Literary analysis: The Lady with the Pet Dog, by Anton Chekhov – Part 1

Tragedy of African leaders and their hunger for power and titles

By Njogu Ndung’u

Leadership and governance in Africa have for a long time raised more questions than they can claim to have answered. It is tragic indeed that many leaders have failed in their duties.

It has been argued in a maxim that a country (read continent) gets the leaders it deserves. The case of Africa is however mind-boggling and shrouded in dark mystery, political intrigue and an unrivalled trail of governance accidents.

One wonders what exactly ails our leaders making many of them so selfish, merciless, greedy, corrupt, power-hungry and violators of human rights. Yet, leaders are ideally supposed to be caretakers: stewards who steer the people towards collective prosperity.

Upon attaining power, most of them tend to assume the positions of deities. They zealously seek to be worshipped by the people they lead. They consequently lose touch with the electorate and do absurd and irrational things with far-reaching consequences.

One common method of cementing the status of being “demigods” by leaders is the acquisition of lengthy titles and other symbols of honour to separate themselves from the masses.

A remarkable number of writers have subjected this “power syndrome” to a vigorous literary examination. As would be expected, most of these artists have had few kind words for this “worship-me-disease” that mostly infects leaders in the Third World.

Congolese writer E.B. Dongala has written a satirical portrayal of a rogue leader in an unnamed country in a short story titled “The Man.” In the story, the leader is described in countless names of adulation as invincible, infallible and worthy of great honour as such: “the-beloved-father-of-the-nat ion-the-supreme-and-enlightene d-guide-the-commander-in-chief -of-the-armed-forces-and-benef icent-genius-of-mankind.”

The same leader is further described as “the father founder of the nation, the president-for-life, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and the beloved father of the people.” Though these generous praise names are satirical, it is illogical and absurd for one leader to hold so many titles and leadership posts.

It is despicable that a leader would want to hold so many posts in a country that has talented, educated and able-bodied people. Leadership by only one man can only result in grave mistakes, which translate

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