These African First Ladies are really wagging their tails

Thu, 25 Sep 2014 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Folks, I have already written an opinion piece to complain bitterly about the manner in which the wives of African Presidents have constituted themselves into an Association of First Ladies and assumed power and authority to do things as if they have anybody’s mandate to act and talk as they wish. They have constituted themselves into potentates and are acting to be recognized as such. Unacceptable!!

Of course, there is nothing wrong with a President’s wife accompanying him on trips or doing things in tandem with him as he exercises the mandate of the electorate to govern the country.

But I find a lot wrong with the manner in which these wives of African Presidents are doing things. They seem to be arrogating too much power and authority to themselves and pushing buttons here and there in the limelight.

The current 69th session of the UN General Assembly has brought them together and they are waxing in publicity (as you can see from the images showcasing the Ghanaian First Lady, Lordina Mahama, and her Kenyan counterpart, among others) (See https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/photo.day.php?ID=327062)

Never in the history of the United Nations has any Association of First Ladies been recognized as a force to be reckoned with and given the floor as is happening under the South Korean Ban Ki-Moon, the weakest and most malleable Secretary-General to have ever headed the UN!!

Never in any historical period under the watchful eyes of any Secretary-General has the world seen so much turmoil in almost every part while the UN goes to sleep or wakes up after the most powerful country (the United States) has unilaterally acted, even in defiance of world opinion, to do what it feels like doing just because it has the UN under its wings. Never before has the UN been so undermined, emasculated, and devalued as a door-mat to be trodden upon with impunity. A docile UN it is!!

This is the UN that is accommodating an Association of African First Ladies because it has become more of a talk-shop than the non-partisan global organization that was set up to prevent man-made crises in the world and not to belatedly attempt solving them after slumbering away the time. This is the UN that the Association of African First Ladies is stepping into.

Interestingly, it is only the wives of African Presidents who have an Association of First Ladies. Only in impoverished Africa exists such an Association. None can be found in any other part of the world, even when those parts are better developed and richer than African countries and can afford to support the activities of their First Ladies. But you can’t find any group of the sort because the system has no room for such self-projection at the expense of the tax-payer.

An Association of African First Ladies, indeed!! Some ridiculous instances come to the fore. Take the sex-maniac Jacob Zumah of South Africa and his 7 wives, for instance, and you wonder which of them qualifies as the legitimate First Lady of the country to join such an Association. Will all seven of them not be qualified as such to join and function in the Association on a rotational basis?

Or the numerous wives of the Botswana (or is it Lesotho) King? Will they cast lots to determine who serves as the First Lady and then pass on the baton to her rivals thereafter? A kind of marital musical chairs at the expense of the poor tax payers? Only in Africa—especially Black Africa!!

You see, folks, this obsession with an Association of African First Ladies has only one objective: to position these women as shadows of the Presidents who oftentimes wear their assumed but undeserved powers on their sleeves and serve as surrogates for whatever purposes will bring in the goodies. I know that some appointments to and dismissals from offices are even made on the advice of First Ladies, especially after “pillow talk” with their husbands.

Managing the life of a country, then, becomes a chess game to be played with the pawns that are manipulated anyhow to serve narrow purposes for personal gains. These so-called First Ladies are really annoying me with their pomposity and open show of the power that nobody has given them. They are doing so just by virtue of their marital status and enjoying every bit of the public funds that are expended to sustain their bloated egos. Only in Africa—especially Black Africa!!

And they are doing so even while their husbands fail to use the mandate of the electorate to solve problems. Cast your eyes round to see which country in Africa is being properly managed to warrant what the so-called First Ladies are junketing all over the place for.

Interestingly, after basking in the glory of their husbands, especially those who have ruled for decades, they think that they have learnt enough and gathered political experience to replace their husbands as heads of state. Take our own Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings, for instance, who is so obsessed with political power as to move heaven and earth to be put in office as Ghana’s President. Her contemning her own political birthplace (the NDC) and breaking away to form the National Democratic Party (is it still alive?) for that purpose says it all. But she is just chasing a huge mirage because she won’t go anywhere.

Then, turn round to consider what is happening in Zimbabwe, where the political dinosaur (Robert Mugabe) is fast fading off the scene but creating room for his wife to function as a political force. Whatever clout she thinks she is wielding must have come from the political tradition that has nurtured her ambitions to think that she will be a good successor to her nonagenarian husband. Only in Africa—especially Black Africa will this nonsense crop up!!

Truth be told, the extent to which these so-called African First Ladies are taking their political daredevil selves to is irritating. I won’t support any of them on that score. Of course, some are known for pursuing agenda on community improvement or establishing Foundations to assist the less-privileged segments of the society and should be commended for their efforts. But the vast majority of them aren’t doing anything productive to warrant their being supported to self-project and act as conduits for corruption in high circles.

The earlier they know their station in the political landscape and stick to it (as the mere wives of Presidents and no voter’s elected representative invested with political power to exercise), the better chances are that they will save themselves from the kind of tongue-lashing that I am doing here and will continue to do for as long as they give cause for it. Only in Africa—especially Black Africa—will such an Association exist. Tweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.