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Conductor of an orchestra

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US President Barack Obama has swagger to boot, and he knows it. Recently, during his famous homecoming, he didn’t even mince words to let all and sundry know that he is a “pretty good and young president” who, if he were tempted to give another go at the presidency, would win; and resoundingly so.

In his long and dense speech to the African Union, Obama won for himself some good friends and, at the same time, earned some bitter enemies. His stinging and blunt admonition of African heads of states, who overstate their eminence and try to cling to power even when their legs can’t even carry them, did not make most African leaders happy. Some must have been sneering and kicking things all over in anger. What does this mulatto think he is to change our deep-rooted culture? They surely scoffed.

Obama might have laboured too hard to put his point across, but to some of us, Uncle Sam was better off staying at home and keeping quiet because his sermon against leaders who overstay in power fell on deaf ears. Obama, if he did not know, was more or less addressing a club of thieves whose members are willing to expend half of their country’s population as long as they remain in power and spend tax payers’ money at their fancy.

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Take for example; recently, Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza turned his country into a circus of fire and blood in his mission to remain in power for as long as he wants. And, ironically, days after Obama’s speech, Congo’s Denis Sassou Ngueso was in the news telling us that he wants to continue lording over the Congo.

Just last year, another of Africa’s bad examples, Blaise Compaoré or Beautiful Blaise—as they ironically used to call him—had to be ousted as he attempted to extend his stay as Burkina Faso president. Four years ago, or there about, it was Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast who had to face the embarrassment of being dragged out of office after people got tired of his attempt to continue ruling despite glaring evidence that he had overstayed his welcome and outlived his relevance.

What Obama, I think, forgot to say was that this tendency is common among leaders who have messed up big time and would want to use any means, however foul and bloody they can be, to stay on in power and cover up their reeking sins.

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Looking at Burundi, one would surely stagger with the weight of corruption; choke with the stench of poor services in education and health and the sickening infrastructure. But if you ask Nkurunziza, he will tell you that he has taken the country on the right path and would want to stay on until the ecclesiastical last trumpet.

Sassou Nguesso, we all know, is not everybody’s cup of tea. Known for his love to spend on luxuries even when his people are living in abject poverty, the guy is not one most people would prefer to see around the yards of state residences for longer periods. Once upon a time, in 2006, Sassou Nguesso shocked the world because of his profligacy when he blew a cool $130, 000(or was it $ 140,000?) for accommodation only at the plush Waldorf Astoria during a UN General Assembly.

I am not sure if Obama’s succinct admonition resonated here at home because I have noted that we also have had, one after another, leaders who are more concerned with how long they stay in power rather than what good things they have and want to give the nation.

At almost every rally that our dear president Peter Mutharika has attended, he has focused mainly on reminding us that he has set his eyes on 2019. Granted, times flies, and 2019 cannot be too far in politics, but for a leader to think too much on an election that is four years away when he is failing to hold the country aloft is sickening.

In 2019 Peter will be a year shy of 80 and honestly he will be old and tired. If I were one of his aides, I would have told my boss to invest his remaining energies in finding means to keep afloat our sick kwacha which is taking a frightening nosedive despite us being in our favourite tobacco-selling season.

During her ephemeral time at Kamuzu Palace, Joyce Banda had the same problem that Peter is having now. She was very bent and focused on winning the 2014 elections and, regrettably, ended up running around rather than running the country. Her loss of control on national matters ended with her regime creating a band of thieves in the Cashgate scandal. If you were to ask some people what Joyce Banda’s rule was all about, they will tell you that it was a season of lackadaisical management that took the country on the precipice.

Fast-forward to today, Peter too is too busy justifying his presidency and has set his eyes on the prospects of staying beyond 2014 and has forgotten his role as the conductor of an orchestra.

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