🔒 Boardroom Talk – Bongo tops Africa’s derangement stakes, but it now seems Cyril isn’t far behind

By Alec Hogg

The toxicity of derangement, which inflicts so many of the world’s powerful people, is very dangerous.

Similies for derangement from the Oxford Thesaurus include insane, disturbed, unhinged, unstable, irrational and demented. The SA Oxford Dictionary defines derange as ‘cause to become insane’, quoting its derivative as the Old French desrengier meaning ‘move from orderly rows’.


For me, Prof Richard Tedlow nails it in his biographical masterpiece Giants of Enterprise where he uses the term to describe what happened to an ageing Andrew Carnegie. Evidence includes the steel magnate’s praising of Kaiser Wilhelm II as a ‘man of peace who can be trusted’ just before the German started World War One. 

Tedlow writes: “Derangement brings an added dimension to an understanding of the impact of power. Corrupt people often know they are corrupt. But deranged people are denied that self-knowledge. They do not know the multifarious methods by which the world conspires with their own grandiosity to change the lens through which they apprehend the world around them.”

That warped lens remains fixed for Gabon’s Ali Bongo, as illustrated in the video above. Bongo’s father rose from working in the post office to use his presidency-for-life (from 1967) to become one of the world’s ten richest people. Ali succeeded him on his death in 2009, ‘winning’ a series of elections, including one last month. Even a military coup appears not to have penetrated the Bongo derangement.

Some might accuse our president Cyril Ramaphosa of being similarly afflicted. A case supported in the past few days when CR ascribed all SA’s woes to the scourge of Apartheid before jetting off to Harare for Emmerson ‘Crocodile’ Mnangagwa’s inauguration party after his Bongo-type victory in Zimbabwe’s election.  

Two questions worthies in Business SA or those closer to Cyril should be posing directly: How about comparing SA’s performance in the last three decades with that of Germany and Japan from 1945-1975? And on what planet would 53% of a nation vote for an 80-year-old whose only guarantee is to take them deeper into the abyss?        



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