“The Sun. It can only be appreciated by its absence. The longer the days of rain, the more the sun is craved. But too many hot days and the sun overwhelms. Learn to keep yourself obscure and make people demand you in return.” ——-Robert Green
The ‘law of scarcity’ is often used by marketing companies to manipulate our innate ability or unconscious desire to acquire or purchase a product that is scarce. This phenomenon has been the key to the rise of the most successful people in the world but it can also result into the downfall of our heroes. The key to this concept is to make one’s product or skill-set rare and difficult to find and suddenly its value will rise. Humans have been wired to respond to this mind-game. We often see stampedes, fighting and injury as scores of people fight through the doors of shopping centers to get their hands on products advertised as ‘on sale but in limited quantities.’ Many line up outside shopping malls in the middle of the night during holiday sales. Please call immediately to avoid missing out on a once in a lifetime opportunity. It is a powerful marketing tool and TV ads will usually mention that there only a few items left in stock to turn on that switch in the mind of a consumer.
“Too much circulation makes the price go down: The more you are seen and heard from, the more common you appear. If you are already established in a group, temporary withdrawal from it will make you more talked about, even more admired. You must learn when to leave. Create value through scarcity.”
The law of scarcity is also prevalent in the political arena. When many of our leaders first arrived on the national scene, there was a sense of excitement and patriotism that unified the diverse sections of their respective nations. A journey through the list of the long serving leaders in Africa highlights the fact that many were viewed as revolutionary heroes.
Mugabe’s rise to power in the1970s following the Zimbabwe liberation war marked him as a hero fighting for the rights and freedom of the people of Zimbabwe. He won the general election in 1980 and became Prime minister.
Museveni as head of the National Resistance Army came to power following a turbulent history of wars and blood-shed . In a period of 24 years since independence, Uganda was home to seven military coupes, eight presidencies and a loss of over 400,000 lives. Museveni was viewed as a revolutionary leader and symbol for change to restore Uganda’s greatness.
Ben Ali through a military coup in 1987 replaced Bourguiba after declaring him mentally unfit to govern. Though a rather un-known figure at the time, he came with the promise of reform to propel Tunisia towards economic prosperity, stability, better standards of living and democracy . He organized the first multi-candidate election in 1999 which he won by 99% of the vote.
Mubarak having been elected as vice chairman of the ruling party in Egypt was an automatic pick in the succession line following the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981. He was a very popular figure and also won the majority vote by a staggering 98%. Mubarak was a strong ally of the western world and was viewed in many circles as the anchor of stability in the Middle East. In his first decade in power, he was instrumental in igniting a stronger economy and advocating for affordable housing and health-care.
“Use absence to create respect and esteem. If presence diminishes fame, absence augments it. A man who when absent is regarded as a lion becomes when present something common and ridiculous. Talents lose their luster if we become too familiar with them, for the outer shell of the mind is more readily seen than its rich inner kernel. Even the outstanding genius makes use of retirement so that men may honor him and so that the yearning aroused by his absence may cause him to be esteemed”—- Baltasar Gracian
The list of leaders in Africa who were once outright heroes but have over the years transformed into villains is long and still growing. There is no doubt that some of them have continued to win the popularity contest during the national elections. Museveni is the most recent candidate who has once again overwhelmed the opposition even after 24 years in power. In spite of this success, the ballot does not defy the 16th Law of Power. “Use absence to increase respect and honor.” No matter how successful a leader might be, the longer they stay, the more likely for the masses to get restless. Mubarak and Ben Ali exemplify the consequences of twenty four hours of sunshine. They never gave their people a chance to appreciate their contributions—and instead left behind a legacy many are eager to forget. The law of scarcity reminds us that it is wise for a leader to leave on their own terms before the audience grows tired.