With comic relief that is dovetailed by all seriousness, A.B. Assensoh comments on the situation with Kenya's formal First Lady, "Her Excellency" Mrs. Lucy Kibaki (in Posting #672). Assensoh -- who suffered military detention as the Sub-Editor of The Pioneer newspaper of Ghana early in the military regime of executed General Ignatius Kutu ("Kuti") Acheampong -- is writing with a lot of hindsight from what was known (in the erstwhile Acheampong military era) as "Bottom Power" at work in Ghana.

Several of my Kenyan friends in and outside Nairobi press circles have said that President Kibaki, reportedly, has two wives, hence Mrs. Lucy Kibaki takes liberties to underscore publicly that, indeed, she is the No. 1 First Lady of Kenya. While her behaviour seems to be extreme, I am reminded by historical-cum-political scenarios that many past Ghanaian First Ladies have exhibited what has come to be known as "Bottom Power", including the era of "do-you-know-meism". Of course, there is no former Ghanaian First Lady that went to the "commando" extent of storming a press house, although some of them have sued press as well as media houses and won!

However, when Mr. Ofori, the late Business Manager of The Pioneer newspaper in Kumasi, Ghana, and I (as the Sub-Editor) were arrested and detained in a local military camp by armed soldiers for writing anti-National Redemption Council (NRC) editorials, I heard a military officer saying that the then Ghana First Lady (Mrs. Faustina Acheampong) had allegedly said: "Journalists like this Akwasi Bretuo and the Business Manager, who are writing again my husband's government, deserve being picked up from their offices, caned and slapped on mercilessly, and then left to walk over fifty miles back home. Why detain and feed such useless Journalists...?" My pen-name, as a Journalist, was Akwasi Bretuo.

Also, there was the hilarious revelation that when a former Ghanaian First Lady was asked why she was making so much noise publicly and privately (with slogans) -- again, not at the "commando" level of Mrs. Kibaki -- she reportedly said: "This is 'bottom power' speaking!' In terms of Mrs. Acheampong again, there was the following allegation: that after the late Fela Ransome-Kuti (Fela) had reportedly entertained then NRC Chairman Acheampong and his top military brass in Ghana, the local newspapers allegedly alluded in headlines to the claim that Acheampong was, originally, of a Nigerian parentage, hence his "Kuti" middle name, which was later changed to "Kutu". The Ghanaian newsaper headlines, reportedly, included:"Kuti Entertains Kuti..." Reportedly, the then First Lady of Ghana was so furious with the press that she, allegedly, wanted to storm a particular press house to show the editor and his reporters "real bottom power." If that happened, it would have certainly risen to the level of Mrs. Kibaki's "First Lady Power" in Kenya!

As I read Reuben Abati's published piece from Guardian of Lagos, I simply smiled and said that the usefulness of the article included the fact that it may teach many of our female subscribers of the USA/Africa Dialogue how (1) not to be like Mrs. Kibaki, or (2) not to mis-use "bottom power" if they ever become First Ladies anywhere in Africa. Certainly, those who have not suffered the wrath of a First Lady anywhere may still say, "Long live 'bottom power' of First Ladies!" Of course, their "bottom power" can also be an irritatingly "fat" and "hot" power, indeed!