Big Man Syndrome

WHEN the universally loved Nelson Mandela opted for a single term as president the world lauded him and saw in South Africa the potential for the demise of the Big Man Syndrome that had afflicted the continent since independence from colonial rule.

WHEN the universally loved Nelson Mandela opted for a single term as president the world lauded him and saw in South Africa the potential for the demise of the Big Man Syndrome that had afflicted the continent since independence from colonial rule.

A mere 11 years since Madiba stepped down all indications are that we are headed in the dreaded direction we thought we had escaped.

A jogger gets to spend a night in jail because the president's security men do not like the gestures he threw at the official motorcade. They ransack his house to find out whatever they can about his politics.

As fate would have it, he is a deeply committed member of the ruling party. We shudder to think what would have happened had he not been.

We have finally caught a bout of Africa's Big Man Syndrome, with not showing sufficient affection for the head of state being a risk to personal safety.

We hope we are not seeing the rise of the personality cult in our body politic and the sanctification of the Big Man.

In classic Big Man style the boss need not know what is done in his name. It is scary when he gets to know but chooses to remain silent.

In typical Big Man-led society style, the personality cult threatens to take over. We already have a largely rubber stamp Parliament and a parasitic class of cronies living the high life, unperturbed by criticism of their shady ways.

The choice before us is clear. We must be very afraid or fight for the values that this nation was founded on.

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