Edward Kissi prays for the Swazi president to enjoy his car!
Your Majesty King Mswati: I am honored to be able to write to you. I am a citizen of Ghana. Although, I am not a Swazi, I believe that as an African what happens in any part of the African continent (my own country and others) should be of utmost concern to me. Your Majesty may regard this view of myself and my concerns as inappropriate and even unnecessary. And many of your officials and good citizens may conclude that as a Ghanaian, I should be more concerned about my country, in West Africa, than what is going on in your kingdom, in the southern part of the continent. But as someone living and working in the United States, I have come to the realization that my citizenship as a Ghanaian matters less than my race or color as a black person and my African origin in how some people in the world assess my ability and worth as a human being For that reason, I have become a representative of people of my race and people of my continent. When Americans read about genocide, war and AIDS in Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan and Swaziland, because I am black and from Africa people who see me on a bus or in a store regard me as a Rwandan, Somali or Swazi. I am often required to explain the conduct of my group and my continent. My insistence that I am Ghanaian and not a Swazi or Sudanese does not help or even matter. That insistence often yields the caustic response: But aren't you an African? Because of the fact that as an African and a black person, I am expected to answer for the actions of all black people and all Africans, I have considered it necessary to express my shock and dismay at what I have read recently about you and your kingdom. I have read, here in the United States, that you have recently bought a $500,000 Mayback luxury car loaded with a DVD player, 21 speaker surround system, fridge, cordless phone and silver champaigne flutes. Your Majesty, I do not believe this is true because there have often been many false reports about Africa and also your kingdom in the American press and even on the internet. As an African, I take it as my responsibility to defend the good reputation of African leaders who are working so hard to improve the conditions of their people while I live abroad and enjoy my work. I would be grateful, Your Majesty, if you or your representative in the United States could clarify this report for me. Sir, have you purchased such a car and why? If it is true then, Your Majesty, that expenditure reminds many of us here about the kind of lifestyles of African leaders that ruined prosperous countries such as Zaire, under Mobutu, and Central African Republic, under Bokasa, to mention, but a few. I understand, Sir, that your kingdom, like many other countries on the African continent is in the throes of the AIDS pandemic. Could that money for a luxury automobile---if true---not have been used to purchase drugs and other vaccines for the sick and afflicted? Your Majesty, I do not begrudge ordinary citizens spending their private money the ways they want. But when public officials including monarchs spend public resources in constructing domes, marrying many young women, building arches and monuments or buying luxury cars and sparkling crowns, that reminds me of the ancient Roman Emperors and the uncaring monarchs of medieval Europe. That use of the public treasury raises important public questions. What is the public left to survive on when monarchs use what is legitimately the public's resources for the monarch's private fantasies? Today, the ostentatious lifestyles of many of Africa's leaders have become the subject of jokes in the world. Many people in the world look at the opulence of the courts of Africa's monarchs and the shameful conditions of their subjects and ask another question: What are the priorities of Kings: themselves or their subjects? Your Majesty, today Africa---and your kingdom is an essential part of it----is at the threshold of a new era. It is an era in which indigenous institutions such as chieftaincies are seen as containing some of the solutions to Africa's problems. It is also an era in which the relevance or irrelevance of traditional institutions such as monarchies of the kind in Swaziland are being debated. You represent an important heritage not only of your people, but of Africans---both at home and in the diaspora. The excesses and ostentation of African leaders, especially Kings and Chiefs, Presidents and Prime Ministers, have become a matter of serious concern and discussion for those of us who explain Africa to Americans and other people in the world. I would like to think, Your Majesty, that my Ghanaian identity does not disqualify me from thinking about Swaziland or becoming concerned about this report of your purchase of a luxury car (if true) to be driven in the midst of your subjects many of whose lives are ravaged by poverty and disease. Sir, I am thankful for the opportunity to reach you through this medium created by another African so that all Africans can exchange ideas about what is right and wrong with our continent. I will be even more thankful to hear from you or your representative about this "rumor" or "news." Merry Christmas, Your Majesty. Sincerely,