Women in Power

How Much Power Does the First Lady Wield?

Is Chantal Biya hair a smokescreen? Are Zuma’s daughters his real coup?

They are regularly marginalised, ignored, patronised or viewed simply as accessories. But the women behind men in power are often more than a “wives club.” In this piece Jibrin Ibrahim exploresd “The First Lady Syndrome”, looking at how over the past 25 years, political space is being appropriated and used by the wives of the men in power, for their personal aggrandisement. He looks back the “first great African First Ladies” such as Nana Rawlings, as well as forward, exploring Patience Jonathan quest to get a a constitutional role in the political system for the First Lady.

Against this back drop, this series features in-depth profiles of the women behind the men, employing hard facts, research, interviews and nuanced readings to highlight how they use their position to (often surreptitiously) gain substantial economic, social and political traction and power. An honest intelligent portrait of First Ladies, prseident’s wives, their lives, and a nuanced deconstruction of standard masculine perceptions and understandings of power.

Possible focuses

Patience Jonathan
Chantal Biya
Zuma’s Daughters

See Politique Africaine special issue on First Ladies in Africa

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