Two presidents, one country

On hearing of the two presidents in Ivory Coast, sworn in on the same day in the same city, people here in Zimbabwe just laugh. I have heard it said that if something is repeated three times it becomes a tradition! So, having two roosters in the same yard is now our way of doing things; first in Kenya, then in Zimbabwe and now in Ivory Coast.


To laugh is about all we can do. To worry about it, to spend time agonizing over why our leaders behave like this, why they expose their fellow countrymen and women to endless suffering just because they want to hold onto power seems to be futile. The answer is obvious in a way they just enjoy power but why do they not think of the misery they cause?

Why is this not a factor that dominates their thinking rather than being brushed aside? It is as though they simply dont care. They may claim that elections are not free and fair, but they have the power to make them so. Why dont they do it? Maybe they just dont believe in the will of the people?

More than 300 years ago there was a Czar (emperor) in Russia who was still in his teens. His big sister, Sophia, had managed to take over power while he was a still a boy. (It was a remarkable achievement as women were not supposed to know anything, leave alone become rulers of men). For seven years Sophia ruled but as the day drew closer when her brother would be come an adult Sophia became nervous.

She enjoyed power and influence and the ability to give out gifts to those who supported her, but the young czar was growing up. She knew her time was over but she just wanted to find a way of holding on to power. The crisis developed slowly. The chefs did not know what to do. The czar was the legitimate ruler but his sister actually had the power.

They could be accused of treachery and lose everything if the other side won. In the end Sophias followers slipped away, one by one, to give their allegiance to the eighteen year old Peter, who became Peter the Great, founder of St Petersburg and indeed of modern Russia. Sophias key followers paid a heavy price (one was exiled to the Arctic) and she was locked away in a convent for the remaining 25 years of her life.

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