Togolese surnames

african votersTOGOLESE will vote in a presidential election on April 15, a ballot that is expected incumbent Faure Gnassingbe to a third term.

Among his seven hopeful challengers is businessman Alberto Olympio, whose great uncle Sylvanus Olympio was the country’s first president, until he was assassinated in 1963.

Alberto is essentially making up the numbers, buttressing a trend that shows the scions of African founding fathers have generally fared poorly at the ballot, unable to derive much brand-equity from their famous surnames.

There have been those who have managed to buck the trend-Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta, Botswana’s Ian Khama and Gabon’s Ali Ben Bongo. Bongo, though, is different from Khama in that he-like Faure Gnassingbe-inherited power directly from his father.Khama and Kenyatta had to wait for their fathers to die, and for other presidents to rule since them, to come to power in elections.

Then there are those who don’t count, having employed chicanery to lead:Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema assumed office in 1979, but he ousted his uncle and the country’s first president Macias Nguema in a coup.

There have also been rather unorthodox means of ascending to power. Navinchandra Ramgoolam, the son of Mauritius’ first prime minister Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, only got a clear path to power after the leadership of the Labour party was handed to him in 1991, six years after his father died, giving him the platform to become prime minister four years later.

But for the vast majority of presidential relatives, electoral success stories have been had to come by, suggesting the general fondness for their family patriarchs have not been transferrable.

Tilyenji Kaunda, the son of former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda, run in the 2001 general election, but could only place fourth, attracting less than 10% of the vote. He performed worse in 2011, gaining only 0.36% of the presidential ballot.

The sons of former long-term president Mobutu Sese Seko and first prime minister Patrice Lumumba also ran in that ballot, and failed, despite boasting major name recognition.

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