A tale of two egos

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There is nothing in the life of the modest Plaine Magnien girl – as Ameenah Gurib-Fakim liked to refer to herself – to destine her to become the political monster she turned into or to have the career she managed to grab, ending in her dismissal in disgrace and in her having to face a commission of inquiry this week.

Gurib-Fakim was an average student with average grades who attended an average university. She later published a few books some of which were marred in controversy. The aura around her was, to a large extent, the creation of the media. Mea culpa!

We were never economical with superlatives when it came to Gurib-Fakim. Whole articles were run about her and her life. We took photos of her from all angles and ran to her every time she called us and, before we realised it, we had turned her into a national figure who used that as a trampoline to gain international recognition.

The Lepep government, appealing to the basest instincts of a population divided by race and religion, was quick to use our creation to its political ends. And the genie was out of the bottle! 

Gurib-Fakim was never interested in serving the nation or doing anything to combat the poverty she kept repeating she was familiar with. The only instance we ever saw of her even appearing to be ‘concerned’ about poverty was when she called the media to cover her visit – between two overseas trips – to a blind lady whose heart-rending story had made the headlines and was extensively shared on social media. Our photographers then took dozens of photos of a president offering a bouquet to a blind lady to decorate her shack with! How magnanimous! The main news was, naturally, the then-president looking moved by the discovery that there is poverty in this country. This ‘discovery’ was relayed on all the media platforms. After the nation discovered the former president’s ‘great compassion’, poverty vanished and that chapter was closed forever.

Then the Sobrinho chapter opened with Gurib-Fakim, egged on and fully supported by a government whose credo is moralite na pas rempli ventre, hobnobbing with ‘generous benefactors’. She seemed happy to appear in the forefront of all the events involving Alvaro Sobrinho. From behind the scenes, though, laws were being changed and bank licences approved on a Saturday by civil servants rushed in to replace board members who had resigned as a sign of protest. And, far from the madding crowd, affectionate looks were being exchanged to determine Sobrinho’s source of funds and strings pulled to allow him, his relatives and their dogs to use the VIP lounge whose list has become top secret. When the buck stops, however, it stops no further than the one in the limelight.

Fakim’s story is eerily similar to that of Roshi Bhadain – a Lepep creation helped again by the media, mea culpa, mea culpa! Two huge egos thinking they were running the show when, like puppets, they were in fact being used to the hilt by the real smart and discreet guys pulling the strings. You will recall how Bhadain was seen everywhere, ostensibly spearheading every action the government decided to take. You mention it, he was at the forefront of it. From closing down Bramer Bank to selling shares of Britam Kenya, going through the now-notorious Heritage City – the mentor’s dream which became Bhadain’s overnight – he was seen pushing it. Today, he is being blamed for everything that he poked his nose into and a commission of inquiry is also looking into his involvement in the sale of the shares of Britam.

These were two average people whose egos were inflated and who were allowed to enjoy themselves for a short while. Until, that is, they are scapegoated so others can walk free. They are not blameless of course but, at the end of the day, they never amounted to anything more than mere pawns in someone else’s game. A much bigger game than their ego would have them believe.

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