“Macbeth: If we should fail —
Lady Macbeth: We fail!
But screw your courage to the sticking-place,
And we’ll not fail.”
– Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”, Scene VII
Political Science 101: power is the capacity to make others do what they would not ordinarily do. Often described as the power behind the throne, First Ladies are well positioned to either build or destroy a nation by virtue of the power they wield over their spouses. In my earlier piece on Last..err..First Ladies in Africa, I focussed mainly on their instrumental role as peace-makers and advocates of change. A role which many of our First Ladies have not taken up and as a result, they are also blamed for the failures and short-comings of their husband’s rule.
This picture of Simone Gbagbo raised a number of disturbing issues for me:
1. When is enough enough? Is this any way to treat a woman? As Africans, arent we taught to respect our mothers?
2. Why am I even asking Question 1 while there are women being raped and abused every minute in DRC and South Africa?
3. Would this kind of punishment ever be metted out in the Western world to it’s overthrown rulers? Are we Africans just barbaric?
4. In light of the aforementioned, will Gbagbo share a similar fate to Samuel Doe?
5. Gbagbo aside, who will try Alassane Ouattara for the war crimes and crimes against humanity he has committed in order to take control of Cote d’Ivoire?
Alas, I have digressed.
History tells us that our African rulers never seem to learn from lessons like the recent events in Cote d’Ivoire or from other examples fresh in our minds like Egypt and Tunisia. The populace are beginning to realise that our rulers have no intention of serving them or respecting the law and as far they are concerned their goal is to do whatever it takes to die clinging on to power. And so, as the saying goes: If you rule by the barrel of the gun, then there’s a bullet waiting with your name on it. Sadly this is the fate that awaits the remaining Laurent Gbagbos of Africa: Paul Biya, Yoweri Museveni, Robert Mugabe, King Mswati III and others like [insert your president’s name here]
The question I have is this: Are Chantal Biya, Grace Mugabe, Janet Museveni and others willing to go through the form of total humiliation that Simone Gbagbo is going though before they talk some sense into their megalo-maniac husbands? Aren’t they supposed to be helping their husbands gauge the public mood and feeling thereby putting them in a good position to advise their hubbies on how best to serve their people? Or are these First Ladies just as power-hungry, self-serving and indifferent as I once made them out to be?
Even as I ask these questions, the silence of two particular First Ladies recently gives me all the answers I need.
Take Grace Mugabe for instance, two days ago it is reported that she and her husband are literally using the national airline carrier Air Zimbabwe as their personal taxi and have made over four trips to Singapore in the last three months. The most recent of these trips was this week after Grace reportedly slipped and fell in the bathroom of their posh Borrowdale home. How in the name of Anyang’ Nyongo’s prostate do you burden your improverished tax payers with your personal bills while they’re busy grappling with sky-rocketting inflation, a value-less currency and are drying of common curable diseases? Grace Mugabe or “Gucci Grace”, as she is affectionately called, is also known to be a notorious shopper and a big spender. I guess she thinks that the Gbagbo’s fate would never befall her and her husband as she continues to encourage her husband to hold on to power at all costs.
Yes Janet Museveni, I’m looking at you. If this deplorable and shameful treatment of a fellow human-being did not feature in your nightly pillow-talks with Kaguta then you’re doing your people a great dis-service as a “First Lady”.
If you are not able to talk some sense into your husband, who will?
As the wave of revolution and uprising sweeps across Africa, it is my hope that leaders, young and old, men and women will begin to emerge and say enough is enough. As for our dear First Ladies, that title you carry around means nothing if you sit back and watch your country plunge into ruin and disarray. We implore you to stand up to our leaders and speak for us, especially your husbands.