Monarchism has outlived the taste of time

The recent BBC interview, in which Jean Baptist Kigeli talked about his return as ruler of the Rwandan people, once again puts a spotlight on the relevance of monarchs in modern society.

The recent BBC interview, in which Jean Baptist Kigeli talked about his return as ruler of the Rwandan people, once again puts a spotlight on the relevance of monarchs in modern society.

Monarchs are products of a privileged background and as such are in most instances out of touch with the people they lord over.

More so, in modern societies leaders are democratically elected by the people. As such it is only a few countries that still have monarchs reigning in absolute terms.

A few cases of constitutional monarchs still exist in some countries like the United Kingdom.

In Africa, apart from King Mswati of Swaziland there is no other country where such a ruler exists.

Most countries have transformed these former absolute rulers into traditional and cultural figures with no political powers. In the United Kingdom, apart from owning private estates, the monarchy has no real political power.

All political powers are vested in the prime minister who plays the role of a leader for government businesses and as such holds the highest political office in the land.

Thus Kigeli’s desire for the Rwandan people to install him as King is a manifestation of contempt for modern democracy.

It would be understandable if the former ruler was interested in vying for a political office at whatever level he chose.

In a democratic society that the RPF government has worked so hard to build since 1994, the highest political office has to be democratically contested for. Period.

If we go by the way the former king was talking, it becomes apparent that he hopes to become a King once again.

This would be a draw back for the people of Rwanda; all the democratic gains of the last decade or so would be scaled back if he were to be allowed to return in the country as an absolute ruler.

My contention that the privileges reserved for royals of the gone monarchies have no places in democratic and modern societies, is not only reserved for the old institutions of monarchism, but I also hold that all forms of privileges are unacceptable. Social mobility should be based on meritocracy.

People at all times should be judged and rewarded on the basis of how they apply their competencies to realize results in whatever they do.

Historically monarchies were centres of plenty amidst deprivation. It was not uncommon to find absolute rulers living a luxurious life of ostentation in total disregard for the plight of their people.

Monarchs and their courtiers owned vast swathes of land and held the rest of the population in feudalism.

This was the situation in all monarchic societies.

Thus, when a monarch of old talks about returning to his former throne, a number of people who espouse republican ideals are wont to oppose him.

It would be better for the former King who was deposed during the 1959 Genocide to return home as any other Rwandan citizen.

If many have returned, Kigeli too should follow suit and stop his negative agitation on international air waves and in western University campuses.

The fact that Kigeli hobnobbed with the late President Laurent Kabila (RIP) of DRC at a time when the latter’s cronies like Yerodia Ndombasi had called for the extermination of a section of the Kinyarwanda speaking people in Kinshasha, is a blot on the image of Kigeli. Laurent Kabila had also talked of taking the Congolese war to Kigali in around 1998.

This is something that will put into doubt the intentions of the former Rwandan King for a long time. His return as any other Rwandan citizen would for the first time demonstrate his respect for the fallen and living heroes of Rwanda Patriotic Front/Army liberation war of 1990-94.

We should all agree that Republicanism has evolved as the modern and widely accepted form of governance; this is not to say that all other forms of governments are completely obsolete. But what is beyond doubt is the fact that monarchism has out lived its time and must be relegated to history.