By Edwin Mugumya
The resignation of Omar Bashir from the presidency of Sudan, to me strips naked the one overrated thing called Power; robs it of its beauty and admiration; reveals how a trap power, political power at that can be.
Yes! We all agree that at a basic level, our leaders need some form of power in order to lead. They need the power to influence, to command the army, to develop the nation, to enable people and of course most times for show offs & self-satisfaction.
Varys tells Tyrion and rightly so in George Martin’s book, A clash of Kings (a song of ice and fire) that Power is a curious thing, it is a mummer’s trick, a damned riddle and a shadow on the wall.
Hasn’t Bashir been an epitome of power for 30 years until just yesterday? Yes. He has successfully defied ICC summons before. On that account let’s count him to have ever tested power and had a feel of it. He too must now be puzzled and not able to explain what exactly power is.
Let’s get back to the fundamentals: Power belongs to the people. They only lease it out or lend it to their leaders. And when these leaders act in forgetfulness of how borrowed this power is, they become demi-gods; one day they’re literally Kings of all they survey and on their word rests life and death; until the people, who are the owners of this power reclaim it or take it back.
The simple answer is this; POWER RESIDES WHERE MEN BELIEVE IT RESIDES: NO MORE NO LESS.
Power is a trap; an illusion. If enough people believe that power resides in a person, then it does. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
When the time comes and people start believing that power should reside in someone else, the once “powerful are overthrown; and the bewildered old men and women are left wondering why they can’t even get a cup of tea on demand anymore; why the armed man can’t act on their orders anymore; why they can’t order for deaths of those they wish dead.
In the worst case scenario, the world witnessed a certain “once powerful president of a west African country being arrested while in his boxers and a vest; and another one killed while hiding in a trench.
But of what use is it for one to rule like a lion and yet die like a dog!
That’s the one thing that makes power a mystery. At some point the ICC summons did not matter and yet in a flash of a moment, Bashir announced his resignation on orders.
Power is lent to leaders (borrowers) by the people (lenders) and at times by the circumstances. The mistake the borrowers make is to feel entitled to the power; and get the urge to hold onto. They forget they are just figures in a position. Anyone can become a leader, can have authority if people choose to believe that that person has the authority.
You get that power from the people at the bottom of the ladder, who choose to obey you, for one reason or another. Thus, it’s always important to maintain the loyalty of those below you, lest they abandon you and you are left with no power at all.
President Museveni in his thesis; Franz Fanon’s theory on violence: its verification in liberating Mozambique, mocked the defeated Portuguese that; “the peasant in Labo has participated in killing the whiteman – the former Demi-God. He has inflicted defeat on this white god- who has been seen and known to wriggle in anagony of death from bullet fired by the peasant. The erstwhile gods have been seen to fly like startled warthogs before the fire by peasants.”
The author of the thesis perchance understood that there was no trick behind whites indivisible power over blacks in Mozambique. It’s simply because the blacks believed that the whites were meant to be rulers over them. But once a black man sparked the fire, and discovered that it was in fact possible to resist the white man, a wave of independence demands swept through the African continent.
The wave of eliminating dictators in Africa long left the shore; is sweeping across the continent, in seven countries so far and may be still counting. Slowly but surely the people come to understand that they lent out their power to the leaders and can actually regain it.
And as sure as day follows night, when that wave finally reaches those waiting for it, their article 1 of the constitution will never be truer and more meaningful.
The write is a Lawyer and a social justice advocate.