Monday, 13 May 2013

Our Madiba Deserves Better

If you scrutinize the reasons behind the hiding of health information regarding African leaders, in most  cases there are dirty reasons. In Malawi, when President Bingu wa Mutharika died of a heart attack in his office, his body was flown to South Africa while his brother was manoeuvring to take reign of the country by force. If it wasn’t for the South African government that pressured the family to say the truth, President Mutharika might be still purported alive, being treated in South Africa. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), when Kabila was mysteriously assassinated by one of his bodyguards in his presidential palace in Kinshasa, it was said that he died at the scene but was flown to Zimbabwe to allow sometime for the planning of unconstitutional succession by his son, Joseph Kabila, the current DRC President.

Few months ago I read an article of Dr Adekeye Adebajo of the Centre for Conflict Resolution in the Mail Guardian in which he broke the news of the passing of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi. To verify the news, a colleague of mine phoned the Ethiopian embassy in Pretoria; they couldn’t confirm nor deny the news. It took them four hours to say that they don’t know. I kept on asking myself how the well-respected Dr Adebajo made a big mistake and announce that Prime Minister Zenawi had passed on without proof, but it seems he knew what he was talking about.  It was after months that Zenawi was declared officially dead.  It is then that I understood that African leaders die twice. There is the first death which they die but their deaths are kept a secret while their family members or allies are exploring ways to disrespect constitutional institutions; the second death is the real one when the machine is already set and the news is broken out and they lie that the President died last night while their families have been mourning for days or weeks. Commenting on the murmuring  of the Ethiopian Government on  Meles Zenawi ‘s whereabouts,  Afua HirschIt of the Guardian said that it is not the first time that an African government has failed to confirm the illness or death of a leader in office, prompting periods of mysterious absence.             

Recently, when I was watching news, I was shocked to see the images of our beloved Mandela. What shocked me is not actually his image; it is what President Zuma said. “As you can see Madiba is up and about”, Zuma added that Madiba was in good spirit. After the news, my 14 years old nephew asked me what does  “to be up and about” mean? I told him that it means to be strong. He doubted.  We went to check the dictionary (English is neither our first nor our second language) and find out that “An example of up and about is someone who was ill for a while and confined to her bed, but who is now able to go places and do things again.” My previous definition was almost right, but the boy disputed that the image was not corresponding to what we have just seen and heard from our President. No one expects Mandela at his age to be dancing like Zuma does, but also lying about his health is not helping ANC or anyone. Madiba left politics long-time ago, why do we need SABC camera when visiting him. He deserves better.  If we lie about his health now, what will happen when the inevitable arrives? I guess the government will do as our African countries do. Hiding for months!!!

Looking at the footage of ANC top leaders at Madiba’s home, it looked like a Photoshop image. My nephew still argues that images seen were not consistent, and he kept asking why we never see Madiba’s wife. It is being rumoured that she is also being side-lined when it comes to her husband’s health issue. South Africa should be a good example in EVERYTHING to the rest of Africa.


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