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Phil and Linda Byler, missionaries in Sudan
August 1, 2010 2:42 pm
Published in: Uncategorized

In Africa, the generic term for leader, boss, executive officer etc is Big Man. In Arabic it is Zol Kabiir. For instance I, Phil, am the Zol Kabiir of AIM-Sudan.

There is a mystique about leaders in Africa that is hard for our western mindsets to embrace. This was vividly thrust upon me in a new way as I traveled Entebbe road last week, the route between the Kampala meetings of the Africa Union and the international airport in Entebbe. The African BIG MEN traveled in large police-escorted motorcades with headlights blazing, horns blaring and often sirens and flashing lights. This was not surprising. What did surprise me was that these “Big Man” motorcades were immune to traffic laws. They commandeered the entire road at reckless speeds regardless of other traffic. In fact they expected all other traffic to pull off onto the shoulder and allow them to careen past. Once I was passing another vehicle in my lane and had not seen them coming over a slight hill. The lead vehicle deliberately and emphatically swerved into my oncoming path to force me off the road.

Months ago I learned that to drive in daylight with headlights on in Africa is only for BIG MEN, not for ordinary people. Sirens in Sudan are not for emergency rescue vehicles but to announce the movement of high ranking government official.

It wouldn’t be so bad if the Big Man being above the law was isolated to driving concerns. Unfortunately it is also the commonly accepted norm in legal, financial, political, military and employment issues also.

Everything rises and falls with leadership! When the BIG MAN is above the law so follow the ordinary.

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