigeria? “Is this not the same thing average Nigerians cry about that the wealthy leave our hospitals in deplorable condition and fly away to USA and Europe to be treated? Does this not conclude what Rudolph was trying to paint about present day Venezuela?


Rudolf, you stated "In the case of a country like Nigeria, you add the designer clothes and shoes our leaders wear, the hospitals abroad that they go for treatment and the college roommates of their children abroad. Never mind those leaders who own homes in the West – homes that are bugged by spy agencies of these foreign countries."

SR, You FAILED to PUBLISH MY COMMENT on the security implication for Nigeria for the penchant of our leaders and their spouses going abroad for health care. Given the state of how advanced the world of Nanotechnology is, it has made it easy to listen to you in your bedroom with a RFID embedded in your body! CAN YOU IMAGINE IF THEY HAVE ACCESS TO YOUR BODY FOR 7 WHOLE DAYS! Self reliance and Nanotechnology are vital for the future and state security of NIGERIA.

Venuzuela is a country in the making

Mr. Okonko, i always read and enjoy your write ups, but this time you got it very wrong. if some western leaders can acknowledge Cavez's up-rightness, i wonder why a profound writter like you can be so blinded. Venuzuela is a country in the making and to my own judgement, they on the right track for development. Cavez took over in the last 14years, as such cannot be espected to make his own aircrafts and other stuff within this limited time. but Iran is as well making noise and is making drones if you have any doubt ask the Americans.

Rudolf, Will The CIA Give U a Medal for This Low Quality Piece

Rudolf is an arse licker, another Reuben Abatti, in disguise.

Give Rudolf political appointment in Nigeria, just like Abatti, his true nature as an opportunist, a pretender and a closet personification of corruption and perfidies will manifest.

The Clown and the People's Hero

Rudolf's only ire towards Chavez is his popularity for 'challenging the west' . So caught up in what appears to be an emotive and thus subjective response, he displays abysmal lack of insight and analytical prowess. The verbiage fails to contextualise Latin America in a socio-economic cum historical platform. Had this been done this, the rationale for the 'fight' or 'challenge' would have become apparent. Chavez's objective being the need to redefine the identity of his people and the oppressed masses as a spring board for self determination. Simply put, a new vision of self, courage to dream of a better society and the rights of self determination against architects of slavery and terrorism spearheaded by America. Controversial or not, Chavez has entered the annals of history for pursuing his vision even though he knew he was a target for elimination. If it is popularity you seek, Rudolf, 'bad belle' write ups like this exposes you as a fraud and a clown!

Is Chavez Antihero?

I dont think Rudolf wanted to be rude to history by condemning the modest but significant contributions of Hugo Chavez. At least Hugo started somewhere by improving what he met on the ground with the resources of the land which the West had hitherto cornerned to its own advantage. The common man on the street felt his impact and showed loyalty to him. He laid a foundation on which to build. In Nigeria, what do we do with the resources we have? We take one step forward and four backward. Our leaders are busy looting and sharing. Consideration is given to "who is from my village" rather than who can do the job. In the long run no job gets done and yet the leaders want to perpetuate themselves with recruiting their children and next of kins to continue the lootocracy.

Zero for you Rudolf.

Rudolf,you goofed on this,and big time too.How could you form as a basis of economic development,growth and quality of life planes manufacturing?Your analysis though rich in writing fluidity lacks content.If you didn't know,which I doubt,Nixon's times as American president even marred with the Watergate scandal was still much better in terms of economic advancement than in Limcoln's times.Would you then say Nixon was a better president than Lincoln?Abraham Licoln stood for what the American dream is built on today;FREEDOM.Chavez gave same to his people through his poor-oriented programmes.You don't build planes in a day.You must start from a spot.Chavez has really started what you may never do.Keep writing but please do with some level of awareness.You failed to do that here hence the need for you to apologize for this tripe dropped by you.

Chavez had a good intention

Chavez had a good intention when he first became the president but he erred along the line when he continued to cling to power. Though he was loved by the poor but an average educated Venezuelan do not like him nor subscribe to his policy. My manager and some of my co-workers are Venezuelans, in fact they were happy that death finally sacked him from office. He doled out peanuts to the poor while not really not developing the country nor positioning the country for economic growth. If he truly develops his country, he would not need to travel to Cuba for treatment, that shows the noise about him as a revolutionary leader is just a ruse.

