Lamin Darboe: Poor Leadership The African Curse?

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By Lamin Darboe, Leicester UK

WHY AFRICA IS UBLESSED WITH SUCCESSFUL LEADERS- IS D K JAWARA AMONG THE SUCCESSFUL AFRICAN LEADERS?

If you ask ten people what is their definition of a successful leader?, you will certainly get ten different definitions. I know the Jammenkundas will define a successful leader as one who can provide three-course meals for everyone.

Invariably successful leadership qualities are extensive and varied from different perspectives, however, in my opinion, a more progressive definition encompasses advancing the socio-economic, educational, health and environment and living standard of nations. My concept of leaders here means, heads of nation countries concentrated on African leaders from time of independence to date.

People have different yardstick to measure successful leaders or leadership and their qualities that made them successful in lifting the condition of their people from humble beginning to become an economic and perhaps technological success. From abject poverty to appreciable standard of living, weaned their countries from dependence on others to a sustainable and economically viable nation.

Some common leadership qualities that good Presidents appear to have include the following:

  • A strong vision for the country’s future. …
  • An ability to put their own times in the perspective of history.
  • Effective communication skills.
  • The courage to make unpopular decisions.
  • Crisis management skills.
  • Character and integrity.

To borrow Michael Hast phrases in his book, the 100 most influential leaders:

My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels

PROFESSOR JULES MASSERMAN stated.. “what we are really looking for in the man, the qualities that sets him apart”…..

He says that “leaders must fulfil three functions – -” and I quote two here for relevance.

THE LEADER MUST PROVIDE FOR THE WELL-BEING OF

THE LEAD …

THE LEADER OR WOULD BE LEADER MUST PROVIDE A

SOCIAL ORGANIZATION IN WHICH PEOPLE FEEL

RELATIVELY SECURE …

Management theorist stated, good leadership qualities are

  • Honesty and Integrity. …
  • Inspire Others. …
  • Commitment and Passion. …
  • Good Communicator. …
  • Decision-Making Capabilities. …
  • Delegation and Empowerment. …
  • Creativity and Innovation.

Before I proceed let me make the following statement or fact about every person, a mortal.

  • There is no apparent superiority attached to any person except for his or her righteousness, the substance of character and benefit to fellow humans and non-humans.
  • That the pinnacle of wisdom is knowing oneself that you are mortal. Ibn Tamiyah raahimahullah pointed out, how can he be arrogant, he who came from two passages of filth, that of a man and a woman.
  • That everyone come naked and shall go naked. With nothing of wealth and other resources.

As beautifully demonstrated by a sage, when he was resting on the roadside. People pass by him, they greet and revere him except one poor man. He asked the poor man why he did not respect and greet him like the others did, did he not recognise him and his response was a bid bloody shock, the poor unassuming man was apparently insulting but what came out of his mouth was a priceless gem and the reality of every person, leader or the led, rich or poor.

He replied yes:
” I recognise you more than you recognise yourself, I recognise you for what you are, a human being like me, one of the sons of Adama, and Adama was from the earth. I know that your beginning was a filthy fluid and your end will be dead carcass and between these two periods you were a vessel or a vehicle carrying filth”.
The sage replied “you truly know me more than I know myself and more than these people who revered and glorify me.

Folks our leaders are our appointed guides but not lords over us and if anything, they are our servants. We should not mystify them but respect them as our leaders, when they performed well we congratulate them and when they err, we correct them in a respectable manner.

Which African Leader can be described as successful
The type of leaders we choose may well determine the type of society we reside and the direction the country takes.
So far, Africa can point to few leaders with admiration and nostalgia. Few leaders have inspired us and have ruled with distinction, sincerity and honesty since end of colonial rule.

In developmental and socio-economic prism and the dispensation of justice and fair play, it is ironical that Africa continue to wait in anticipation for highly successful leader who embody all the attributes of successful leader.

Why folks, with all educational achievements and experiences of Africans and we have not been blessed with very successful leaders in the calibre of  Muhathir Muhammad of Malaysia, Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore who were imbued with a high sense of national call, understands the economics and political ramifications of steering a  country to the realm of development worthy admiration all over the wrold.

Education, skill training, enterprise, infrastructure, democratic expedience, health and environment all combined neatly in the vision and personal chemistry of one leader. This is rear gem which for decades eluded Africa. She had some good leaders who had shots at these qualities but were either cut short by imperialist machinations, IMF/World Bank impediments, lack of populist’s instincts or in touch with realities of their people.
I will touch on few post-colonial African hero-leaders meaning presidents who were celebrated for their distinguishing achievements.

