Uganda: Kings, Revolutionaries Were Demystified. Now It’s Presidents


opinion

The way we do things or tend to think about common issues has always been subject to change. But because of the whole gamut of technical advances in our times, changes in civilisation affect more people, more quickly, than in the past.

Take the matter of sovereign power and political control. For thousands of years, many nations and empires were ruled by monarchs.

The king or queen’s ancestry could be traced to a defining event; perhaps a victory on the battlefield, after which power became hereditary and often acquired mythical attributes. A king became a mortal chosen by the gods. Indeed, a king was sometimes also a god.

The monarch could have enormous power. His word was law. Taxes were collected at his command and spent at his will. In practice, of course, he consulted his trusted officials. But he claimed every success.

And, naturally, he blamed his officials for every failure that seriously damaged his credibility.

However, during the last 200 years or so, most of the world’s monarchs who still survived lost their power. They became constitutional monarchs. But the gods did not toss their nations into a black hole.

In short, although they remained dignified symbols of a people’s identity and heritage, their original power had been demystified. The Swazi ruler and a handful of Arabs are the exceptions.

Where monarchs lost power in revolutions, the revolutionary leaders soon became despotic thieves. These, too, were demystified and had to be overthrown.

With a few exceptions, the most awe-inspiring job in these new republics is to be ‘president’.

Ordinary hominids are cast off the road when a president’s motorcade is passing. Whole battalions are paid specifically to protect him. As Sudan’s Bashir has demonstrated, part of the national treasury can be held in sacks of money close to the person of a president. And, yes, in some territories, a few hundred citizens can ‘disappear’ if a president decides, after which the fear in his dominion can be almost touched, thus warning the other citizens.

But something new is happening.

In America, where the presidency was associated with a kind of correctness, Donald Trump appeared, trampled over much of that polished establishment stuff and won the 2016 election. He even continued tweeting.

In short, the presidency did not transcend the general texture of American society. An ordinary roguish fellow could run America without sinking it.

In Algeria and the Sudan, by sheer resolve, ordinary people have brought down two dinosaurs. The presidency demystified again.

Especially after the reference set by Sudan, if a sitting president unleashes his battalions to slaughter his subjects only so that he may retain power, he would have degraded himself to a beast that even a Bashir would despise.

Several thousand miles away, in the Ukraine, another intriguing power game was being played out between a television comedian, Volodymyr Zelensky, and incumbent president Petro Poroshenko.

Desperate to retain power in an election run-off, Poroshenko was humbled by Zelensky to a blood and drug test; he was serially fooled to chase the shadow of his adversary; and, finally, when they got to debate, president Poroshenko attempted to demonstrate his superiority as a statesman.

Zelensky replied: “I am not a politician at all. I am an ordinary human being coming to break the system down. I am the result of your mistakes and unfulfilled promises… “

Two days later, Zelensky and the Ukrainian people demystified the presidency with over 70 per cent of the votes.

These are very interesting times.

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Publish date : 2019-04-28 12:42:21

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