I Rule! Serve Me!
How do the social structures of father and family influence the macrocosmic relationship between African rulers and their people.
One wonders why every so often an African president stays in power against the constitution and beyond his term of office. I have always been one to take things a little deeper. African leaders are bred in Africa in cultures and systems that are commonplace to every one; after all, is a culture not what every one longs to keep? When another culture is introduced, society goes in uproar, criticizing and tearing down the new culture; it's an African cliché to say, “Our culture is breaking, and the tribe and traditions are being tampered with.” In the ancient days, a king ruled with complete authority; he had the final say as to what took place in the kingdom. For instance, in the Rwanda Kingdom, the saying for the Tutsi King that ruled Rwanda was that “the spear never left his hand only when it rested on a Hutu's foot and he could not spit anywhere save in a Hutu's mouth.” This created anger and bitterness among the Hutu that, years down the road, instigated the Rwanda Genocide.
A culture has great merits but it can be a great instigator for evil as well. With the backdrop of kings in Africa having the final word to what happens in the kingdom, this same attitude and ideology is instilled in the men of our culture. He is made to believe that the woman is answerable to him when he gets married; that she is his property: that whatever he does is not to be questioned. His children receive everything he says without asking or questioning. When they ask why, he implies that they are of no intelligence or wisdom because of their age and inexperience and will not give an answer to the question.
Considering the fact that this how our men are brought up, when they finally get to power as presidents of these beautiful countries of Africa, what do we expect them to do? They have a mind that has been trained to dictate whatever happens in their sphere of influence. The country becomes their home; leadership becomes control resulting into life residents who control everything that concerns their ‘home’ – the judiciary, constitution, and land issues. The desire to control everything has become a result of the way their culture has trained a man to think. On the other hand, in the western world (a phrase I hate to use), men are trained to be leaders. True leadership has no aspect of dictatorship. Instead it holds the idea of serving for a period of time until a purpose is achieved and then the leader moves on. The dictionary definition of a leader is a person “who guides or directs a group, goes before others, showing others the way.” It is a simple system where one leads without closing one’s ears and listening only to oneself. Society in England, though dilapidating at a fast rate due to the divide between the liberal and political right, has the right attitude for us to draw from. One will notice that it is easier for children in the western world to speak very openly and confidently with their parents to a point that they can run to them when they want to share deep issues of the heart and cry. It is this openness that creates a depth in relationship.
In Uganda, nine out of ten young people will most likely tell you they have never spoken to their fathers about a relationship. Why? If they did, he would probably lash them and give them a lecture on how they are getting ‘spoilt.’ Ugandans never take time to understand the fact that our children are just as human as we are, and that they need a listening ear. In the western world, a man knows that his child is a human being going through the same things he went through as a child. In Uganda, a child is one that knows nothing and needs to be beaten into wisdom. And the father is over all because he alone knows it all. When the child prospers or gets married, it is the father who receives the praise; when the child gets pregnant as a teenager or ends up in a rowdy group of thugs, then the mother is to blame.
It is with this mindset that our presidents are groomed; it is with this culture that we raise up boys who believe that their place is to be served and that the woman's place is to do the serving. And it is with this culture that our men sit on presidential seats with an attitude of “Serve me; I rule.” Why then should we complain when every day we lament that we do not want our culture ‘destroyed’? Why should we complain about a man changing a constitution for his benefit when our fathers change the rules in a home for their benefit? Why should we expect more from a man in power over a nation and less from one in power over a home? Have we not lost our sense of reasoning? Or… have we ever had any?
We are a culture that does not question. When the police are arresting people and the WBS TV crew asks why, the answer is: “We are just following orders.” The police do not even follow the law, they follow orders. They have probably never studied the law or they would question the orders sent to them. Why do we expect leadership from a culture that controls? A taxi driver will stuff twenty people in a taxi ‘licensed’ to carry 14 passengers and no one says a word; he'll drive them at break neck speed and everyone is quiet because he is in control and therefore knows what he is doing.
Where is our voice? Maybe it was never there because all we do is follow, being so used to being controlled. We have lost lives because of careless living and blamed it on others. When we have life presidents, why do we complain? After all, the country is his home. It is only a transference of place but he is his father's son and that was his father's way of leading. Ugandans, Africans, can we rethink the way we bring children up? Can we rethink the way we lead our homes? Can we rethink the way we give our lives wholly to a man who we never met driving us around with ignorance and no thought that we could end up with broken limbs and dead children?
We all need to speak. Gone are the days when movements were formed to be a voice for the people. Now, everyone has a voice. Wake up and use it.