Toast to a female president

Toast to a female president

I must admit that had I known what blogging was during the time Madam Sirleaf Johnson was inaugurated I would have written something capturing my sentiments. I was over the moon about her becoming the first female president in Africa. I am still ecstatic about it and even more so with the recent stepping up to the presidential post by Ms Joyce Banda of Malawi recently. This is the best news I have heard in a while and I am trying to milk the moment as well as the emotions for as long as I can get away with. It is rather sad that it had to take a death of the outgoing to usher in her tenure but all the same, the taste is still palatable.

I have been painting my social sites red with images of Her Excellency, Joyce Banda and I do not see myself stopping in the coming future. I am going to make up for having missed Madam Sirleaf Johnson’s inauguration moment.  Some might want to argue that H.E Joyce Banda was not elected but I want to remind them that the Malawian Constitution elected her to that post. Some might want to caution me on the celebrations claiming that she is a politician after all and that politicians cannot be trusted as far as they can be thrown. I want to remind them that she has come a long way and I want to believe that her track record proves to me that I have every reason to be happy that she has ascended to the pinnacle of political power within her country. Most importantly, I want anyone and everyone to know that I am so happy simply because she is a woman and I am primarily celebrating my gender in this corridor of power. I am so supportive of this woman- whose story I had to google a few hours after I heard that she had been inaugurated- simply because I know that she needs every single ounce of support she can get.

She has already been ‘attacked’ by a fellow woman, a fellow politician from  her own country and I dread to even imagine how many other women are trying to bring her down already. It is bad enough that there are rumours of some men who just might have tried to circumvent the constitution to get her out of the presidential office. As a feminist, I know the call has been made to have more women into political spaces, women who are well-equipped and ready for the task at hand not merely women just to make up the required quota, and here is one. The least we can do is to celebrate one such woman.

It is also my prayer that Her Excellency will do justice to our cries and that she will show that African female politicians are hewn from a different rock to most of the male ones we have encountered so far. It is my prayer that she has just ushered in an era that will see the region elect more female presidents. Frankly speaking, I am tired of the mess that the male leaders have made of our nations (at least the majority of them, anyway.) I am of the opinion that these male leaders have messed up enough times to last the continent several generations. I am sincerely hoping that she will take not only Malawi, but the region to dizzying socio-economic heights. I also understand that it is a mammoth task but I know the strength, the tenacity, the shrewdness and the heart of woman. If anyone can sort out the mess that men make, it is a woman. Just look at the homes and you will agree that I need no further example. In my Shona culture we have a saying: ‘Musha mukadzi’ which when translated loosely, means “A home is (because of) a woman.” As madam Joyce Banda steps up to the plate, I have a feeling that the region is going to change. Anyone who has ever had a woman in their life appreciates the changes she brings into any space she enters.

I am also a tad bit envious of the Malawian women especially. Finally they have a leader who understands when they make requests/petitions about issues that affect them as women. Finally they have a leader who knows what it means to be disadvantaged and to be marginalised, a leader who has empathy for the plight of the African/ Malawian woman. They have a leader who knows the burden of being a woman in a ‘third world’ country, who knows just what it means for a woman to not have water, electricity, sufficient food, sanitary pads, affordable and accessible health… the list is inexhaustible. Finally they have a leader who knows how much it means to educate the girl child, to empower the woman. A leader who understands and has shouldered the burden of being a mother and a wife and knows all too well the secondary citizenship accorded to women and children. It is my prayer that she will be that kind of leader whose activism is not curtailed by the presidential robes that she now wears. It is my hope that she will fight to raise the status of women in her country and also in the region. When a woman has been elevated, we all know that womanhood has been recognised and that the nation is in better hands.

To, Madam Joyce Banda: May you mark a path whose footprints will stand apart and deeply entrenched for all the right reasons, madam President. I hope that you have ushered in era of female presidents in the region and beyond. As the first female president of Malawi, the first female president in the SADC region and the second female president on the African continent, I wish you all the best. To a fruitful and prosperous tenure….Women can do it!

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