I know you may be wondering why a mere peasant dares to write you a letter—and an open one at that. I imagine you’re having one of your aides read this out loud to you while you stare out of the window in absolute repulsion at my gall. I apologise in advance for upsetting your day. Please bear with me.
It is officially 2014 now, and I’m sure you welcomed the New Year in a most majestic way—clinking glasses with your fellow oligarchs and marvelling at the sheer magnitude of wealth you all will be amassing in the new year. I truly hope you enjoyed the time you spent with your family and friends this holiday. Did you get something lovely from the Chinese Government for Christmas this year? I’m sure you did—and as usual, I’m sure you dared not insult their president by questioning the quality of whatever gift you received. You are above all, a man of great tact.
That’s what makes you such an amazing leader.
Now, you may be wondering why a 20-year-old girl from some dusty village had the audacity to not only address you so directly, but to do it so publicly. I am sure you are tired of the sheer clumsiness of the Open Letter and if you were like the majority of your constituents who don’t have the luxury of a lifetime supply of 4-ply toilet paper, you may view this piece as nothing more than a scrap to wipe your royal bum with. Once more I apologise.
In any case, this piece serves as a request. As a temporary representative of the young African—the future leaders of this beautiful continent—I come to you with one simple appeal: could you maybe, perhaps, a little bit, just maybe listen to us? This year (just for one year) can we have actual platforms for political discourse? Can you, perhaps, make us feel like the future leaders of this great place? Could we maybe, for a short while, have actually effective programs whose purpose is to groom innovative and strong leaders who will one day (soon – not in fifty years) make this place what our forefathers dreamt it would be? Can we get a real shot at political innovation; at democratic effectiveness?
Perhaps I am asking for too much. And I can understand if at this point you have slapped the aide reading this letter aloud to you, for his sheer foolishness in, what I imagine you view as, allowing me to waste your time. Once more, I have to apologise.
But let this letter be a very polite precursor to what this year will truly be in your land—a historical year of great change. Simply put, I’m giving you a chance to make it a simple process—for very soon, we will rise up and we will take this place where it needs to go.
But for now, please enjoy the tea your aide will bring you to soothe your aching head from reading (heading) this letter.
I wish you a happy new year, sweet President. And I thank you for your time.
The African Student
Siyanda Mohutsiwa is a 20 year-old mathematics major at the University of Botswana. Contact her at siyandawrites[at]gmail.com for inquiries or something.