African Leaders

ADDING VALUE TO AFRICAN LEADERSHIP

 

 

A.     INTRODUCTION

Of recent there has been a struggle to change and improve the current leadership in Africa. The low rate of development of most of African economies, the high level of poverty, increasing internal conflicts and wars, the experience of some of the African presidents changing constitutions to allow themselves remain in power, the high level of corruption and embezzlement of public funds, are among the reason to why people want something done to African leaders so that Africa can move to the next level of development and compete with other rapidly growing western and eastern economies.

When we compare our current leadership in Africa with the leadership we had in the recent past during the times of Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Patrice Lumumba of Congo, Mwalimu Nyerere of Tanzania, Mzee Madela of South Africa, we ask ourselves what has become of our leaders?

Many efforts have been made to improve the African leadership including meetings and talks with involved parties, seminars and workshops and other contributions through social media. Despite all these efforts the African leadership is still wanting. What should we do?

 

B.     PARADIGM SHIFT: FROM LEADERS TO SOCIETY

Examining all the efforts that have been made to bring change in African leadership it will be found that they all concentrate on the leaders – changing leaders. If we continue with this approach, it is difficult to expect changes in the near future. This paper proposes another approach. It proposes a shift from concentrating on changing the leaders to concentrating on changing the society.

Reasons for the proposed Paradigm Shift

1.     Good or Bad leaders come from the society

If we want to have good leaders we need first to have a good society. Leaders do not fall from the air. They are born, nurtured and brought up in a society. They will acquire what the society can provide. If the society is good even the leaders will be good. If the society is not good so will the leaders be. For example, if the society is selfish, we cannot expect to have selfless leaders. If the society is tribalistic it would be over demanding to expect leaders who are not tribalistic. If the society is drinking so will the leaders be. If the society is smoking weed and the like only miracles will give us non-smoking leaders. Like father like son. Like mother like daughter. Like society like leaders.

We might be blaming the current leaders for their selfishness and greedy behaviours. But where did they learn all these if not from us as a society. Let us then find the ways to make our society good so that we can have good leaders.

2.     It is not easy to determine which child will become a leader

Leaders are born within the society like any other human beings. They need to be prepared from childhood to be leaders. However, it is not easy to know who will become a leader so that we can start preparing him/her separately for leadership. Therefore, we need to bring up everyone in a good way; then those who are oriented to leadership will be elected with easy from the society and can later receive more technical training in leadership. This means that, the whole society needs first to be brought in a way that some can be suited for leadership.

 3.     Leaders are human beings

Another mistake we have been doing in trying to improve the African leadership is to look at leaders as special or super beings. a leader is not super human; a leader is a human being. Therefore, he/she must have human qualities before having leadership qualities. We cannot have good leaders who are not human. One should first be human with their strengths and weaknesses and later they can become leaders. Leadership values must be built on human values.

These human values are acquired from the society. Therefore, if the society is human, that is, it upholds human values; we can rightly expect our leaders to be human and good leaders. However, if the society is not human, for example, it has no love, no consideration for others, no equality, no tolerance, no respect for life, no respect for human rights; where shall we start to build qualities of good leadership. It is just building a house on mere sand.  If a person is selfish, even he acquires a PhD in Delegation, that person will never delegate. Therefore, let us first make our societies human; let us make our societies first have or at least appreciate human values then we can expect  that whoever desires to be a leader has  at least the basics – that is, he is human.

 4.     Leadership is not only in politics

Another reason for shifting from concentrating on changing leaders to changing the society is the fact that leadership is not only in politics. We have been concentrating only on political leadership. We need leaders in other spheres: education, business, religion, sports etc. It is true that the politics of the country will very much affect the other sectors. But for our development we cannot depend only on political leaders.

For long we have entrusted our destiny into the hands of politicians and this has failed us. That is why, this new approach is proposed.  If we have good leaders, for example, in schools, if we have good CEOs and good managers we can expect with high probability, human, economic and political growth. However, if our schools, our universities do not have good leadership and so they do not deliver, we cannot expect to have good political leaders because most of the politicians pass through these learning institutions.

Moreover, experience has shown that the business class has a very big hand in the politics of a country. In many countries business people have corrupted politicians by bribing them so that they can pass laws and policies that favour their businesses whether good or bad. Without changing this business class and indeed the whole society we shall ever have corrupt leaders.

Therefore, there is a need to shift our attention and look at the society as a whole if we have to add value to our leadership.

 C.     WHO WILL BRING THE CHANGE?

 1.     Individuals

As individuals who want to bring change we should not concentrate on changing others. We should first change ourselves. A human being is transcendent. We can move from what we have inherited from the society; have another view at reality and train ourselves to be human and good leaders.

 2.     Family

The family is the basic unit of the society. Good families will translate to a good society and good leadership. Let us prepare leaders right from our families.

If we are not good leaders in our families from where shall we get good political and business leaders? Let us not poison our children’s minds with selfish and tribalistic ideas. If for example, you prevent your child for example from marrying from another tribe simply because it is that tribe how can you expect him/her not to be tribalistic when they become members of the parliament? If we allow our children irresponsible freedom we cannot expect committed, faithful and responsible leaders.

3.     Learning Institutions

Learning institutions should concentrate on offering not only academic excellency but also human formation. There should also be policies that allow and create good environment for these institutions to do so.

4.     Religion

Religion should not be commercialized but should offer opportunities for people to think about their lives away from money and material things and help people to see the purpose of their lives here on earth and how to achieve that purpose through love.

5.     Business Community

Business people should concentrate not only on profit making but also on ethical values and participate to their capacity to improve the lives of people and shun from corrupting political leaders.

D.    WHICH VALUES DO WE NEED?

When we examine most of African societies, we shall agree with the truth that, we have become very selfish and individualistic than ever. What we are experiencing now:  corruption, misappropriation of public funds, political conflicts and wars, tribal clashes and killings, lack of tolerance; are a result of selfishness and individualism. Everyone is thinking only his/her survival. There is no sense of the other. Provided I can survive the rest can die. In order to fight selfishness and individualistic mind we need to develop the following:

 1.     Love

Seek the good of the other.

2.     Sense of the Other

Acknowledge that the is another person besides me.

 3.     The Spirit of Detachment

Life is more than money and material wealth.

 4.     The Spirit of Sacrifice

Train yourself to abandon everything for the sake of the good and the truth.

These values will enable us to think of the other and their good; to avoid materialism and amassing of excessive wealth while others are dying of hunger; to avoid concentrating too much on economic growth at the expense of human values; to be objective and live by the truth.

A person brought up this way will with no doubt make a good leader.

Conclusion

If we want to have good leaders let us first have a good society.

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