11.12.2012 Feature Article


11.12.2012 LISTEN

Right from the days of Adam, there have always been situations which have made man to idolize his fellow man. Man, in his quest to achieve his personal liberty, had always believed that, his freedom could be catapulted into being by the appearance of one person who will provide him the leadership (spur) to overcome his immediate obstacle. And so, when such a man appears to help him to overcome his immediate challenge, I think it was quite fair that these people are accorded the highest respect of the land. A perfect case was what we find in the Bible. The people of Israel, when they were fed up with their aging King Saul, thought that the shepherd David deserved the throne since he had led his people to defeat its enemy, the Palestinians. The women idolized David on the street, that he should be made king over Israel.

Coming to our own world, in the formation of most Africa's tribal states, men who distinguished themselves in war to defend their people, were accorded chiefdom or kingdom titles. They were given exclusive control of all existing natural resources owned by the people. They therefore also ruled according to their own whims and caprices. They were all in all. They acted as the modern day executive, legislator and judiciary with little checks from those they ruled. Except for, biblical times, that God deposed some Kings to install others, most of these Kings ruled for life. The fact, that they enjoyed kingship title for life, was not enough compensation to redeem their people's indebtedness to them for the one favor they might had done for their people. The people and all their unborn generations owe them for eternity. And so when they passed away, their sons, don't worry if they were imbeciles, would have to ascend their thrones. This new chief, who might be a small boy, will sit in his ancestral throne; expect obeisance from councilors of his deceased father; and everything he says -however stupid- will be seen as profound. Though this kid chief might not have gone to even a rat hunt before, he could be given titles suggesting he is the all valiant. In our modern times, these chiefs could capriciously dispose off a whole generation's land property put in their trust, to give 'chop money' to their wives; to buy used cars to have jolly rides in them with their latest girlfriends; or just to take a new wife. They can do anything with the resources in their trust and nobody can question them. They become tin gods.

Sadly, this is the life most of our politicians who enter politics want to have. The root cause of African leaders, turning into long running dictators, is that, they see themselves like the traditional rulers; especially the military dictators. After all, didn't they risk their lives, to bring whatever freedom they thought they had brought to the people? And so, however inept they are in power, they deserve to rule the people as long as they live. And as it happens in other places, they will wish their sons or brothers to replace them when they have to leave.

And so, as characterized by every society, when crises befell our friends on the other side, they decided, by the intervention of the wise counsel, 'Mamaga Ananse', that since the forest was fast depleting, and game is hard to come by, they needed one who will lead a chase for the few game left in the wild. They came into agreement that, since King Lion is aging, Junior Dog should lead the hunt. Junior Dog's athletic attribute, did made the choice a good one. Soon everybody had enough to eat. What then was wrong with it, when the elders decided that, since Junior Dog had distinguished himself in helping to feed his people in the society's difficult times, he should act as king on the thighs of King Lion? It was in place according to our culture. Didn't our elders say that, a child who knows how to wash his hands deserves to eat with the elders? So, everybody agreed that Junior Dog acted as caretaker king. And so, for many years, Dog acted as king with the support of all.

Then one day, our friends woke up to the bad news. King Lion had joined his ancestors. Dog had then also suffered a serious injury in one of the hunts and it looked as if he might also join the ancestors soon. Urgently, the elders needed to find a successor of the departed king. Who else deserve this throne than the well-mannered son of King Lion? Everybody thought that was a wise choice by the elders. But Dog will not hear that. He wanted his wife to take his place in leading the hunt. He is emboldened to pursue his parochial desire because some monkeys who were court-jesters and messengers who enjoyed a rare opportunity in having the exclusive preserve to relish nuts found in entrails of birds killed by the chief hunter, Dog, were behind him. They had enjoyed eating those nuts and so thought if Dog's wife became the chief huntress, they could have such privileges restored to them.

But that cannot be. First, it will be against the custom of the people. Women do not lead hunt in that society. Secondly, Dog, originally was not supposed to have acted in that royal position because he was not born a royal. And so, even his son could not inherit that position from him. Yet, the most difficult challenge was that the children of King Lion and their cousins were also desirous to taste power. They were not ready to continue to serve as barbers and nail polishers to Dog and his wife.

Some natives who didn't like Dog even said, Dog's tenure depleted the forest. When the old hunter Tiger, took over from him, the animals were forced to wear placards on their back and front, like erred school boys, shouting they were hungry, just to get some small chops to eat from their neighbors. And so, because the people will not give in to his demands, he would be barking, barking and barking.

Hmm; confused? May be, I sound like somebody you have missed. Anyway, as I was saying, before I started boring you with some Kwaku Ananse's story, modern leaders should know that, times have changed. Even the old age chieftaincy is under scrutiny these days. Someone once said, and I quote 'when the curtains fall, one must get out of the stage'. In biblical past, great leaders knew their time. And they do not hesitate to leave when they had to. Elijah left for Elisha. John the Baptist left for Jesus. Earlier, Saul who didn't want to go even when the signs were there to show that his days were numbered on the throne had to suffer a dehumanizing end. Politicians should do know that they cannot command the people's loyalty all the time. A time will come that the people will demand they leave the stage for others to continue from where they have left. This does not mean that the people do not appreciate the efforts they might have made in the past. They should not fall into the temptation of becoming intransigent.

They say, those that the gods want to destroy, they first make mad.

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