Ladies of the first family
I am one of those who even with all the scientific findings in the world, can never truly believe that women are not more innately compassionate than men and that we are just not more naturally wired to be kinder and to feel emotions deeper. Bring me all the scientific findings damning my claims and I will close my mind to all their theoretical analyses and hard results and will stick with my ‘maternal empirical data.’
If African presidents, rulers, dictators, tyrants and self-claimed rulers-of-mountains-skies-earth-and national rivers, who are mostly men, are lost in the sweet bosom of power; the women in their lives: wives, mothers and sisters ought to know better. These women closest to these leaders ought to know and do better by guiding them. I very much can understand and empathize (yes, even with dictators) with the huge responsibilities they shoulder. Nation building is not easy. Running a home can be challenging let alone a nation and I am even more empathetic towards African leader’s plight due to the fact that the people they are to lead are particularly complex. Ask an average African on the street if they would let their children marry into another ethnic group different from theirs and they will likely say, they would rather they not.
We are not unified amongst ourselves; ask a mother how difficult it is pacifying and mediating between her children fighting over a toy and she will tell you, she is exhausted and frustrated. I can therefore understand the issues African leaders must face to lead a nation of people who see themselves as Mandinka, Ibibio, Mande, Olof, Igbo (Ibo), Hausa, Zulu, Oromo, Fulani, Bambara, Bapedi, Tutsi, Yoruba, Tiv, Ijaw, Hutu first before they recognize themselves by their respective nationalities and even African.
Africa has over 3,000 different ethnic groups. According to an article, Nation, Tribe and Ethnic Group in Africa on www.culturalsurvival.org, “The Oromo, 60% of Ethiopia’s population, with a different language, culture, religion and history, do not accept their lot within the empire. They, as well as other groups within Ethiopia, see the Amhara-dominated government as an illegitimate, colonial government similar to the government of South Africa. Africans, too, can be colonizers…”
One has to understand that the idea of nationhood was foreign to most Africans until the good ole colonizers landed on our shores. Therefore, our ethnicities are what define(d) us. Our ‘blood lines’ still make us feel superior towards each other. The reality is that in modern day Africa, we still brag about belonging to a particular ethnic group as if our blood color is different. Now, show me a White European who pledges alliance to being viking, Celtic, Flemish, or even considers themselves, Caucasoid first before claiming to be European?
It is because of this burden of ruling over people who are divided amongst themselves and place ethnicity alliance over nation building that I can empathize with the contemporary African leader. You see, where there are unwilling subjects, brute force likely comes in. I say brute because when African leaders are tired of talking and warning, they terrorize. And very quick they are at that as well. The idea of a judicial process is still new to us; the force feeding of the European Justice system used to divide and conquer us has left a bitter taste in our mouths. Before the Europeans came, we self-mediated successfully and the concept of prison was even foreign to us. Amongst our clans, we always found a solution. The worst for a man was to be outcaste or worst yet, driven out of their village God forbid!
In his article, Concepts of Social Justice in Traditional Africa, Alyward Shorter states, “Throughout traditional Africa there were no codes of positive law, and society did not make laws, in any literal sense. Decisions concerning social control, and collective decisions taken for the good of the community, were based on cases or precedents. Custom was the guide to present action.”
Therefore, most African leaders are torn between social justice and judicial justice. New African leaders still have a mistrust of the European style judicial system which they secretly abhor for the fact that the probability of them falling victim to it is highly likely as in the case of the ICC set aside for mostly African leaders. Hence their heavy-handedness comes into play even with the threat of the looming ICC dock. As force is associated with control, African leaders often use it oftentimes with good intentions in their minds but it inevitably turns them into beasts.
When we speak out against them, our leaders brutalize us; imprison us; exile us; threaten us; and continue to steal our infrastructure resources to fund sinful luxuries. Their private planes zoom over national hospitals with one or only two oxygen tanks let alone modern utilized facilities. They throw repulsive birthday parties next door to people living in hole filled roofs. Yet their women are silent.
The same women that know better and still refuse to do better. Their children who go to private European or American schools and learn about the American revolution, the suffrage movement, civil liberties and its importance in nation building still even more silent. Will these daughters in particular not tell their fathers that we are dying? Will these wives that ‘admire Michelle Obama’ so much as one African leader’s wife gushed, during a birthday toast to her dear husband not tell him that his people are not happy. She knows better to admire Michelle. She knows that Michelle will not marry or hopefully stay married to a man who turns into a monster (some truth to the fact that most African leaders initially have good intentions but turn into monsters due to the sweet nectar of power).
When their beloved husbands start throwing people indiscriminately in jail then these women must speak up. When their husbands are holding minors without charge for months, these women must speak up. When their husbands are reneging on their promises by now wanting to change the constitution to seek a third term, these women must speak up. When their husbands are cherry picking and prosecuting members of the opposition when they promised that they would help heal the country’s wounds, then these women must speak up. When their husbands’ militia are seen on national TV, dragging a female opposition member on the road to point of nudity, these women must speak up. When their husbands are plundering their country’s coffers, these women must speak up.
The writing is on the wall. One cannot ignore the great injustices these men they claim to love are committing. Democracy or not, the manhandling and mistreatment of one’s population is unacceptable. The women in these leader’s lives see exemplary leadership forms around them in the world hence they know what good leadership should be or aspire to be. One must see the good in Michelle Obama to admire her so greatly, therefore, please do us a favor, shift your husband towards emulating the leadership style of Obama. Have your husband allow us civil liberties Americans freely brag about. Please dear African first ladies, first daughters, women of the first family, please guide your men to order. We want to breathe. They are choking us!