How to Become an African President
Your life will begin right after you join The Party. Everything before that will not matter. You would have recognized earlier on in your life that for a subjugated people – which you will be one of by virtue of your being born Black in Africa, there will be no life more honourable and worth living than one in the struggle for freedom, for honour, for dignity, and for the basic right to be seen and treated human being. To find your own honour through the struggle, you will join The Party.
In these early days, while you are still coming to terms with yourself and attempting to find an inner voice and public manner of being, something, a strange kind of impulse, will compel you to establish a need to leave a trail of your own existence behind. History will need to remember you at every stage of your life after joining the Party. You will begin to have your life immortalised in one way or the other. With little to be written about you during your early days as a Cadre and member of The Party, you will have photographs taken of yourself in the background of Party events, in the company of Party leaders. You will embody the essence of humility and you will handle all the meagre tasks thrown at you by the Party with a great sense of admirable dignity. A photograph of you holding the microphone for an African President from another Africa Party of Liberation, just like yours, in order to enable him to address a stadium gathering of supporters, will later be the most remembered and easily recognised of all the pictures of you taken during this phase of your life. You will also fervently read global history and learn from the world’s past leaders in your bid to build more of yourself and the ethos of revolutionary leadership which you will be an aspirant to. You will learn to speak properly in public, and young as you will be, the public will be swayed by your speeches and be convinced, to an extent applicable to your standing in the Party, that you are true to the cause and have something formidable to contribute to the future, not only of the Party, but of the country as well. History will need to remember your presence on the political platform during those early days. This is how you will begin to solidify yourself in the annals of The Party, and therefore the country’s, history.
The struggle will be approaching a critical point when you join The Party – the war for liberation would have been set aflame way back before your time by those who would have become enlightened before you and it would be burning in the countryside. Soon after, you will be sent to Tanzania for training, and then to several other countries including Egypt, Mozambique and China – countries friendly to your cause – for further training. Upon returning to your country, you will be immediately deployed within one of The Party’s many committees, as a commissar of sorts, as head of some kind of department and whatnot; The Party will afford you an arena to elaborate the expertise you would have acquired during your training and conditioning abroad. You will shine in your new role. You will take on the most daring, as well as the mundane tasks with equal diligence, making sure that your work in upgrading the standards of The Party and improving its efficiency from your position do not go unnoticed.
Your work in The Party will gain prominence before any of your other achievements. It will build a picture of a great and courageous comrade in the eyes of your compatriots long before you undertake some of the work you will deem worth remembering.
Then The War will come.
During The War, your exploits as leader of the Crocodile Gang will create a legend out of you. Not only will you smuggle arms into the country from the many nations friendly to your cause, you will also go across the length and breadth of the nation actively recruiting fighters for the struggle. To create a sense of urgency for The Party, and therefore the nation’s plight and cause for struggle, you will pledge to undertake what you will term ‘public acts of awareness’. Soon, a white farmer will disappear in the Eastern Highlands. Following that, a police station will be bombed to fragments in the same region. Your public acts of awareness will eventually morph into full time campaigns of terror and violence against the enemy and those of her people who have settled in your land. Your gang will be known for its penchant for using knives during these exploits, but your most memorable and most talked about moment will be when you single handedly blow up a commercial cargo train, losing the colonial state millions of money in damages in the aftermath. No one will know how you did it. You will never tell anyone exactly how it happened.You will then get arrested and sent to prison for this. Later, you will be sentenced to death.
While you are in prison waiting to die, the tales of your bravery and astuteness in the execution of duty will spread wider and upwards within The Party. You will not be aware of the high regard in which your peers and the rest of the top leadership will hold you because, while facing the unimaginable reality of an imminent death, you will show great discipline and bravery by remaining a modest cadre concerned only with matters of The Party. The Party will mobilise international pressure to have your sentence changed. It will argue, among other things, that you are too young to die. Feeling the pressure, the state will want to sanitize its international image and appear humane to the rest of the world. It will agree to have your sentence reduced to life in prison, and this will be regarded among one of your earliest victories as a fighter with the Party.
