What transpired in Ivory Coast recently, luckily, unearthed a great rot in our education system and upper echelons of power in Africa. Laurent Gbagbo, the professor of History, made a bad history for not understanding history. He mindlessly clung unto power so as to cause many deaths and many casualties.

Gbagbo’s saga is a test to our educational intergrity and worth for us as a society. Many would think a such highly educated person would know basic things such as human rights, freedom and rule of law, so as to uphold democracy especially elections. But nay, the guy thought though wrongly he was but a king.

After Gbagbo was shamefully dragooned out it came to light that his wife, Dr Simone Ehivet Gbagbo, also the historian, harshly used him to tighten his grip on power and terrorize the country by ignoring all rules in the book.

In this dirty business of dirty politics Gbagbo is not alone. Who knew that a professor of law like Abdulaye Wade (Senegal) would tamper the constitution and extend his term in office on top of grooming his son to inherit his presidency?

Who would risk thinking that a hyper academician like Robert Mugabe, would mess the way he has always been doing. Who would think that Mugabe would be hoodwinked by an illiterate like his wife Grace Marufu, so as to abuse the powers vested on him as president?

The sage has it that when you want to tame a bull, you must know where its strength and weakness lie. For African big men their strength-cum-weakness is in the bedroom. So who occupies and controls their bedrooms, control everything including them and their powers.

 This can be seen in, among others, Simone, former political activist, who was able to make or affect whatever decision Gbagbo made. She was like a president, especially acting as an adviser to the president. Many people who know her believe Gbagbo’s decision not to cede power to a constitutionally elected president Alasane Ouattara, was the result of the advice of this lady.

When the world found that Gbagbo had lost his sense of reasoning, it intervened to see to it that he is booted out. Interestingly, UN and Ivorian former colonial master, the French, took a lead in getting rid of the tyrant.

Gbagbo and his wife were humiliatingly bundled before the media, as they were dug out from the bunker they had spent over two weeks hiding. Indeed, Gbagbo once again proved the sage that education sometimes does not emancipate the bearer if he is unable to read the signs of times. So too, was his son, Michel, who was severely beaten before the TV cameras. It was a shame of its own magnitude for the former president and his family to be treated just like common criminals. All this happened just recently. But did our venal rulers make any note of it?

Today’s analysis is based on hidden presidents, namely the first ladies and members of the families of the presidents. Simone was described by many media outlets as the lady that was feared more than the president himself. Moreover, she was implicated in many scandals among which is the  case involving the disappearance of her husband’s rivals, prominent one being French-Canadian journalist Guy-André Kieffer. Kieffer is believed to have been hijacked under the instructions of Simone in 2004. Since then Kieffer has nary been seen anywhere.

What was unveiled in Ivory Coast is just a typical replica of what has, for long, been going on in many African countries as far as power greed is concerned. It is more a tip of iceberg. Sadly though, when all this sacrilege is going on, those who oil the cog are encouraged to produce more as they slink to stinking poverty.

Presidency in corruption-rampant Africa is the means to opulence, not only for the holder of it but also his or her family, friends in other cases even the tribe. The capital so much used by hidden African hidden presidents is nothing but sharing bed with the big man plus being able to manipulate him. In today’s analysis we shall try to explore incidents where the “hidden Simones or presidents behind the curtains” are going on with business as usual.

In Uganda, Yoweri museveni’s wife Janet, the first lady and minister is still a legendary when it comes to tame the man. It is alleged that clan and kids are all benefiting from the government of the day and nobody is blotting this nepotism.

In Guinea Bissau the tyrant Theodore Obiang Nguema allowed his namesake son to scoop from the treasury as much money as he deems fit. This tiny country with the population of a half a million, of which over 50% are living under a dollar a day, is like Nguema’s private estate. The son of president, who also is a minister in his father’s government, owns mansions and beaches worth millions of dollars in Malibu and a personal jet worth over $ 30,000,000 is untouchable. To add more flavour, the son of the tyrant spends a million bucks in every trip he makes to the US. Why is the US gagged? Wherever there is trouble, just drop a coin.

Not far from Equatorial Guinea, there is Congo Brazzaville where the son of the tyrant, Denis Christel Sassou-Nguesso, has all it takes even to stop IMF and WB from probing any malpractice involving public funds. Just like Nguema, the boy can spend any huge amount of money without raising any alarm! Remember this is the country of just 4,012,809. The irony is despite having a small population with where 50% lives under a dollar a day, the same has the income of $ 3,000,000,000 annually from oil. Where does the money go? Ask the tyrant, his son and cohorts. Anyway, this is Africa.

In Tanzania, the son of President Jakaya Kikwete, Ridhiwani and the president’s wife Salma, are occupying senior positions in the ruling party to which Kikwete is chairman. One opposition party (CHADEMA) recently alleged that Ridhiwan is a billionaire despite the fact that he just graduated from school recently.

To and more flavour, Salma runs an NGO that mints and prints millions of shillings without auditing report or anything near! So too, most of her friends are in high position thanks to their friendship to this hidden president.

In Kenya, Unga (Flour) scandal that left Lucy Kibaki morally nude, is still reverberating even though it was put to rest just like Anglo-Leasing scam.

In Ethiopia the wife of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Azeb Mesfin is known as Queen of Mega, thanks to being alleged to have an upper hand in mega corruption.

The last but not least player is none other than Robert Mugabe’s sweetheart Grace Gucchi Mugabe. This lady is renowned for over spending, especially at the time Zimbabweans are dying in thousands thanks to poverty and mismanagement. Grace stole thunder when she was linked with Bloody Diamond by Wikeleaks recently, before the media uncovered her coveted love with governor of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), Gideon Gono. Thanks to her ability to muzzle Mugabe, nothing has ever gone wrong in their convenient marriage despite the leak. Gono is still the governor of RBZ and Grace is still first lady. This can show you how president behind the curtains are more powerful than those you see on the arena.

Going back where we started, what was unearthed in Simone Gbagbo sheds light on a true but grimmer picture of what has been going on in Africa where presidents behind the curtains have inflicted a great deal of sufferings to our people and our economies. Think about that and evaluate your ruler.

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.

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