I was in Venezuela last two

I was in Venezuela last two weeks. The country has electricity, good roads, law and order, and the oil workers are all citizens of the country.

Compared to Venezuela, America is now like a prison because everyone in American is stockpiling guns and scared of each other. The secondary schools in America are like prisons because both students and teachers are getting armed to the teeth. What you people wish for other people is now coming home to roost.

Read and learn, but stop spreading lies like your fellow thugs in Oyo:

18 Signs That Life In U.S. Public Schools Is Now Essentially Equivalent To Life In U.S. Prisons

Ten Reasons Why America's Public Schools Are Like America's Prisons

Without being sarcastic, this

Without being sarcastic, this Rudolf knows nothing about where Venezuela was (in terms of HDI and resource nationalism) before Chavez. I am happy majority of contributors here have thoroughly educated him on the progress in Venezuela under Chavez and his standing in world affairs. Rudolf has shown that talk is cheap. For people like him who have become popular (online) by criticising others, I challenge you to go back to your village/town and pick nomination form for election as either LG Chairman or Gov., win election and then put your ideas into practice and not sit on their lazy butt and criticise those that have dared. Start from your LG or state and lets see what you can achieve during your time in govt. If you are passionate about human development esp. that of your fellow countrymen and tribesmen, come back home and join govt to correct the ills. Otherwise, you all are seekers of cheap publicity and are failures in the quest for the liberation of the black race.

I am afraid Rudolf is right!

Folks, I was in Venezuela just last week and I could not see the flaunted development Chavez is is credited with. Granted, I do not know where they started the journey from, but right from the sea port, I felt the whole country was a vast prison! The people had hunger on their faces like you would see in Nigeria. I must hasten to add though, I did not see desperation on their faces like Nigerians.

I used to reason like Rudolph

I used to reason like Rudolph until I got closer to Cuba. Rudolph will be shocked to hear that Cuba is more democratic we are made to believe. In Cuba, you cannot smell the state house if you are not first elected from your ward. This means that a popular primary school teacher in a ward can take out a millionaire in an election to the parliament. In Cuba, being in the National Assembly is not a full time job like our thieving legislators. You remain on your job as a medical doctor for instance . If the National Assembly is sitting, you travel to the capital, be put in an hotel and after the sitting, you return to your primary job. I have not done any research on Venezuela but I am very sure that Rudolph stood logic on its head. Remember also that there was a Mao Tse Tung in China before a Deng Xiaoping. A Chinese will tell you that Mao gave them freedom and Deng made them rich. Chavez has liberated Venezeulans, that is the first condition of greatness.


on this one you have got it wrong. life in venezuela is at a different level than nigeria. Residents of Cuba enjoy better education and health care.

China has a large population which encourages demand and was helped indirrectly by the west setting up industries in order to take advantage of cheap labour.

Compare what happens to thieves caught stealing public money in China and Nigeria on the other hand to see the difference.2Rc6

Hugo Chave a true legend...........

Venezulian Hugo Chavez a true legend of our time. A man who transform the lives of the ordinary people in Venezuelian.He restored hope for the poor people of Venezuelian with his polices of feed people first before me, what is not common to see in the third world countries. Hugo chavez was not only good for his people but also serves as a life line to the rest of south America countries.His critics like Rudolf Okonkwo, who only judged him with his hardline approached toward the imperialist west need to reverse his judgement.Hugo Chavez will surely be missed among his people.

truth is bitter

u are on point jare. china is in every body house hold. but made in vanuzula is in awka

U re a great columnist but

U re a great columnist but ignorant about the legacies of the leaders you mentioned in your article. Western education is not a precursor for awareness. Seek enlightenment, the west stands for imperialism..


A man about 50 years old, never seen a good leader from where he came from. He will surely not know what good leadership is. To walk, you have to crawl first. A country cannot make cars or planes if it's umbilical cord is still tied to IMF and World Bank. Hugo Chavez knew that but your PhD holder president did not. Ajaokuta Steel Industry started in 1978, up till today no steel rolls out from there. What you know about Chavez were bunch of malaky you read from western press. Rudolph, go to Venezuela and see a country working.

@ Rudolf : Hugo Chavez is Bigger Dead's called Greatness!

