In 1998, when President Bill Clinton’s infamous dalliance with Monica Lewinsky became a public scandal and resulted in him facing charges of perjury, I recall Africans and African comedians cracking jokes and having serious conversations saying “What’s all the furor about? What’s the big deal? So the President had a girlfriend…so what? Every big man has a girlfriend!”.


The prevalence of African leaders (who are married) having girlfriends strongly correlates with the poverty of African nations that they lead. This hypothesis is not limited to national leaders…it applies to leaders of organizations large and small.


When a man gets married, he gains a lifelong partner. She will work with him through good times and bad if he is faithful to her. Dear African man: If you think, when you get married, that you will never be tempted by another woman, you are wrong. If you think you will never experience feelings of lust or attraction to another woman because your wife is sooo beautiful,  you are sadly mistaken. If you think that just because your wife and you have sexual intercourse every day of the week that you will not desire another woman you are incorrect.


Lust is an emotion, Like fear, anger, envy, desire, and joy, it is a feeling; it influences our mood, our thoughts, and our actions. Self-discipline is the ability to make decisions and take actions that are contrary to one’s emotion.


When a man gets married, he makes a promise to his wife in the presence of God and of witnesses…to love and cherish and be faithful to her. When that man breaks that promise he erodes trust; not just in his wife and in his children, but also in his place of work and his community. He communicates to them that they cannot depend totally on his word; because if he is not able to be faithful in his home, then he will be unfaithful in his workplace and in his church place and in his community.


What is the big deal, anyway, about being faithful?


Let me break it down for you…


When you, dear male leader, acquire a girlfriend (while having a wife), you exponentially increase your expenses. When you have a wife only, she helps you to manage your expenses and save for a rainy day. She will work with you to build or buy a house (which is an asset that grows in value over time) and invest in your children (another wise long-term investment) and will do so often by sacrificing the pleasure of holiday trips or new cars or boats (liabilities that reduce in value over time).  She will do this because she knows that you are vested in your collective long-term financial security and will be willing to eschew short-term pleasures for long-term gain…because she is married to you till death do you part. When you acquire a girlfriend, you acquire a short-term pleasure. Your girlfriend is not going to be willing to eschew short-term pleasures for long-term financial security because your relationship with her is not based on any long-term commitment. She is not going to allow you to date her without spending money on her or with her. She will not allow you to enjoy her goodies when you are broke or trying to save for a rainy day. She will be interested in building a house, but it will be HER house, not yours, and she will be keen to extract as much from you in order to build her house as quickly as possible because she has not guaranteed how long the relationship will last and therefore when the gravy train will end. She is unsure of when she may be replaced by another girlfriend and cannot afford to “waste her time” concerning herself about your long-term future or the security of your children. To secure her future she may even try to get pregnant and have your child; even after she has done that she will be impatient to extract as much of your resources as possible in as short a time as possible because while her child may have some assurance of access to your resources in the long term, she does not. As a result, your ability to save diminishes exponentially as your expenses increase. The acquisition of a girlfriend also rocks the foundation of your wife’s trust in you and willingness to sacrifice for the long term because she is no longer confident that when you say you have no money, it is because you did not earn much or because you spent what you earned on short term pleasure while you are asking her to eschew her short term pleasures for your collective long term financial security. This increases distrust and quarrels and the pressure to bring money home to satisfy a grumbling and insecure wife as well as to give money to short-term-oriented girlfriend influences the man to engage in acts of corruption and rent-seeking that negatively impact the long-term success of the organization he leads.


Now multiply this situation by thousands and think about what this means for the economies of communities, townships and countries. When the men are unfaithful, the savings rate in homes decreases and investment in long-term securities decreases. The temptation to engage in corrupt practices increases because there is a greater demand for cash flow to satisfy the girlfriends’ needs. Infidelity leads to the poverty of nations.


There are hospitals that have been run into the ground in Africa because the hospital administrator of a chief medical officer engaged in sexual misconduct with nurses to the detriment of organizational discipline, patient care, service quality, and profitability.


There are schools and universities in Africa that have been run into the ground because the teachers and principals have been unfaithful to their spouses and made sexual alliances with their students and teachers, to the detriment of organizational discipline, educational outcomes and sustainability.


There are countries that have been run into the ground because the Heads of State have been unfaithful to their wives and engaged in sexual dalliances with female citizens to the detriment of national discipline, leading to wanton acts of corruption, girlfriends getting government contracts and wielding unconstitutional power over other elected and appointed officials, subverting law and order, and accelerating poverty for the masses.


So, for the good of your community, your company, your organization, and your country, stay faithful to your wife. If this advice sounds boring and “no fun”, you are correct. It is, because having sex with a girlfriend is fun. If it wasn’t, people would not be risking their jobs, health, and financial futures to engage in it. However, it comes with a huge price. It leads to generational poverty and organizational stagnation. It leads to the destruction of trust and corruption and broken hearts. So, dear African leader, discipline yourself to stick with your wife.


Finally – a message to all Africans over 18 years of age.  If your boss or someone who is asking you to allow them to be your leader is someone who is not faithful to his wife, be very careful about working for him, or partnering with him, or voting for him. It will usually lead to disappointment and disillusionment.  If we Africans choose our leaders, we will create a better Africa for our children and grandchildren.


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