29 March 2006

Johnson-Sirleaf leads change in Africa

I am going through the latest edition of Newsweek ( International Edition) and I came across an article titled 'Healing Powers' written by Joshua Hammer. The article is introduced with the following question

"African women are starting to take charge - making new laws, changing old attitudes, inspiring others to follow their lead. Who will help them mend a broken continent?"

Me myself I am wondering, so off I go a-reading. It was interesting to read that women in Liberia are upset with Johnson- Sirleaf because they feel that there aren't enough women in her cabinet. I am wondering is this really the issue? Is it so important, the gender of those in power? Please do not get me wrong, I have nothing against women in government, and I believe every society should not deny itself the opportunity to benefit fully from all its human resources, regardless of their gender. Are these feminist groups clamoring for more female involvement in Johnson- Sirleaf’s cabinet because they believe/know that there are better qualified women for the positions occupied by the men (I assume) who where appointed? I believe we should learn to draw the line between sentiment and good sense.

It’s just like all this quota system/acute tribalism crap that has seized this country by the throat and is slowly but surely snuffing the life out of it. The other day I was in Benin and I saw a billboard showing Nigeria divided along its geo-political zones, with a tally of how leadership has been rotated among the various zones. It showed that the east as a whole had been ‘marginalized’, and was calling sons (and daughters) of the east to help stop the marginalization. Please. The issue to my mind is not the tribe of the person whose turn it is to live in Aso rock, indeed we could hire some out of work CEO from the US or Europe and we would not be worse of for it! I think its more his/her competences and the availability of an enabling environment to carry out the chores with which he/she has been tasked by the electorate. Simple. If we ‘the people’ allow a level playing field, and all contenders contest and a Koma man/woman say is shown to be the most competent, by all means let him/her get on with it. After an agreed period, we ‘the people’ examine his/her accomplishments. If we are satisfied we elect him/her to a second term, or a third term (whatever our legally drawn up constitution allows) else we open the door to sweep him/her out as we welcome his/her successor. Ah, but I forget, will we ‘the people’ get out of our own way to allow this to happen? Will we ever learn to cure the leprosy that’s causing our digits to rot and fall off instead of fretting over the ringworm on our head which will dry off in a week? Will we ever be able to look beyond what we perceive will profit us now and think of the good of the collective? I wonder.

Johnson- Sirleaf’s has a tough job ahead, and really this is not the time for women in particular to be up in arms. Her failure now will retard the progress of the indigenous African female while her success can only leap frog the forward movement of the African female on all levels, not just politics. Who knows women might just be what is required to weld back together this shattered fractal called Africa and I daresay we are all the help we need.

By the way, I am loving Johnson- Sirleaf’s shades of blue outfit! I cannot but marvel out how very like the ‘traditional’ Yoruba bridal outfit it is. Perhaps she picked it up from TisBee say on her recent trip to Nigeria?


Dilch said...

Hey, your blog is pretty cool, and its especially cool that you love ARSENAL- Always nice to meet an Arsenal fan. I read an article about the Juventus game. That paper said about Arsenal This is the way football in paradise would be played. Now aint that the truth

Everchange said...

In principle, I do agree that it shouldn't matter the external form of the president/cabinet members(male/female, ibo/hausa etc). Yet there definitely has been past injustice in such distributions, and I see affirmative action (which is not what they're calling it here, but same principle) as a way of making the playing field equal opportunity. You have to admit that women do not have access to political power as men do.

As for the ibos, I personally think it's theirs and any other non-yoruba non-hausa ethnic group's turn for the presidency.

adefunke said...

@ dilch - Gunner for life!

@ everchange - I am all for the quota system/affirmative action as a means of levelling the playing field. However I believe that to ensure the effectiveness of the exercise, there ought to be some kind of cut off date. Barring this, the minority group will never stop being a minority, and you will find that for the one step taken forward as a result of the exercise, 5 steps will be taken backwards as a result of an unplanned implementation.