Saturday, 22 December 2007
Are African first ladies or first raiders?
Ambiguity, suspicion, confusion even unconstitutionality surrounding the role of first ladies in African countries forced me to venture into first lady’s life in Canada .
Henceforth from the outset I would like to make my point clear that I aim at trying to clear the air regarding this ambiguity by looking at how Canada did away from it.
Ask any Canadian the name even life of the first lady, who in this case, is the wife of the Prime Minister ( Canada has no President but PM) he will have less to say about her.
Before pondering on the question, he will answer by asking a question! "Who is she in our country’s politics so as to bother your mind? I once received this question-cum answer myself.
Frankly speaking, Canadian fist lady has no power trappings or any political weight. She is not even popular and she does not like populism simply because her husband is a PM. First ladies here would like to make their own niche shall need be.
If one is a teacher, doctor, lawyer even house wife, will be comfortable to be known so. She does not attract any attention on the streets. She comfortably rubs shoulders with other people. More often than not, she remains a woman and a wife, nothing more or less.
Her husband’s power has nothing to do with her. She can not make any political capital of it whatsoever. If she envisages on being a politico, she does so just like a any common person but not a wife of the leader. To her, using her husband’s power to reach her goals is regarded as sexual discrimination.
To be precise, I was not interested in writing about this issue. But what happened- for the second time- in Kenya told me to rethink freshly.
Prior to what happened in Kenya, it recently came to light that the wife of prime minister of Canada was seen biking with one of her children in the back seat of the motorcycle. For those whose noses are stuck in others’ business had their tongues wagging. They aimed at discrediting their enemy the PM who defeated them in elections.
The Premier told them he is comfortable with his wife’s biking. He went further an extra mile saying: his wife is at liberty to use whatever means to drop at or pick their kids, Benjamin and Rachel from school.
That is Laureen Teskey Harper whose life has never been changed by the powers of her husband. She was a biker before her husband came to power she is still the same, no cavalcade and other fanfares or pomposity. Tax payers here will never allow her to spend their money. She knows and agrees with that. The person to whom they voted for is her husband not her.
The second episode involves the wife of one African president- I shall not disclose. If it were not for what happened one time in one European capital, I would not have wasted time to bow to pressures surrounding the roles of first ladies.
The president, his wife and others were in the official tour in that capital. After doing their business they got a chance to speak to their citizens living in that European country. They met in one hotel at least to brief each other on a couple of things. You know the way politicians do when they are in tours. They make sure that citizens wherever they are must be attended and listened to though at home they don’t have that time.
The president was the first person to climb onto the dais to speak to the citizens; his ministers followed and lastly his wife.
When the first lady was given the podium, like a politician herself, as usual with pomposity and tenacity, she used her husband’s party’s slogan to greet the citizens! "Kidumu MCC"!
Before the baffled audience which, apart from not being the members of the party that they hate replied, her husband the president, smelt a rat. He did not wait. He chipped in, "Do you think all people belong to my party?" Laughers and ululations were heard from the audience.
The damage was already made.
People started murmurings. Others were heard voicing their angers and views on too much unconstitutional power the wife of the president commanded. One of the audience was heard asking why should the first lady evolve when her espouses ascend to powers?
These two simple incidents and the Tyson-like wife of President Mwai Kibaki act like a wake-up call for African countries to address the confusion and discomfort surrounding the wives of our rulers.
In Tanzania Nyerere set a precedent if we understand the danger of unconstitutional powers which one may usurp.
In many African countries the calving of this unconstitutional position for the first lady goes even too beyond. Even the children of the first family act like "little presidents". Kenya is still in vicinage for one. Moi’s children ruined the treasurer in their wheel deals just because they were the children of president!
Back to Lucy Kibaki the wife of President, she seems to have sipped a lot more from the cup of powers so as to even attack a media house and beat journalists!
This, if we call shots, is but abuse of powers per se. It can be committed by any body if the role of the first family is not tamed soon and timely.
The lesson from Kenya is bitter. When Moi was president everything was smooth. But when he kissed power bye, table turned against him. Thanks to the corrupt new regime which is dragging its feet from charging Moi and his family because it is doing the same.
More on the point, I like Lucy Kibaki for showing her true self. But I don’t like her unbecoming behaviour which in essence will cost her husband dearly so to speak. I was pretty deeply shocked and ashamed of Lucy when she slunk across the dais, podium, patio or whatever it was in the state house and slapped the MC in face.
Is Lucy trying to outshine her husband’s wit and brio? Who knows?
Looking at the sure damage this can cause to Kibaki,one can comfortably aver that Lucy is the enemy number one of Kibaki especially at this moment he-Kibaki needs the votes of the Kenyans most.
Lucy’s yap-yaps, yelps and mediocrity will costly cost her husband this time. Does the big girl really know the repercussions of her misdeeds on her husband?
If she does, well, her excellence, sorry, the first lady-bear with me-is likely to suffer from a certain bulimia.
I’m not a doc. But it is on records that Alzheimer's disease once forced Ronnie to beat his love, Nancy. This may be my chief suspect in the first place.
Is this power intoxication that provokes this temporal insanity or something else?
Africa, if anything, needs to do something to deal with the whole rotten system that allows those sharing bedrooms with her rulers to wrongly behave like presidents whilst they are not. We need to address the whole issue and system in lieu of dealing with individuals.
Shall all African presidents remain above the law and being laws themselves, chances are; many Lucy are likely to feature high in the near future.
To be honest-to goodness analyst, I must admit that as of yet, African first ladies are unconstitutionally taking us for the ride. Shall this goes on this will make the job of pacifying Africa Sisyphean one.
What is more is the fact that they have become a very good source of poverty due to posh lives they command on the shoulders of a poor tax payer! Who wants to bless their illegal liminal place in the society for his peril?
That is how Canada did away from what Kenya and other African countries suffer. This can be witnessed by any other country. Take leaf from Canada. But mostly and strongly, our constitutions need to provide for the barring of this power intoxication. What adds up to this is the fact that almost all African first ladies are but unconstitutional supremos who came to power without even a single vote! Is it wrong thus to contend: African first ladies are first raiders of our economies? What do I know?
So long from Canada ,
Posted by NN Mhango at 09:13