Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Scandal In The Family

A Touch Of Nokoko by Kofi Akumanyi

London, October 8: Mrs. Margaret Thatcher has rejected Mr. Cecil Parkinson's offer to resign when he told her his affair with his former Secretary, according to Government sources.

The Prime Minister was told three months ago that Miss. Sara Keays, aged 36, was pregnant by Mr. Parkinson, aged 52, the Trade and Industry Secretary who is largely credited with the Conservative Party's election strategy which helped the party sweep the polls in last general elections.

She decided that he should give up his post as Chairman of the Conserv ative Party because it would reflect on the party as a whole, but there was no reason for him to stand down from the cabinet.

The Conservative Party Central Office in London has also received a number of calls from party supporters who appear to have been angered not so much by the affair but by the fact that, in his own statement, Mr. Parkinson had been seen to leave Miss. Keays "in the lurch".

As the Tories prepare for the party's annual conference at the weekend, Mrs. Thatcher is reported to be facing mounting pressure from the Party hierarchy to sack Mr. Parkinson for admitting having committed adultery.

They say that the Prime Minister would be guilty of hypocrisy if she continues to keep Mr. Parkinson because his position would be in complete contrast to her avowed adherence to Victorian virtues and the importance of family life.

Since the news of Parkinson's unfortunate affair broke, the media which thrive on such 'hot' issues have gone to town on it. Predictably, the reaction of the public has been mixed.

While some people have shrugged it off as a skeleton which, on closer examination of the private lives of other public figures, more could be uncovered, the moralists are livid with righteous indignation.

I myself, brought up on Presbyster ian/Methodist morals have honestly been worried sick since I heard what Mr. Parkinson's had done and I have been asking myself: if such a thing happens in Africa how will it be dealt with officially? How will the public react to such news?

There is not better way to find out than to talk to a public figure who should be in a position to know the official and public sentiments on this. I therefore spoke to my friend James Suppa, Chairman of the State Enterprises Commission, Chairman of the Catholic President of Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and unofficially the majority share-holder in one of the largest commercial houses.

"Disgraceful business, this Parkinson scandal," he said.

"Is it really? You know something? Adultery happens to be a pretty common commodity on the market today," I said in what I hoped was a conspiratorial tone.

"Common commodity, it may be but it does not come cheap as Mr. Parkinson has found out".

"I, however, still think too much fuss is being made over this".

"There should not be any under normal circumstances except that Mr. Parkinson's case is not normal" James said.

"Not normal? What do you mean?"

"A Minister in Mrs. Thatcher, the Iron Lady's government and a high party boss to boot, in the conservative political field should not be playing this kind of high stake ball games".

"I beg your pardon?"

"I mean having an affair with the Secretary. And knowing Mrs. Thatcher as she is, she won't take this lying down."

"Everything considered", I said, "Mrs. Thatcher is pretty cool about this. Why the contradiction?"

"Victorian principles or not she is not about to buckle under public pressure. That's one thing she never does, you know. When the chips are down she, as a woman, very well understands these things".

"This still does not explain why Parkinson is still around," I persisted.

"Listen, sonny, these scandals have cyclical occurrences in British politics. This one has a "deja vu" quality. It will die down with time and another sex scandal will erupt to keep the gossip columns busy........

"O.K. so what would have happened if such an issue had cropped in African political circles?" I asked.

"I thought you would never ask. The plain truth is it would not have caused the slightest ripple in our already murky and stormy political waters."

"Is it because we Africans do not have the same morals, at least, as far as sex is concerned, as the British?"

"Not for that reason", James said, "It's rather because one man, one wife (woman) is totally UNAFRICAN!"

talking drums 1983-10-17 Houphouet-Boigny Ivorian stability - Ghanaian women economic backbone or saboteurs