An Age-long Misnomer In Africa | The Street Reporters Newspaper An Age-long Misnomer In Africa | The Street Reporters Newspaper
Dr Timothy Oladele Gold

An Age-long Misnomer In Africa

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By Dr .Timothy Oladele Gold

Likening nationhood to human physiology cannot be a case of incongruity knowing fully well that both deserves care and attention!

The existence of any geopolitical space on planet earth could be attributed to cosmological factors that brings about the space and human factors that creates occupation and habitability.

While coming together to coexist in defiance of undue individualism and chaos necessitate regulations, law and order.

Critically delving into ethno-genesis and circumstances surrounding men coming together to make a society, a bunch of inferences would be established that reveal inherent and hidden iota of leadership instincts in some individuals of old.

However, the intrinsic principle of leadership which is found in primeval era of African continent points to the fact that the act of coordinating affairs of men is not borrowed. Ab initio, democracy which is believed to be a brainchild of the west had been in old Oyo Empire before the advent of the colonial rule in Nigeria.

This instinct of governance in precolonial era in which Africans intuitively managed their affairs in their African way points to the fact that leadership is not a new-fangled idea and that society whose reins were held by men was not different from their strong men at the helms of their affairs.

The effect of change in dispensation, mostly radical events would either enhance or disrupt the status quo.

As a matter of fact an ideal society may accidentally evolve into VUCA terrain: A typical example in Africa, an event which marks an outbreak of mutiny, conspiracy, local friction as well as international diplomatic conspiracy that eventually devastated to a large extent. Libya under the leadership of late Mammar Gaddafi, a state that was thriving suddenly got plunged into perennial imbroglio which lingers till date.

It is recorded in the history of Africa that Rwanda was once war torn an ugly event from 1 October 1990 till 18 July 1994 which witnessed gross, human disaster. The ugly incident that spelt doom in turn became a turning point for the state.

Coincidentally, this treatise made a debut publication in 1990 the challenging year in Rwanda.

Rwanda Morphed Into The Cynosure After The Civil War

It is essential to note that radical change did not come overnight to the state. And essentially, the divisibility of the masses at some point and their resolve to embrace a change played a vital role in the project.

Importantly, causes of civil unrest cannot be overlooked. This forms the fundamental approach to solving age long disaffection and rancour among the people of a state for better horizon.

Salvaging African continent through auspicious and best practices cannot be in isolation. The system that produces the persons manning the practices plays a vital role in every projection and eventual culmination.

It is a common saying that bad leadership is the bane of Africa. This belief system is in oblivion of the fact that leadership is not independent of the society!

Undoubtedly, it is the society that produces the kind of leadership it desires!

Logically reasoning, bad leadership is a mere symptom of a bad system that produces bad follower ship the mother of bad leadership.

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Healing of such ailment after a thorough diagnosis requires holistic approach especially in a situation where everyone sings the mantra of “Bad leadership is our problem ‘ without any slightest reconsideration of the belief … Sad enough! This has wreaked several havoc…  aggravated by diversionary views from luminaries who also participate in promoting the misnomer, thereby making possible solution looks more of a mirage.

Honestly, this is a social belief system that calls for review.

This social flagellation has cause ineffable pains: the citizenry left with scars and scabs without any salvation in sight.

Ironically, the self-afflicted countrymen refuse to repent from the act of inflicting terror on themselves by not coming to terms with essence of extirpating mediocrity, injustice, perfidy, sharp practices through reinventing the society.

Leaning on tradition of shoddy practices at the expense of emancipation is a systemic problem that ravages the continent where public offices are considered   to be national cake grottos.

The lingering socio economic rumpus that ranges from falsification of birth certificate to false court affidavit in order to manipulate in electoral process to the gamut of outright rigging of elections are functions of the society.

Homogeneity of character between the leadership and the people does not exculpate any of the parties in this alliance.

Unfortunately, the concept of good governance is both relative and comparative. The regime of Late Muammar Gaddafi that was extolled by Libyans was greeted with contempt from the western world that felt that the late pan Africanist was dictatorial.

Africans cry foul of bad leadership and complain vehemently against malversation and other malfeasances but not willing to champion a cause of salvation. Only envy the West, a world that is amused by this phenomena.

The role of public diplomacy is sterling in nation building: The relationship between the government and the people that is seamless during electioneering campaigns that often lead to the existence of any given government ever got broken after actualization of electoral victory.  This could be mended by a public diplomacy

Notably, governance is not seen in Africa as a product and function of the entirety of the society .Thus the ethos, creed, idiosyncrasy, tradition and culture of the people are prevalent in the philosophy of their administration. Rather, position of leadership is perceived as a different pedestal aloof of the society.

This makes much of misnomer in description of African leadership that is often blamed for the woe of the continent. Awe is no difference from giving different names to both lower and upper parts of a man (Jekyll for the lower Hyde to the lower) of a human who is morphologically and physiologically not a centaur like.

At this juncture, a well distilled people’s diplomacy that can handle the matrix for democratic development is essential for the survival of heterogeneous continent.

Leadership in African Context

Several African leadership role models were able to set a pace in their various domains that became template, though the protégés of these great men faltered from the deals bequeathed on them.

By nature, African were not unruly, considering the wielding of naked power by monarchs without rebellion and mutiny in the years of yore.

