Of Madmen Wielding Kalashnikov (By Babatunde Fagbayibo)

Posted: September 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

In the concluding paragraph of his account of the deadly Liberian civil war, the late Polish writer, Ryszard Kapuscinski, noted:

“I also saw a naked man, walking with a Kalashnikov over his shoulder. People stepped out of his way, avoided him. He was probably a madman.  A madman with a Kalashnikov”.

Every time I read this paragraph, I often find myself wondering beyond its literal description and engaging more with its metaphoric meaning. In this respect, my mind zooms into the policy planning and implementation plane in Africa. Any keen observer of governance in Africa will readily agree that those that drive our policies continue to fail us miserably. Public analysts (e.g. Pius Adesanmi​) have argued for some sort of cranium examination for those we have entrusted with managing statecraft  in Africa. Others have been so frustrated to the extent of even suggesting that all public office holders must make an oath of allegiance to the African gods, since it is believed that these gods are swift in action.

When one observes the texture and tone of policies emanating from politicians across this continent, the need for suggesting drastic corrective measures becomes a natural point. From local to the national levels, from Cape to Cairo, one has come to the conclusion that many of our public officials are “madmen with a Kalashnikov”. Be it through their grandiose, unsustainable projects, unwillingness to vacate office and thus willing to sacrifice the lives and properties of their citizens in such quest, unimaginable thievery from the national treasury, butchering of anything that smells like opposition, and the deliberate enactment of iatrogenic public policies, the state of mind of our public officials continue to become a central focus of discussion.

Comedians across this continent are having a field day as these politicians continue to provide them with outlandish materials. Intellectuals are exasperated and confounded. Some intellectuals see no point in condemning these malfeasances and have decided to become part of the tragic-comedic governance space. For some of these intellectuals, we ordinary citizens are expected to cheer and dance as these madmen with Kalashnikov decide on our fates. We are told that these madmen are fighting “imperialism” or that they are ideologues who have our best interests at heart. When you point out the inconsistencies or nonsensical angle of their point, you are shouted down as a “counterrevolutionary”, “neocolonialist” etc.

When confronted with a madman wielding a Kalashnikov, the natural instinct is to avoid or flee the scene. The reality is that such madman will open fire and mow down anything in and outside of its path. Society is endangered, public safety becomes a big concern, and as such, efforts must be made to subdue the madman and remove the Kalashnikov from his grip. So the question is this: For how long shall we continue to cheer and tolerate madmen wielding Kalashnikov?

You can follow the writer on twitter @babsfagbayibo

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