The Ugly Side of the First Lady Syndrome in Africa

“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.

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Daily Dozen: 22/02

Using Facebook for activism is fraught with risks [BL]
Birth Control for Men? 3 Promising Advances [AlterNet]
All Hail Our Dictators and Tyrants [Your Blogger’s Favourite Blogger]
Libya, Libya, Libya! [Reuters]
Egypt and Tunisia How To’s Overthrowing your Government [NYT]
Omar al-Bashir not running for reelection. Wave of revolution scaring him off? [BBC]
Why is the Middle East and North Africa in turmoil? [Independent]
Yemen president vows not to quit and compares protests to influenza [CNN]
Walmart in South Africa: The beast in the bush [Economist]
Zimbabwean activists arrested over ‘Egyptian-style’ protests [M&G]
What Kenya’s self proclaimed lady of the night carries in her handbag [NairobiNights]
6 Things That Annoy You Every Day (Explained by Science) [Cracked]

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Do We Love Or Hate Raila Odinga?

I don’t do politics. Or rather, I don’t do it well. I voted at the very last minute, and I ascribe to being truly Kenyan. I have no tribe. I get pissed whenever my daughter comes home from school with some tribal spew that she picked from a classmate.

Post Election Violence was frightening for me because for the first time, I saw friends judge my by my father’s tribe. I had people approach me in the office trying to get me to pick one side or the other. I had a stranger from *my tribe* walk up to me and talk ish about *that other tribe* in mother tongue. I pretended not to understand, so the Tanzanians watching us assumed that we were from opposing tribes. I guess I looked pretty hostile.

During PEV, I wasn’t in Nairobi. I was in Dar. I watched terrified but safe as CNN and Aljazeera aired the worst of the worst. I blogged about my feelings and received scathing responses. One reader suggested I should stop hiding in comfort, and that I should come back home and fight on the ground instead.

I sent him an email in response. I said it wasn’t his country burning – it was mine. I said he didn’t have family in danger – I did. I said I hoped he never felt as damaged and helpless as I did just then.

Whenever people in the news talk tribally, it shakes me to my core. It makes me remember just how bad things got, and just how bad things are. It shakes me even more that while some people are still living in tents on relief food, others are pretending to be IDPs so they can benefit from handouts. For every 3 genuine cases, there’s some leech trying to get what isn’t his – or hers. I know that’s human nature, but it stings, and it stings deep.

Today, while idling on Twitter, I tweavesdropped an exchange between @Nittzsah and @MisterNV, fellow members of the DR crew. I wondered what it was about, so I followed along to this article. It’s describes Raila Odinga from the writer’s perspective, which I fear is shared by a lot of people.

The writer feels that Raila isn’t serious or important enough to resolve the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire. He accuses Raila of political and ideological seasonal migration.

My hands always shake when I read stuff like this, because I fear that it will stoke idle fires. There’s still a lot of misplaced passion in the hearts of many Kenyans, and I’m afraid they’re just waiting for an excuse to let it out. So when I hear statements like this, I curl into a corner and start saying my rosary, and I’m not even Catholic.

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Daily Dozen: 24/01

A ‘little Kenya’ in Southern Sudan [EA]
Notes from the ICC Demonstration in Nairobi [Mzalendo]
Extra-Judicial Killings: The Goat pleads for its life and the butcher for its meat. [Some Blogger]
No More Easy Money for Gbagbo [NYT]
Worth Every Cow: How I Bought My South African Bride [BBC]
African Continent builds new manufacturing base. [AON]
The World’s richest country measures poverty. [Economist]
Why China does Capitalism better than the US. [TIME]
Of Coming Out of the Closet [Nairobi Nights]
Why Rich Parents Don’t Matter, Apparently. [WSJ]
Not all Africans are needy [Tamaku]
Jameni, can you women make up your minds? [Archer]

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Daily Dozen: 19/01

Who’s Your Mother? [Your Baby-Daddy’s Favourite Blogger]
We stay with the Hague! Sign the petition! [ALK]
Kenyan Dumbocracy: A Rant [Gathara]
Is Tunisia the first domino to fall? [Telegraph]
Beef With Soap & Hearing Aids [Learn Kenyanese]
Not Kenyan Enough? [Diaspora Blogger]
A New Gold Rush in Africa [WSJ]
Steve Jobs: Apple’s Magician [Reuters]
DSTV Mobile on iPod, iPad, iPhone and PC Available Through “Drifta” [TechMtaa]
Is Advertising Creativity Dead in Kenya? [Some Guy]
An Uprising in Egypt inevitable? [News24]
Land of Rape, Lions, and Bones, Apparently. [Tonic]

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Daily Dozen: 11/01

Girls Who Created Social Network for Farmers [KenyaNews]
IDEOS Android Is Now Available in Kenya [Twitter]
2011 INEC Nigeria Voter Registration Video [God Bless Pidgin English]
Global Barometer of Hope And Despair: Outlook On 2011 Economy [TIME]
Coming up with a name for a new nation: Southern Sudan [NB]
The Côte d’Ivoire prison hotel of election winner [M&G]
Is Raila Odinga evil or a man whose hands are tied? [KumeKucha]
Superstar Akon Gets Diplomatic Status From Senegal President [AN]
Gbagbo, the new Mugabe? [BoundarySentinel]
Kenyan Rapper Bamboo Signs Major Deal, Apparently [AHH]
Cash-strapped Zimbabwe Willing to Put Judiciary Up for Sale [News24]
Why guys should always make the first move … well … sort of [LilyReview]

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