The Power Madness

The Power Madness

By Prof George Ayittey

The lust for or obsession with POWER has been the bane of Africa’s post colonial development. They will use every means – fair or foul – to secure it. And once they grab it, they will never let it go da. They will kill or maim to maintain their grip on power for 10, 20, 30 or 40 years. Not even bulldozers can dislodge them from power.

And what do they do with that power? To develop their countries? Noooo! Ask them to develop their countries and they will develop their pockets. Ask them to seek foreign investment and they will seek a foreign country to invest their loot. Only 3 things they know how to do very well: Loot the treasury, steal/rig elections to perpetuate themselves in office and squelch all opposition or dissent.

So lucrative has the presidency become that they have transformed it into their family property. Accordingly, they groom their wives, children, cats, dogs and even goats to succeed them. Power sweet them bad.

In many countries, we cannot change our rulers without destroying our countries, We would have been able to save so many African countries from implosions had their leaders been willing to relinquish or share political power: Liberia (1990), Somalia (1991), Rwanda (1994), Zaire (1996), Sierra Leone (1998), Ivory Coast (2011), Egypt (2011), Libya (2011), etc.

Even then, after removing that cockroach from power, the next rat comes to do the same thing: From Samuel Doe to Charles Taylor of Liberia; from Mengistu Haile Mariam to Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia; from Hosni Mubarak to Morsi of Egypt, etc.

Until we set up a mechanism for peaceful transfer of power, there will be more instability, implosions and failed states. This mechanism exists in only 13 of the 55 African states and in some, it is being debauched or corrupted.

Here are the candidates for implosion: Algeria, Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Congo (Brazzaville), Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe.

The wise learn from the mistakes of others while fools repeat them. Idiots, on the other hand, repeat their own stupid mistakes.

(Dr George Ayittey is a Ghanaian economist, author and president of the Free Africa Foundation in Washington DC. He is a professor at American University, and an associate scholar at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. You can visit for more of his publications and speeches and follow him on twutter @ayittey ).

Keywords: George Ayittey, Africa, Power,


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