the absurd

Here is a story from the BBC website that made me feel sad, angry and embarrassed, all at the same time. How do you build a hospital, equip it, and then keep it shut until the head of state opens it, all this while people whose tax money built the hospital continue to die? What level of madness is this? This is a shame on Yar’Adua and a confirmation of how hard it is for African leaders to get rid of the big man mentality. What makes presidents think that they are obligated to travel around on the tax payer’s tab just to cut ribbons and smile at the cameras?

It is bad enough that a big chunk of Africa’s roads, hospitals, universities, schools, among others, are named after despots – Kenya alone has several Moi High Schools, A Moi internation Airport, Moi stadium/sports complex, Moi Avenue, Moi University…….. This self aggrandizement has to stop. Keeping a hospital shut because of a single individual is the epitome of madness. SHAME SHAME SHAME. This is an embarrassment to Nigeria and to all that care about Nigeria – Africa’s perennial “potential hegemon-leader”.

which gets me thinking……..

Perhaps African leaders do all these things to immortalize themselves. But can’t this quest for immortality be achieved better if they wrote books and came up with revolutionary ways of dealing with the many problems facing the continent than merely naming roads after themselves or putting their faces on currencies – things that can be easily changed? Ideas last forever and the inventors of great ideas forever remain immortal. For instance, when I think of Senghor, I rarely think of his presidency, little of which I know. I think of Senghor the poet and staunch Africanist. Same with Cabral, Nyerere and Kwameh Nkrumah, all of whom were great idealists who bothered to write and let people know what went on between their ears and will forever occupy Africa’s pantheon of great leaders. Incidents like this in Borno State, Nigeria make you wonder whether our leaders have anything at all between their ears.

So a quick message to our leaders, from the cultured intellectuals like Wade, Mbeki, Mogae (among others) to those who seem to be allergic to reason like Obiang’, Deby and al-Bashir (among others) : write, write, write. If you want us to remember you give us new ideas that will help the continent escape the trap of pre-modernity. If you name a school after yourself we will change the name as soon as a rebel leaders comes along, deposes you and probably dispatches you to the Creator only to start from where you left.