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The revolution of the moon – trouble

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PHOTO CREDIT: WhytoRead

This is the title of a historical novel written by the Italian writer, creator of Inspector Montalbano, Andrea Camilleri.

This is the book that Alaba read and, without closing the book, started reading again from the beginning.

He could not believe what he had read in this powerful depiction of power used for the good of the people. He read it all over again.

The novel is about what happened in Sicily in the last quarter of the 17th century.

On April 16, 1677, from his deathbed the Viceroy of Sicily named his wife Donna Eleonora as his successor.

Donna Eleonora was a highly intelligent and capable woman.

She was also stunningly beautiful – tall, without the awkwardness of tall persons, elegant and given to silence rather than blabber.

From the moment she occupied the thronelet of the Viceroy, placed three steps below the throne of the King of Spain, Charles lll, she applied her political acumen to heal the scarred soul of Palermo, the capital city of Sicily.

Palermo, like the rest of Sicily, was afflicted by poverty and misery among the masses while the ruling elite wallowed in corruption and self-indulgence.

Donna Eleonora implemented “measures that included lowering the price of bread, reducing taxes for large families, re-opening women’s care facilities, and establishing stipends for young couples wishing to marry – all measures that were considered seditious by the Conservative City father’s and the Church.”

What excited Alaba in this book is the “change agenda” which many political leaders in Africa have laid claim to over the years.

There is John Magufuli of Tanzania who promised change to the voters of the country.

Soon after he came to power in 2015, he cancelled Independence Day celebrations to save money for the country.

He reduced the budget for a state dinner and used the money saved to buy a number of hospital beds.

He arrived at a hospital, found the workers not at their jobs and sacked the director of the hospital on the spot.

In no time at all, #WhatWouldMagufuliDo went viral! All over the continent people were wishing their leaders were Magufulis.

To quote a commentator: “Magufuli had yet to attempt any meaningful reform.

He had not opened up his country’s political space; he had not meaningfully tackled state corruption, which would have implicated senior figures within his own party; he had not implemented the root-and-branch overhaul necessary to turn around struggling health and education systems.”

In Angola, Joao Lourenco made a song and dance about sacking the daughter of his predecessor, President Jose Eduardo dos Santos.

As well as some members of the dos Santos family.

All that this did was to “change who benefits from corruption, rather than tackling the corruption itself.”

In Zimbabwe it is expected that Emerson Mnangagwa will do things differently, hopefully. He goes around with ‘Zimbabwe is open for business.’

He was President Mugabe’s right hand man and he cannot change much without changing himself!

In South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa cannot really put anything together too quickly without hurting his ruling party, the African National Congress.

Personal acts of humility and inclusiveness like flying economy class as he did to Kigali for a conference would not do it.

Under Jacob Zuma, with the slogan “radical economic reform,” much stealing of state assets and money took place.

Some of those involved are among those in the ruling party, still ruling the country.

It is against this background of mission impossible as far as “change agenda” is concerned that the new prime minister of Ethiopia has happened.

And for once, it seems, like Donna Eleonora, somebody has arrived to effect irreversible changes.

Abiy Ahmed took office as prime minister in April this year.

His full name is Abiy Ahmed Ali and he is chairman of both the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revoluitionary Democratic Front and the Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organization.

The OPDO is one of the four parties that make up the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front.

Abiyot, his childhood name meaning Revolution in Amharic, was born thirteenth child of a Muslim father and only child of a Christian mother.

He was born in 1976 and went to school locally and to secondary school in Agoro town.

He served in the Ethiopian army attaining the rank of a Lieutenant Colonel. He received his bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering.

He holds an MA in transformational leadership and an MBA from the Leadstar College of Management and Leadership in Addis Ababa.

He completed his PhD in 2017 at the Institute for Peace and Security Studies of the Addis Ababa University. His thesis is on conflict resolution in Ethiopia.

In his first 100 days as prime minister of Ethiopia he released “thousands of political prisoners; ended the state of emergency (in existence since 2016); announced plans to partially privatise key industries, including telecommunications and aviation; admitted and denounced the use of torture by state security services; and fired prison officials implicated in human rights abuses in the wake of a damning Human Rights Watch report.”

Perhaps most importantly he ended the totally senseless war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, a war that has been going on for decades.

The big question is: Are these changes irreversible? As our President told the conference of African leaders in Kigali and later in Mauritania, when you fight corruption, corruption fights back.

Those set to lose out if the changes stay would do everything to keep things as they are and fight those who wish to make changes.

Back to THE REVOLUTION OF THE MOON, “The machinations of powerful men soon resulted in Donna Eleonora, whom the Church saw as a dangerous revolutionary, being recalled to Spain.”

In asking for her recall the Church had wanted the King of Spain not only to recall her but also to declare null and void all her laws and prescriptions for Palermo and Sicily.

The King agreed to recall her but insisted that her laws and programmes had pleased the people of Sicily.

Charles lll insisted that the only condition on which he would recall her was if her laws remained irreversible.

The Church agreed and Donna Eleonora was recalled. Her laws were irreversible. Her rule lasted 27 days.

Street poets celebrated her as they escorted her to the ship that would take her back to Spain:

Your reign lasted one lunar circuit,
Tho’it turned the night bright as day;
Your laws of goodness brought a surfeit,
And did some of our suffering allay.
bankole.omotoso@elizadeuniversity.edu.ng


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