“Birds of the same plumage perambulate in the same proximity,” is one of the high sounding nothings we used to churn out when we were in high school so that we sound educated. It was a period where everyone thought that using hard diction was a sign of being educated. There were many other sayings and words we used such as lackadaisical, flabbergasted and inextricably interwoven in our sentences.
Most of our classmates, used these words to attract the attention of girls especially their juniors who were yet to be exposed to “academic excellence”. Because of space, I won't include some of the expressions found in love letters during those days, but when I turn back and look on what people were writing, it reminds me of a lifetime experience, the one I can't repeat now.
Still on the issue of the high sounding nothing, I opened this column with, we knew that there is a simpler and straight forward version of it which is, “birds of the same feathers flock together,” but given an option those days we opted for the former. And when translated, it seems to be a harmless statement; ndege wanaofanana siku zote huruka pamoja.
The person who coined this statement had seen it all. A mere observation of birds' behaviour proves that statement correct. I have never seen a crow flying in the middle of doves or vice versa. When ever you come across a flock of birds, it will be obvious that they are of the same furthers or they belong.
This concept rightly applies to human beings and you discover that people of the same interests usually interact or they are best of friends as they have common ground to stand on. Their friendship usually last because they share common interests.
It is in the same manner that it becomes very difficult to find a born again Christian young lady becoming best of friends with prostitutes. Their paths differ and in most cases they have different interests and beliefs and can never have a constructive conversation unless one is trying to convert the other to follow her ways.
In politics, what unite people into forming political parties is the fact that they will be having common interests and beliefs. And, African leaders seems to have become birds of the same furthers as they try to protect each other whenever a crisis arises. The problem, however, is that some leaders of certain nations take these concept too far and end up defending the undefendable.
This is the same attitude that have seen them taking a back seat and pretending that everything was normal whenever one of their fellow leaders is defeated in elections but refuses to vacate office. It seems we now have a new wave of democracy in Africa as leaders stay put when in actual fact they are supposed to vacate office.
The Kenyan crisis saw the formation of a unity government, a cancer that spread to the nearby Zimbabwe, who borrowed a leaf by having a government of national unity in a situation where, to those who were on the ground, a clear winner had been chosen by the electorate. This problem has spilled to Cote d' Ivoire where another government of national unity is in the pipeline.
What surprises me is the reluctance by other African leaders to take a decisive action and solve the crisis once and for all. They should borrow a leaf from our own JK who denounced Bgabgo, last week, urging him to respect the people's choice.
It has been more than two months since the Cote d' Ivoire crisis started but, African leaders are dilly-dallying, treating Bgabgo with kids' gloves while the Ivorians are suffering.
To add mockery to the whole scenario, there are many African leaders who are supporting Bgabgo and who feel he should remain in power. Most of them are just taking a low profile but for Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, it is no secret that he supports Bgabgo as the winner of the elections. Yes, he justified his stance but I believe it leaves a lot to be desired.
One thing for sure is that we have a problem in Africa. Most leaders want to be life presidents and in most cases, to cover their tracks. If this trend continues unchecked, then we will end up having GNUs throughout the continent. When I was reading some online publications, I came across a comment made by an identified reader over the crisis in Africa. The reader critically tackled this cancer and I leave you to read it:
Events in post-colonial Africa clearly show that all African governments are the wrong format which promotes dictatorship, military dictatorship that is. African Presidents consider themselves the next thing to God. They are in charge of everything except the economic decline in their repressive states.
They are what I call Presidential-Monarchs (that is, the King-cum-President or Emperor-cum-President). Untouchable and not accountable to anyone. Presidential-Monarchs are both Heads of State and Government making them in charge of the armies and police giving them an unfair advantage over all citizens in their states.
Presidential-Monarchs are presidents of their political parties and cannot be expected to be neutral as Heads of State. It's only natural they will be or are biased towards their political parties against other competing parties.
The best form of government of all time is the one where the president is an apolitical figurehead and head of government should be a prime minister [from the winning political party] who doesn't control the army and police. The army and police should be apolitical under the apolitical president. At present, other competing political parties and citizens are at the mercy of the Presidential-Monarch who is able to manipulate the situation to his own advantage as we are seeing in Zimbabwe, Uganda and all other African states.
In my proposed set up, the citizens should be empowered to fire the president if he proves partial in his dealings with various political parties. The army and police are paid by citizens' taxes and their duty is towards protecting citizens not a particular political party and therefore it should be the citizens who control the army and police through the apolitical president.
Citizens should periodically appraise the performance of the apolitical president to see if he hasn't strayed by conducting some sort of secret voting process and they should have limited terms. Just look at Ivory Coast - Gbagbo was a presidential candidate but he is in control of the army against a competing candidate Ouattarra. If these two were competing for position of PM under an apolitical President they wouldn't be having all these conflicts.
He would put his foot down and call for a recount if he sees it fit without rancour from the candidates. What we have in Africa has resulted in self-appointed Royals who were not born in Royalty masquerading as Presidents. Alternatively, the system of deducting income tax from citizens' wages should be replaced by voluntary payment of taxes so that citizens are in a position to withhold their taxes if they feel the army, police and other public officials who are paid from the public purse are not performing or are partisan.
I can't add anything, amekwisha maliza. God bless you.