No easy job being First Lady

HARARE - Frankly, I’d have preferred to hold forth on the terrible events in Burkina Faso, where the long-time dictator suddenly found himself out of favour with the people.

For many of us true Africanists, this sort of stupidity ought to have been shelved a long time — the first time a leader stayed in power for so long, even children sang Hallelujah! when they were suddenly toppled.

A man who believes he is so invincible so much that the thought of being toppled from power does not occur to him — until the bell rings for his ouster — ought not be allowed to win an election, in the first place.

But we also now realise that the hunger for power in Africa is as common as the baobab tree is native to Zimbabwe. We have had many vivid lessons of such people being toppled from power many times since 1957.

But I realise that, to many Zimbabweans worried about political trends in our country, the place of the First Lady of the nation is a subject of tremendous interest. The enthusiasm was intensified beyond belief when Grace Mugabe climbed on to the political bandwagon with a feisty leap that left many breathless with alarm, or fear or just plain amazement.

One of the most fascinating first ladies I’ve ever met was Imelda Marcos of the Philippines. The pairs of shoes she possessed were pronounced as a record for the world.

She was also a former beauty queen in her country. She had looks which not many men could have avoided remarking on as being…tremendously exceptional…or just plain fascinating.

I met Imelda and her husband, Ferdinand, on a visit to the islands in 1975. They were hosting, with tremendous pomp and pride, a conference of the Afro-Asian Writers Union of which I had become a very honoured member in the 1970s.

Imelda was a remarkable woman, although we were not particularly attracted to observe what her particular interest in literature was. I think some of us expected her, at some point, to read for us, one of her poems.

The couple had become quite world-famous, not for the logical reason that they helped to run their country with the arousing approval of their people.

Instead, it appeared to be their lack of appreciation of the people’s needs that brought attention to their rule. Inevitably, when they were toppled from power, their sympathisers chose to blame their ouster on anything rather than their tremendous lack of enthusiasm for the ordinary people’s welfare.

In most instances where the leaders’ self-interests dominate the running of a country, tragedy is almost inevitable.

In some countries, the media is used to dupe the people into believing that their lives are as materially sufficient as they ought to be, that their lives are so fulfilled their independence from oppression is visible everywhere they care to look around their country.

In most of Africa today, the preoccupation with the material rewards of political activity of the leaders — huge mansions, fleets of expensive cars or planes – have become visible, even to ordinary citizens.

Citizens appreciate that their leaders deserve the basic comforts of life, calculated to satisfy their status in society.

But the primary function of the political system is to improve the lives of the ordinary people, for whom the country was fought for and won.

For many of the grossly ambitious politicians, it’s enough for the people to feel free.

It’s tragic to conclude that once they are free, there is nothing else they need.

    Comments (2)

    "In most instances where the leaders self-interest dominate the running of a country TRAGEDY is almost inevitable" In hind-sight our President's marriage to Grace has cursed the nation The First Lady wants to destroy Zpf for selfish reasons taking advantage of her old husband. We know that they are all corrupt in Zpf but she is the worst of them all. Her first child (Bona) was born before Amai Sally's death (may her soul rest in peace) But Grace at that time was married to Cde Goreraza with a son. So was it a case of POLLYANDRY? Zimbabweans are Christians and we know that the Bible does not allow women to have more than ONE husband at the same time References: LEVITICUS 20 v 10 The man who commits adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death DEUTERONOMY 22 v 22 If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall die. ROMANS Chapter 7 v 3 So then if while her husband is living she marries another man she shall be called an adulteress, but if her husband has died she is free from that law. Talk of going to pray at the VATICAN by the First Family ! GOD forbid.

    003Tico - 8 November 2014

    the mugabes grace and robert are like the marcos, thanks for the heads up we wont vote for them , even at our congress in zanu next month robert is history

    Harare - 8 November 2014

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