This article was first published on 31 August 2020. I hope that you read it in full in August 2021. But if you read nothing else, read the last paragraph which I added for this Women’s Day.
.There have been 158 women Heads of State. This excludes some like Mary Queen of Scots, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II. Of those, 23 are incumbent. (August 2020) Not one of them has been classified as Black or White.
Here are some current female leaders of countries.
Woman of the World. Leaders all.
Over decades some are better known and remembered. Indira Gandhi was the first woman Prime Minister of India. She served two terms and is the second longest to serve after father Nehru. She was never listed as Indian or Asian.
Golda Meir was considered to be a tough old girl. She was never spoken of as Jewish, Russian or white, but only as the first female President (1969-74) of fledgling Israel.
And of course, there is Margaret Thatcher who is remembered as the ‘Iron Lady’, perhaps ascribing to her the toughness of a man. Yeah, yeah. She was tougher by far. She sorted out all the tough male union leaders. A woman. Not a White Prime Minister.
The first female President ever …
The first female president ever was Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, who in 1980 was the fourth President of Iceland. The current Prime Minister is 44-year old Katrín Jakobsdóttir who is highly regarded for her achievements as a relatively young woman. Simply a smart, empathetic successful woman.
Another young female Prime Minister is 40-year old Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, commended for her youth and successful strategies in combating COVID-19. Not her race. She isn’t listed as Non-Moari. This is nothing when we admire Sanna Mirella Marin, Prime Minister of Finland She has been a member of the Parliament since 2015. She is neither white nor Scandinavian. At 34, she is noted as Finland’s youngest-ever prime minister.
The first woman to be elected as president of an African country was Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia in 2006. Even Joyce Banda of Malawi, who was decidedly and unquestionably Black, was simply known as the first female President who took over after the sudden death of President Bingu wa Mutharika.
and the Record goes to .. .. ..
There are some records set by women. If they aren’t driving men to distraction or success, creating ecstasy or breaking our hearts, they are breaking records. Many served very short terms. Cécile Manorohanta of Madagascar and Tatiana Turanskaya of Transnistria were in office for two days. Who even knew that there is a country named Transnistria? I rewarded myself with R100 for finding that gem. Feel free to send money to me for making you ‘much more cleverer than you used to was’. But the clear record goes to South Africa. I wonder how many readers even remember that we once had a female Acting State President? Yes, we did – it was Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri who held office for 14 hours on 25 Sept 2008. She hardly had time to buy a new hat.
The world, and particularly America, now has a different obsession about gender and race. The current president is popularly referred to as Orange. He has been called many things, but never classified as an orangutan.
Making America GREAT again .. .. ?
When Barak Obama became President there was celebration and jubilation that he was the first Black President of the USA. His father was black, so, ignoring the fact that his mother is white, I suppose that the principle of the son taking the race of his father is acceptable. That’s what Christians consider as the process for religion. Children take the religion of the father. Although some assert that Obama is a secret Muslim, we won’t deal with this dilemma for fear of starting a jihad or intifada. To America and the world, Obama was black.
Oopsy doopsy. Here comes Megan Markle. She married the little Prince and became the first Black member of the Royal family. BUT – her father is white. Now what is happening? A little switcheroo? Perhaps a daughter takes the race of her black mother. That’s the process in Judaism. Children take the religion of Mommy or Mamela in Yiddish. No problem here and I guess that the Muslims in London celebrated with gay or non-binary abandon together with all the citizens of the British Isles. No jihad.
The first female and black Vice President of the USA?
Now, along comes Joe Biden and selects Kamala Harris as his running mate. Euphoria erupts because she might become the first Black Female Vice-President. There have been female nominees before. Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and Sarah Palin in 2008. But they were only female. Not Black and certainly never referred to as white. We will ignore for now the other epithets which were attached to Palin during her campaign. Biden tweeted on 17 Aug “This morning, little girls woke up across this nation — especially Black and Brown girls who so often may feel overlooked and undervalued in our society — potentially seeing themselves in a new way: As the stuff of Presidents and Vice Presidents.’
Why all the fuss? There have been plenty of female presidents and prime ministers? Only in the USA is there an emphasis on the race of the potential nominee. And then only on any race other than white. Kamala Harris has a white Irish ancestor, Hamilton Brown, who was incidentally, a slave owner in the early 1800s. Isn’t that hilarious! No statues of Kamala allowed. Her father was Jamaican. I have no idea what race Jamaicans are. Possibly mixed? I don’t care. They produce great cricketers.
Mixed races and mixed religions. Is it confusing?
Kamala’s mother was born in Chennai, India. She was an American citizen. Indian or Asian, but not black. Kamala has a beautiful complexion with even skin tones. Nicely and lightly tanned. It looks like she spends time on a sunbed. Her second name is Devi which is Sanskrit for ‘goddess’, and she looks and speaks like one. To compound the confusion, her husband is Jewish. Oy vey. What happens with the kids? The Christians insist that they are Jewish, but Judaism recognises them as Christians. Kamala was raised Baptist and Hindu. What the hell now? None of this has anything to do with black. Kamal’s Jewish stepchildren call her Mamala. Almost Yiddish.
The wife of the Vice President is known as the Second Lady – SLOTUS. Kamala’s husband, if she becomes the VP, would become the Second Gentleman – SGOTUS. That doesn’t even sound like a language. It can’t pretend to sound Yiddish, no matter how you pronounce it. It sounds like a new disease.
Do we want to be lighter or darker?
With the raging furore about black and white engulfing the world, Unilever will change the name of their skin-lightening cream and will no longer use terms like ‘whitening’. L’Oreal is doing the same and removing the terms ‘white’ and ‘fair’. Whatever it is called, darker skinned people will continue to use those lotions and lighter skinned people will head for the beaches and the sunbeds.
As Jeremy Taylor famously sang – – ‘All the black people want to be white and the white people want to be black’.
If Bing Crosby were alive he’d be singing ‘I’m dreaming of a non-colour, multicolour, non-racial, multiracial, multicultural, non-gender, non-binary happy holiday season’. It wouldn’t make the hit parade, but Kamala Harris might.
Post Scriptum. Since writing this The Wall Street Journal reported –
‘Kamala Harris accepted the Democratic vice-presidential nomination—becoming the first Black woman to hold that position .. .. ..’ But she isn’t!
2021 – Women’s Month – with much more success
This article was published on 31 August 2020 with serious intent and a touch of tongue-in-cheek satire. Since then Kamala Harris became the first black woman Vice President of the USA. The truth is that women have proven to be superb leaders and achievers.
Angela Merkel, the longest-serving highly respected and most successful Chancellor of Germany, retired. Her record is, unlike many men, unblemished. I think of Hedy Lamar who was not only an iconic beauty and successful movie star, but a woman whose inventions we use every day. Her patent on “Frequency hopping” is used in Bluetooth and WiFi technology. There is also grit and determination in women which cannot be questioned.
Most recently – look at Sifan Hassan. This Dutch runner fell in the 1 500 m heats. She got up and ran, and won. At that point there were 11 top-class runners ahead of her. In the 5 000 m finals on the same day at the Tokyo Olympic Games she WON! She took GOLD despite her earlier fall. I have tears in my eyes and my chest is pounding as I write this. This sort of grit, determination, application, and huge heart is, well, typically amazing of women. Had she not fallen she might have killed/destroyed/annihilated a World Record.
Finally – South Africa and all Women medals
South Africa won three medals at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Did you notice that both winners, Tatjana Schoenmaker (swimming) and Bianca Buitendag (surfing), are women? Yups. The country relied on women for some glory. Plus a wonderful world record.