African dictatorship for dummies.

If you majored in English at university and you are now wondering what to do with your life then this is for you. I’m assuming that like many BA English majors you’re still unemployed three years after varsity and the little experience that you have, if any, is not entirely related to your degree because you were so desperate to get a job that you were willing to do almost anything but… my apologies I digress. If you have a BA in English and you were wondering what to do with yourself becoming an African dictator isn’t such a bad or far fetched option.

I was going to say that first you will need good communication skills but after years of countless assignments for your English major and constant arguments with your friends and family defending your degree choice I am sure you would have, by now, sharpened your communication skills enough to, as Jay-Z once said, “sell water to a well or sell fire in hell.” When you become President this skill will be invaluable as you will have to B.S yourself out of many sticky situations.

Secondly, you are going to need a good Christian name, and when I say Christian, Thabo, Barack or Kwame just won’t cut it here (I’m sorry just telling it like it is). For this you will need something that’s English or ‘neutral’ enough to be pronounced easily by everyone around the world and yet sweet enough to make everyone in your country believe that you could never be a dictator. Think Robert,Hastings, Teodoro, Jose, Dennis, Joseph, Paul (of which there are two at the moment), Yoweri (Joel), Omar or for the more romantically inclined there’s Laurent.

If however by some twist of fate you don’t end up with a name like the ones I mentioned or if you feel that your current name doesn’t really suit your ambitions then it’s not a train smash. In such a situation it is a good idea to give your self a name.  If your name is one that is self proclaimed then it has to be scary or worth remembering. For example, Mobutu Sese Seko, president (you never refer to yourself or others as dictator) of Zaire from 1965-1997 who was born Joseph Desire Mobutu, changed his name to Mobutu Sese Seko Nkuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga which translates to ‘the all powerful warrior who, because of his endurance and inflexible will to win, goes from conquest to conquest leaving fire in his wake’. In case you were wondering, no! I did not make that up, you can wikipedia it. So it is clear as far as names are concerned you can’t go lukewarm. If it’s not sweet it must be scary.

Thirdly, you need a right hand man. Whatever you do he must never be your vice president. He must have a role that keeps him close enough to you to be clued up yet far away enough to prevent him from quickly having ambitions of his own. A good idea is to make this guy your Minister of Information. What people think of you is important. If you can control that then you are halfway there. This guy is like ‘the bagman’ that most Mafias have. If you don’t know what a bagman is then you obviously studied engineering or some other ‘proper’ degree so don’t worry I will explain.

If you were a Don in the Mafia and you ran a protection racket then you would need a bagman to collect all the dirty money because as Don you can’t be doing that yourself for obvious reasons. If you don’t know what a protection racket is then you’re on your own. In politics your ‘bagman’ does and says all the things you wouldn’t be caught dead doing or saying and denies all the things you are caught saying and doing with a straight face. He also B.Ses some more because your B.S alone will not take you very far.  If he starts getting too ambitious you can always make him…how they say…swim with the fishes…kapeesh?

No dictator is complete without struggle credentials or as they say in rap circles… street cred. In this democratic and peaceful age that we live in that might be hard to come by. There are not that many liberation wars going around and the few that are there will probably not end without some international intervention. You don’t want these kinds of wars. You want the kind where you can ride in on a white horse and kill all the bad guys yourself because you don’t want to be the punk that wouldn’t be in power if it wasn’t for the States, Britain, France or someone else. This is an easier route to your objective but it may come back and bite you, again I site Mobutu Sese Seko as an example.

Admittedly, it is harder to be a war hero nowadays. While previous dictators on this continent have relied on struggle credentials to gain a following and hold everyone to ransom through constant reminders of how they brought everyone freedom, you would have to do something really big to garner a large and loyal following. Unmasking the Stig and revealing his true identity at a public and televised event counts as something big. Revealing who killed JFK doesn’t count unless people in your country are really obsessed about that kind of stuff.

If you do as I have outlined you are well on your way to becoming an African dictator and finally putting that English degree of yours to good use but before you do all of that…you have to become President first.