Africa: The Wheel of Women’s Progress Power…

This is an interesting era. New British Prime Minister, is a woman--Theresa May. In five- months-time, the US might have a new female President, too, that is, Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile leader of the richest and leading industrial nation in Europe is also a woman, Angela Merkel of Germany. And so is Christine Largade, President of the International Monetary Fund, one of the biggest financial institutions on the globe.

It is not just whites...

In Africa, we have a female president in Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Before her there was Malawi's President Joyce Banda.

Tanzania has top-notch female leaders, and one is Dr Asha-Rose Migiro (pictured), the country's new High Commissioner in London. Last Thursday the British Tanzania society welcomed her at a reception at the School of Oriental and African Studies- SOAS, in West London.

The highly respected Tanzanian made a brief speech whereby she expressed an interest to meet and know people here.

And it was not just Dr Migiro. There was the new High Commissioner to Tanzania, Ms Sarah Cooke. She said she was delighted to go to Tanzania and excitedly, "showed off" a few Kiswahili words.

By the way, I cannot overemphasise the fascination overseas folks have for Kiswahili.

"It sounds like it has all languages in it; and is very pleasant to the ear. Sexy," a North African lady told me, the other day.

Dr Migiro and Ms Cooke were joined by Ms Dianna Melrose--who I interviewed a few years back. She has been in Tanzania since 2013 and is passing the baton to Ms Cooke who previously worked in Bangladesh.

Among those around the three super ladies were Tanzania Trade Centre Director (in the High Commission), Mr Yusuf Kashangwa and former UK ambassador to Tanzania (prior to Ambassador Melrose) Mr Philip Parham.

Addressing (and hosting) the well attended ceremony, Birmingham University academic and lecturer, Dr Andrew Coulson, (from British Tanzania Society) said these are bright times for women.

Now that is the message today.

During my life writing and working in the media, I have heard repeatedly that the world is in constant violence, war and bloodshed because the leading "political class" is male. This implies that men in power have created--through their policies- a hostile environment.

One of the key words used to describe female leaders is that they bring nurturing, communication, caring and peace, to their tasks.

Let me I ask, nevertheless: Is political power determined by one individual or the overall system?

If being a leader helps change things, why has President Barack Obama failed to stop Americans from carrying guns? In recent years, we have seen the rising tide of violence in the US. We have heard of armed hot heads spraying bullets on innocent civilians in cinema halls, schools, colleges and streets. This is simply because you can easily purchase firearms in the USA. While President Obama has openly showed his distaste for guns (and the right to carry arms), he is still powerless to change things, without Senate approval, ie, Republicans.

It is not that simple.

So, what?

A leader inherits a system, which determines his style of leadership.

Having a good leader or women in positions of power can help psychologically though.

One of the most revered leaders in the UK is Margaret Thatcher. Thatcher was as disliked for her anti-working class policies but was considered a tough boss. The Iron Lady.

Psychologically, she inspired other women. Although, speaking with many British women, she was not that liked. Not because she was personally horrible; but, her policies were terrible, especially to the poor.

This has been hinted about new PM Theresa May. On Wednesday Ms May quickly selected her new Cabinet. No sooner, after, whispers and flyers were circulating around the city. Tomorrow (Saturday) demonstrations against some of her policies as a former minister and part of the Tory government have already started cooking. Some of these alleged disgraceful policies include reducing trade union rights, discrimination against immigrants and the war in Syria and Iraq, etc. A circulating flyer called for "no more Tories power..."

But facts are facts.

Who is a good, powerful leader?

The word "power" can be deceptive. It depends how one wants to take it. I prefer saying power means public service and responsibility. A political leader is a person who has decided to make sacrifices for their community. Mwalimu Julius Nyerere once famously said if you see someone paying money to buy the Presidency, that person should be feared like leprosy disease.

Sincerity is one thing though. Many politicians start by saying excellent words. But like the old phrase coined by British historian, Lord John Acton: "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely." Leaders lose focus. Leaders begin stealing, lying, and bluffing.

Historically the gender ratio does not match. Men are still majority leaders. That is why the few women emerging must be applauded. Perhaps we can pin hopes for peace and less blood mongering through these handbag- lipstick - high heels carriers.

Source: The Citizen