What do young people need to learn today to be prepared for tomorrow?

By Larry Berger

We cannot anticipate the challenges today’s children will confront as grownups, nor can we conceive of the solutions they will devise. Technology, the planet, and society are changing faster than ever before. But this doesn’t mean we should discard the old disciplines of reading, math, science and history for a shiny new curriculum of nanorobotics, holography, and multi-tasking.

Futuristic things that spark kids’ imaginations are useful, but the essence of a great education changes slowly. We may use new tools and topics to achieve it, but we still want our kids to:

  • learn how to learn
  • know the past
  • wield the power of math and science
  • experience and make art
  • become good citizens

Let’s take a quick look at each of these.

Since we cannot know exactly what young people will need to know to thrive, the most important thing may be that their education helps them learn how to learn, including:

How to pay attention: learning requires the ability to focus. The technology that saturates kids’ worlds today offers constant distractions. Students must learn to overcome this, to set it aside and pay attention, for extended periods, to things that are difficult.

How to question: curiosity is what sustains learning, and skepticism about “established truths” is the beginning of new knowledge. Schools should cultivate both, to help students to develop critical thinking skills.

How to learn from failure: students do better in school, and in life, when they realize that mistakes are opportunities for discovery and improvement, and that persistence can pay off. Research shows that this “growth mindset” can be taught.

These skills prepare students to continue learning throughout their lives. Our economy and society are changing fast — the jobs of the future mostly don’t exist yet — and so the people who are most likely to thrive are the ones who are prepared to continually adopt and grow.

Specific knowledge and skills are also part of the foundation for a lifetime of learning. The academic subjects included in a traditional African high school education are a good start. Within each of those subjects, and across them, there are essential elements:

Reading and writing: every student who graduates from an American high school should be able to “read like a detective and write like an investigative reporter.” That means they should be able to write a short essay expressing their perspective on something difficult they’ve read, using evidence from the text as the backbone of their argument. Research shows that this is the single most important skills for succeeding in college and other further academic studies.

Mathematical reasoning: for an increasing number of college majors and professions, it’s essential to acquire skills in specific areas of math. But, regardless of academic and career path, all of us — every American — should be able to engage in mathematical reasoning, so we can make good decisions about everything from credit cards to claims made by our political leaders. Every high school graduate should be able to engage in algebraic thinking and mathematical modeling to understand quantitative relationships and to generalize patterns.

Scientific knowledge and thinking: learning to “think like a scientist” is important for everyone, even those who eventually choose careers in other fields. The scientific method — systematic observation, measurement, and hypothesis formulation, testing, and modification — has applications across many areas of modern life, including business. And, given the public policy decisions that will need to be made in the 21st century, it’s especially important that all citizens have a baseline understanding of ecosystems and earth science.

Knowledge of the world and the past: our country’s civil and political life will depend on all citizens having a shared knowledge of world history. Students should be enabled to develop their own informed perspectives, including through reading key primary texts, from the Declaration of Independence to first-person accounts of what it has been like to live at various times and places. They should also learn how to share those perspectives with classmates and others in a civil and constructive way.

The Arts: every African should graduate from high school having read literature from Africa and the world. They should experience and make art and music in many forms. Every student should be encouraged to choose at least one art form that especially moves them and really learn about it — what are its traditions, who are its greats, what makes it beautiful?

A great education is a long and rewarding journey which never ends. High school is a key stage in that journey when students can acquire the foundations for success in later life. Let’s ensure that every African student can make the most of this opportunity.

This article was first published at Medium


What makes up a leader?

By Azugbene Solomon.

Leadership is a process of social influence which maximizes the efforts of others toward the achievement of a greater good.

Leadership is all about being passionate about what you do, and having confidence in yourself and your followers whom you have to motivate and inspire.” “Great leaders make the hard choice, and self-sacrifice in order to enhance the lives of others around them.