Going to prison for the struggle will never seem like a personal loss to you. In fact, you will always think of it as the least you could sacrifice, bearing in mind that some of your comrades will lose their lives during The War, in pursuit of freedom in the motherland. In prison you will make it your resolution to continue to pursue that freedom and preserve it once you attain it. Your humility will not leave you. You will do all that will be within your means to improve your knowledge and educate yourself. You will read all of the literature, and other forms of knowledge, available to you in prison. Under the tutelage of The Leader of The Party himself, whom you would have gotten imprisoned with roughly around the same time, and would have gotten to know better in prison, you will acquire two university degrees during the decade of your incarceration. You will earn more respect because of this, this proven fact of your ingenuity and diligence – that you always maintain and perform at the best of yourself no matter the face of things. This quality will not escape the attention of The Leader.
After your release from prison, which will come two years after that of The Leader, you will be deployed to his security detail. You will begin to closely study him, observing in detail all his manners and learning his habits. You will be continually fascinated by how intimate you will become with The Party’s First Secretary and President, the soon to be President and Head of State and Government, and the Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces, and Chancellor of all State Universities. He will confide in you, this fascinating man; he will begin to share details of his personal history with you, allowing you into his mind and on more than one occasion, he will come to you for advice. At the height of the Independence Negotiations, he will invite you to attend the Freedom Talks together with him in London. It is at these talks that your country will officially be declared Independent, and you will not help but realise, on your way back to your Independent motherland, how profound it will be that you were personally a part of this event.
In the new country, you will get a more sound and substantial promotion; Permanent Secretary in the Defence Ministry. This will be the real deal because at this point in time the country will be in the hands of The Party and you will have a measure of some effective power. This position will not only be a beautified title; soon, you will be assigned to quell a possible rebellion in one of the provinces. An arms cache will allegedly be found in the region. There will be talk, allegedly, of a potential uprising. Acting under the understanding that your country’s democracy will be less than three years old at that time, in its infancy essentially and therefore in need of protection, you will personally take it as your prerogative to protect the brutally won Independence of your nation. You will understand the displeasure in the problematic region, but remembering to see the perfidious nature of all subversion in the allegations, you will vow to not allow the disgruntled internal elements to usurp the nation’s sovereignty. You will show just what you can do. Working with the top brass in the Military and the Defence Force, you will quickly assemble a Soviet trained 4th Brigade of the Military at whose command you will eventually find yourself. You will then lead the Brigade into the problematic region where, using excess force and fatality – which others will describe as ‘impunity’, but you will like to think that you were acting with patriotic stoicism (a necessity for certain acts of progress, you will think), – you will re-educate the people and reorient their loyalty towards The Party and President, and therefore the country, while rooting out ‘cockroaches that spread disease and ruin the rest of the stock’. At this stage of your Independence, you will understand that subversion is a disease that, if left untreated, will spread across the nation and sicken the country, destabilising the nation’s emerging sense of sovereignty. You will act urgently and strictly to prevent this, executing your mandate with clinical precision, earning yourself a reputation of ruthlessness and fearlessness. You will be honoured to have these terms that mark great ambition and strength bestowed on you. In time, just like your future compatriots in the region – The Machete of Uganda, The Dachau of Africa, ‘Papa Don’t Take No Mess’ of The Gambia and others, – you will earn yourself a fitting nickname, one that will capture the budding resoluteness and the brutality of your generally tenacious approach to matters, as well as your gang name and family totem; The Crocodile.
During the following elections the problematic region will vote 100% for The Party. Your well executed re-conscientization of the region, which at this point will officially be referred to as a Nation Building exercise, will earn you the top post in the Defence Ministry. You will have officially become one of the Big Men.
