THIS Hip-hop culture among our political leaders, where government officials brag about having so much money as if they’re rap artists, is very intriguing. In the entertainment industry, it is normal, poor and rich artistes all claim to have money, lots of it; but there is a science behind that.
One would wonder, why is money such an important belonging for an entertainer that they spend so much time in dedicating a big part of their art to it? The money will stay in their bank accounts anyway, even if people don’t hear about it, but rappers want to show off the wealth around them. They post pictures of their money, the mansions they live in, the flamboyant cars they drive, the exclusive designer clothes they wear; and sometimes they even brag about the women or men whom they sleep with.
Experts tell us that when rapping, artistes culturally use braggadocio because they believe that painting a larger than life picture helps them connect more easily to the desirous emotions of their fans, as they lead them into a make believe world. In that industry, humility is a weakness while being gangsta is the befitting persona for success. You have to insult if you can in order to get famous. Insulting your producers and fans is likely to increase the rapper’s audience instead of the opposite. That’s why even poor rappers claim to have a lot of money, and they can go to the extent of posing in a borrowed car while wearing borrowed clothes just to make a music video. It’s normal, it’s part of the culture for that music genre.
But in politics and public service, this is unimaginable for anyone to do. Even in a traditional set up, it is culturally incorrect for leaders to show off their wealth to the poor people they lead. Whether genuine or acquired through dubious means, wealth is never to be flaunted when you are in a position of leadership. This is so because leadership is about empathy. A normal leader can never go on a podium and say my sh*t is better than yours, telling the people who elected you into power. Such behaviour shows how a leader is removed and completely disconnected from the realities of life.
Shockingly, this is what we are seeing in Zambia. We seem to have rappers instead of public servants. We are increasingly seeing our leaders ascribing to the commercialisation of government leadership and bragging about the money they have made out of public service. It’s become about braggadocio instead of public service. Like rappers, our politicians are seen every day, painting social media with pictures of their lavish lifestyles, their mansions, cars, clothes, and sometimes even their women. They want the public to know about their sweet lives and the wealth they have accumulated.
You find people who would ordinarily be paupers if they did not get into government, bragging about the power and money they wield. This is very surprising because everyone who has a memory and cares to use it, will remember that these were paupers who begged their way into adoption as members of parliament in 2011 and 2016; and some of them went further to beg from private individuals and companies for campaign funds. They had nothing but poverty written all over them. They claimed that they wanted to form a pro-poor government. Today, they are the kings of kwachamania and they have forgotten where they are coming from.
These people have become so rich that they can now arrogantly face the suffering masses and start bragging about their wealth without any sense of empathy at all. Now, we wonder, why should people entrust their wealth in the hands of financial perverts who are so determined to rape the treasury and then have the audacity of bragging about such wealth accumulation to the poor people they stole from? How can a normal leader say those who failed to get rich while in government must not feel jealous of those who are accumulating wealth? That is a criminal mentality.
Those who run public institutions are our servants, our workers, our employees. And they are expected to lead exemplary lives, modest lives, lives full of humility and empathy. Leaders need to know that they are accountable to the people who put them in power. They must be ready to be criticised and to be accountable. Only a foolish leader can take the lifestyle of a rapper and start flaunting wealth all over, forgetting that in a democracy, power comes from the people and the people can take it away.