A leader understands that it is the people they lead that ultimately determines the success or failure of any venture. They surround themselves with great people that they can cultivate into a team of competent, confident individuals who can work well as a team. They then have the ability to guide this team towards a well-defined vision by clearly communicating short and long terms goals, inspiring confidence and trust among colleagues, and influencing common efforts through character rather than by a position of authority. Ultimately, a great leader creates and nurtures other leaders.

leaders have clarity of purpose and are great at articulating their beliefs. I aspire to be the kind of leader that pushes people to be the very best they can be but still make people feel safe because it starts with the heart.”

A leader does not lead by forcing people to follow. Instead, a great leader motivates people. They encourage others to follow them. They also lead by example, which few leaders do today.

Keys that make up a leader are:

1. Empowerment.

Good leaders are characterized by their ability to empower their teams to achieve maximum success. It is important to think through what empowerment means and how best to employ it so your organization can harness its strength.

Empowerment is a means to include the team in decision making, to give them a participatory role which capitalizes on their own expertise and judgment, and that increases their sense of both individual worth and commitment to the organization. Empowerment also demonstrates that you have good listening skills, and that you care about the input of everyone on your team. When you empower your team, you motivate them to “row together”, and you increase the overall success of your mission. Empowering builds confidence in their capacity to execute your collective mission and goals, establishes essential trust in an organization, and creates the secondary level of leadership necessary when you are not present for key decisions so that the organization continues.

Empowerment creates a healthy, positive and ultimately successful organization – one in which there is ownership of the vision and trust in the leadership. If you are listening to your subordinates, and then acting with consideration of their thoughtful inputs, you are empowering them and your organization.

2. Vision.

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion.” -Theodore Hesburgh, President of the University of Notre Dame

“There’s nothing more demoralizing than a leader who can’t clearly articulate why we’re doing what we’re doing.” -James Kouzes and Barry Posner

“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” -Jack Welch

Leaders have vision. They share a dream and direction that other people want to share and follow. The leadership vision goes beyond your written organizational mission statement and your vision statement.

The vision of leadership permeates the workplace and is manifested in the actions, beliefs, values, and goals of your organization’s leaders. This vision attracts and affects every employee who is engaged in living this set of actions, beliefs, values, and goals. They want to share your vision.

3. Core Values.

Values are the guiding principles in our lives. Leadership occurs within the context of core values. Leaders guide and facilitate others to make a positive difference in their own lives and to contribute to a larger good. Values inform the application of leadership qualities as the competencies of leadership are activated – learned, developed, and practiced – within the set of core values. By focusing on what people believe and value, and then positively building on this understanding, we have the potential for impact far more wide reaching than if we approached leadership development as a problem-solving activity.

a) Respect

As demonstrated by self respect and respecting others regardless of differences; treating others with dignity, empathy and compassion; and the ability to earn the respect of others.

b) Making a Difference

As demonstrated by personal efforts that lead to making a positive impact on individuals, systems, and/or organizations or positively affecting outcomes.

c) Integrity

As demonstrated by moral courage, ethical strength, and trustworthiness; keeping promises and fulfilling expectations.

d) Authenticity

As demonstrated by consistency, congruency, and transparency in values, beliefs, and actions; integrating values and principles to create a purposeful life and to contribute to the growth of others.

e) Courage

As demonstrated by possessing a strength of self to act with intention on behalf of the common good; taking a stand in the face of adversity; acting boldly in the service of inclusion and justice.

f) Service

As demonstrated by commitment that extends beyond one’s own self interest; personal humility for the sake of a greater cause.

g) Humility

As demonstrated by a sense of humbleness, dignity and an awareness of one’s own limitations; open to perspectives different from one’s own.

h) Wisdom

As demonstrated by a broad understanding of human dynamics and an ability to balance the interests of multiple stakeholders when making decisions; can take a long term perspective in decision-making.

4. Performance.

Performance in leadership is the heart, backbone, and spirit of a good leader. Your performance as a leader is not shaped by trying harder, working longer, or being cleverer, but by consistently acting like the sort of leader you would want to follow.

The ability to influence the leadership skills of your team members in order to meet organizational demands is a complex element of the overall leadership development picture. Leaders are tasked with effectively guiding organizational goal achievement, while considering team member skills necessary to produce the desired output.

