AS we prepare to enter the proverbial month of Love and friendship, I am prompted to reflect on the subject of Betrayal in African politics. I am inspired by the wisdom of an African proverb which says: â€œThose who dare to spit at the sky only manage to dirty their own facesâ€. When I was growing up in my village, my mother used to say: â€œKwapa tachila kubeyaâ€. This does not only make sense but is also adequately validated by Scripture. When the brother of King David Ishbosheth betrayed and opposed this God-anointed King, he was killed. If you further read the story of King David in 2 Samuel, anyone who betrayed and opposed the King chosen by God was referred to as a â€œDead Dogâ€ because one way or the other, those â€œDead dogsâ€ ultimately got killed by God or the Kingdom system.
Those who choose to be led and work under an elected leader have on their shoulders the obligation to discharge both their functional and positional loyalty to the elected leader but not at the expense of their voters and the usurpation of public accountability. It is a delicate seesaw in which both the leaders and the led may draw inspiration to focus on the greater good.
The delicate balance between loyalty and betrayal appears to be hinged on the fundamental understanding that while the led may be allowed to admire the loftiness of those who lead, leadership does not change who you are, rather it reveals who you are just like money doesnâ€™t make you great but just more of who you are. The desire to ascend higher is both legitimate and a basic human instinct, but to desire to ascend without purpose and patience is an abrogation of the principles of progress. Those who lead have a duty to inspire the led and build their kind for posterity while the led have a duty to celebrate in earnest those who lead.
At the funeral held for Kwame Nkrumah, who had died in Exile, Amilcar Cabral, the leader of Guinea Bissau, seemed to sum it all up when he said in his powerful tribute to Nkrumah:
â€œNobody can tell us that Nkrumah died of a cancer of the throat or some other illness. No, Nkrumah was killed by the cancer of betrayal which we must uproot from Africa if we really want to bring about the final liquidation of imperialist domination from this Continent.â€
Nkrumah was badly betrayed by the same people he fought to redeem from colonialism through a coup that saw him end up in exile. Incidentally, as part of the intrigue of betrayals, Cabral himself became a victim of a more sinister â€œcancer of betrayalâ€ when he was assassinated less than a year after his powerful speech and this trend of African leaders being betrayed by their confidants and ministers extend to Thomas Sankara of Bukina Faso, Patrice Lumumba & Laurent Kabila of the Congo.
Are these betrayals fueled by the deficiencies of the leaders themselves or are they fueled by the rebellion of those left behind and forgotten by the leaders?
I have often thought that political success becomes a source of disillusionment if it fails to deliver on the objectives that spurred the quest for the success and the birth of a political party. Thus, those that rise to power and leadership must cultivate the culture of internal focus and perspective introspection to evaluate the endogenous factors that fuel discontent such as nepotism, politics of lies and demonisation of democratic values and anything that impinges on a leaderâ€™s capacity to march towards the fulfilment of the expectations of the led. Those who choose to be led and work under an elected leader have on their shoulders the obligation to discharge both their functional and positional loyalty to the elected leader but not at the expense of their voters and the usurpation of public accountability. It is a delicate seesaw in which both the leaders and the led may draw inspiration to focus on the greater good.
God Bless the Republic!
The author is Minister of Foreign Affairs