After we kick out colonialist, we continue to be begging for economic, financial and technological help from them. Even basic medicine and many manufactured are still heavily imported from the same colonialist we thought are no good for us. We are still begging them to employ us, to accept us as immigrants in their countries to the extent we risk our lives to reach their shores. An Indian man was asked, why do you sell sub-standard medicine to African politicians, you are helping corruption and exploitation of Africa masses. He said.

We have different grades of medicines, cheap and expensive. African politicians, ministers, pharmacist chose sub-standard medicine, so we have no right to obliged them not to because they are very corrupt.

The final answer made me cry. He said “what stopped them from making their own medicine”. They are the only people who can’t make their own stuff. This is food for thought.

The leaders I chose are:
Kwame Nkruma of Ghana
Very good leader but not quite successful. A great Pan-Africanist to the detriment of his leadership. He achieved a lot on the educational arena but was very philosophical, not much in touch with realities and aspirations of his people and underestimated his opponents. Little infrastructural development to show for. An orator and populist per excellence. Gave great boost to education and even encourage learning nuclear physics. He was overthrown by CIA using Colonel Afrifa, Kofi Busia, General Ankara and General Acheampong.

Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya
Hmmm good leader, populist and had good vision but poor on delivery. Surrounded by vultures like Arab Moi. His vice one time president, Obinga Odinga was a pragmatist but bit tribal. Did well in terms of infrastructure and education but not all encompassing.

Julius Nyerre of Tanzania
Just like Kenyata, Great visionary but poor on development and economic empowerment. Lacked in developing technologies to exploit rich minerals resources. More of a socialist.

MORE RECENT AFRICAN LEADERS

Murtala Muhammad of Nigeria
Had the combination of all the traits of an exemplary leader and successful leader destined to succeed but very carefree especially with his security. Noticed early as pioneer but cut short by imperialist and local ethnocentric power struggle. Within a period of six months, he managed to change the direction of Nigeria beyond imagination only to be killed needlessly.

Thomas Sankara Bukina Faaso
Great guy and visionary per excellence. Acutely cognizant of world power play, economic and political land scape. Made a brilliant start and knew exactly what needed to be done to move his country forward. He was too trusting of the people around him and was late to realise the impact of his economic measures against the economic interest of colonial master, France, who for very obvious reasons may have instigated his murder. It has been reported that Sankara was warned about the wicked activities of his friend Blais Campaore but he was too trusting and couldn’t imagine betrayal from such a close friend and relative.

MANDELA of South Africa
Hmmm difficult one, the Great one, conscientious, truthful, honest, engaging populists but little developmental substance. More of personal style and Charisma. The black people continue to wallow in poverty and lawlessness. His score on education, skill development for the majority black, housing, infrastructure, my guess is as good as anyone’s guess but overall not a proud  legacy, in terms of socio-economic transformation, especially for the black majority. Thabo Mbeki was just a continuation of Mandela’s leadership

J J Rawlings of Ghana
Usurped power by the gun and when to win election in an allegedly dubious and none level playing field. He did improve education and infrastructure but largely failed to inspire profound socio-economic transformation. His plus was handing over power without bloodshed in a democratic dispensation.

Paul Kigameeee!!! An epitome of new African Leadership
Although came through the barrel of the gun and presided over a genocide. Indeed, evidently complicit in the acclaimed genocide, made the impossible become possible by sheer courage, determination, foresight, great understanding of world socio economic political land scape with a non-philosophical exuberance.
He is one I salute and admired. If he can mend the wounds of genocide and carry both ethnic groups along that will be a great bonus.

There are many African leaders I did not mention out of the desire to make this article short.

There were:
Patrice Lumumber, Amilcar Gabral, Sam Nujoma, Samora Michael, Dr Kaunda, Sir Siaka Stevens, Abubacar Tafa Belewa, Amadou Bello, Leopold Sidar Senghore, Saikou Touray, Ahmad Ahidjo and our own D K JAWARA. Olusegun Obasanjo. Ado and Mahama
Sir Dawda Jawara Of The Gambia
Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara was a great leader per se. A democrat and to certain extent human right champion. On Education, skills training, health and infrastructure, economic development and empowerment, visionary leadership, no, not a very proud history to be frank
He was too soft and failed to rein in on official corruption, waste and economic marginalization of the majority. Through out his rule, economic and administrative activity was concentrated largely within the purview of Banjul, his in-laws city and his city.

