Message from Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO on the…
By Tijjani Abdulsalam
Presidents, ordinarily, are a rare breed of people. I mean, there can only be one at a time in every country. So how many times have we had two presidents of a country from the same family, or let’s even broaden it, same lineage. Certainly not too often. This piece captures seven high profile incidences of such rarity. Kings and Queens have been excluded in this compilation as the case of an offspring succeeding the parent is the norm rather than the exception in a monarchy. This list comprises heads of states who came to power through the ballot or the barrel.
- George H. W. Bush (Father)/George W. Bush (Son)-USA
These two are obviously the most popular of their kind. The Bush family is one of the most renowned political families in the world, thanks to the exploits of George Herbert Walker Bush (Bush Snr.) And George Walker Bush (Bush Jnr.). Bush Snr. had a long career in military and public service prior to becoming president. He was at different times, Naval Lieutenant, Congressman, CIA Director, UN Ambassador, VP and finally, for four years, President of the US. His regime is notable for the first gulf war against Saddam’s Iraq.
Bush Jnr. surpassed his father in two major aspects; He secured a second term and … he didn’t just launch a war against Iraq, he toppled Saddam. After managing victory in one of the most controversial presidential elections in US history in 2000, Bush would have an eventful eight year stay in the white house. The key highlights of his regime were the 9/11 attacks, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan launched in response. While Americans may hold diverse views on the legacies of the Bush Family, one thing is certain: Both have played key roles in shaping the present day America. And who says it’s going to end with George W. Bush? The future will tell.
- Hafez Al-Assad/ Bashar Al Assad(Syria)
Before Bashar there was a Hafez.
The Assad’s dynasty in Syria started with a certain Hafez al Assad coming to power via a military coup in 1971. For the next 29 years that he would rule, Hafez established a strong personality cult while building a tight Presidency and Military dominated by his Allawite sect. When it came to suppressing dissent and uprisings, Hafez was unrivalled. The events of Hama in 1982 speak for themselves. Hafez died in 2000 after a long battle with diabetes and heart related ailments
Bashar, Hafez’s second son was a child of fate. Had things remained normal, Bashar could have been a practicing ophthalmologist with little interest in military and politics. In 1994, his older brother (Basil Al Assad) who was being groomed for succession died in a car accident, necessitating Bashar’s formal entry into the military and the government of his Father. He became president in 2000 and has held office since then. Bashar has presided over the bloodiest period in Syria’s history. Like his father, he cracked down heavily on opposition protesters when the Arab spring flowed into Syria, leading to the Syrian Civil War. He has held strongly on to power through a combination of foreign support as well as a fiercely loyal military dominated by his Allawite sect.
- Jawarhalal Nehru (GrandFather)/Indira Gandhi (Mother)/Rajiv Gandhi (Son)
Jawarhalal Nehru was one of the prominent founding fathers of the Indian nation and its first Prime Minister. A close protégé of the sage-Mahatma Gandhi and a lawyer by training, Nehru was Prime Minister from 1947 till death in 1964. More than 53 years after his death, Nehru remains a highly revered figure in modern day India.
It didn’t take too long for Indira Gandhi to step into her father’s shoes politically as she became India’s first female PM in 1966 till her removal eleven years later. She returned in 1980 following electoral victory. Indira pursued the successful Indian Nuclear Program, women’s right and advancement and independence for Bangladesh from Pakistan, though her regimes were accused of corruption and nepotism. She was assassinated by her two Sikh bodyguards in an apparent act of revenge following a deadly crackdown she ordered on Sikhs protesting at the Amritsar Temple, months earlier.
Rajiv Gandhi was sworn in as PM immediately following the death of his Mother, Indira. At the age of 40, he was India’s youngest ever Prime Minister. Like Bashar Al Assad, Rajiv only took to politics for family reasons: to fill the void left after the death of his elder brother, Sanjay, in a plane crash. He was assassinated in a suicide bombing by a lady supposedly linked to the Tamil Tiger rebels of Sri Lanka.
