Africa and visions of good leadershipColumnists, Steve Orji Wednesday, September 25th, 2013
By Steve Orji
Good leadership is not a work of fiction. Good leadership is about productive expressions.
Actions by someone or group of persons that affects the day-to-day life of the commoners-those who in their lifetime, may never have direct contact with the people who make crucial decisions that affect their life and well-being.
Perhaps one of the things that had gone wrong with our views of leadership, as a continent, is the fact that we had always had people in leadership positions who cut the wrong image of what leadership is about.
Politicians have stood in the place of leaders. Politicians often work to please the political system that brought them to power rather than the people, the essence and reason for their being.
If we must recapture the vital ingredients of leadership, we must travel back to the times, to glean from the lives of such leaders, who through their leadership undertakings, left abiding marks of good stewardship.
It’s something of treasured memory, that within the last fifty years, Africa could look back, with sense of communal pride, to point to certain enduring figures of history-to spot some handful of people, who did their productive best, to be good leaders for the sakes of the people they aspired to lead.
Like beauty, good leadership is an elusive, intangible attribute. Yet, those, who live directly under it, can tell, by the simple effect of its charm, and the primal attractiveness it renders.
Why has it been so difficult to forget people like Julius Nyerere of Tanzania or Nelson Mandela of south Africa?
Was it because both willfully erected physical statues of themselves, to manage to engrave and brand their political memories in the annals of their nations material histories?
They couldn’t have. If their leadership ideologies were something to go by, they would blatantly reject any of such banal schemes, meant to give them undue personal prominence. Julius Nyerere was never an extravagant political figure.
No substantial asset was traced to him, in and out of office. His frugality, and simplicity, had placed him on the sacred pantheon of rare and revolutionary leaders of African descent. It was noted, that he shunned the largesse offer of been chaffeur-driven in one of the presidential fleets, handsomely reserved for African heads of states at the Festac 77 cultural milieu held in Nigeria. He called it ” wasteful extravagance”. His words later proved true.
Julius Nyerere is dead, but the authority of his reputation, spotless sense of integrity, and selflessness, provides a brilliant backdrop in a continent that reeks of greed and self-pre-eminence, a continent in dire need of leadership visions. Nyerere’s ultimate leadership formulations and thoughts gave profound prop to the aspirations of Tanzania’s teeming populace.
Successive years of Africa’s political march, had produced people who could only fete their personal ambitions, and in the process trampled to the dust, the high and lofty callings of excellent stewardship. The culture of greed and selfishness within the political class of African politicians have only helped blur the vision of strengthening good leadership.
A leader’s most important asset is the golden treasure of the vision that sits at the heart of his leadership endeavours. That image becomes the compelling element of his leadership considerations. Leaders with such bent, would bend over a million ways in order to get to the heart of their leadership aspirations-which is the people, the endearing object of their leadership affections. Unfortunately, Africa’s prospects and chances have been severely hindered by the sad adventure of reckless and bad leaders.
Africa must hold it’s past leaders accountable for the deplorable plight of the continent. A clear vision of accountability and probity must be instituted.
Such visions must never gloat over past misdeeds. The painful thing is that those who have public notoriety as past leaders have always dominated the public and political space, most times as “role-models”. Any free-roaming, corrupt politician, past or present is like a quick-killing poison in the social and political fountain. Such poisonous elements must be put away.
Africa must begin this new march of good political vision, by purging its histories and honours lists, of names and Images that betray the tenets of good leadership. Streets and monuments retaining memories of supposed leaders who never stood for good governance should be changed. Grooming of leaders should begin from the cradle-in schools, colleges and public institutions, by promoting ideals of honesty and excellence. Deeds and works of deserving public servants, past leaders, students, hardworking masses, should saturate the public space, and made to inhabit the collective memories of such nations that own them, such way, we imbue our psyche with attitudes and postures of positive ideals- the cornerstone of true and productive leadership.
Africa stands at a crucial crossroad at the moment. The weight of it’s historical burden inflicted by bad leadership and the abundant promise of its potentials meets at this critical juncture. It is good leadership that can steer this gigantic continent to the place of success and prosperity.
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