Tolu Ogunlesi: Kabiyesi and other African stories (YNaija Frontpage)

Lords and Emperors all, forgetting that power never lasts forever, and that the evil that men do lives after them, and the weevils they breed are fated to feed on their ‘legacies’.

Dear Kwesi,

Where does one start?

Why do so many of the leaders around here act as though there’s no life (or death, actually) after/outside the government house?

Strutting and swaggering in the fullness of their self-importance, labelling “enemies!” all who fail to join in the grand festival of Rankadede (sycophantic deference) at which all big men get high on their own brew, generally carrying on like they long ago made a down-payment on the friggin’ universe.

I still insist we haven’t made a full transition from our peculiar monarchical mind sets (let’s ask the Belgians, Brits and French how they did it shall we?) I don’t know if I ever told you – Yoruba kings are called ‘Kabiyesi’ – which means ‘unquestionable’ or ‘unchallengeable’. The word perfectly captures the attitude of our leaders to the power they wield. All have fallen to the siege of Kabiyesi mentality – and they don’t have to be Yoruba I tell you (OK so you Ghanaians seem relatively fortunate).

Look at that Mutharika dude and his mutha-effing recalcitrance. A year ago he was busy expelling the UK High Commissioner (wikileaked diplomatic cables had the Brit commenting on his increasing intolerance to criticism). He let loose armed police on fuel shortage protesters, promising to smoke them out of hiding. He wasn’t on talking terms with his Vice President, having expelled her from the ruling party, and prepared to install his brother as successor. Now he’ll have to do all that tyranny stuff long-distance.

Mutharika (Photo credit: Global Post)

 And look at that Wade dude too—at 85, and in 2012—still looking for a 3rd Term. After 12 years in office (three terms by several democratic standards) – imagine! Electing to be deaf to all the ‘Go, Old Man’ cries of his citizens, he waited for the ultimate humiliation—rejection at the ballot box. Apparently he didn’t take his classes seriously, the way Misters Mugabe and Biya have been taking theirs.

Which leads me to a theory that’s been cooking in my mind for a bit: that, somewhere out there in the world, in the same elusive time zone as Atlantis and the Bermuda Triangle, there exists an Institute of African Power Studies, or African Power Academy, where all prospective African leaders undergo tutelage in wielding maximum power with minimum sense.

Watching the unfolding of the power-vacuum situation in Malawi it became spookily clear that at one time or the other a bunch of Nigerians and Malawians (organised as “cabals”) had sat in class to listen to the same lecturer.

The alternative is to assume that we all on this continent are unknowing actors/’wakapass‘ in a flick being directed by a mischievous cosmic power (the goddess of Machiavelland, perhaps?) one so bored/lazy that all she can do now is repeat her favourite plot twists.

I think I’ll go for the first postulation, ahem.

What scares me the most is that no one seems to learn any lessons.

Lords and Emperors all, forgetting that power never lasts forever, and that the evil that men do lives after them, and the weevils they breed are fated to feed on their ‘legacies’.

Don’t you wish more people knew about that i-frican proverb you shared with me months ago: “the stylus that Steve used to flog iPad 2 is waiting in the pouch for iPad 3!”

But hey, then again, why do we even bother to say these things. Eh, Kwesi? Isn’t history’s sole lesson that there are never any lessons from history? Or how else do you explain a military coup in Mali, in April 2012? Where have those soldiers been burying their heads?

Might there be a Greenwich ‘Military’ Time, marching perhaps a decade (5,256,000 martial minutes) behind the real GMT?

Too many questions, my friend. Too many. Alas no one pays us to be philosophers…


Editor’s note: Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.


Comments (3)

  1. *Yawn* – Tolu up your game. This is weak.

  2. Greenwich Military Time. Nice.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail