Across the African continent, First Ladies are generally considered the ‘Mother of the Nation’, and are often expected to be unifying figures, serving the president of the nation and the voters who entrusted him the mandate to lead.
While the position of first lady is not legally or constitutionally provided for in many countries, many presidencies cater for the Office of the First Lady, through which the holder is facilitated to champion social causes.
The Organisation of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD), created in 2002, brings together First Ladies of Africa ‘to advocate for policies that make health services accessible and laws that boost women and youth empowerment’.
OAFLAD is currently led by First Lady of Burkina Faso, Adjoavi Sika Kabore, who is deputised by her Kenyan counterpart Margaret Kenyatta.
A first lady by definition is the wife of the head of state, and it therefore follows that most African nations led by a male president, have a first lady.
In this article, we will share updates from the continent’s First Ladies as they take on different roles to complement their government’s policies.
Sierra Leone’s First Lady says ‘I Do’
Sierra Leone’s president Julius Maada Bio and his Muslim wife Fatima Bio on Friday exchanged their vows in a Catholic Church in the capital Freetown.
The couple were married in a civil ceremony in the United Kingdom seven years ago, before they became Sierra Leone’s First family.
Friday’s wedding was widely discussed in Sierra Leone especially following allegations by the president’s ex-wife that she wedded him before a Catholic priest in the east of the country.
Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio and 1st Lady Fatima Bio exchange wedding vows once again today seven years after a traditional ceremony in the UK. It is going to be a low key ceremony with less fanfare . Reception to climax the event will be hosted at State Lodge
— Jonathan Leigh (@Jonatha04140703) February 21, 2020
— AYV Media Empire (@AYVSierraLeone) February 21, 2020
It is a nightmare in sierra Leone, our president H.E Maada Bio is getting married while our economy is getting divorce!!!!
— kadi Karlmax (@CoConteh) February 19, 2020
A wedding that sends strange, given the other things that surround it…and it’s said he wants to marry his wife for the second time, this time in the catholic church
— Mikail Abd-Allah “Israel” ibn Adama (@SeekingJustPath) February 20, 2020
Education curriculum in Uganda
Uganda’s First Lady, who also serves as the education minister on Thursday appeared before the country’s parliament to defend the roll out of a new curriculum for secondary schools.
Members of parliament had raised several issues including scarcity of textbooks and insufficient training of teachers on the new curriculum that was to come into effect at the beginning of the school term this month.
While parliament had directed that implementation of the curriculum is suspended, the education ministry insisted on its roll out and started orienting teachers.
Appeal to criminals in Zambia
Zambia’s First Lady Esther Lungu on Tuesday broke down in tears as she appealed to perpetrators of gas attacks that have spread across the country, to stop.
“I’m making an earnest appeal to the people that are behind this gassing – to an extent of gassing innocent schoolchildren, innocent families….I am appealing, as the mother of the nation, I am appealing…,’‘ the First Lady told a group of women, before falling to her knees as she cried.
Police are struggling to arrest unidentified people that have been targeting homes and schools, spraying victims with a gas that leaves them unconscious.
Panicked citizens have resorted to protests, mob justice and mounting unauthorised patrols and searches of vehicles and persons they suspect to be behind the attacks.
Lesotho’s murder scandal
Lesotho’s First lady is currently on trial for the murder of her rival, the ex-wife of the country’s prime minister Thomas Thabane.
Maesaiah Thabane appeared in court in Maseru on Tuesday, while police announced on Thursday that the premiere himself would also be charged in connection with the murder.
“Your case is still under investigation and is still awaiting direction from the Attorney General with regard to your co-accused being charged. Your case will be heard next on 17 March 2020”, said magistrate, Thamae Thamae.
Thabane married 43-year old Maesaiah two months after his ex-wife Lipolelo Thabane, 58, was gunned down near her home. The killing happened just two days before the Prime Minister was sworn into office.