The strength of every society depends largely on the quality of its leadership. Throughout history successful societies have been those whose leaders were able to rise to the occasion to calm storms during crises and advance the course of prosperity during peace time. During economic hardships, poverty and wars it is those leaders who are competent, dedicated, visionary who are able to pull their nations and peoples from such troubles and economic misery. Such leaders also show selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty, transparency and strong leadership and are committed to democracy, rule of law, freedoms and human rights in their dealings with the people”.
Business, Education & Opinion
This write-up is dedicated to drawing attention to the leadership issues facing Africa and their impacts on development and quality of life across the continent. These issues go to the root of the mission of Openmind Foundation. Leadership makes a whole lot of difference in the progress and wellbeing of a family, people, institution and nation. For example in 1215 when England faced acute poverty, diseases, homelessness, corrupt and aristocracy, there was a revolution that forced King John to resign the Magna Carta. This bold action paved way for the free and prosperous England of today. “The French too when faced with a brutal, corrupt, merciless, bankrupt, despotic monarchy and aristocracy chose to rebel, ushering in a revolution which forced the King out of power, and turned France from a property estate of a King into an independent prosperous Republic” (ibid). In Africa today, Egyptian Youths have led the way with the Tahrir Square Revolution.
Without a doubt, the state of African countries and peoples today has been shaped to some extent by external forces: –
- Over 400 years of both Trans-Atlantic and Arab slave trade
- Nearly a century of colonial domination
- Decades of post-colonial interference and manipulation
- An unjust international economic system
- Predatory practices of multi-national corporations, etc.
It is equally an undeniable fact that the condition of African countries and peoples has been made “immeasurably worse by internal factors such as:
- Misguided leadership
- Systemic corruption
- Capital flight
- Economic mismanagement
- Senseless civil wars
- Political tyranny
- Flagrant violations of human rights and military vandalism, among others” (Yaw Sappor).
Leadership is at the root of African problems. Let’s start this review on leadership with a powerful extract from an article written by Robert I. Rotberg and published by the Council on Foreign Relations.
Africa has long been saddled with poor, even malevolent, leadership: predatory kleptocrats, military-installed autocrats, economic illiterates, and puffed-up postures. By far the most egregious examples come from Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Zimbabwe — countries that have been run into the ground despite their abundant natural resources…Such leaders use power as an end in itself, rather than for the public good; they are indifferent to the progress of their citizens (although anxious to receive their adulation); they are unswayed by reason and employ poisonous social or racial ideologies; and they are hypocrites, always shifting blame for their countries’ distress.
Under the stewardship of these leaders, infrastructure in many African countries has fallen into disrepair, currencies have depreciated, and real prices have inflated dramatically, while job availability, health care, education standards, and life expectancy have declined. Ordinary life has become beleaguered: general security has deteriorated, crime and corruption have increased, much-needed public funds have flowed into hidden bank accounts, and officially sanctioned ethnic discrimination — sometimes resulting in civil war — has become prevalent”