A focus on balancing talent development with organizational goal achievement will place the company on a trajectory of achieving performance success. Motivating team members toward goal achievement is no small task. Essentially, leaders should reflect behaviors that inspire and motivate people to change.

Though motivation factors vary across an organization, there are many leadership qualities common to successful leaders. Leadership qualities that influence goal achievement include the ability to create a clear vision, the ability to understand organizational culture, the ability to focus on performance development, and the ability to encourage innovation.

Many of us in leadership or management positions know what we need to do to be better leaders, we just sometimes fail to act. Being a great leader requires constant personal and professional development, regular transparent feedback from the team, self-reflection and taking action on feedback received. Great leaders are rarely satisfied with their performance.

Leadership is a mindset in action. So don’t wait for the title. Leadership isn’t something that anyone can give you—you have to earn it and claim it for yourself.

1. Masonleads.gmu.edu core leadership values by George Mason University.
2. Thebalancecarees.com leadership vision by Susan M. Heathfield.
3. Forbes.com 10 unique perspectives on what makes a great leader by Brent Gleeson.
4. Davidhuntown.com how successful leaders use empowerment to build trust and excellence by Collins Powell.
5. Aboutleaders.com Leaders Influence Team Performance and Goal Achievement by Florida Starks.

The Role of Youth in Leadership

By Azugbene Solomon

Youth leadership is the practice of teens exercising authority over themselves or others. Youth leadership has been elaborated upon as a theory of youth development in which young people gain skills and knowledge necessary to lead civic engagement, education reform and community organizing activities.

Youth leadership opportunities are often overlooked by adults, either knowingly or unknowingly, but the results are the same; a lost opportunity for young people to take the lead. Even when adults consider themselves champions for youth in leadership roles, many times adults are asked to assume the leadership positions instead of letting youth take the lead.

Youth participation in leadership is a critical priority. The situation in Nigeria and many African countries have created conditions that hardly favour young people.

Some of the problems that impede the effective participation of the youth in leadership are mainly to do with inequalities in the social, economic and political arena. One of them is the shortage of opportunities for education and training.

Additionally, the failure to respect the human rights of the youth as active citizens has created difficulties when it comes to youth participation in political leadership.

Levels of youth unemployment are so high that young people engage in vices that do not contribute to their well-being but put their lives and potential at risk.

The people demand to play a major role in ensuring that the so-called “mentors” or “elders”, who want to cling to power or leadership positions that belong to all citizens, are held accountable for making policies that fail to empower the young majority.

Youth participation in socio-economic and civic development is vital for the development of any country.

Youth involvement is an important means to overcome disrespect and marginalisation of young people at a time the continent is experiencing a boom in the population of the youth.

Youths must seek to participate in government, politics and policy formulation. We must shelve aside our responsibilities of joining mainstream politics and forming healthy and progressive alliances among ourselves and participating in all issues of national interest. This way, our voices will be heard and our views considered.

We need the wisdom of the old because if the energy of youth is left unchecked, it portends imminent danger. It is time for the young generation to stop seeing themselves as too young. We all have something to offer this great Africa continent.

1. Mwnation.com Youths’ role in leadership by Steve Binali.
2. Canr.msu.edu Youth in leadership roles by Connie Lange.

Enhancing Youth Political Participation For Africa’s Development.

By Anticorruptionintl.org (kgoremu sandu)

Africa is a continent of the young. In 2015, of a total population of close to 1.2 billion people, an estimated 541 million (45.1%) were under the age of 18. A further 458 million (38.2%) were between the ages of 18 and 45. Young people between the ages of 15 and 35 constitute one-third of Africa’s population. However, youth’s influence on national politics remains limited. Young people need leadership opportunities to be able to gain experience and fulfill their potential. It is important, therefore, to integrate young people at the helm of both the political and non-profit sectors. Recognizing that young people, like all people, want to be appreciated for the role that they play in society, they need viable avenues through which they can use their abilities and talents to make positive contributions.

