The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, became the youngest (modern) French leader when he won the presidential poll four years ago. He was 39 years old then! He made history as a brilliant young man who went solo in the race ignoring the established old political parties and the establishment itself to rise to the very top, the pinnacle of power in a great European country. When he began his grassroots mobilisation visiting cities and towns with his “En Marche” movement many French bookmakers had written him off as a rookie, a wannabe President.
But he proved naysayers wrong by convincingly defeating the nationalist gang led by an elegant stallion, Marine Le Pen. Since coming to power President Macron has made history for wrong and right reasons. He has survived some storms and overcame every challenge or adversity that came his way.
When the “gillet jeunes” (yellow vest) crisis hit his administration few years ago he used the power of leadership and diplomacy to stabilize the chaotic situation, maintaining law and order. During the peak of the Coronavirus pandemic France lost thousands of her nationals especially senior citizens. Faced with the unprecedented health crisis Macron intervened whenever necessary imposing confinements, lockdowns, curfews, closing schools and hammering on the need for respect for the measures to curb its speedy spread.
During the diplomatic spat with Turkey he displayed maturity beyond his age as the Turkish civilian dictator, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, preferred invectives and even labelled Macron as “insane”! In Africa (especially the Francophone countries with politico-economic, cultural and linguistic ties with France) Macron acts as an Emperor.
Seeing a young man his age meeting and endorsing or disputing the policies of sit-tight Presidents like Paul Biya, Alassane Ouattara and Alpha Conde (men old enough to be his father) could send a right or wrong message to those who see him as the face of change in the ‘FrancAfrique’ conundrum.
When Idris Deby Itno, the late Chadian dictator, was killed at the war front up north (according to the official version) President Macron wasted no time endorsing continuity at the expense of democracy and its due process. For reasons of security Macron had to be present in N’djamena during the burial of Deby warning rebels and terrorists that France would never allow anyone threaten Chad. He openly endorsed Gen. Mahamat Deby, the son of the late strong leader.
But in Mali President Macron is applying different rules. Colonel Assimi Goita and the martial gang that overthrew the former President Ibrahim Keita had to depose the Transition President and Prime Minister in another show of force. Macron was very intransigent withdrawing the thousands of French troops battling rebels operating at the borders. Today, Col. Goita has taken back executive power promising to keep to the promise of general elections early next year.
President Macron made history by marrying his former University lecturer, Brigitte, a woman (68) old enough to be his mother! Despite the snide talks and mockeries the couple are still enjoying their presidential love life. He has no child of his own even when the First Lady has three children fathered by another man! Her first son is about the same age with her husband!
The disparity in age may appear scandalous for the ignorant. Macron may have chosen Brigitte for political or amorous reasons. Like the colourless truth and ‘pencilless’ beauty love breaks all rules of human engagement. Some African hustlers abroad ‘marry’ white grannies or widows of advanced age for financial or citizenship (social-security) reasons.
With the presidential poll in France slated for April of next year Macron is seeking for another five years at the Elyseé Palace in Paris. He is currently engaged in pre-campaign mobilisation tours. Since the opposition (ably led by Ms Marine Le Pen) are determined to displace Macron the President is mobilizing hard for re-election. Though the opinion polls favour his re-election he is leaving nothing to chance.
Few weeks ago President Macron was in the south-eastern town of Tain-l’Hermitage at the Drome region. While there he had sought to come closer to the people as he usually did. With an impressive crowd of supporters waiting behind the barricade the youthful leader bounced towards them.
As he made to greet them enthusiastically one Damien Tarel, a 28-year-old medieval history enthusiast, had shaken the President. As Macron made to shake others Tarel held his hand delivering a hot slap and shouting ‘down with Macronism’!
He was subsequently brought down by the presidential security staff, handcuffed and taken away. President Macron, after the violent incident, continued with his public exchange. He looked unruffled. His life may not have been threatened. The aggressor, Tarel, has since been judged and sentenced to four months in prison for assaulting a highly-placed public figure.
In France power has since been demystified. Politics, national or local, is centred on the people — the sole repository of power. Elections are transparent, free and fair with little or no squabbles or litigations. Post-revolution, centuries ago, the French society remains a reference point around the world for its democracy, greatness and colonial heritage. Service delivery, security of lives and properties constitute the very essence of governance at all levels.
That is why President Emmanuel Macron is as simple as possible, visiting the national soccer team and chatting with all the players just before their departure for the current Euro 2021 soccer fiesta. Often the President goes on tour of the French hinterlands meeting the ordinary folks and bantering with them, sometimes on the streets. He is always on the move.
Though Macron had been accused of playing ‘Jupiter’ by the vigorous oppostion and the press, that is, playing god, omnipotent and omniscience, the President had dismissed such notion arguing that he came to reform the system and change the face of French politics.
One wonders if what happened in the Drome region involving Macron and Tarel had played itself out in an African country. If Tarel were to be a Nigerian, an Ivorian or a Camerounian for example. If he had slapped President Buhari, President Ouattara or President Biya what would have been his fate today. Perhaps Tarel would not be alive today to be telling the Judges that he slapped the President because he disapproved of his policies.
Or that if he had invited Macron to a street combat he would have not had the courage to venture out!
If an African President were to have been involved then Tarel would have been shot dead instantly. Or if he managed to survive the savagery that would have greeted his effrontery would have been a bitter experience in hell. He would have been tortured beyond recognition if not killed extra-judicially while in detention!
No one would remember justice but what would be utmost in the minds of the goons providing security for the man of power Africana would have been to ‘waste’ the ‘terrorist’ or ‘criminal’! He would have been severely dealt with to serve as deterrence to others.
To be a celebrity in France you just need to do the bizzare shocking thing. The man who slapped President Macron could come out of prison and publish a book (Slapping The Hell Out Of A President as title for example) detailing how and why he hit Macron on his cheek. And before anyone could shout ‘holy Jesus’ that book could become the bestseller in France.