Celebrating East African Writing!


A DJ on the Malagasy Island had such a good remix of songs, both old and new school, that even the unwavering military officials had to dance to his tune. Due to this, the incumbent was unceremoniously bundled out of office in which he legitimately held, never mind that his term of office was far away from coming to an end. The matter gets trickier; the minimum age that one must have to govern the island is 40 years. 

The age of the DJ Rajoelina is 34 years that means that under legal circumstances he would be 6 years short of clinching the top spot in the country. But the people chose to ignore all the constitutional hurdles that prevented the DJ from assuming power and crowned him as the president to govern them in a “caretaker government” or so they put it.

Sadly, this is the normal trend in most of the African countries, it is right if the majority agree with it but it is wrong if the minority, however within the law they are, agree with it. Starting with our very own Kenya, a country which was until recently hailed as an abode of peace in the region. In 2005, the country conducted a referendum to decide whether to adopt a new constitution or not. The motion to have a new constitution was defeated soundly, and the citizens celebrated. Matters constitution were forgotten, come the general election, the incumbent won by a simple majority but less than 50 percent.

We all know what happened, what if we had passed the constitution and amended it later? Would that have averted the crisis? Maybe. But because the majority were “right” the case was closed and no one talked about it again, at least not with as much vigour as then. Still on matters elections, we elected their leaders, many along ethnic lines, but to give credit where it is due we, kicked most of the old guards out which was a commendable feat.

But because of the voting scenario, the leaders are not answerable to us; they are answerable to their tribal kingpin. That is why I laugh when I hear Kenyans demand for MPs to pay their taxes. They won’t, and even if they do it will be a very long while before they do so. Before you demand that your MP pays tax, ask yourself whether you would pay if you were the MP. Be honest to yourself on this one. I’m very sure that the ones that can pay are less than 10% of the total population. Our leaders, sad to say, represent us perfectly! 

Over in Uganda, when the elections were near, they amended the constitution to enable the incumbent president to rule for life, armed with this He (the president) introduced multiparty democracy but ensured that his opponent spent more time behind bars than campaigning. People still chose the incumbent despite being offered an alternative. I hear they complained about the inclusion of the First Lady in the Cabinet, hey, what did you expect good people? You let a man joke around with the constitution, he gets away with it, and you think he will stop at that? He might as well include his sons and daughters in the Cabinet too! 

In Rwanda, when a minister was arrested on a trip abroad, the Rwandese demonstrated against the arrest. True, it might have been a country seeking to settle the score but the fact remains that she was a suspect of the 1994 genocide. The law stipulates that one is innocent until he/she is proven guilty. If she is innocent, you will get her back, if she is not then let the aggrieved party get justice albeit a little too late.

In Sudan, the Janjaweed militia, allegedly backed by the government has been reigning terror on the Darfur citizen, committing atrocities that have left the Darfur inhabitants, wondering whether there is still a government to protect them. Recently the ICC issued an arrest warrant against the Sudanese strongman. The president responded by telling the ICC to eat the arrest warrant. There were people cheering on such a declaration

In South Africa, the prosecutors are contemplating dropping all the corruption charges against the favourite to clinch the top seat in April; Jacob Zuma. It’s a case of the big man phobia. After all if he gets to power he will still drop them anyway, why not just do it now and be in the good books of the big man? Some say the charges were just a witch-hunt by the former president Thambo Mbeki.

 I can only point out three countries that have had considerably wise choices when choosing their leaders. Tanzania, our southern neighbours, have been consistent in showing the rest of the continent that leaders can gracefully vacate office. They have shown us all of three times how to do this but we don’t seem to get the plot. Botswana, a country which has a consistent  economic growth for some time now, have also tried to teach their fellow brothers that power is not everlasting life. They have had three successions also, although most of the successors are military guys. Ghana recently showed Africa and indeed the world that democracy can still thrive in this continent and against all odds did the right thing. 

Unless Africans change their mindsets and elect people on merit and not based on their tribal orientation, this continent will continue lacking in good policy making and will always lag behind the other continents in terms of development. We need to go for tuition from Tanzania and the like-minded countries, failure to which we will be electing new leaders who are just chips off the old block of greed and corruption at the expense of the countries in which they lead. 

Storymoja believes in freedom of expressions and creativity. Therefore, opinions expressed in article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Storymoja.



  1. Osas
    March 26, 2009

    Thomas Sankara.

    ‘Nuff said.


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