Many young people in Africa look for political opportunities or try to create opportunities for participation, only to find their ideas resisted or rejected. In the absence of such opportunities, they are more likely to find other avenues of expressing frustration and form alternative groups in order to feel a sense of belonging for example #This Flag, a social group in Zimbabwe which caused social unrest in Harare (the capital city). If young people are not given viable means of political participation, they can pose a threat of up rise in societies. The result of some governments in Africa of failing to constructively engage youths is that their potential is often lost or diverted.

Factors specifically influencing youth political participation included the following:

Distrust of politics and political parties: In many African countries for example Zimbabwe youth associate African politics with politicians who are corrupt, dishonesty and they do not fulfill their promises. Many youths avoid politics, and preferably become active within civil society.

Distrust of electoral processes and institutions: Countries such as Burkina Faso, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Gambia, Zimbabwe and Zambia have experienced disputed election results and in some cases, discrepant vote-tallying systems used by candidates and by electoral institutions. Perceptions of problems with the reporting of results in Africa has led to skepticism about electoral processes, and raised questions of transparency and the independence of institutions. Hence many youths hesitate to vote due to the electoral system error.

Under-representation within government and political parties: In many countries for example Zambia and Kenya, youths feel that they are targeted by politicians seeking votes during election campaigns. However, once elections are over, they are not adequately represented in political parties or in government. Even when young candidates are elected, they often feel they have no political power, and are excluded from the decision-making processes. Many Africans feel their peers would not be more likely to turn out at the polls if more young candidates are appointed to meaningful, influential and prominent positions.

Factors hindering young candidates running for elected office included:

Patronage and resources: Young candidates are affected by political patronage networks and a lack of financial resources as obstacles if they are interested in running for elected office. Well-resourced candidates and political parties in a number of African countries for example Zambia they buying support through giving away cash and gifts, such as maize.

Age limits in electoral law: A number of African countries for example Zimbabwe has age limits in their electoral laws, which prevented candidates under the age of 35 or 40 from contesting national elections.

Inter-generational differences: In some African countries for example Gambia, youths are discouraged from running for elected office because of perceptions that leadership should be reserved for older people.


Youth Empowerment through Civic Education

Education activities aimed at improving the participation of youths in political leadership should prioritize leadership training with an emphasis on management skills and accountability so that when elected, young politicians can continue to play an important role in inspiring others to participate in politics. Second, “youth for youth” role models should be encouraged. As more youth gain leadership positions in political parties, it is important that they help to educate other young people. Finally, political party procedures should be standardized and institutionalized in order to create predictable legal and constitutional frameworks that would enable hardworking, determined, and committed youth to navigate the political system.

Strengthening public policy making skills

The youth constituency in Africa is too large to remain on the margins of the democratic process. African political parties must engage in multifaceted programmes and start thinking more creatively about how to bring youth on board. Specifically, political parties need to start taking a more proactive approach to engaging with youth as voters, electoral candidates and electoral managers. This, in turn, requires political parties to engage more effectively with key partners on youth-related issues. Two actors of particular importance are political parties and civil society organizations.

Political parties remain a significant barrier to youth participation in decision-making structures through their control over the submission of the lists of electoral candidates. Political parties should therefore consider facilitating interparty dialogue to foster broader agreements on the need for the advancement of youth as electoral contestants. Furthermore, by working with youth-led or youth-focused civil society groups, political parties are more likely to achieve their goals when it comes to promoting youth as voters. Political parties also need to look at their own internal structures and policies to promote youth participation in the management of electoral processes

Kudzai Goremusandu is a strategic, innovative, dynamic, goal getter, enterprising leader and leadership consultant. He is the founder of Africa Leadership Insights Institute .Kudzai holds an award for effective media communication from the University of Zimbabwe. Kudzai is based in Harare, Zimbabwe. He can be contacted @ kgoremusandu@gmail.com

Nigeria: WARIF educates youth on sexual violence

Following the success of the first cycle of its Boys’ Conversation Café (BCC) Initiative, Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF), haskicked off the second cycle of this project to educate a wider range of boys in Nigeria about gender based violence and its effects. This projectaims toinstil the role that boys have to play in the reduction and prevention of rape and sexual violence.

