Psychopathic Encounters and Leadership in Africa



Pranksters and cardiovascular health
Patrick Iwelunmor

Sigmund Freud simply explains psychopathy as a disease of the superego – that part of the unconscious mind that acts as a conscience by providing moral standards by which the ego operates. A malfunctioning of this part of the unconscious mind has often manifested in psychopathic behaviour, usually characterised by narcissism, sadomasochism and insensitivity to other people’s feelings.

Most African leaders exhibit these traits. There is therefore an urgent need to put an end to this repetitive leadership miasma that has remained unsolved on the continent, largely due to the desperation of psychopathic leaders to preserve their selfish and inhumane political interests.

The political class in Africa, populated mostly by these psychopathic characters with unpalatable pedigrees, also parade sadistic appetites and are detached from the common man’s reality. This is the reason a leader can embezzle the money meant for the development of his state or country and still walk free with a plethora of chieftaincy titles and honorary degrees.

This same political class can do anything to attain the pedestal of power. No wonder many of them are willing to deploy wicked practices, such as ritual killing, kidnapping, money laundering and drug abuse and trafficking, just to sustain themselves in power. It is the emergence of bad and psychopathic leaders that has cast a dark shadow over the image of Africa since independence, especially with the inglorious era of military rule in some countries, including Nigeria. Bad leadership, epitomised by psychopathic leaders, was also responsible for the many dramatic intrigues that led to the loss of some of the continent’s brightest minds like Christopher Okigbo, Emmanuel Ifeajuna, Adekunle Fajuyi, Mamman Vatsa, MKO Abiola, Dele Giwa, Bagauda Kalto and many others.

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Africa’s encounters with psychopathic characters can be traced to the colonial era, when the white imperialists forcefully annexed African kingdoms and went on a killing and stealing spree that derived its legitimisation from the Scramble for and Partitioning of Africa at the infamous Berlin Conference of 1844 to 1845. Then, European super powers desecrated the cultures of African kingdom-states and left in their trails memories of sorrow, tears and blood.

Even after they were forced to exit the African scene through the nationalist and intellectual activism of African champions of independence, they ensured that their selfish and dishonest economic and political interests continued to be protected. This was done in connivance with some powerful Africans whom they had brainwashed to rise up in arms against their fellow Africans. This connivance became the main basis of Eurocentric interventions in African political economy through the propagation of neo-colonialist interests.

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Even though most of Africa has since embraced civilian rule, multinational oil corporations are still feeding fat on the oil resources of the continent at the expense of its common people. There is no better understanding of the concept of psychopathy than the sad socio-political and economic realities that have been playing out in Africa, where western institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are still dictating the economic policies of the continent. While the streets of London and Berlin are ravishing, with beautiful infrastructural aesthetics, produced from the plundered resources of Africa, the Niger-Delta in Nigeria and the other impoverished slums of Africa are constantly diminishing into uninhabitable abysses of pain and penury.

African countries, even in democratic rule and with innumerable human and material resources, have continued to produce self-centered, callous and insensitive leaders who do not care about the welfare of their fellow citizens. This trend has been the major reason most African countries are not making any meaningful progress socio-economically and politically. This problem has lingered for so long and seems not to be leaving us any moment soon.

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An average African citizen is imbued with great intellectual and vocational skills and yet is entrapped in a continuous Sisyphean struggle against the vicious tides of poverty. The embezzlement of funds and mismanagement of resources by psychopathic African leaders have remained the greatest undoing of African people. This sad reality has often led to civil unrest, armed struggle and the proliferation of small arms across the continent, with many self-determination groups rising up against sitting governments with complaints of political, economic and religious marginalisation. The Mau Mau guerilla war in Kenya, the Biafran genocide, the Liberian civil war, the Rwandan genocide, the Maitatsine uprisings of northern Nigeria, the Boko Haram insurgency, the IPOB militancy and the Fulani herder crisis, are examples of the consequences of societies governed by psychopathic leaders. Such leaders enjoy dividing the people and pitting them against themselves, through shrewd strategies, in furtherance of their selfish and sadomasochistic interests.



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