The leadership curse on Africa
Great nations and peoples have one thing in common. They have had a great leader at least once in their history (Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi). “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” (Editor Business, Education & Opinion).
Africa has suffered greatly from lack of effective leadership. If there is anything like a curse on Africa certainly leadership issues rank the top. Please note:
- Africa is richly blessed with resources. It commands 50% of the global gold deposit, diamonds and chromium, 90% of the cobalt, 40% of the potential world’s hydroelectric power, 65% of the manganese, millions of acres of arable land (Yaw Sappor), huge deposit of crude oil and natural gas, etc.
- “The continent is home to some of the world’s biggest and longest rivers and lakes. There are rivers like the Nile, Congo, Niger, Zambezi, Senegal, Gambia, Benue, Limpopo, Volta, Kasai, Ubangi, Bomu and Orange. There are lakes like Victoria, Albert, Kivu, Tanganyika, Malawi, Kyoga, Chad, Edward, Nyasa and Turkana. The value of these rivers and lakes to agriculture, transportation, manufacturing, commerce, power generation and household cannot be overemphasised” (The ZimDiaspora)..
- “Timber is abundant in Gabon, DCR, Congo, Cameroun, Central African Republic, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ghana. There are rich soils in Nigeria, DCR, Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Gambia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Liberia, Senegal, Malawi, and South Africa”.
- “The continent is also home to some of the beautiful natural wonders of the world. There are animals, Victoria waterfalls, pyramids and a host of others which are a source of tourism”.
- Despite this remarkable levels and varieties of natural wealth, African countries and peoples rank the world’s most impoverished and humiliated.
- “Besides there are architects, engineers of all kinds, medical doctors, planners, bankers, technicians, scientists, industrialists and investors with the qualifications, expertise and rich experience to help develop these resources. On top of all these the technology needed to convert these natural resources into finished goods exists everywhere in the world and can be bought or borrowed”.
- “Although it is true that colonialism and Western imperialism did not leave … Africa in general, in good shape, the condition has been made immeasurably worse by internal factors” such as misguided leadership, lack of vision and imagination, rape and plunder of natural resources, systemic corruption, capital flight, economic mismanagement, senseless civil wars, political tyranny, flagrant violations of human rights and military vandalism, among others”.
A typical example of leadership curse on Africa is the difference of approach between Europe and Africa on the utilisation of profits from slave trade in the 1400s and beyond. “While Europe invested profits from the trade in laying the foundation of a powerful economic empire, African kings and traders were content with wearing used caps and admiring themselves in worthless mirrors while swigging adulterated brandy bought with the freedom of their kinsmen. Virtually all the items imported during the nefarious business were for consumption or weapons for waging wars. A slave ship’s manifest published in 1665 listed items carried for sale to Africans as old hats, caps, salt, swords, knives, axe-heads, hammers, belts, sheepskin gloves, bracelets, iron jugs and even “cats to catch their mice” (Tunde Obadina).