As you can see, it will gradually become necessary for you to get rid of the military fatigues and slip into something more suitable for a member of the new cabinet. You will get a driver and a modest-for-a-minister fleet of high range model vehicles to transport you wherever you will need to go. You will get a mansion in the Ministerial Village where you will enjoy the privilege of living a well-guarded and secure life, which to you are the very fruits of your struggle. You will eventually acquire other properties across the country and in the continent as well; restaurants and supermarkets, farms, urban real estate, a local football club. Some will say that you will also acquire a mine in the Congo, but none will be able to prove it, although it will be widely known that you will play a hand in the local gold industry. In fact, a lot of these kinds of allegations will be thrown at you as you rise within The Party ranks and in the public domain of influence. They will say that you had a man murdered so that you could take his wife. They will say you have numerous children in each of the country’s ten provinces, that you use muti to intimidate your foes and to be invincible in their eyes. They will use this as a plausible reason for your longevity and growing influence in the country. Your reputation will continue to grow however, and you achieve all of this modestly, remaining free of substantial suspicion.
At the Defence Ministry, you will eventually realise that there is little work to be done since The War ended and the security forces were integrated. You will spend most of your time tracking the activities of small internal spontaneous opposition groups that will spring up every now and then in protest of some of the young State’s early attempts at expanding your nation-building programmes. You will never understand the impatience of the masses, for whom at this point you will begin to collectively see them as infants; both in their understanding of freedom and in their collective demonstration of it. The masses, you will discover, will constantly need to have their hands held by someone whose perspective of sovereignty reigns high above all, someone like you. The masses will have to be taught what is important for them, what to fight for, what to protest for, how to hold themselves as citizens, free citizens, of your country and the world, and how to be human beings in a world that would have for so long denied them access to the tenets of humanity. You will use your time as Defence Minister to further your understanding of the country’s emerging political psychology until you become one with what lies at the back of the nation’s mind. You will learn first-hand about the people of your country; who they are, what they are, what they see themselves as, what they want and wish for, how they express their desires and their frustrations, and how they hope to represent themselves in the free world the sovereignty your country would have afforded them.. You will accumulate an encyclopaedic knowledge of the masses, recognising how your people identify themselves in a broader sense that transcends their political affiliations or regional and tribal loyalties. Your Ministry will make a lot of significant discoveries which will be used by The Party in compiling a comprehensive and more improved nation-building programme. The Party will pledge to continue to consolidate the myriad of tribes that occupy the interior of the geographical borders of your country into one nation under a single government. You will become one with the people, and you will master the art of reading and speaking to them in an exact manner that pacifies their fears, strokes their excitement, calms their anxieties, raises their hopes, or creates whatever mass effect you desire. You will also learn to identify possible mass instigators and potential trouble makers. The wartime experiences would have left you, in your own opinion, well equipped to deal with elements of this nature. So while you will be one of the people and indeed one among the people, the people will always subtly acknowledge your otherness.
A few years into the nation’s Independence, The Leader’s popularity overseas will begin to decline after his miscalculated attempt at dealing with the last vestiges of colonialism horribly backfires. In rightly trying to force reparations out of the coloniser, The Leader will forcefully repossess land from the remaining settlers and distribute it among the people. This action will get The Party leadership, including you, unfairly punished and put on an international sanctions list, primarily preventing you from travelling abroad and conducting business there, ushering your country into unprecedented economic chaos. There will be general displeasure with The Party in the nation as the country slowly becomes dysfunctional, and you will understand this. There will be riots and spontaneous spats of political protests as the quality of life gradually begins to deteriorate among your people, and you will understand this. In some cases people will disappear, and you will know what would have happened to them. There will be calls for The Leader to go, and you will hear them too, and understand them. But through it all, you will hold your duty towards The Party above everything.
