A Call To Leadership
The recent events in Kenya are very sad. One African death is one too many… over 600 is just too much. The drawn out Zimbabwean crisis is yet another one which cannot be allowed to go on. How can a teacher who earns ZWD14 million per month be expected to survive when a bottle of cooking oil costs ZWD10 million? In Kenya it is the same story of personal, partisan and tribal interests. These two are just a few examples. We could talk about DRC, South Africa, Sudan. At what point are we going to produce a leadership cadre that puts national interests before their personal and party interests? Is it possible for us to pass on the baton without battering, killing and maiming each other? Leadership at the national level is a macrocosm of the microcosm. It is a reflection of the kind of leadership we have at every level in the society. I want to be challenged on this one. We NEED leaders at every level if we are to move forward.
What is Leadership?
Oswald Sanders defined leadership as influence. Period. You do not need to bash people’s heads in order to be a leader. You influence people to follow you because you have a compelling vision. Those who follow, enthusiastically buy into what you stand for by aligning their self interest to the common vision. The word lead at its root means ‘to go, travel or guide’. There is a sense of movement. Therefore leadership is about taking people form one level to another, a new dimension, a better place. This is what our countries, institutions, businesses, churches, families are crying for – leadership. David led the children of Israel out of the integrity of his heart and with skillful hands. That is the kind of leadership we should demand of ourselves and of others.
Leadership in The Marketplace
The first generation African entrepreneurs used to have businesses that were on strong ground. The essence of their businesses was primarily to serve and make a bit of money. That is why they were corner grocers, hawkers and bus operators. They made modest wealth. Sadly today, although many of us are now participants in the main stream economy, however the levels of corruption are sickening. There is now a sycophantic relationship between “business” and the bureaucrats in government. The levels of profiteering are criminal. Service and quality are sacrificed on the altar of profit. We need to pass on the right business values to our children. You can still be a successful business person without having to pay any bribes, evade taxes, exploit your staff, offering sub standard goods or services. It is good to be in business, but it is better to be a leader in business. Next time you want to criticise politicians, think about how you are running your own business. As employees, be good stewards of the employer’s time and resources. The way you handle another’s business is the way yours will be handled. Think about it!
Leadership in Politics
I admire American politics. Can you imagine a white man standing for presidency in an African country? Unimaginable? Barack Obama is from Kenya, and has an opportunity to go to the White House and succeed George Bush. This is in stark contrast to our kind of politics where I cannot vote for you because you are from the east of the country. We need to also develop from the “down with so and so” kind of politics. It is barbaric. It is this type that makes us have tragic events as we have in Kenya. Politics was never meant to be a job, but a sacrifice. The sense of entitlement that most of African politicians have is very sad, especially the liberators of yesterday who say “we died (sic) for this country”. In Nigeria, there is brazen looting of state coffers where political office is synonymous with self enrichment. Does Africa not deserve better? There is also a monarchial tendency in our political leadership…once in power, wants to die in power. True and secure leadership passes on the baton. Let us also not abdicate our responsibility to participate in politics. Politics affects our lives and we all have a political responsibility to be political.
Leadership In The Home
Africa is crying for leadership in the home. Our homes need to be havens of protection, security and provision. We need to always be our children’s most important example. What our children see us do, they will also do. As parents our greatest responsibility is to lead our families to a better place. In order for us to break certain generational family dysfunctions we need strong leadership in the home. Spouse beating and endless bickering is a sign of weak leadership in the home. Strong homes build strong communities and strong nations. What generational impact have you had on your family? Some things must stop with you! Your parents were poor, and you want to bequeath poverty to your children? God forbid-O! Your parents in the village are still living in that hut where you were born many decades ago. Be the champion of your family – lead for a change! Change your generation.
God bless Africa and everywhere else.