IGNORANCE doesn’t kill, but it gives you a hell of a hard time. I got this quote from a documentary I stumbled upon a documentary for the life of the presidents of Equatorial Guinea.
I was taken and hooked to learn all I could about a country I know very little of. I also had time to spare so, hey, why not learn something new. Equatorial Guinea is a little country no bigger than the size of Dodoma, the Capitol city of Tanzania.
But what it lacks in size, it makes up in political leaders who take power and want to rule for their entire life time. What is it about power that makes people so desperate to hold on to it once they have it?
But history has also shown us that those who are desperate to hold onto power and shout and display how powerful they are at every waking second, lose the power and end life in a miserable and disgraceful way.
I was once told that history repeats itself therefore those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Maybe I should have these words printed on a billboard sign and posted somewhere in the city centre for everyone to see and hopefully, understand.
Back to the documentary, Equatorial Guinea has been ruled by members of the same family since it got its independence in 1971.
The first president was Francisco Macías Nguema (also known as Macías Nguema Biyogo Masie) who after being elected into office, assumed wide powers and pushed through a constitution that named him president for life in July 1972 and shortly after gained controlled the radio and press, and foreign travel was stopped.
Does this sound familiar? During the 1975-1977 period there many arrests and summary executions, which were heavily condemned by world leaders and the human rights organisations.
During this period there was a mass exodus by citizens of Equatorial Guinea with citizens running to any sovereign country they could get to. Now this must sound a little familiar, no? Macías was overthrown in 1979 by his nephew, Lieut. Col.
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, and executed. Violence begets violence. Now at the mercy of Teodoro, Equatorial Guinea passed a new constitution that provided for a multiparty state with elections being held in 1993 however, the move was seen as a publicity show as many said that they didn’t see the president willingly giving up power.
Teodoro then appointed his son, Teodorin, as second Vice-President, a position that was not provided for under the recent changes to the constitution. Teodorin is viewed as Obiang’s choice for his successor.
Family that rules a country for life. Now this may not be familiar to us but the rest sure is. History has shown us how absolutely ruthless it can be to those who refuse to learn.
In the case of Equatorial Guinea, the lesson is ongoing to anyone who is paying attention. What can Tanzania learn from this? Where are we in the cycle and how we glide forward and maintain our balance?
Again, ignorance doesn’t kill, but it gives you a hell of a hard time and more so if you refuse to accept that everything has its season and once that season is gone, things will change.