Things will begin to move fairly fast at this juncture. As the fruit of your country’s Independence continues to lose its flavour, the brief life of comfort that follows your rise to power will quickly create in you a taste for the finer things in life. You will travel to the parts of the globe that will accept your official and personal interests; consolidating political and business links with other global stakeholders, while getting an experience of different world cultures. You will start to wear suits tailor-made by the likes of Zegna and Paul Smith, a very big deal at that time. You will truly become the man you had never thought you would become; a man of true power and opulence, a man who commands the respect of other men, who, therefore, is a man among men. Often, in this new state of mind, you will think back to the life you led before joining The Party and try to see if you would have made it this far had you not joined. You always fail at making that connection because it will be impossible. It was dark before The Party, you will realise. The Party brought light and any memories of life before The Party will not be worthy remembering. Using your growing wealth, as the country continues on its downward spiral, you will occasionally extend a hand of generosity to those around you. Most of these gestures will be performed publicly of course – for the sake of The Party archives – but there will be moments, sincere moments, in which your acts of patronage will be privately executed and wholeheartedly appreciated. You will often host large dinners at your residence – your continual efforts at personally evaluating the Defence Ministry while building networks and links with the relevant stakeholders in the country and beyond. These dinners will become very important because they will create a space for powerful individuals of different expertise to interact with each other while congregating around you. Dignitaries, students, professors, trade unionists, state journalists, lawyers, magistrates, judges, doctors, teachers, budding entertainers, international property moguls, members of civil society and non-governmental organisations, representatives of the clergy, foreign ambassadors, artists, writers, accomplished members of private society and other representatives of the nation in its broad sense, will be invited to these dinners, and they will mingle and exchange ideas. You will be on a first name basis with everyone important. A small, steady circle of permanent personalities, military figures, business associates, and security detail will form around you. These will be Your People. By this time, your roots in government will have been well sunk and your presence on the country’s political landscape will be difficult to ignore.
A reckless executive irregularity will suddenly get you out of the Defence Ministry. Security agents from your neighbouring South Africa will discover that you had apartheid spies on your payroll, whom you had inherited together with the Defence Ministry from the old administration. These spies will be alleged to have been involved in plotting and executing the murder of a prominent neighbouring communist freedom fighter. There will be a public call to investigate the Ministry. You will be of the opinion that a great audit of the Ministry would virtually collapse your young nation’s entire intelligence capability. The Leader of The Party and The Nation, who by now would have become The Supreme Leader, will quickly reassign you to the Justice Ministry in an effort to quell the brief diplomatic turmoil caused by the spies’ revelation. You will consider this a demotion and will be greatly shaken by it. There will be a drastic change of atmosphere in The Party, the emergence of a very distinct divide. You will seriously consider leaving politics altogether but Your People will convince you to hold on longer. The people’s frustrations with the non-functional economy will be festering all over the country, and the decline in popularity of The Supreme Leader and his rhetoric-based anti-West leadership will become more apparent each day. The people will say that The Supreme Leader is growing old and out of touch with reality, that his increasing senility is incapacitating him, and that soon there will be need for a New Leader. You will understand all of this.
Your People will continue to encourage you over the next few months after your demotion with these kinds of words. Meanwhile, the situation in the country will continue to worsen. Rural constituencies will begin to see unprecedented levels of malnutrition and child-deaths, while the urban youths lose themselves in criminality. The Supreme Leader will visibly begin to look older and exasperated by his growing loss of support. As the calls for a younger successor grow louder, The Supreme Leader will suggest his young wife as a definite successor; a move you, The Party leadership, other veterans and Your People will find repulsive and read as the signal that The Supreme Leader will indeed have lost his mind. His end would have made itself imminent.
These circumstances will make it impossible for you, and the rest of Your People, to wait for The Supreme Leader to succumb to his own mortality. He will already be 94 years old at this stage in your journey, but the constitution’s protection will keep him in power. Realising that he will not step down on his own accord, Your People will have to personally pick a time ample for you to take over. Together with other groups with interests from the international community, and with the support of your politically elite tribesman from The Party and loyal military veterans from the old days, Your People will concoct a plan to execute what you will term, ‘removing the criminals around The Supreme Leader and restoring the legacy of The Party’. Working from outside the country – where you will have to abscond to after The Supreme Leader, in a brief moment of madness, publically makes a threat against your life – you will set in motion a military ‘intervention’ that will begin with the troops placing The Supreme Leader and his family under house arrest, occupying the streets in major towns and cities, and then eventually announcing a military takeover on national television. The Supreme Leader, having been forcefully made to recognize his failures and the humiliating end of his reign, will announce his resignation from The Party and the Presidency. What happens to him afterwards will not matter. You will return home days later to a hero’s welcome – The Party’s New First Secretary and President, and also President of the Second Republic, Head of State and Government, Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces, and Chancellor of all State Universities. At this juncture, you would effectively have become an African President.
Everything that happens beyond this point will be history.