Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Chutzpah of Speaking Truth to Power

Once again I was pleased to find an act of chutzpah with a positive connotation worthy of a Chutzpah of the Week award. I found it in, of all places, Swaziland, described by the BBC report as "Africa's last absolute monarchy;" and, as this post's title implies, the act of chutzpah involves the recognition of truth no matter how absolute the power may be. Here is the substance of that BBC report, which elaborates on the grounds for the award:

Hundreds of Swazi women have marched through the streets of the capital to protest about a shopping trip taken by nine of the king's 13 wives.

They chartered a plane last week to go to Europe and the Middle East.

The BBC's Thulani Mthethwa says the protesters handed in a petition to the finance ministry saying the money could have been better spent.

"We can't afford a shopping trip when a quarter of the nation lives on food aid," they chanted.

Swaziland, Africa's last absolute monarchy, is one of the poorest countries in the world and more than 40% of the population is believed to be infected with HIV.

In the words of our own Declaration of Independence, even government by an absolute monarch requires consent of the governed; but it must have taken considerable courage for these women to withhold their consent in such a public way. The march was apparently organized by the non-governmental organization Positive Living, which addresses the needs of women with AIDS; so it is probably proper to present the award to this organization on behalf of the women who rose to the call to protest.

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