Killers In The Mist
Yesterday I learned that the Nicholas Gordon whose life Major Mkoma saved so long ago has made a dash out to Zambia hoping to see President Levy Mwanawasa and ask in the name of compassion that Mkoma be allowed release now and not wait for October, a month he may never reach.
[Column: Astles’ Global View] Many years ago, I wrote to renowned preservationist Dian Fossey about a job for a staff member of mine who had many years experience in
He was later murdered in
I could not agree with her on her strong opposition to zoos, which made her aggressive to those involved in trapping for the world’s coming animal parks, because I believed they were giving animals their last chance of survival in this overcrowded mad world.
An often mentioned example of this attitude was in 1978, when she attempted to prevent the export of two gorillas, Coco and Pucker, from
It meant little to the outside world. Then came along a good investigative journalist, a rare breed these days. This one, named Nicholas Gordon, was not going to allow the name of Fossey to be swept away into oblivion.
He crept into
Gordon carried out a brilliant investigation and wrote the book: “Murders in the Mist” in which he pointed to the killers of Dian. However, what Nicholas did not know, or could not believe, was that his own murder in
However at this time there was a Tutsi invasion from
From what I know, he drove into forbidden territory, that of Mutara, the forbidden zone of Rwanda - a desolate and treeless former game reserve in the north-east and off limits to all but the Tutsi. With the Hutus defeated, the Tutsis were exacting revenge and Gordon again was to see too much. From what I learnt, he was a marked man in
The story, he will have to tell himself—but I understand there was an officer in the then United Nations Force, Major Berrington Mkoma of Zambia, who stepped in, and history records, saved Gordon from death.
Major Berrington Mkoma, a professional officer trained in
Chiluba has since been in and out of court but as yet has not been found guilty of any corruption charges that include a billion dollar embezzlement accusation that occurred during his presidency. However, in 1998 some 80 soldiers and two politicians were brought to trial. As far as I remember Major Mkoma at first was not amongst the accused but with politics being what they are was dragged in by Chiluba and in the end was found guilty and sentenced to death.
Major Mkoma has been in prison since then; first in
Mkoma, was senior officer, and a man who has always proudly and loudly asserted his innocence. He now is seriously ill with a life-threatening disease which is daily gaining strength. A few weeks ago Mkoma was given a date for his release - October this year. But mercy may have come too late. He is so ill that on being transferred to
There is no question he has had a horrible, cruel time in prison and from what I hear his life threatening illness was deliberately caused by inhuman jailers. Mkoma has suffered too long.
Soon he may be out of his misery, but why deny him the freedom he so richly deserves and which has been so malevolently denied him? Several years ago I wrote of this brave Major’s case in my then Living History and kind well placed Americans did what they could but met with deaf ears.
Yesterday I learned that the Nicholas Gordon whose life Major Mkoma saved so long ago has made a dash out to
Here we have a journalist, rare these days, prepared to fight for someone who helped save his life. I hope to hear that the president’s good reputation will be confirmed and greatly enhanced in the international community by a gracious and kindly gesture of goodwill and he will order Major Mkoma’s immediate release.
Columnist, Astles, once an advisor in the Idi Amin regime in
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