'Dynsaty-sation' of Africa's Democracies and Autocracies

When Laurent Kabila-led forces were marching all the way to Zaire (DR Congo) I was in the Secondary School and we used to joke with it. We would draw the approaching military and write beneath it '10 km away from Kinshasa' and we would laugh at Mobutu Sesseseko. A friend by name Prince or Little use to do these drawings and we were happy that that man who was 'famed' to be richer than his country is finally going to be thrown out. Our happiness was affirmed by the confirmation of the resulting overthrow. Mobutu died shortly whilst in exile in Morocco.

So Laurent Kabila became the president of Zaire renamed it Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) and all were jubilant at least peace shall return. But it never did. Kabila was also assassinated and his son Joseph Kabila took over. A dynasty was then formed. Should the son succeed the father? I have no objection so far as the son has the necessary qualifications to become a president. Where my problem lies is when the fathers have proved time and again that they are not to be trusted and that they wield in their minds the tenets and doings of a dictator.

When Gnassingbe Enyadema died, a constitutional coup took place and his son Faure became the president. There was a lot of hullabaloo about the whole situation because the military prevented the speaker, who is to become the president, from entering the country, parliament gathered, made Faure the speaker and subsequently the president. The AU bared their infant teeth and spoke against it. An election was organised and Faure became the president; from father to son.

Any keen follower of African politics would realise that there is the gradual change over of presidency from fathers to sons. Another infuriating pattern is the constitutionalisation of autocracy. The latter has been happening not only in Africa, but also in the South Americans. It was this that led to the overthrow of Manuel Zelaya of Honduras. Constitutionalisation of Autocracy is when the sitting president, knowing that his tenure in office is about ending and the constitution does not allow him to be stand as a candidate, would quickly organise a referendum to change the constitution, allowing him to stay in power for an indefinite number of years. It is happening in Niger and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda had also taken that course. An interview with Shaka Ssali (a Ugandan and the host of the VOA show, Straight Talk Africa) stated that when Museveni assumed office he said that 'there is something wrong with any president who stays in power for more than 10 years'. The last time I checked this man was in the top ten longest-serving African presidents, having been in power since 29th January 1986. Funny enough he came through a coup that much of the world supported. He was involved in the overthrow of the worst dictator of all time Idi Amin and later Milton Obote. But he has himself become a lover of power and perhaps soon would become a monster, if only he has not become one already.

This morning I read in the Daily Graphic (the most selling Ghanaian newspaper) that Ali Ben Bongo, the late President Omar Bongo's son, has been chosen by the ruling party to stand in the presidential election expected to be held late in August. These are the cunning ways of the present crop of African leaders, using the constitution to ensure autocratic and dynastic rule. Couldn't the party find any other person? Couldn't they have exercised a bit of morality? There is always a collision between constitutionality and morality. Constitutionally he may have all the required qualifications to become the president of Gabon but is it moral to succeed his father, especially when Omar Bongo's rule was rife with alleged thievery? I would support him if only and only if his father did good and he has it within him to do good. But does he?

The gradual dynasty-sation of Africa's democracies and autocracies is a worrying sign which lovers of Africa, those of us who live in Africa and want to see it develop, and not those who only make flamboyant speeches in their brief passage, those of us who feel a special pain in our hearts when we see the suffering populace and not those who make money out of the sufferers, those vampires who suck blood of the sufferers, we who understand the problem because we live in the problem must be concern. We must be concern because the stuffing of our loot into their paunch and their boot should end. It is time for selfless Africans to rule Africa. Until we all agree to go back to the Kingship and Kingdom or decide to reformulate our own type of democracy, democracies should not be turned into dynasties.


  1. What, in your opinion will be the difference between this chosen son, or an annointed successor who may not necessarily be a relative?

  2. you speak right...Pen Powder...no difference. Absolutely no difference. Like Yar'dua and Obasanjo or Medvedev and Putin...But don't you think it rubs in badly if it is a chosen son?

  3. hmmm.. I think it is about time we realized that we are the only reason any government will be in power. What if they claimed they were president and the people decided no way no how they are not! Our fear of military power has held us back for so long. People who use military force to rule have no respect for innocent civillians. Such people drive me insane! Interesting piece!

  4. Thanks Maxine...I agree with you. Sometimes we hold back too much. It is only when we stand up for what we want that people will begin to take us serious, don't you think so?

  5. I agree with Maxine Mosley Totoe. We are damm responsible for our leaders. In fact, there is a saying that goes like you get a leader you deserve. I am sure you may have noticed that I am Zimbabwean, and do we deserve Robert Mugabe? Yes! In what way? We are cowards, and we have left him to pull the wool over the eyes of the world whilst butchering us at home. Yes, we are cowards, and we thoroughly deserve him!

  6. Pen Powder you are right and I have put forward this hypothesis over and over again. I always ask the people (Ghanaians) who complain about the military regime of AFRC and PNDC why they didn't stand up to him? Why most of them fled from the country leaving the poor people to bear the 'brunt' if only there is any? Now they run back to us to tell us the brutalities of the military regime even though we are now in civilian rule and have been since 1992. When they want to deceive us they raise the issues of past. Their response has been the country was too harsh, yet the ordinary citizens stayed and had they also left would there be any Ghana that they now want to rule. So you see? That's why I have loved the South Africans for so long a time. They stand for what they believe in, except their xenophobic ....

  7. I Agree. We must responsible for our destiniy. We as Africans love to run. We forget that all the places we run to, have had to fight for the democracies that we flee to. All those democracies, also have to be maintaned. There is no country in the world that has not gone thru a revolution of some sort. That is why the Americans realised that all you need is to change the persons, but your policy must remain the same.

    Thats why they could afford to elect a black person as a president. It makes you realise, obama was right, you need strong institutions rather than strong men. Ghana now is building strong institutions rather than strong men. The objective must be resolute upon development, peace, and stability, it wont matter if Mills, Kuffour, or rawlings is in power. The national agenda rules the rooost.

    We need to do that in Africa. There must be no fear that a change of government will necessarily be a change in policy. Phew, I am tired about these things!

  8. You definitely are tired! I am passionate about Africa and I talk very passionately. I would be damned if I say it would be easy. It will not. It's true...in fact the French revolution is even more outrageous. They had to kill all the monarchs...

    However, for Africans instead of standing up to these people we run away from them and leave the booties for them to loot.

    Do you know that most Ghanaians would argue with you about the development of strong institutions in the country? I bet you people are not seeing it and that's is the syndrome. People are not realising that we have come thus far. Thanks for your post. I believe we the youth too shouldn't remain as stooges or worst still be used as tools of the oppressors. Most rebel leaders are young people who should be doing something better with their lives...who should be developing some software for our development but what do we see? they are busy chopping hands and heads.

    But we shall overcome; we shall get there; and be out of this bondage.


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