As a matter of fact Africans believe in leadership and allegiance. This was the basis for deification of some leaders that were regarded as cruel by the west, but in the apotheosis in African continent.

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Traditional leaders who were believed to be divine were treated with our most veneration and no one dares question their fiats.

Absolutism was the hallmark of leadership though old Oyo Empire intuitively practiced democracy before the advent of the westerners which was usurped by a archetypal mutineer, Bashorun Gaa (1774-1784).

Down to the era of Emperor Haile Selassie with the accolade, Negusa Nagast was the imperial leader whose several post nominal sound impostural as they rival with the attributes of Jesus Christ, prime role model and religious protagonist of the westerners.

He was subsequently deposed by disgruntled junta who were members of the society. This is an evidence that, no perfect society exists; only the prevailing nature characterizes the citizens.

If a section of the people that served their imperial leader with awe would renege on their allegiance and orchestrated the ouster of a sacred personality impudently, this remains   a factor that calls for apprehension!

Africa is never a perfect society and none exists in the globe .Evolution and civilization are however invariably cogent in the milieu of any state.

Defining the concept of leadership in the context of Africa cannot be herculean, having learned the nitty -gritty of the precolonial affairs of the people and the contemporary political affairs that embraces ideas from the west which make a medley of local and international thoughts for the sake of having a platform for self-rule.

Ultimately, leadership is a position of authority enviable enough to make the less privileged wistful and the privileged, demigods

This implies that the privileged who enjoy allegiance of the less privileged work assiduously never to become less privileged since leadership is also a means of livelihood.

Conversely, the less privileged are the sustenance of the few privileged. They go extra miles as jobbers, sycophants, faithfuls to recycle the privileged .This defines the route of headship in Africa

The Concept of Bad Leadership In Africa

This is fundamentally a misnomer! As like begets like, while unarguably, every vanguard of leadership is the microcosm of its respective society.

Biologically, parent however produces offspring genetically .Which translates, a society a factor depicted with parent figure that gives birth to leadership in its likeness!

Africans are administered by native Africans. It is however puzzling to define leadership in isolation on this premise.

This symptomatic condition will continue to prove acute in so much that the cause remains unaddressed.

It is deplorable and challenging that democracy that is blessed with the instrumentality of checks and balances cannot still antidote the so called bad leadership in African continent.

Obviously, there is no bad leadership but bad followership which could be termed systemic problem.

The social belief system, ethos and other societal factors play a vital role in the civility of the people and integrity of any state.

The Hocus-Pocus   has registered itself in the hearts of the elites and as such only few attention is given to overhauling the system and other citizens’ fora for enlightenment and reorientation.

My lecture at citizen’s forum organized by African Citizens Development Foundation. In May 2004 where luminaries were blaming bad leadership for the woes of Africa and I came to say something contrary: My paper titled “Bad Followership and Not Bad Leadership” generated mixed feelings until the organizers applauded me and declared to the contingents  from across the globe that my paper was in consonance with United Nations latest discovery.

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The Concept of Good Leadership

The need for yardstick is essential in measuring the excellence of any administration.

Leadership is multifaceted which could be viewed from different perspectives.

Africa is ever proud of the enigmatic Dr. Madiba Nelson Mandela who preferred a single term as president of South Africa. Conjecturally, this is not unconnected with path of wisdom of the political sage who knew that contestants and political adversaries could rise against him to disparage and pinpoints his short comings during the first term. No man is infallible

No government in the world has ever enjoyed the overwhelming accolade of all and sundry … Only sustainable infrastructural development, welfarism, policies and programmes with human face endear the men at the helms of affairs to the people.

Opposition parties are found to be cynical. In fact, in some climes they look more inimical than playing a partisan politics. They often pose to be subversive, though this cannot be the parameter. A good leadership is never hidden in spite of criticism and critique as a considerable credibility would stand such out.  

Late President John Magufuli, former Tanzania’s leader whom several Tanzanians describe as a great leader, became popular as a result of low profile life style and prudent management of resources!

The party men in opposition did not share this view and never relish promoting the doings and ideals of the leader.

Donald Trump, the former president of United States had his die hard and ardent followers who had pleasure in his administrative style and policies, people who could not still figure out how their hero was defeated in the election ushered in Joe Biden his political adversary.

Going by this narrative, Africa has leadership like any other continent, practices politics as well but no distinctive political parties with notable ideologies. This exigency gives room for Ruritanian and shoddy democratization process. This notwithstanding, the faithfuls of the ruling party and those who feel pleased by some policies of government conscientious describe its operation, good governance

Perception audit which is a form of feedback to enable the power-that-be have the feel of their operations as perceived by the masses is bastardized and politicized in some climes: several opinion polls conducted were found to be biased and doctored to perpetuate incumbent leaders in power.

The parameter for good governance is basically service delivery in which security, housing, food security, employment, economic vibrancy are prioritized for auspicious policies and infrastructural development to be enjoyed and well placed.  

It is apposite to categorically state without fear or favor that the modus vivendi called bad leadership is merely our shadow   perceived by ourselves and onlookers. This makes us cry wolf where there is none! Unfortunately, the phenomenon envelopes the image that gave birth to the umbra. If we simply change our posture, our image would change, while our changed image would   cast a new shadow and this we can afford.


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