Africa & Beyond

French Presidential Divorce Blues

The marriage institution is in crisis. More than any other era in history marriage as an institution ordained by God is undergoing serious re-definition. Men and women of this age no longer take marriage as sacred. In the good old days during the days of our fathers and fore-fathers marriage was celebrated and held in high esteem. Divorce or separation was never an option. Though no church marriage in the mould of “for better for worse” anthem was in vogue them been animists and traditionalists (with their ‘chi’ and ‘ofo’ as spiritual weapon) our fathers and their fore-bears took after those they succeeded by sticking to marital traditional vows.

But in Igboland there is a local version of divorce, the very last option rarely applied, one in which only the man decides without seeking the opinion of the wife or whoever. It’s called “igha aja” (pouring of sand). If your wife misbehaved and after several warnings and complaints without remedy you simply packed a handful of sand and poured her and she was gone because as they say in ‘Engligbo’ language “no mmekwatarism” (no avenue for redress).

The French President Son Excellence Monsieur Nicholas Sarkozy was in the news few weeks back. After weathering the ‘storm’ of being accused by the Socialist Party of suffering from “the small man syndrome” on account of his short physical profile he presidentially divorced Cecilia, the French former first lady and Sarkozy’s ex-wife and mother of his children! 15th October 2007 the presidential couple went before a Judge of competent jurisdiction in Paris where they signed divorce papers and went their seperate ways.

The presidential divorce blues from Paris announced officially 18 October had set me thinking about intimate relationship between men and women, courtship, marriage and divorce. I had thought about marriage and its corrupted values today; I had thought about the world statesman Nelson Mandela and his estranged wife Winnie. I had also thought about power and the first ladyism in Africa in comparison with the divorce of the year in Elysee Palace in the French capital city.

Nelson Mandela when he was released from prison in Rhodes Island made history by divorcing beautiful Winnie whose alleged extra-marital escapades while her husband languished in prison was an open scandal. Mandela reportedly got fed up with a woman who could not control her amorous instincts by continuing dating another younger lover. The Apartheid nemesis has since settled for another wife, Gracia, the widow of former late Mozambican President. They are doing well and going well in their marital union.

But beyond Mandela and his private life the first ladyism in Africa calls for closer scrutiny because a whole lot of presidential couples have a lot hidden in their marital cupboards. Beyond high-wire corruption, pettiness and even murder which they aid and abet their husbands unleash various degrees of dispossession of national patrimonies much to their obscene pleasure. These so-called first ladies are mostly bereft of any moral grandstanding and barely educated. They use simply bedroom politics to ‘blackmail’ their presidential husbands into doing their biddings.

Closer home I think President Yar’Adua’s wife, Turai, is an embodiment of brain and beauty. She carries herself with dignity and with her support Yar’Adua is bound to make history the illegitimacy around his mandate notwithstanding. Now compare the Nigerian presidential couple with their predecessor and you get a picture of a polygamous man whose official wife went as far as Spain to undergo a beauty-enhancing plastic surgery that turned out disastrous. Late Stella Obasanjo must have seen some ‘deformity’ in her beauty or physiology in the mirror and thought it expedient remedying same to appeal more to Olusegun Obasanjo but she was unlucky never to return to ‘Baba’ alive but in body bag!

The French society (from been-to experience) no longer treats marriage as a particularly sacred institution. Nearly one out of two marriages end in divorce! So for the average French man if Monsieur le President Sarkozy decides to roam the Elysee Palace all alone without any Eve distracting him better for the society. For them love has little or nothing to do with state matters (l’amour n’a rien avoir avec l’etat!); it is no body’s business how President Sarkozy runs his private life but it’s everybody’s business if he messes up with his presidential mandate.

The average White man lives a simple honest life which detests pretence and subterfuge. But his African Black counterpart lives a hypocritical crafty life pretending that all is well even when things are going awry. You easily see a Black couple with a home that smells incompatibility and imminent break-up but they trudge on ‘hiding’ their feelings for fear of what their parents, peers or cultural impositions would say if they ‘expose’ their home problems to them! They prefer ‘dying’ in silence than doing the right thing.

Come to think of it how many African First Ladies would willingly agree to file for divorce months after their Presidential husbands has assumed democratic power? Almost 99 percent would have disagreed and began making frantic calls to friends of the president and his kindreds to ‘talk sense’ into him. For them their time has come and enemies must be at work to ‘snatch’ their first citizen husbands! That is why you hardly hear of any president in Africa succeeding in divorcing his wife; the wife would put up a stiff resistance employing the services of marabouts and/or pastors if need be to retain her husband.

The French presidential divorce blues is a powerful statement for settled marital differences even when circumstances presidential should have dictated otherwise. It teaches us that we can have our lives and live it even while opting out of a marriage that is not working or fails to work. Again it is a reminder that life is not all dependent on living with a wife or husband that has no feeling about the opposite sex or takes pleasure in other things other than marital responsibilities and bliss.

President Nicholas Sarkozy is an intelligent political animal who knows the French politics in and out. Having served in various capacities before gunning for the presidency where victory smiled at him he had armed himself well enough with heavy dose of knowledge of the French democratic system. By his appearance alone, Sarkozy cut the image of a thorough-bred politician — tactful, amiable, far-sighted. Though short he has the mental capacity to move the French society forward. Voters preferred him over Mrs Royal because of his hardline views and deep political immersion.

This is wishing divorced Cecilia and Nicholas Sarkozy well in their new-found lives outside each other’s comfort or discomfort. Vive la France!

One Comment

  1. Na wa for school..so who told Marriage was instituted by God? You don meet God before? The way we human beings talk of God sometimes, I wonder why some of us pray against death since I will think since we loved God so much we will like to meet him quickly. Pls stop spreading that falsehood. In so far as neither you nor I was witness to God being the first officiating minister at a marriage ceremony, all that is old women fables.

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