I just finished a really nice article in the Financial Times where Alec Russell interviewed Zimbabwe's Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, about working with Mugabe. Both Russell and I were incredulous at Morgan's protestations that working with Mugabe wasn't hard at all (... dude. seriously?) and his various other attempts to conceal the realities of Mugabe today. Hm.
What makes this sinister is that Morgan is doing what I really hate about Generation Independence people: he's covering up Mugabe's present monstrosity as though his revolutionary past is enough to buy him out of jail forever. We make much ado about African Bigmanism but the truth is that there can be no Big Man unless there are Little Men around him stoking the fires of his ego and generally enabling him.
It's bad enough that power corrupts and that leaders are prone to losing touch with reality- do they really need any help from the peanut gallery? Take Ghaddafi, for example. If someone had told him at least ten years ago that the Jheri Curl was nasty and that it had to go, maybe his other delusions of grandeur could have been controlled. But nooooo. I bet all his people were like "Damn, Mumu, that's totally hot. And very fashionable. It's what all the despots wear these days..."
Bad hair, man. It helped to seal his fate. See, the minute he decided to get belligerent on the "rebel forces"- I bet you thought Dar is disorganized but have you seen the Libyan "liberation" front?- his fate was sealed. It was far too obvious, really: this is Libya we're talking about. Oil. It was only a matter of time before Napoleon... I mean Sarkozy got hopped up and then the rest of the EU and America stuck their oar in and now he's getting shelled in his own compound, cornered like a middle-aged rodent with stringy hair.
It is all so unnecessary. He could have gone for gold: "left power" nice and early and retreated into the shadows where he could keep a controlling hand on matters kind of like Mwalimu did. He should have cut that hair. He should have collapsed his ridiculous tent and retired in comfort to a tastefully ostentatious manor in the south of France. He could have died a Dear Leader and then been stuck in a tastelessly ornate marble mausoleum that would mock his people's poverty for posterity. He could have had it all. But he chose... the Jheri Curl and a shameful end.
Consider yourself warned.
*And I don't just mean Jheri Curls. I'm also talking to you, you with the boot-black hair even though we all know you're waaaaay past fifty. And you too. Put that fly-whisk/cowboy hat/dubious accessory away, nobody is fooled.