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Read Letter

Exercise Your Political Power

My dear Jil,

My letter today is going to take on a slightly different tone. It’s going to be about politics, our dear nation and your role in national affairs. We can always talk about boys. That topic is inexhaustible. But there’s more to life than boys!

Now I have on several occasions through my missives communicated to you about the autochthonous power you wield as a woman. It is an enormous power and like all enormous powers it comes with enormous responsibilities. Some people want power without understanding the moral obligation of power. Power destroys under such circumstances. Power without a reciprocal sense of responsibility is indeed a tragic irony.

Now, power is one thing. What you choose to do with power is another thing. But it always helps to know you’re a donee of power. Power in and of itself is the proprietary property of God. People crudely talk of “bottom power” in regard to women but that’s a chosen application by particular individuals. It doesn’t define the aboriginal essence of womanhood. And anyway not all women are so disposed.

We must distinguish the essence of power from the application, or even corruption of power. The real power of a woman is the power of suasion. A woman has extra-ordinary persuasive powers. Men tend to exercise power in raw form. They like show of force. Power is masculine to men. But think about this: if a woman can influence the man wielding raw power then she has access to that power indirectly. I call this the colonial authority of the power of suasion. It’s what makes the wife of the boss, or the wife of the head of state deadly.

Women have been known to determine political outcomes and even the destiny of nations through the use of colonial authority. History is replete with instances. Don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the woman simply known as Esther. She’s also known as Hadassah. I’m sure you’ve seen that as a nom de guerre on some Twitter handles. She was a ravishing beauty by all accounts. Incredibly beautiful. She was an orphan actually, raised by her cousin, Mordecai. Mordecai was a government official. He worked in the statehouse. Under his guidance Esther won a beauty pageant to become the Queen of Persia. (Her husband was Xerxes I).

Now I know people name their children Esther. We can only guess at the motivation for such baptismal decisions. Perhaps these fathers think their daughters are beautiful. (Every father thinks his daughter is the most beautiful). I suspect however that many of the fathers named their daughter Esther on account of the historical role of Esther. Esther preserved her nation. A national holiday is celebrated to this day in her honour.

Here’s a patchy sketch of the story. Hitler’s great, great grand “uncle”, a holocaust planner named Haman had perfected a scheme to wipe out the Jews in Ancient Persia. Persia was a vast kingdom incorporating many nations and peoples. Its notable potentate was Cyrus the Great. In 540BC,Cyrus conquered the famous Babylonian Empire. Present day Iran was Persia by the way. The reason Haman plotted to wipe out the Jews was simply because Mordecai wouldn’t respect his motorcade! The guy was a megalomaniac. To wipe out so many people just because someone refused to bow when you rode by?! Mordecai alerted Esther about the plan, asking her to use her influence with the king to stop the genocide. Quite an interesting story. Read it on the net through Wikipedia. Google Esther. You can also read it from the Bible. At the end of the day Haman the racist was decapitated on the 75ft gallow he had set up to hang Mordecai.

Esther was a historical figure who found herself at the T-junction of history – political realism. In Esther we see the responsible purposing of the grace of power of influence: the preservation of the life of a nation. Esther is the vision of a woman beyond the bed chamber. (Don’t ever let anyone define you in terms of the bed chamber. It’s reductionism). And we can see from the story that the end to which you choose to deploy power determines your place in history. The choice of the use of power is always conscious and the choice is your responsibility. This story shows how deft a woman can be in political maneuverability. Esther was at the centre of it all, in the eye of the storm. Interesting that the king never knew she was a Jew. She would have been spared from the pogrom anyway. She was the queen.

The problem with many people is that they never get involved unless their comfort and positions are threatened. It’s a selfish and ignorant approach to life. What goes round eventually comes round. And sometimes we’re blinded by local pursuit, like the desire to marry. Nothing wrong with this desire but it shouldn’t blind us to higher responsibilities. Some people want others to do the work and they benefit. They’re the “expectors” – expectant inspectors. And others believe everything will work out just fine, that nation building is autogenous and assumes itself. These are the kinds of mistakes elites make. It’s one of the reasons martial music topped the charts in many African nations.

What are you doing about your country Jil? About her politics and destiny? If all you’re concerned about is marriage don’t forget your children have to go to school. And when government policy on education fails you invariably pay for it. Your husband will pay in hard currency as well.

There are a number of issues worth your attention: power (energy), insecurity, youth unemployment, corruption, high cost of governance, women issues, constitutionalism, human rights, health, education, country’s image…list goes on. While we wait for your husband to show up you can at least direct your energy and gifts into something impactful. Shouldn’t you get involved in sorting out your nation Jil? Or are you an “expector”? You can write, you can talk, you can organise, you can be activistic, you can join a party… You must vote of course!

Your country needs you Jil!

Your mentor, LA.


©Leke Alder 2013


Tags : Power, Politics, Nation

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