Recording the success of the BCC which launched in April in 2018, 40 boys between the ages of 13 – 17 years in Surulere Secondary School were trained on the identification of the signs and prevention of Gender Based Violence in their communities. The 4-week intervention program impacted a significant success rate in terms of immediate behavioral change. Some of the notable changes in the boys were: Pornography addiction dropped by 41%, about 85% of the beneficiaries strongly agree that consent of a girl to have sex is important and should be respected, and 98% of the beneficiaries strongly agreed to take a stand in any case of sexual abuse rather than be by-standers.

As an extension of this success, the second cycle of this project, sponsored by SAP Nigeriawill train 160 boys across selected secondary schools in Lagos in 2019. The WARIF Boys Conversation Café takes the form of informal dialogue sessions with groups of secondary school boys, where well-trained male volunteers serve as facilitators and mentors at these sessions.

Dr. Kemi DaSilva- Ibru, Founder of WARIF, speaking about the project said”We believe that educating boys with a view to changing their existing mind set and perspective about the notion of rape and sexual violence will be transformational in the lives these young men will ultimately lead to a reduction in the cases of Sexual and Gender based violence recorded. This is why the WARIF Boys’ Conversation Café project was launched in 2018- to change the existing attitudes held by boys and young men on the topic of rape and sexual violence.

Through the training held by BCC, we were able to see a positive change andimprovement in the narrative of the young boys and we hope that withthe expansion of this project, we will achieve a greater impact and a reduction in the high incidence of rape and sexual violence in our communities. Together, we can build a society where boys and men, growing up with a positive masculinity becoming protectors of women and not perpetrators of these awful acts” She added.

WARIF is reinforcing its call for everyone to raise their voices against rape and sexual violence of young girls and women in Nigeria and beyond. Parents and teachers need toplay an active role in the education of their sonsabout appropriate sexual behavior and conduct. Male role models and father figures should also maintain positive influences to the lives of young boys.

WARIF also continues to address its war against sexual and gender based violence with the free services offered at the WARIF Centre, and other educational and community based initiatives such as WARIF Educational School program,WARIF through the Arts initiative, WARIF Know your community and WARIF Gatekeepers initiative.

Source Vanguard

7 Important Life Lessons Everyone Learns the Hard Way

By Lolly Daskal

It’s better to look back on life and say: “I can’t believe I did that” than to look back and say: “I wish I did that.

As elders are always telling younger people, experience is the best teacher. But if you can take in a life lesson without putting yourself through difficulty–if you can benefit from someone else’s experience instead of your own–so much the better.

Here are seven such lessons that it would be great if you didn’t have to learn it the hard way.

1. Failure isn’t fatal and success isn’t final.

There’s a saying (often attributed to Winston Churchill) that goes “Defeat is never fatal. Victory is never final. It’s courage that counts.” Success has a way of ebbing and flowing, and it’s being able to ride the wave without falling off that the biggest lessons are learned.

2. What’s holding you back is the thought that something is holding you back.

Resentment, anger, grudges–these things will destroy your energy and keep you from moving forward. Turn them loose and you can free yourself up for great things.

3. “Nothing is impossible- the word itself says, I’m possible”

This quote from Audrey Hepburn reminds us to stay positive and hopeful–not the easiest task when the world is wrapped up in pessimism and doubt. Believe in your own abilities and have faith in your success.

4. The road to success and the road to failure are one of the same.

It may look as though your path is rocky and steep while others have it easier, but everyone faces obstacles and detours. We can’t always control the road we’re on, but the choices we make along the way will play a large part in determining how far we can go.

5. Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.

If you’re waiting around for someone to make something happen for you, you’re waiting in vain. Anything good that happens will be because you made it happen. Experiences and opportunities don’t just come your way; you have to help create them.

6. If you’re not willing to risk the usual, you’ll have to settle for the ordinary.

Taking risks shows confidence–it means you are willing to learn. And the lessons you take with you can put you on an important new path. Unless you’re extraordinarily lucky, success won’t fall in your lap–you have to pursue it, and you won’t achieve your dreams by playing it safe. The biggest risk is not taking any risk at all.

7. Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the pleasure of winning.

Many of the leaders I coach express their fear of losing or failing or underachieving, and I tell them their excitement over winning should always be more than the idea of losing. Your enthusiasm for success should be more than your fear of failing, so it gives you the focus and energy to do what you have to be to succeed.

There are plenty of other life lessons you can learn from those who have been around for a while. Of course, some lessons have to come the hard way, but let the experience of others teach you whenever you can.

This article was first published at Inc

Youth Leadership Conference rebuke removal of Gandhi statue in Ghana

By Express News Service

It was only about a month ago that a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, erected on the campus of University of Ghana, was taken down by students and teachers contending that he considered Africans ‘inferior’. Causing an uproar not only in India but also internationally, the incident raised questions regarding some of the less-talked-about aspects of Gandhi’s life, shedding a new light on his character.

However, the African nationals who participated in the Telangana Jagruthi International Youth Leadership Conference, an event themed around the teachings of Gandhi, had no qualms about his attitude towards Africans and were, in fact, sympathetic to it.

Speaking on the sidelines of the event, based on ‘Mahatma Gandhi’s path to sustainability and innovation’, a Tanzanian national Asia Dimoso Magoma, working as a social worker, said, “Gandhi too was a human being at the end of the day. I am here because I believe in the good things that Gandhi did.”

For Ghanaian national Ernest Tsifodze, the act of removing Gandhi’s statue was condemnable. “He was a great man because he has done a lot . Destroying his statue has, in turn, made our country racist. Sure, we can accept that he was racist, but we should have just left it at that.”

In December 2018, the statue of Gandhi was removed from the University of Ghana after students and faculty protested that the leader was racist in his ways. An article published in the The Guardian pointed to a 2005 book which spoke about instances of Gandhi complaining of Indians having to use the same entrances as Africans. He had also used, ‘Kaffir’, a degrading term, to describe African nationals.

Featured photo credit: EWN via Pixabay.com

This article was first published at New Indian Express

South Africa: Leaders must be exemplary to motivate youth.

By Zaid Khumalo

I am a 24-year-old student at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and my plan was to excel in political science with the hope that I would later impart my knowledge back to my people and my country.

But I have since changed my mind and I don’t want to have anything to do with politics anymore because I fear I will change from the person I am into someone else. The pressure of being a politician turns many people to speak with forked tongues and make promises they cannot fulfil.

I was born in 1994 and I grew up surrounded by the Mandela-mania that glued South Africans of all races into a rainbow nation. Many of my peers were highly inspired by the many doors that were opened for South Africans of all races to embrace one another under the theme of Ubuntu.

Looking back, yes, I can see the few strides the country has made towards a single, united and non-racial South Africa. But as a young black woman, I still see no progress beyond what was initiated by late former president Nelson Mandela.

To me and other young black South Africans my age, this past weekend’s celebrations by the African National Congress may have proved just how strong the party is in terms of support, but our leaders are still lagging in fulfilling the aspirations of many ordinary South Africans.

My simple young person’s comment is: As the youth, we need exemplary leaders who can inspire and motivate us instead of dampening our expectations. Politicians should give us homes and make us believe in the future by turning their promises into tangible results.

We are in 2018 and heading for the nation’s next elections. We cannot live on the same promises made by late former president Nelson Mandela in 1994.

Written by Agnes Sonti Mthembu

Featured photo credit: Inc via Getty Images.

This article was first published at Kathorusmail

The Failure of African Leadership-Voices of African Youth

Jebril Domenico

Jebril Domenico examines the ongoing problems of leadership in Africa and suggests it’s time for a rethink.

The success or failure of any people depends on the issue of leadership. The state and future of African leadership has been a very strong concern since the beginning of African independence.

The Foundation

How can a people so hungry for self-rule become so dispassionate about a future they had fought and lost so much to have? How can a people destroy the very thing they love so much with the same hands that they used in building it? Why should it be that Africa keeps going round in circles instead of moving forwards?

