Speaking about Africa and African leadership styles, one will have to make a lot of things clearer, if not for my sake, at least for the good people following.
I wasn’t a student of History, but my knowledge of African affairs to some extend is good enough.
From where I stand, I think that African leadership has manifested itself in different kinds. I could be right or wrong but it’s purely my perspective.
Firstly, our leaders come into power as nationalist, they then transcend into dictators, then to semi-gods and finally as despots. This trend has been so visible in most African countries till date.
Before I go further, permit me to appreciate some few African leaders, death and alive.
Nelson Mandela: A man of the people; Came into power after a long time Pan African struggle that consumed the whole of his life. Mandela came into power and spent just a tenure as South African first Black President. This man made life better for his people before he left power, integrated the blacks into South African ruling hierarchy and channeled the course of reconciliation and reintegration; today he is no more, but well celebrated.
Julius Mwalimu Arusha Nyerere: Former president of Tanzania, was very instrumental in merging Zanzibar and Tangayika in 1964 to become the present day Tanzania, he was a true Pan African, championed the course of his people. I was informed that on the day he left office, he rode on his bicycle and lived a life almost similar to that of the average Tanzanian. He left power and left power and resigned from active politics; no doubt others after him such as Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Benjamin Mkapa, Jakaya Kikwete, and John Magufuli have something to follow up on. One thing that is so peculiar about these guys is the fact they respected a tenure system, they spent 10 years at most with no extension.
Kenneth Kaunda ruled Zambia for twenty years and more, but left Zambia with little allocated to himself.
Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso, was another fine African leader (of blessed memory)
I also commend former president Olusegun Obasanjo for the role he played in ensuring that functional democracy has come to stay in Nigeria from 1976-1979, and from 1999-2007.
Another great leader of blessed memory, President Umaru Musa Yar’adua, brought in concepts of rule of law and ensured that its implementation was seen…. I miss this fellow greatly, He was my president!
And lastly to Elim Johnson Sir Leaf of Liberia; not because I love her regime, but because she understands the meaning of walking away for others to be leaders. She has being in the stream of politics as a minister, as an activist, as government official, and as president after Charles Taylor.
Some of these leaders stayed in power and understood the role of continuity. They were better able to train successors who took up their plight after they were/are gone.
Permit me to bring this to our fore knowledge…………………………………….
Jose Eduardo Dos Santos of Angola has remained in power for 38 years or so, Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea has stayed in power for 38 years, Robert Mugabe has stayed in power for the last 37 years, Paul Biyar of Cameroon has been in power for the past 35 years, Dennis Nguesso of Congo Brazzaville has been in power for the last 20 years after previously being in power from 1979-1992, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda has been in power for the past 31 years, Omar El-Bashir of Sudan has been in Power for the past 28 years, Idris Deby of Chad has been in power for the past 25 years and others.
In other African countries, we had cases of transitional leadership from father to son…..We have Faure Enyaedema taking over from Gnasigbe Enyeadema his father after the father’s death more than a decade ago, Joseph Kabila took over from his death father Laurent Kabila 16 years ago, Ali Bongo taking over from Omar Bongo who ruled for more than 30 years, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya coming back to rule after his father ruled some years ago and other cases to cite.
Recently, my mentor and dear friend Paul Kagame of Rwanda amended the constitution which gave him the chance for further stay in power; and his rule will last for the next 17 years making him to have a total of 34 years in office. Recently, President Nkurunziza of Burundi won election and was re-elected for a third term to spend 5 more years on the 10years he had spent, these case scenario are seen in most African countries.
However, recent political happenings in Africa speak well of a people almost tired with the state of things. For instance, Yahaya Jammeh was voted out despite the high handedness for years, President John Mahama of Ghana was voted out because of the over bearing effects of his regime and his party over the years, Same in Nigeria as President Jonathan was voted out alongside his party PDP, and in Gabon the tension was high when results were almost having a close range till it came out clearer during run-off for Ali Bongo to have won.
