I have to admit that vicious and cruel as they are most of our dictators take time out from sadism and try to entertain us in one way or another. Take Egypt’s Mubarak, whose demise has already been concluded by its previous Godfather (Washington) in a hurry to stop a possible Moslem Brotherhood takeover. America is peddling El Baradei and a possible coup while Mubarak is telling Egyptians, who have had enough and are not that gullible, that he backs their quest for freedom and is dismissing all his ministers. Funny man Hosni is parading as a democrat opposed to his own hand picked ministers and expecting the Egyptians to laugh. They are not laughing at all but we from afar are smiling at his ḥaṣāfah (chutzpah or dirkina in Amharic).
As I said they do take time out from plundering and killing us to make us laugh instead at their antics. Take Gbagbo, in Cote d’Ivoire, who refuses to leave State House even if the people had elected another to reside there but who is now forced to stay in a Hotel. African tyrants continue to give the impression that they have dealt with all the major political and economic problems of their countries and can afford to play the political clown like the late Idi Amin and Jean Bedel Bokassa. Take Meles Zenawi going to Europe to take part in a climate change summit along with Western leaders as Ethiopians groan under hyper inflation, high food prices and one party one ethnic rule. The king of Swaziland decreed no girl who reaches puberty will be allowed to have sex for five years so as to decrease the risk of Aids. Gullible foreigners tried to fathom the wisdom of the edict while laughing Swazis knew that the King who married maidens at the yearly so called Reed Festival wanted the maidens untouched and fresh for his picking. The wife of Meles Zenawi, Azeb Mesfin, who was recently exposed for her corruption and spending more than 1.2 million Euros to buy haute couture in Europe, stated with a serious face that she lacks money to pay for her child’s school fees. Funny? You bet! Mubarak should have learnt from her.
Funny still, there was recently a report that Malawi is about to pass a law (Local Courts Bill of 2010) that would make farting in public punishable by law. An envious observer commented that the life of Malawians is going to be very interesting. Another called it a joke on democracy while a loyal supporter of the regime backed it declaring that the act is a disturbance of public order. Someone irritated by the proposed law said: "We have serious issues affecting Malawians today. I do not know how fouling the air should take priority over regulating Chinese investments which do not employ locals, serious graft amongst legislators, especially those in the ruling party”. Another quarter reported: The Bingu wa Mutharika led administration is to introduce a draft of legislation that seeks to criminalize an everyday natural occurrence of “passing gas” with the intention to “mould responsible and disciplined citizens”. For Malawians who are afflicted by starvation and famine much like Ethiopians and other Africans, where do they get the food to eat to their hearts’ content and to foul the air? What do they eat? Are those who do not foul the public air turned by the non- act into responsible and disciplined citizens? Did the tyrants who claim to be responsible and disciplined arrive at this exalted position by avoiding farting in public even if people actually hear them doing so verbally and otherwise at every podium and National Day celebrations?
It is clear that Ben Ali has fled with his family and Mubarak has entered the exit lane. Will others also follow from Algeria to Yemen and Jordan? The Gabonese have struck the match in Africa but will the most repressed like those in Ethiopia and the Sudan (North) follow? Events to watch. In the meanwhile, African lawmakers seem to have little or no work other than to promulgate dumb laws (banning trousers as in the Sudan, underwater sex as in Swaziland, no celebration of Christmas as in Equatorial Guinea under Macias Nguema, and no playing music as in Somalia of the Al Shabab). The list is long but the more the tyrants make a fool of themselves the more we appreciate their effort to be funny no matter our predicament (horrible in most cases). But if we are on the subject of dumb laws the aforementioned can find solace in the fact that other corrupt leaders also issue stupid edicts. Saudi Arabia not only forbids alcoholic beverages and women driving cars but has declared being poor to be against the law--any man not earning a “reasonable” income can be imprisoned. Even in America Bush land Texas has laws that state that when two trains meet each other at a railroad crossing, each shall come to a full stop, and neither shall proceed until the other has gone or that it is illegal to take more than three sips of beer at a time while standing. Dumb!
To come back to the main subject, the absurd theatrics of a Mubarak or a Saleh or even of an Ali Bongo is not going to cut it this time around. The wind of change or even Revolution that is blowing in many countries augurs bad for the tyrants. The fall of Saleh and the separation of South Yemen are on the agenda for Yemen. The change of regime and politics in Egypt will impact on the whole Middle East and that Israel and Washington should worry is only proper. The whole process rings the bell of revolt and one hopes the ears of oppressed Africans as a whole are open to hear the chiming to rise up and grasp their destiny to forge a new and fairer day. Better than hearing the pathetic declaration of new, ever strange and stupid laws and edicts which may make us laugh but at the end of the day parody our own self respect as individuals, nations and continent.