“Ask what you have done for your country, not what your country can do for you”

"No, that's not what I meant"

What would you do if you were president for the day? That’s the question that BBC Network Africa has been asking this month and so far they have invited 12 people from across the continent to write their inaugural address.

Some of the presidents are full of serious ideas. President Tendai Sean Joe of Zimbabwe planned “to cut military spending by 50% and channel funds towards more critical sectors of the economy such as the education and health departments”. His colleague in Tanzania, President Fredrick Mtundu, said his first priority would be dealing “aggressively with all corrupt leaders who are the main source of poverty in this country. There will be zero tolerance on corruption by making sure all the greedy, selfish leaders face justice.”

Other presidents have taken a more satirical approach. BS Kanyusi of Tanzania began his speech by thanking “those who ensured my victory by whatever means necessary over my much more qualified opponents,” before outlining his plans to scrap term limits and open a Swiss bank account.

My favourite so far is Cameroon’s Johanes Fofang, whose speech is worth reading in full. I particularly like the bastardisation of JFK:

Fellow compatriots, God has given you a Messiah.

My 97% election victory ushers in a new dawn to all Cameroonians.

It gives me the powers to carry out all the reforms that I want. I cannot do this in one mandate and not even two or three mandates will be suffice.

As such, my first action will be to scrub the presidential term limit.

I will dissolve parliament and rule by decree.

My powers are sacrosanct and no opposition will be tolerated. My ministers will be drawn from my old and retired friends who have proven their loyalty to me.

Yes, it is true that the country is filled with corruption but I will arrest anyone only upon presentation of palpable proof.

Countrymen, let’s go to work having this at the back of our minds; ask what you have done for your country and not what your country has done for you.

Long live Cameroon and my limitless presidential term.

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2 responses to ““Ask what you have done for your country, not what your country can do for you”

  1. On the eve of my visit to Cameroon, this is especially “awesome.”

  2. Yes, I heard this too. Very well said.

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