Monday, April 08, 2013

In Tribute: UK First & Only Woman Prime Minister - Did She Miss A Legacy?


The UK woke up this morning to an ordinary Monday morning with the news media having nothing groundbreaking. As we lulled through listening to the current Prime Minister loitering in Europe for his Europe burden of  'should I stay or should I go'; it was pleasant.

By midday however, the entire serenity was shattered as the news came of the passing of Lady Margaret Thatchet, UK's first and so far, only woman Prime Minister. The word that resonates, is DIVISIVE.
As a boy growing up in Nigeria at the time of her Premiership, with an already developed interest in politics, Margaret Thatcher was a name I couldnt ignore. But why?

She was a woman! So not only could I not ignore her name, I could not simply ignore the uniqueness of the position she occupied then as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It was rather impressive to me also because I was growing up in a partiachial society where women were only properties belonging to men. In fact, in 1987, the Imo State Ministry of Education ordered that all children must bring a prove of their father or parents marriage certificate to maintain their place in school. That act enstranged us children of single woman-parents and threatened to push us out of education. Of course, some people did leave school because of that and never went back. My mum stood and fought. A fight that today meant I received my education to the full.

In that aspect, seeing a woman in the position Lady Thatcher occupied was inspiring and impacted immensely on my life. If a woman can squiggle through in this world of men, then I can. She was a great person for that. She defied all labels and statue. For a woman, her dream and aspiration to become a party leader, not only shook the foundations of the traditions of her time, it defied all belief that a woman could not become a Prime Minister; it was simply but magnificently significant. She refused to be limited. 

That step she took subconsciously taught many of us born of lowly state, many of us who, by our very nature as gay people, or women or due to caste and class, are considered minority and shouldn't been seen let alone heard, that we can stand up and challenge those misconceptions. She stepped into a shoe that many complacently believed a woman should not. And her tenacity and resilience was just breathtaking. She bacame an icon.

It was those characters that set this very unique woman as a legacy in herself. Although her time in that great office created so many division and British class system, yet there is no denying that her ability to believe in her person and reject the labels the world creates, was immensely inspiring.

But this remarkable woman no doubt would have believed in herself too much considering the image she left for the many in this country and in her party where she was finally ousted from office by her own team. She seemed heartless, unrepentant and most shockingly, showed no empathy whatsoever to those who were at the blunt end of her policies.

Her policies tore through the country, her headstrong approaches brewed discord in her cabinet and her no-turning principle crated eternal hatred from all sides. 

Although her defiance of tradition could be equated to include other minorities like gay people, yet for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans (LGBT) people, she oversaw one of the most dreadful laws of recent times in the UK, the infamous Section 28 which threw Britain back into the dark ages of uncivilization. She bagged enemies like a ravenous witch would eat flesh.

Yet, for me, what stands out about this woman is her courage to defy norms. Her controversial approach to life and her sternness and confidence was staggering. Looking at many motion clips from her time, it is amazing to see the single figure of a woman clutching the only handbag around and being herded on all sides by only men. May be, she would also have done more for women in her time.

But Lady Thatcher made no pretense about her principle: she strongly believed that people must climb up by merit, not by patronization or tokenism. In her usual controversial manner, she predicted that there "would be no woman Prime Minister in her lifetime"' today, as she passes, that has been fulfilled. That, to me, is the flaw of her achievement. Perhaps, the legacy she missed in all of it, is not to have left a trail, a path, a beam, or any such guiding legacy for women to follow in her steps. It is very regrettable, but a lesson for all of us indeed.

She was a woman; a strong one, and a legacy of a human being. Today, both her fans and foes agree on one thing; Margaret Thatcher redefined politics as well as defined a new generation of it altogeher in Britain. 

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