Prior to these recent happenings, the Arab spring wiped a lot of the Northern African countries of Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and this occurrence sent the signal in the air that The wave of change is producing something new and different in Africa; what we have also in Zimbabwe today is a great example a of people mobilizing themselves against a government that is gradually getting unpopular largely due to long stay.
Today we have the Mugabe’s case scenario. Mugabe was a nationalist and a real Pan Africanist. I remember going through an old description of Mugabe and his policies some 10 years back and I was so proud of him. Mugabe first won his election against Rev. Ian Smith who was backed by the Western powers, meaning he was voted by Zimbabweans. From being a Nationalist, he transcended to a leader, then to a dictator, and so on. In fact the last election that took place in Zimbabwe that I was aware of was contested by Morgan Tsangirai who was backed by Western powers, and this fellow couldn’t stand the chance as Mugabe won again, just an indication that Africans cherish the Africanism stance of Mugabe and other factors which I may not be able to say…Streamlining from lessons of deposed leaders…Libya is now seen to be a state without a system, Egypt has not been better, and people keep asking this question… Now that Mugabe was forced to resign, what will be next? Because from the look of things, he hasn’t groomed a successor.
To be fair enough to these leaders, despite their perpetuity in power, they have created and made indigenous systems a bit stronger. Mugabe has strengthened Africanism in Zimbabwe, Gadhafi has made Libyans in-charge of their own lives, Kagame has made Rwanda good for Rwandans, Hosni Moubarak has made Egypt good for Egyptians, etc. in a nutshell, they have projected an Africa….
The basic question would be where they have gone wrong. From independence most of these countries have been governed by only few individuals, who have taken dominance of activities, instituted family members and have made life more comfortable for themselves and no one.
From my description above, I would like to say this…..despite their long stay in power another area to probe would be in respect to the changes witnessed…..Then, the questions of indicators come to mind. Have these leaders been able to deal with education, poverty, employment, mediate conflicts, control infant mortality rates, malnutrition etc in their various countries? To me, only few of these leaders such as Ghadaffi, Kagame, were able to set up parameters for growth and development to be witnessed.
What this implies is that, if they spent 35 years in power, and we refer to Africa as a youth continent, then Africa is making marginal improvement in relevant spheres as its youth population are not making enough progress as the case should have been. Under the reign of a 35 year old president in power, unemployment has increased, then what new ideas has he to inject into the system?
Africa is a youth continent and when the youths grow up to find out that they are not better able to have good roads, good food, good water, good shelter, then, there is a problem……and more importantly these leaders are not better able to balance the gap between the “haves and have not’’…….the questions of Dudley Seers and other questions come to mind, what is happening to poverty? What is happening to unemployment? What is happening to illiteracy? What is happening to inequality?
These features are cardinal features of epileptic leadership. We are blessed with a lot of resources, yet our people are still lacking in vision to push forth our development. Look at Nigeria and Libya, so rich in Petroleum products, yet the leadership has not made lives better in Nigeria; look at DR Congo, they are rich in iron Ore deposit, yet the Kabila’s nation is still struggling, and many other African countries.
Africa is a bright continent and I can attest to this. Africa keeps producing the likes of PLO Lumumba, Akinwumi Adesina, Kofi Annan, Jelani Yusuf, Emeka Anyaoku, Philip Emeagwali, Barth Nnaji, Amina Mohammed, Dr Ali Pate, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Nze Wariopa, and many others, whose ideas are being tapped and used to develop the world as we have failed to find places for them to function indigenously.
Africans will need to wake up in leadership and patriotism. Africa will need to get things right from now henceforth! One lesson I have also learned is that, African leaders that open up their borders for real imperialism called the new world order or the 21st century globalization, despite their long stay in power, are being protected by super powers to ensure that this trend is still in progress.
African leaders should learn to accept mentorship into their schemes, they should learn to hand over power when the odds are higher for them; they should learn to have plans for futuristic governance….I respect all our leaders, and it is very important that they demand for it.
I love Africa, and Africa will be great!!!
I still remain my humble self, Evans Binan; I’m a practicing Clinical Psychologist (area of mental health), writer, researcher, and a social activist…
Email: [email protected]
Phone no: 07035578447
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