It is a matter of high debate, a widely conceived and integrated sense of human nature for one to seek friendships, try to build a relationship with God or be remorseful for wrong things done to others when faced with a perilous situation. The situation may be in nature of sickness, loss of a loved one, in conflict with the law or day-to-day trials and tribulations. It is understandable because it is at such a time when one can see the limitations of his/her power. There are people who rejoice in the sufferings of others, while it may appear to the undiscerning eye that the person inflicting the pain is brave, the reality is usually that the oppressor is suppressing or hiding his/her weakness by acting tough. Even now, we have presidents presiding over killings sipping champagne, but their time to face their march is in the offing, the shock waves of balance of power are shifting at a very fast rate.
Adolph Hitler sent shivers down the spine of the British Empire, but when push came to shove, he couldn’t face men the coward that he was took his own life, Saddam Hussein al Tikrit of Iraq killed millions, but when he was challenged by armed men like him, he cowered and retreated to a hole like a scared rat, Col. Muammar Gadaffi ruled Libya like a personal fiefdom broaching no dissent, but when the western imperial powers working in cahoots with some Gulf Arab States hunted him, he could only find refugee in a drainage culvert. All these examples prove that while some people may appear superhuman, they are just human like the rest of us with real fears. The fact is that they did not open their eyes in good time to see the suffering they were casing in the lives of those whose loved ones they killed.
And so it should be that while one still draws breath, the route to personal bliss and spiritual fulfillment should be driven from the inner soul, not at the expense of human casualties. African leaders are the most pampered leaders on this planet while they are the least effective. Just this year alone, not less than three heads of African states have died in office. With the exception of Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, the other two (Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi and Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia) had really made life difficult for voices of dissent, press freedom curtailed and their memories will always conjure up clefts of repression. At funerals, it is always pomp, colour, ceremonies and flowing eulogies are paid, but truth is swept under the carpet so as to be politically correct. The correct approach would be to serve as a lesson to those leaders still in power to reflect and know that they are destined for the same journey and the time they have in this world should be spent making peace not war. Power should be balanced and divided by law as per Montesquieu’s vision.
Here at home we have a government which was formed after blood of human beings had been spilled, across the border we have President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni who sees Uganda as his own enclave where his family has a to be entwined in state organs, central and local government. In Equatorial Guinea, Theodoro Obiang and his family with a plethora of state money and resources call the shots, strutting the world like peacocks while people live in abject poverty and a myriad of social problems, in Cameroon, the political dinosaur that is Paul Biya is not thinking of engaging in other profession apart from the presidency, in Angola, the first family of Dos Santos is investing in banking and finance in Portugal while the country is bifurcated by the chasms of poverty with citizens living in squalid conditions. Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso with his esoteric knowledge thinks that he will rule forever because he killed the great patriot Thomas Sankara, but his time will come. The common denominator of these people is that they think it is their divine right to govern and do not believe in institutions and in their countries there is no demarcation line between family affairs and state affairs. These are leaders who cannot be removed from power through the power of the ballot because they do not believe in the rule of law or democracy and manipulate the electoral system and shoot dead protesters.
It is not just those “Big Men of Africa” who are expected to show sobriety, restraint and respect. We live in a layered segregated world with self erected barriers with customs whose overt purpose is to restrain upward social movement of the marginalized. Those who feel superior expect, but do not always receive, reverence from those they assume are of a lower loyal subservience. It begins with me, you then them. We should then strive with our little powers that we have not to antagonize those we deal with. Accretion of anger and lack of emotional intelligence and control are in most instances responsible for the outward manifestations of pride and arrogance towards those one may consider inferior. Perhaps a waiter delays with an order, a janitor is slow in executing commands with the result that you shout and try to demean them to the greatest extent possible. You do not need to humiliate that person in order to be magnanimous. Your arrogance may be the fire that will consume you.