Several universities have sold Obiang honorary degrees. Most of them are academically insignificant institutions with no standing in their own communities. However, for a narcissistic psychopath, recognition and respect can mean the difference between euphoria and depression. Most of the academic retailers will also attend. Some of them proudly boast of their participation on their websites.
In addition, several star athletes are expected to attend the summit and have been offered substantial attendance fees to show up. The president’s son, Teodorin, now vice president of Equatorial Guinea, has made it clear that he wishes to play basketball with NBA greats. The Sullivan Foundation has lined up retired and active NBA stars and is putting on the Inaugural Leon H. Sullivan Exhibition Basketball Game.
Teodorin is currently wanted in France for money laundering. He celebrated his birthday in Equatorial Guinea on June 25, and his lavish party included an undisclosed payment to Miami-based rapper Fat Joe to perform. In addition, Argentine-Spanish singer Chenoa was also paid to sing the tyrant-in-training “Happy Birthday.” The affair has an eerie resemblance to the recent scandal involving Hilary Swank’s disastrous visit to the dictator of Chechnya to celebrate his birthday along with Seal, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Vanessa-Mae.
The list of American VIPs provided all-inclusive invitations to the Sullivan Summit was leaked and then published by World Policy Journal. The list contains a who’s who of African-American culture and influence.
How many millions has the Obiang clan funneled to the Sullivan Foundation, associated entities, and family businesses in return for this level of attention and displays of submission? Records reveal that Qorvis is paid a fee of $60,000 per month to manipulate the truth and somehow claim that Africa’s longest-serving dictator is actually making “democratic reforms.” However, unlike Qorvis, the Sullivan Foundation doesn’t have to reveal the price for which they have sold out to the Obiang clan.
Previously both EG Justice and the Human Rights Foundation, human rights groups focused on civil liberties and rights, have written to the Sullivan Foundation requesting information and pleading with them to cancel their summit. These letters have been ignored.
But perhaps our outrage is misguided and purist. What can be expected from policy Lilliputians and rent-seekers in the Beltway when the United States government, with all of its talk on human rights in Africa, has displayed gutless leadership on the matter. Well-respected international leaders like Condoleezza Rice, Barack Obama, Ban Ki-moon, Kofi Annan, Lula da Silva, and Nicolas Sarkozy bend over backward every time they meet President Obiang. His wealth and power, as leader of the “Kuwait of Africa,” is such that they won’t miss an opportunity to butter him up and smile for the camera.
In the meantime, his people live with no rights and do not share in the country’s oil wealth. If you want to know who is responsible, don’t look so much at Obiang … look at as his friends. Fascism doesn’t triumph without help.