Political dynasties are built in Africa, almost without breaking a sweat.
The lifelong Presidents hardly leave office and when they feel cracks in their bones and their knees become too weak to stand up for a Monday morning meeting, they look at the family picture to see the next man who can keep the name afloat, and the family ahead.
Cautious of allowing a chink in their armour which hardly protects the overall good of their people, they, like kings selecting his heir, choose the child the nation has to follow. Usually grown men in age, but boyish in outlook, they latch on to the mundanities of their fathers and become new leaders of hardly-progressing nations. Francophone Africa is usually their base. As named by Samira Sawlani, they are “daddy’s boys” who are hardly the people’s choice.
In Equatorial Guinea, Teodorin Obiang Mangue isn’t just the pampered eldest son of Africa’s longest serving President, he is the nation’s first Vice President and heir to the Presidency, as bitter as it sounds.
Teodorin loves the highlife and lives for the camera. He never shies away from getting on a yacht adventure or post some Instagram videos telling how much he loves exceptional things.
Currently sentenced on suspension for money laundering and corruption charges in France, the oil-rich Portuguese-speaking nation is battling with the choice of its President of 42 years.
Teodorin became a minister even before he turned 30 and was once known as the “Timber leader” of the country when he led the Ministry of Forestry.
His father’s son by every breath, the nation currently sits 174th amongst 179 nations on Transparency International’s Corruption Index.
In Congo, Denis Sassou-Nguesso continued with his 36-year stranglehold on power by winning more than 80% of electoral votes in the Presidential election.
While he has learned the art of winning a Congolese election, he has also set his family’s name on the path of continuity, against the people’s will.
His son Denis-Christel, 46, is now old enough to be given a whole ministry – to manage the International Co-operation and public private partnerships of the country. ‘Not so lil Denis’. Political appointments are a form of gifts for growth in these countries. Disturbingly interesting.
Although political dynasties are not exclusive to Africa, they are rampant amongst the French-speaking African nations.
Recall how Faure Gnassingbé took over from his dad as Togo’s president back in 2005? Sixteen years on, he’s still clinging on to power in the hardly-developing nation.
Other examples are the instant call to power of Mahamat Deby after the death of his father, Idriss Deby.
Mahamat, built for purpose and taught to prepare has stepped into his father’s big shoes. He has already visited the Nigerian and Nigerian Presidents in what’s considered important in the political contexts of the Lake Chad region nations.
Although his is only an interim government, ‘daddy’s boy’ must be making his father proud, but must also watch his back to ensure those who sent Chad into mourning aren’t lurking around Ndjamena.
Chadians are still sceptical about his leadership qualities and the legality of his emergence, but African political dynasties only read from the book of power. They’re totally blind to the wishes of the people. Compassion is hardly their call, and justice is an adversity they battle with injustice.
Cameroon’s Paul Biya will be 90 by 2023 and his son, Franck is already being considered the nation’s next President ahead of 2025.
With the social media already agog with his name and Facebook Pages and groups like Mouvements des Frankistes, Franck Biya pour 2025 and Franck Biya For President all pouring in, some sections of the country, including his father probably see him as the man to make the big step.
Cameroonians have a frank decision to make in 2025 when Biya would have spent 43 years in office as President. It will be their choice against yet another daddy’s boy in Africa.
While Museveni is yet to reveal a succession plan, as he which-hunts opposition, there are insinuations such familiar familial transitions will be seen. It’s up to the years to come.