Show me your friends, my African leader

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We all know of the saying, “show me your friends and I will tell you who you are”.

Or “You’re only as good as the company you keep”.The Bible captures this in Proverbs 13:20, where Solomon, the wise guy, wrote: “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”

“The Arabs say: tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are. Manners are contagious. If you mix with righteous people, you will find that you have picked up a lot of their good manners. It is rare that you would find someone who doesn’t smoke hanging out with smokers. 

When you are around positive and successful people, you can’t help but be positive and successful. If you are feeling down or low, those next to you can be the reason. 

Try to get better people to be with and avoid bad friends because misery loves company!”

Now, I want to talk to our wise men and women who are in charge of running African nations. Recent history in Africa has shown that many African leaders who happen to be caught with their hands in the ‘cookie jar’ as the Westerners would call it, there is always a third party involved in the alleged malfeasance. 

In many cases, this third party comes in a form of a ‘friend’ in many usually someone who is not a native of that country. 

These ‘friends’ in some cases are on the run from the law and justice in their country of origin, while in some cases just come to Africa in search of Eldorado.

These ‘friends’ often have deep pockets or so they let us believe and are always very and extremely generous.

Interestingly though, their generosity is hardly extended to those Africans in actual need of their philanthropy. 

This often happens only after these friends made millions from the African country’s government and economy. The generosity I am talking about is often extended to the African leaders and strategically so. I say strategic because only those who can unlock Africa’s untapped riches to these ‘friends’ are the beneficiaries of this so-called kindness. Our friend also target a specific type of African leader, the type who is unable to fend for themselves, despite occupying public office which comes with perks that majority of their countrymen only dream off.

Within a few years, our ‘friends’ become so powerful and wealthy and claim that they are hardworking and that they made every penny from their blood, sweat and tears.

And this success is in most cases built at the expense of that country’s natives. The natives are also labelled lazy and lacking innovation.

The truth, however, is that these questionable characters know too well how greedy African leaders are and that by ingratiating themselves with these leaders and creating an environment where these characters are able to gain an unfair advantage over ordinary citizens. These characters generally cut corners and don’t follow the law.

When ordinary citizens complain, their elected representatives label them xenophobic.

Examples, especially in South Africa and Namibia, are rife about how these questionable characters go around dropping names of those in power and using such ‘friendships’ as means of intimidating ordinary citizens trying to comply with the law. 

At times, the sovereignty of our countries and government are compromised by these relationships.

It’s time our leaders think twice about making themselves available to obscure characters while they are not accessible to those who elected them.

So my wise African leader, show me your friends…

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