- Zulfikar Ali Bhutto/Benazir Bhutto (Pakistan)
Like the Ghandis, The Bhuttos is another tale of a sad ending for both Parent and Child. In this case, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto served as President of Pakistan from 1971 to 1973 and as Prime Minister from 1973 to 1977. Bhutto came to power at a troubled time for Pakistan. In 1971, Bangladesh, aided with Indian Military Intervention had just seceded and the Pakistani Nation was beset by other secessionist calls from smaller groups. Amidst difficulties, he preserved Pakistan’s unity and secured the release of Pakistani Prisoners of War from India. Bhutto is regarded as the founder of Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons Program. In 1977, Bhutto was deposed in a military coup and charged with ordering the murder of a political opponent-a charge he repeatedly denied. He was executed by hanging in 1979.
Benazir Bhutto (BB), the first child of Zulfikar Bhutto, served as Prime Minister twice from 1988-1990 and from 1993-1996. The Harvard and Oxford trained Benazir was on the frontline of the campaign to secure the release of her father during his period of incarceration. Her reigns as PM were both rough with allegations of corruption and mismanagement. Benazir gained a reputation as a symbol of women emancipation and modernism in a largely Islamic society. This however earned her equal measures of love and hate in a society roughly split between conservative and progressive ideals. BB was assassinated in a car bombing while campaigning for a return to Power in December 2007.
- Jomo Kenyatta / Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya)
Jomo Kenyatta (JK) was Kenya’s first President after independence in 1963 and was in power till his death in 1978. JK was a notable anti-colonial activist prior to his ascension to power. Like many activists, he also had to suffer imprisonment and exile sometime in the 1950s. His reign, like most leaders of new states was rough as he had to content with a weakened economy, secessionist crises and labor unrests. While many accuse Kenyatta’s government of state corruption, land grabbing, and tribalism and authoritarianism, JK is still revered in Kenya and Africa as Father of the Nation, and as important statesman.
Uhuru Kenyatta took 35 years to step into his father’s shoes. Before becoming president in 2013, he held other cabinet posts such as Minister for Local Government, Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister. He was re-elected to a second term in August 2017.
- Kim il-Sung/Kim Jong-Il/Kim Jong-Un (North Korea)
North Korea is known for little else besides conducting series of testing-testing-one-two of Nuclear Weapons. Being a much closed and highly secretive state, there is rarely ever much to report or discuss besides nuclear stuffs. Whether we believe what we are told or not, however, some facts are certain. Kim il-Sung (GrandPa) was first president or Prime Minister (whatever, really) from 1949 to 1994. His invasion of South Korea led to the Korean War which, technically, is still an unfinished business. Had it not been for the intervention of US and UN Forces, there probably would not be a ‘South Korea’ today.
Kim il-Sung begat Kim Jong-Il (1994-2011). And Kim Jong-Il begat Kim Jong-Un, the man running things now. For all the Kim’s care, it is Military, Security and Nuclear Weapons first.
- Park Chung Hee/Park Geun-Hye (South Korea)
Like their Northern friends, or should we say foes, South Korea also had their fair share of Parent – offspring leadership. Park Chung-Hee, a Korean Politician and Army General was president from 1963 till his assassination (directly by the head of the Korean Intelligence Agency, surprisingly) in 1979. His daughter, Park Geun-Hye served as President from 2013 to 2017.
|Other Notable Mentions-Parent/Child-Country
ü John Adams/John Quincy Adams-USA
ü Pierre Trudeau/Justin Trudeau-Canada
ü Corazon Aquino/Benigno Aquino III-Philippines
ü Laurent Kabila/Joseph Kabila-DR Congo
ü Rafik Hariri/Sa’ad Hariri-Lebanon
ü Gnassingbe Eyadema/Faure Eyadema-Togo
ü Omar Bongo/Ali Ben Bongo-Gabon
ü Sir Seretse Khama/Ian Khama-Botswana
Tijjani Abdulsalam is a Research Freak, Book Freak, Football Freak, Food Freak all rolled into one. (Twitter:@TeejayKool, Instagram:@teejay.kool)
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