By Vera Marion
Leadership is one of the words that most African leaders do not seem to have an inkling of what it is all about. In Africa, leadership is a right rather than a trait. The power that comes with leadership has corrupted the leader’s minds and blinded their eyes that they cannot think or see when anything is amiss. The leadership in Africa is self-centered and corrupt.
Leadership is all about integrity. Being honest and having strong morals that guides the leader and lets him behave in a way that is in harmony with his consciousness. But as it is, African leaders lack integrity because honesty is not one of the things that are associated with them. We lack strong morals that guide us and as such we do not see the obvious and instead want to cling to power by all means.
Leadership is all about authenticity. It is all about being true to oneself. It is all about working under your own values and expressing your original voice. Granted that our leaders have advisors, at the end of it all they are not to blindly follow the advice without putting their voice in the advice. They need to work with their own values to guide them through the decisions that they are supposed to make.
Leadership is all about ethics. Sadly, so this is a virtue that our leaders have no idea what it means. Ethics is all about doing what’s right. It is all about putting the people that you lead at the fore; unfortunately, our leaders put themselves ahead of everything else and forget the people they are leading. Ethics is all about reputation-our character, our standing, our status in how we run things, in how we understand them and in how we analyze them.
Based on this, as leaders we will either have people run to us with respect or run away from us in embarrassment. Unfortunately, no matter the reputation, the leaders have a following that defies all odds which eventually gives them a sense of ‘power’ which they end up ultimately misusing the ‘leader’ in them. Ethics is all about listening to the people you serve; what they are saying; what they want, including if they want you out of leadership. It is not about clinging to power as most do and not caring what happens to the citizens of the country.
Leadership is not a one man job. Leadership is relational. It is all about people and treating them well. Respecting their views and having a dialogue with them; to see why they are saying what they are saying. It is all about touching someone’s heart. Yet all we do is touch on our hearts and ensuring that it is well buffered in case anything happens, leaving the ‘mwananchi’ all to themselves.
Leadership is all about leading the way without false pretense. It is all about leading the way in the light it’s all about people seeing where you are walking and they know your intentions. This way the people will have enough trust in you to follow in your footprints. Regrettably, our leaders lead in the paths of corruption and forlornly this are the only footprints that we know of and hence follow them diligently with gusto.
Leadership is all about humility. Humility is the greatest ‘money and power’ any leader can give themselves. It is through humility that leaders improve. Through humility they can accept their mistakes and learn from them. Through humility they acknowledge where they have gone wrong and are not afraid to admit and apologize for the wrong they have done.
Sadly, leadership in Africa lacks all these, power is seen as a means to an end. It is all about amassing all that one can while they can, clinging to power and even defying their own constitutions or changing the constitution to suit their own agendas. It is sad to say but as Africans have few role models that we can look up to as the definition of an upright President. All we have are puppeteers who puppet and move us around the way that they want to.