Nearly all development projects, RDP1 and 11. IBAS, etc failed woefully to achieve objectives. We lived to pay the exorbitant loans while those who squandered those funds exhilarate with effrontery.

Conspicuously, nearly all top positions, Permanent secretaries, Directors of departments, Auditor and Accountant Generals, remained the exclusive domain of Bajulians and those who meandered around that community for 33 years.

Although his ministers were from relatively diverse background, it can be excusably viewed that his ministerial setup been predominated by one section of the community yet economic and administrative power lies somewhere. Inconsequentially in the last five-years of his rule, there appears to some extent, some shift in the distribution of economic power.

You can count the number of people of provincial extract among the top officials on your fingers. No hospital and no new high schools built in 33 years of his government. All were either a colonial remnant or built my other entities. With plenty of fresh water, a navigable river, plenty arable land yet we imported basic foods stuff like rice, oil, onion and tomatoes. Very little manufacturing and poor public transport and urban congestion and unacceptable rate of unemployment. A lot of dissatisfaction which led to military takeover.

He never had any tangible succession plan and no wonder when he demanded to hand over power, there were a lot of selfish hoo and ha and he ironically rewarded those ministers who begged him to stay put. Was he sincere in Mansa Konko, not at all in my mind. If he had pass power to his successor peacefully, there might not have been any need for coup d’tre. The military would have had it harder to overthrow a changed government with changed new loyalties in place. B B Darboe, the successor apparent would have steered the PPP government on a great developmental trajectory.

Same choices will yield the same results.
We Africans cannot afford to repeat the same mistakes over and over for donkey years and expect different results.

As a poet lamented, “O Ahmed the road to Irbil is to the north, you are heading to Basra in the south”.

How long shall we continue to vote into power people who don’t empathise with important domestic issues that are of great concern to us. Leaders who love the glitter of office but not the responsibilities of office. Leaders with Mansa mentality when they are actually voted to serve.
Who is more important, the one who vote you to power after convincing them that you are the fittest person to serve

If during elections, our leaders campaigned very hard for us to accept them to serve us and we give them the authority to do so, who is more important? If Africans want to move forward we must choose our leaders wisely on the basis of their abilities, character and right qualifications(not paper qualifications), not on the basis of tribe, kabilo, kunda or other insignificant and sentimental considerations. Our leaders on assuming office take an oath of office which seem to have a religious connotation.

In the swearing box, our leaders swear before God with a holy book in hand, meaning they are making God a witness that what they are about to swear to, is done with truth and sincerity. That they honestly, with conviction accept the 3Fs (Faithfully, without Fear and Favour discharging their duties). Implying that the oath will be the driving force and point of reference for all their decisions in their administration and in the discharge of their responsibilities. Now if a leader takes such a solemn oath and accepts to be judged by those sacred precepts then is it unfair that when they stand before God on the day of judgement, they are held accountable to those 3Fs. Is it unfair for us judge our leaders base on the responsibilities they swore to fulfil and which they vehemently begged us to elect them to do?

Leaders come and go but the legacy or the impact they make stays in the annals of history and in minds of their people for generations. Africa must generate good leaders to move our countries forward. We need leaders who have a good understanding of how the world works, leaders with exemplary character who are not dedicated to building personal empires and wealth. Leaders who don’t sleep with a full stomach while the masses go hungry, have uninterrupted water and electricity supply while the majority sleep in darkness, whose children have the best of education, the best of everything while the children of those who put them in power wallow in abject poverty.

Leaders whose wives put on the most expensive clothes and most expensive jewellery while our wives and mothers are contented with cheap fantinyo and waxo.

Leaders who are not preoccupied with scheming, planning, strategizing how to maintain their power, control the people and hardly think of succession plan to hand over power voluntarily when they cannot effectively and diligently manage the affairs of their nations.

Leaders who wastes our resources on expensive and unworthy travels with big delegations, including wives and relatives are not the ones we can remotely refer to as successful but those who waste our resolves needlessly by stealth.

We need leaders who are concerned with our plight and dedicated to honestly and effectively deploy our resources in ways that improve life for the many and not the few. Work to improve transport and communication infrastructure; descent water and electricity supply for the entire country; so that Africa leap forward to takes its place in the club of nations that administer justice and fairness for all plus decent standard of living so that we don’t become unwanted immigrants in other people’s land.

When shall we have such successful leaders and what is your definition of a successful leader and who were/are they in the African continent?

The opinions in this article represent the Authors only and not of Gainko News and Radio.

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