Monday, April 25, 2011

African Leaders: Square Pegs in Round Holes

"Show me the child and I'll show you the man", goes one saying. Well, anyone who follows African Affairs needs to pay close attention to the family backgrounds, histories and family relations of our leaders. We seem to have been ruled by people who, in all honestly, were unfit to hold high office. Someone like (former Ethiopian dictator) Mengistu Haile Mariam: what kind of animal was he? What kind of human being orders the wholescale murder of hundreds of thousands of his fellow countrymen? Could his obscure, lowly background explain his subsequent behaviour? A petty Colonel, of obscure origins, but who somehow managed to rise to the top using street smarts, brutality and guile.

Could we Africans have expected any better from Mobutu Sese Seko? His father a cook and small-time criminal, and his mother (reputedly) a whore? Is it even possible to expect a person of such background to have had a developmental agenda for Zaire. What did he care if Zaire's roads were paved or not! The list of "square pegs in round holes" is endless: Sani Abacha, Idi Amin, J-B Bokkassa; people who really were unfit to hold office, and managed to plunge their countries into disaster.

We Africans really need to pay more more attention to the kind of leaders who are ruling over us: their wives; their family backgrounds; educational achievements; all these things are of critical importance. It's impossible to have any of the major democracies ruled over by a semi-literate, uncouth barbarian (of obscure origins) like Sani Abacha. If America was to be governed by a bunch of High-School dropouts from broken families, it would simply become a Third World country in no time at all. We need more due diligence on the African Continent.

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