The seven-day-40th anniversary of Libya’s strongman’s autocratic rule and charade elections in Gabon, where the son of the former tyrant was controversially declared a winner after a fixed vote, forced me to revisit Africa’s political landscape. 

In Tripoli, the jamboree-like festival, a posh and king-size celebration- made possible by public coffers, lasted for a week. This does not augur well to a toiling Libyan common man or woman who sees Gadaffi as a dictator and a self seeker that hides behind power and its trappings. For a good leader, listening to others’ opinions and respecting them or availing others a chance to rule are a cardinal thing. A true leader must respect and uphold democracy. But for Gadaffi, Yoweri Museveni, Hugo Chavez and others, a good leader is the one that rules ad infinitum even if it means to spill blood. To them, democracy is a one-man show.

Gadaffi still hoodwinks Libyans by all good names and promises. Libyans are tired of “more-of-the-same stuffs” for forty years. How can he become a good leader if what we witnessed on his 40th anniversary was nothing but extravagance and abuse of public funds? He allegedly paid over $52,000,000 to performers! This does not include other millions he paid to those that built the stage among other things.

To know that Gadaffi’s time is up, look at the comment by Libyans, “It’s been 40 years of the same thing, perhaps 40 years of going backwards not forward,” Says a middle-aged man who preferred anonymity. He goes on, “We are just six million people and our wealth is countless from natural resources and foreign investment, but until now we’ve seen nothing from it.” Another chips in, “He was a young, handsome, and ambitious man with big dreams for us when he took over,” one elderly woman said. “But then things changed… maybe it is those who were around him, who knows?” One young taxi driver knows all as he puts it: “We don’t care who was responsible for what, we just want to work and move on with our future.” 

Though Africa is more democratic than it was 40 years ago, its future has nary treaded water with me. How can it make sense if it still has stinking legacy of having dictators that ruined their countries for over 40 years such as Gadaffi, Omar Bongo, Gnassigbe Eyadema and other that have been in power for over thirty years? How can Africa make it democratically if all we see is the coming back of ruling dynasties hell bent to prolong and extend their stays in power in order to conceal their dirty linens-by the way of passing the batons over to their kids or cronies? 

Whilst other continents are boasting of democracy and prosperity, Africa is cascading into despotic and nepotistic rules. In the main, currently, Africa has more “sons-of-rulers-of-yore presidents” in more countries than any continent or all continents put together. Africa boasts of four seating presidents in Aman Karume (Zanzibar), Foure Eyadema (Togo), Ian Khama (Botswana), Joseph Kabila (DRC) and King Ali Ben-Bongo (Gabon). As the days go by, new princes will jump into the fray of terrorizing democracy.

It is no secret that Gadaffi who likes to be referred to as the leader of the people is grooming one of his sons to inherit his kingdom. Sayf al-Islam is touted to be behind this dubious project. Some say Moatessem-Billah Gaddafi, that once tried to overthrow his father but now holds the post of national security adviser and heads his own unit within the army after being pardoned by Gadaffi, may be the power to reckon with. 

In the neighboring Egypt, Hosni Mubarak is grooming his son Gamal. The game does not end up hither. In Congo, where Mbochi tribe commands everything, Denis Christel Sassou Ngwesso, the son of Congo’s tyrant, commands immense powers. Whilst in Zanzibar the brother of the current president Amani Karume, Ali has already declared his intention to take over after his brother is done! 

In Uganda and Rwanda, a clique of related people from the minority communities is ruling the majority. In Rwanda, the Tutsi that comprises of 9% of the population, has more top officials than the majority Hutu. And this has been made a sacrilege to touch thanks to genocide. Most importantly, many analysts are afraid of facing this simply because they’ll be told you’re supporting genocide as it recently happened to BBC, when it wanted to shed light on what is going on in Rwanda.

In Uganda, the Ankole are ruling the country whilst in South Africa, Jacob Zuma was supported by Zulu, his tribe, simply because he’s Zulu himself. In Kenya, fertile land and almost all lucrative business are in the hands of the ruling families, including some Indians and consigliore from the tribes, thanks to their own men being in State House. Kikuyu and Kalenjin, from which three Kenyan presidents hail, have a special place in the commerce of Kenya, along with Indians that were brought by British colonialists.

Thanks to land-grabbing policies that Kenya’s first president fathered and fostered, most often than not, almost everybody that comes to power has and thinks about nothing but to rob and grab. If there is no land to grab, they will invent things like Goldenberg, Anglo-Leasing and other dubious wheel deals to see to it that when he leaves the state house he must have immense wealth.

Nepotism is becoming a breeding ground for corruption to shrive. Being a syndicate to ruin and rob the state, no relation can keep tabs on or bring to book any of his tribesmen and women or clan mate. Kaleb Akandwanao aka Salim Saleh (Museveni’s brother) stole billions of shillings. But he has never been brought to book, thanks to being who’s Museveni. Take for example the clan crooks commanding immense powers and run the show under Museveni. 

More on the Museveni dynasty. There is Lt. Col Muhoozi Museveni (Museveni’s son). He command his father’s presidential guard unity, while Maj. Bright Rwamirama (Museveni’s cousin) is the State Minister for Agriculture in charge of Animal Husbandry. The list goes on! Shadrack Nzeire (Museveni’s step-brother) is involved in youth mobilisation at State House, whilst Mariam Karugaba (Museveni’s sister) is employed as an administrator at the State House. Maj. Sabiiti Magyenyi (Museveni’s cousin) is currently the overall commander of the elite Presidential Guard Brigade. Others are Col. Kateera (cousin to Janet Museveni) is second in command at the Gulu-based 4th Division.  Maj. Gen. Jim Muhwezi (an in-law to the Musevenis, whose wife Susan is a cousin to Janet Museveni) made away with billions thanks to ruining Global Fund. Justus Karuhanga (cousin to Janet Museveni) is a legal aide to President Museveni. This is but a drop in the ocean of Museveni dynasty that’s milking Uganda whilst the common Uganda is dying of treatable diseases and abject poverty. The situation is worse in Cameroon, Congo, DRC, and Kenya, Libya and Rwanda not to mention the Sudan.

This is what is going on in many African countries where royal families run the show of ruining and stealing from the hoi polloi they have hijacked in the name of democracy. No doubt, Africa is cascading into nepotism and despotism at an alarming speed. Indeed, Africa is becoming more despotic and nepotistic.


Nkwazi Mhango is a Tanzanian living in Canada. He writes regularly for “The African Executive” and also has a blog entitled “Free Thinking Unabii”. He is a regular contributor to AfroSpear.