Sunday January 12 2014

Reflections on the legacy of Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor of the AK-47

By Harold Acemah

As one whose entire adult life has been purposefully devoted to a career and profession which advocates and promotes the pacific or peaceful settlement of disputes, I learnt with little, almost no regret of the death of Mikhail Kalashnikov inventor of the most deadly killing machine, the AK-47!

I have seen it but, thank God, I have never handled this despicable tool which has caused more deaths, more sorrow and caused more tears to flow than any other instrument in human history!
Mikhail Kalashnikov was born on November 10, 1919, in Kurya in Russia; one of eighteen children of peasant parents. He was born a day before the first anniversary of the end of World War I on November 11, 1918.
At a personal level, the irony is that the AK-47 was invented during the year I was born. The brand AK-47 stands for “Avtomat Kalashnikov model 1947” which means the automatic weapon of Kalashnikov designed in 1947.

Most Africans pity and despise, but fear men who adore and glorify this dangerous and worthless tool of death which has caused untold and unnecessary suffering in Africa. Fear of these lawless men of violence has paralyzed and prevented wananchi from liberating themselves from tyranny!
Kalashnikov died on December 23, 2013, at the age of 94. The good LORD, in His wisdom, summoned him two days before Christmas, the day Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace!
He was buried on December 27, 2013 with full military honours at the Russian federal military memorial cemetery at Mytishchi town; a few bullets were fired in the air from an AK-47 as his coffin was lowered into the grave.

The AK-47 assault rifle is the quintessential and favourite tool of oppression and domination in many African countries. It is a relic and symbol of man’s most primitive instincts of aggression and conquest.
It is a contradiction of enormous proportions that during the era when man has gone to the moon; has sent unmanned spacecraft beyond our solar system, when man’s knowledge or our DNA has revealed that we have much more in common than our differences, and when raw physical power is no longer necessary to survive, thousands of men still put so much faith and trust in the AK-47!

The idea that poor African countries squander billions of dollars annually on AK-47 guns not for national defence, but to oppress, dominate and plunder fellow Africans in the 21st century is very shameful and mind-boggling!
If wishes were horses, I would immediately ban this and similar weapons, and ensure that existing stocks are destroyed publicly because the AK-47 is a classic trademark of backwardness, to borrow a leaf from a visionary of the 20th century.

Mikhail Kalashnikov received many awards and honours for his invention which was adopted by the Soviet army in 1949 and later by dozens of countries, genuine freedom fighters, tyrants and bandits like Osama bin Laden who always carried an AK-47 machine gun on his lanky shoulders. More than 100 million pieces of the rifle have been sold globally and the number of deaths caused by the same could be just as many!
Kalashnikov was awarded the Order of Lenin, Hero of Socialist Labour and on his 75th birthday was promoted to the rank of Major General. He refused to take responsibility for the millions of people killed all over the world by the AK-47. He argued that his “aim was to create armaments to protect the borders of my motherland. It is not my fault that the Kalashnikov was used in many troubled places. I think the policies of these countries are to blame.” Well, I guess the Major General has a point, but I am not sure whether the LORD will accept his lame plea.
He regretted that he made little money from his deadly invention and observed that, if he had perhaps designed a lawn mower, he could have been better off financially.

Why should some men sink so low to the extent that an AK-47 is for them the equivalent of my parker pen or an ipad for the dotcom generation! Man has a long way to go before he can be classified as a civilised species!
Mankind is sadly the only species who kill their own for fun, greed and often for no good reason. Lions, leopards and even snakes do not kill their own in the bush for nothing and yet poor countries like Gambia, Somalia, Uganda and Zimbabwe waste the bulk of their meagre resources on purchasing AK-47 guns and other weapons to kill fellow citizens. No wonder Africa is slowly, but surely dying!

Only cowards and intellectually challenged men prefer the AK-47 to silence their opponents whom they cannot defeat in the marketplace of ideas or in genuinely free and fair elections. I believe time has come for African leaders to lay down their guns and employ peaceful and political means to wage the struggle against ignorance, poverty and disease.
Lest they forget, the Scriptures have warned all who take the sword that they will perish by the sword! Anybody who doubts this warning hardly needs a reminder of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Saddam Hussein, Samuel Doe and many others who did not heed the warning.
May the LORD have mercy!

Mr Acemah is a political scientist, consultant and a retired career diplomat.