Anthony Agbali:

I guess there is a lot to be said about women empowerment on the African political trajectory. Many African women have shown good sense of leadership. I want to mention two women from Benue State who were held to be very responsible politicians and administrator. These are Mrs. Elizabeth Ivase ( a former commissioner in the old Benue) and Mrs. Ayatu Ifene, also a one time commissioner. Across Nigerians and Africa I guess that examples like this are replete.

However, while fhe feminine mystique and charism is need toward ensuring the transformation of the African political and social landscape, I do not totally subscribe to the idea that gender is holistic responsible for the failure of the African political process and the malevolent contamination of the social arena. African women have shown dictatorial, as well as corrupt tendencies.

This is not to say that there should not be privileged and granted opportunities toward full participatory and emancipatory involvement in the socio-political process. What would one say of someone like the Kenyan First Lady, Mrs. Kibaki, who in an authoritarian manner took the laws into her hand and slapped a journalist in full public glare. Would her gender simply change such antics, should she be given the opportunity to govern. Or even further, outside of the purely governing order, what would one say regarding the excesses of Alice Lekwena, the progenitor of the Holy Spirit Resistance movement and army in Uganda, or of a Clendonia Mwerinde, who was instrumental in the sect of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandmants annihilation, in circumstances that reflect as purely brutal, deceitful, manipulative, and self-serving? If such women are capable of such heinous violations of human dignity, gender alone is would not be the factor in discerning the mode of social transformations by feminine actors. Women like men have historically indulged in megalomaniac abuse of power in Africa, and across the world. Margaret Thatcher was known as the Iron woman, and Indira Gandhi was not often liked, even the American Nixon called her a witch (these notwithstanding these were great women in their own rights, anyway).

Multiple factors hae to interact to ensure the success of women rulers, especially through sanctioning accountable and acute transparent political environment. Plus, I guess that there is often a problematic in terms of African thinking relative to the transformation of the social polity through political processes. A President alone cannot singularly transform a country, the political system is not often that simplified. Rather, there is a lot of bargaining that is necessary, through interacting with many social actors and pressure groups in ensuring a conducive operations of the machinery of government. I guess, that more than anything, African women in leadership have to interact and bargain with men, negotiating different trajectories in motioning good governance. Hence, the norms of respect for others, good team work and negotiating skills, listening skills, impressive and endearing personalities, all need to converge in ensuring operational and policy success.

Therefore, while there is a craving for changing and testing new fields to see which works, I think that more than differences of gender, ethnicity, religion, and all kinds of definitional emblems, it is the ability to be docile, functional, and respective that would truly ensure the transformation of many African national polities. There is also to be said, that the stereotypical conditioning that seems to assert the emotional side of women- even when emphasizing their caring side- can also present as a negative and abuse of women political actors, since such postulations predicates their functioning on the biological and affective , rather than through their merited and hard-earned experiences, skills, and creative abilities.