THIRTY Presidents attended the State Funeral for Hugo Chavez. More than for the late Pope and Mother Teresa ...even Ronald Reagan's. They came from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Middle America, Europe, North and South America. All carrying their buckets of tears ...tears for a Great Son of the Globe!

In Venezuela, they've extended the 'lying in state' another week to enable millions more shed tears. Everybody and their cousins, grandmothers and great-grandfathers are baking in 40°sun for hours just to file thru with their RESPECT ! In Cuba, the lines are even longer !

@ Rudolf : The legend of Chavez is playing out right before our eyes, the man was a Hirohito. To be sure, Google "Chavismo". This must rank as your Worst write-up ever. Read the comments, coz ...and write us an apology!

@ Nnaemeka : You, "Venezuela is bad while Nigeria is worst".
That's exactly what we, "the lynch mob" is saying. Next time, use your brains.


I usually agree with you, but on this one, you are dead wrong! Venezuela is a country of 28million people, it is not China and it is not Luxembourg. It has got its own unique challenges. It also sits on the world’s biggest OIL reserve. This is where Uncle Sam’s interest comes into it. Unlike the unpatriotic dimwits running Nigeria, Chavez stood up for his country, his region and all the poor/oppressed of the world. Those elderly people crying on TV were not paid to do so. He surely must have done something special to arouse such allegiance and patriotism in his people. How I wish Nigeria can have a Chavez in my lifetime. Abacha died and people were celebrating on the streets. If OBJ or IBB die tomorrow, few but their family will mourn. El Commandante was a revolutionary; he took back control of his country from the sellouts and used the country’s resources to better the lot of the citizenry. Enough said.


I usually agree with you, but on this one, you are dead wrong! Venezuela is a country of 28million people, it is not China and it is not Luxembourg. It has got its own unique challenges. It also sits on the world’s biggest OIL reserve. This is where Uncle Sam’s interest comes into it. Unlike the unpatriotic dimwits running Nigeria, Chavez stood up for his country, his region and all the poor/oppressed of the world. Those elderly people crying on TV were not paid to do so. He surely must have done something special to arouse such allegiance and patriotism in his people. How I wish Nigeria can have a Chavez in my lifetime. Abacha died and people were celebrating on the streets. If OBJ or IBB die tomorrow, few but their family will mourn. El Commandante was a revolutionary; he took back control of his country from the sellouts and used the country’s resources to better the lot of the citizenry. Enough said.

My Okonkwo, nwayoo!! your

My Okonkwo, nwayoo!! your basis of criticism didn't all hold true. You dont have to own drones to qualify to criticize. Thats even playing in the oppressor's hand. It takes time to enpower one's citizens particularly for a country that was made a stooge of the west by its previous ruler.
Is it not fair to think that first you have to dismantle those stooges. It takes time my brother. Chavez did his best. Let's hope who takes over continues where he stopped.
For Niga situation? - its the only criticism i liked.

nigerian dead brain poors and sycophants v venezuelian poors

The venezuelian poors are crying for their presidents death.
Question: Would Nigerian poors cry (for the same reason) if their president dies?
Most will foolishly cry because they have been hoodwinked.
God, cant help answering it myself!!!

Venezuelua versus Nigeria

Rudolf Okonkwo's articles remain one of the vital reasons why some of the lynch mobs visit Sahara Reporters on daily basis.
Having had the priviledge of visiting Venezuela in the past, there is no basis to compare apples to oranges as some people are wont to compare Venezuela to Nigeria. Given the human and material resources in both countries, the truth is that Venezuela is bad while Nigeria is the worst. Most people who are hailing Chavez here and there should not forget Asian countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, etc, that literally transformed without the oil that Nigeria, Libya and Venezuela are endowed with.

Colonial Slave Mentality Article 2

Who the flip is war criminal Bush that he couldn't be called out? Just after Bush’s inauguration in 2001, Chavez’ congress voted in a new “Law of Hydrocarbons.” Henceforth, Exxon, British Petroleum, Shell Oil and Chevron would get to keep 70% of the sales revenues from the crude they sucked out of Venezuela. Not bad, considering the price of oil was rising toward $100 a barrel.
But to the oil companies, which had b*tch-slapped Venezeula’s prior government into giving them 84% of the sales price, a cut to 70% was “no bueno.” Worse, Venezuela had been charging a joke of a royalty – just one percent – on “heavy” crude from the Orinoco Basin. Chavez told Exxon and friends they’d now have to pay 16.6%

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