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Paul Mamza






February 15, 2005



Gnassignbe Eyadema died with little mourning sobriety. The economic community of West African States (ECOWAS) merely offered "the greatest tribute that the Togolese people can pay to him (Gnassignbe) in view of his service to West Africa is a peaceful transition of power in conformity with the TOGOLESE CONSTITUTION (emphasis mine).


Faure Gnassignbe Eyadema succeeded his father in a succession alien the norms of democratic process, which the Togolese constitution supposed to highlight as a symbol of participatory genitive. Amidst terse denouncement from the international community, Faure dismissed any fear of convulsions by his guts at the swearing -in ceremony in Lome.

Said Faure "before God and the Togolese people, alone in holding sovereignty, I, Faure Gnassingbe, elected president of the republic conforming to the laws of the republic, swear solemnly to respect and defend the constitution, and to loyally fulfill the highest duties assigned me by country".


Gnassingbe Eyadema participated in the coup that ousted Gilchrist Olympio in 1963 coup and after seized power in 1967 since then he had been the undisputable leader of Togo until early this year (2005) when he gave up the ghost. A man that once boasted at the temple of self- ego that no man born of woman can kill him, left a scenery of a symptomatic rainbow of a conventional African leader that deploys atavistic conquest of sensibilities and sensualities.


The African continent had produced savages in the Toga of rumpus as an imitation of the world acclaimed democratic order. if any thing special, the African leaders had only shown that their quest for power and easy fortunes cannot disapprove the popular world view belief that the colour of their skin which is termed inferior reflects the inner working of their minds. Except for the few isolated cases like the indelible "Madiba touch" of the South African Nelson Mandela, the revolutionary instincts of Ghana’s Jerry Rawlings and the magical chasm of late Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, the continent is a tale of vulnerabilities of ambiguities. A continent that produced the Idi Amin Dada of Uganda and Mobutu Sese Sekou as a star duel, there’s hardly anything good that comes out of Africa that calls for world attention.


Even with a long history of a potential human civilisation Africa can only boast of hunger, disease, illiteracy, despair and wars courtesy of its leaders. With the tragedy of disillusion staring at realms, African leaders will prefer to hold on to power by all means than to summon a pride for its nations. From Mathieu Kerekou of Benin republic to Paul Biya of Cameroun, the unbeatable Robert Mugabe of Uganda and quintessential Muomar Quadaffi of Libya it had been a cling to power like a leach. To Africa democracy must be culturalised in a traditional way and the culture must end with monopoly. When Nigeria’s President and Chairman of Africa Union Chief Olusegun Obasanjo protested the abrupt change of baton in Lome, Faure - the successor of the throne, must have some consolations that legitimacy is not in African leadership vocabulary and hence, Nigeria’s Charity must begin at home. With the crisis of legitimacy trailing the Nigeria’s last presidential elections, the beneficiary of he "monarchicracy" had shown at least that there’s no saint amongst equal sinners except for difference in its mode. What Africa needs in the contemporary world politics is not the hide under pretence but to declare to the world that there are not ripe for democracy. Be it home-grown or externally nurtured, Africa cannot be universal feat in international proclamations of clarion call for global civilizations.


The rancour and pandering desires of the body chains of discreet in the continent had massacred their path for liberation. In a far away Rwanda Paul Kagame had encroached a father’s successor like Faure, Joseph Kabila in a disarmament of Hutu rebels threatening Tutsi minorities which Kagame belongs and in Sudan, a heavily armed Arab militia took on the predominantly black Muslim locals in Darfur war that claimed thousands of lives. The stories coming out of the continent are condoningly tragic-a symbolic compelling of battered reputations and trumping human enslavements. The cruel tricks of travesty vibrating out of Africa show more diseases of symptoms than symptoms of a disease. It is either showcasing the excessive native intelligence of Bokassa, the discredited actions of Mobutu, the pre-emptive lack of logic of Idi Amin Dada or the sheer unreasonable glimpses of Charles Taylor. Nigeria supposed to be the biological liberator of the continent but the country had explained to the continent through its actions that the every traits of the black race pushing it away from rationality and rationalizations are still pricking its conscience, at least from the present rabid crudity of President Olusegun Obasanjo. Almost forty five years after independence, Nigeria still imbibe the qualities of squalor and misrule with pride - its citizenry are amongst the poorest in the world and the leaders are standard bearers of corrupt tendencies. But South Africa and Ghana could have been a new emerging paradigm in the African quest to secure ticket for international incorporations.


The moving train of change and rational politics had subjected the continent at the station; it needs more than a parachute to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of parting ways with diabolical dictatorships. Togo’s example is just a representative exhibit of power shift tendencies enshrined in the law of election that African continent had curiously imbibed. The "Faurisation" of the African continent had been the norms and caprices that underscore its achievement and progress. The constitution that Faure swore with is the constitution of his father and not of Togo. ECOWAS nearly captured the logic in its tribute speech to the late Togolese leader except that the body missed the explicit points. The father (Gnassingbe) and the son (Faure) had secretly entered into covenant of writing the Togolese constitution to enable the succession of the Eyademas, after the death of the elder Eyadema, the younger Eyadema was just facilitated to the throne by a key factor (General Zakari Nandja) that installed Gnassingbe during the military coup de’tat that brought him to power. Even the international protestations against the "civilian coup" in Lome are shrouded with little hopes, agreeable that Togo will heed. Without the abrogation of the existing constitution and its substitute with a people-oriented constitution, any new entrant may only float around the Eyadema’s instincts. Africa rule is an antidote to democratic humanism and an antithesis of humanistic democracy as exemplified by the recent apparent umbilical cord of succession between a father and son without any elections during a supposed democracy. If the international community wants democracy to succeed in Africa it may have to tame the ghost of witches that had perpetually severed the propensity of it’s leadership model, to do otherwise, is to assume that the Africa continent has come of age which is not.


Mamza writes from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria


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