The African Perspective

When African leaders pay more attention to how it is done elsewhere without seeking recourse to the African experience, they have demonstrated their dependency on outsiders. An understanding of yourself and the people whose affairs you manage will help you apply the right kind of policies and establish a sustainable structure. Good African leadership has always been perverted and ultimately thwarted by dependence on foreign ideas (whether of the Western or the Eastern block).

These ideas may have worked in the system from where they evolved, but are often totally alien to African history and experience. Until these ideas are applied, with particular consideration given to the aspirations and culture of the people they seek to serve, they will always bring discredit to African leadership.

The Lack of Succession: A Case Against Life Presidency

The African system of governance was that of kings and kingdoms. Kings in the African setting ruled for life. However, they had lived to the responsibility of raising a man (whether a son or a kinsman) that will rule in his stead, and continue the rulership from where he stopped. They understood that death could be sudden, natural, or as a result of a protracted illness. They lived every day as though it was the last, and because of this they paid particular attention to raising a successor. How well has African democracy faired in relation to this status quo?

Every president from Nkrumah onwards has made one fundamental mistake. It’s a mistake that is a result of a flaw in the way leaders think about their role. It is the ‘president for life’ syndrome; an excess of ego; a hunger for personal power and gain; short termism as opposed to long term planning. This fundamental mistake is the failure of leaders to understand their mortality; that one day they will either stand down or die.

As a result there is a lack of mentoring – the understanding that you have to nurture someone to take your place. This lack of a long term vision perhaps stems from fear, from a lack of trust of their fellow country people and an unwillingness to share information, something that is rife throughout African societies. Sharing knowledge and information is clearly something that helps societies to progress. Yet this stubborn, fearful silence exposes the leader’s weakness and makes him more interested in perpetuating himself instead of planning for continuity in the case of his demise.

Training your successor ensures that your knowledge and skills do not die even when you do. It also, most importantly, ensures that your vision and projects continue.

The Lack of Partnership

One of the great weaknesses of African policies is that each new leader refuses to continue the work of their predecessor. This is much more criminal than the coups and woeful stories of dictatorship told about African leaders. Projects, policies, dreams and the destiny of people suddenly end whenever a new leader takes over, especially when he is not from the party of the former. Each new leadership is a new ride, with a total disregard for things that had already begun.

How much time, resources and lives have we wasted in the process? How can a people move forward with this cancer eating deeper and deeper into the fabric of the very society that we claim we care about and would give all we have to preserve?

Our View of Leadership.

Leaders are not merely the kings and the presidents and the rest of the people (whether elected or appointed), who are heading one sector of the society or the other. Leaders are people who have a responsibility to see to it that their environment is preserved and their community is distinguished. They are people that we look up to in terms of guardianship, from the least of all things to the biggest. The leader is you and I. Yes, you and I.

The African mentality today is such that views himself as a citizen-beneficiary and not as a citizen-stakeholder. This is reflected in our attitude towards the affairs of governance. We are so interested in what we can or should get, and not in what we can or should give. We thus put so much pressure on the people who we have chosen to manage our affairs, and we give them more powers than their little minds can contain. When they fail, we call them names, not realising that if we had played our part in living up to our social responsibility, things would have been better. We blame the government when our environments are dirty, we blame them when cab drivers drive carelessly, we blame them when we buy fake or expired drugs/beverages, we blame them when people die from the effects of cigarette smoking. However, when the government imposes sanctions on the people to see to the preservation of the values we hold dear, we call them despots, not realising that we are the architects of the Frankenstein we dread.

We use the freedom of speech to delve carelessly into the personal lives and affairs of people managing our affairs, instead of dealing with issues of national progress. This is not to say that addressing issues in a leader’s personal life which might pose a threat to the proper execution of his responsibilities is wrong, but this must be done constructively.

We are so interested in imbibing foreign values, but we do not want to be governed by them. We love the way things are done in the U.S and the U.K, but we do not want to pay the price, to see Africa rise. Instead we want to bring in strategies that are alien to the African, expecting it to work for the African – when they fail we say the African has very inept problems.

An African leadership without an African focus is an Africa heading for the rocks again!

This article was first published on Modern Ghana