The People Deserve …
Part 1: Leadership in crisis
We can debate unto infinity about the impact and value of Afrikan leadership on the careworn citizens, all our debates and multi-levelled reasoning would lead us nowhere fast unless we can somehow find out from the led, or the ruled, just what makes them tick.
What makes other people leaders and others mere followers? There are historical, social, psychological as well as political reasons why some people say that the people deserve the leaders they get. In order to find out more about the relations between modern Afrikan peoples ad their leaders, among the questions we would ask are:
- Are African’s a homogenous group of people?
- Are we well suited for democratic socio-political frameworks?
- Is there any strength that can be drawn from our diversity?
- How many of us would prefer pre-colonial systems of leadership?
- How much do we know about our own indigenous knowledge systems?
- Is the African Union a sustainable organisation and can it be salvaged?
- Can leadership be taught?
- Is there such a thing as a Divine right of rulers?
Afrikan people should demand no less than what is promised by their leaders. However, are there any leaders in Africa today, who are offering alternative styles and ideologies that are not dependent on Western or Eastern ideas? Surely there are various traditional authorities as well as organisations agitating for more respect and more adherence or inclusion of their particular systems. But can these ancient ways co-exist within democracies or within modern structural arrangements?
Clearly, in Africa, we appear to have more questions than answers. Yet there are many capable leaders as well as intellectuals from throughout the continent, people who are eager to see Afrika succeed, and many have offered their versions of what would work and propel us forward as a civilization.
This raises even more questions which are related to the list above; namely:
- Does the African continent keep an archive or a library of progressive ideas?
- Where is the Pan-African knowledge Bank and who manages is and how does it harvest knowledge from the past and present?
- What is the Political Economy and Ethical foundation of Africa and its Diaspora’s Knowledge production?
There are many Pan Africanist institutions, organisations and even businesses, all functioning within their diverse milieu. It is a good thing to see the rise and rise of Afrikan led initiatives, it shows that many Black people are eager to be self-reliant. The unfortunate part is that as much as we are growing as individual entities, the communities we emerge from are still held in the grip of neo-liberalism and the seemingly perpetual consumerist rat-race.
The Myth of Democracy
Democracy in the 21st century appears to be a myth. It is a nice sounding idea that simply does not have any credence in the realities of any country, including those which supposedly uphold it. In Africa, the latest general sentiment is that Western styled democracy is simply not suited for our unique contexts and special environments.
There are many reasons why African political analysts seem to be almost unanimously agreeing that there is something about democracy that just does not sit well with African people.
Yet again, there are a lot of factors that can be said to undermine the very institutions that are created to safeguard this seemingly pervasive ideology. One of them is the human fallibility factor. A leader may be democratically elected only to flout the very principles of the democratic system that should have elevated him to power.
The other factor is of course, power itself. There seems to be no limit to the ways with which people in leadership or stewardship positions can abuse the power given to them by the masses. The African continent has seen more than its fair share of autocratic leaders or dictators with smiling faces.
“Perhaps the time has come to demand, not request, not beg, action that benefits us and to make it clear that if we have the power to vote someone in, we have the power to vote them out. Perhaps the time has come to refuse to listen to excuses for failure from those who are paid very well and given massive resources to do their jobs. If they cannot deliver, they should make way for others who can.”
Lessons from the Ancient and Recent Past
At the Institute of Afrikology we are driven by the ancient value systems of various Afrikan civilisations. Our work ethic is founded on the resuscitation of the Afrocentric principles called Nguzo Saba*, while our entire organisation seeks to restore what the Kemetic (Ancient Egyptian) civilisation called Ma’at* and AbaNgoni call Ubuntu*. Another important philosophical framework is what the West Afrikan’s of Ghana called Sankofa*, the notion of reaching back to fetch something valuable from the past in order to use it today and to navigate the future. Due to the vicissitudes of colonialism, it seems Afrikan people as ‘traditional’ as we may claim to be, are not sufficiently linked to our forebears, not to mention our systems of governance, sciences and other vital knowledge.
“The link between past and present and its function in creating a historically informed nation-state is an experience that has been deployed by much of the world – except in Africa.” – Looking back to go forward, Tom Collins, In Perspective – DR Congo, The New African, July 2017
“The recent escape from jail by one of the DRC’s many secessionist groups has ignited the long simmering debate about the neglect and often elimination of Africa’s ancient history.
The DRC’s Bundu dia Kongo (BDK) rebels not only want to secede from control by the capital Kinshasa, but want to return the country’s ancient kingdoms as a model. The discussion has spilled beyond the borders of the DRC to involve the whole continent. Why has Africa’s pre-colonial history been discarded? ( Tom Collins investigates)”
- Time for a new brand of leadership. Article by Allen Choruma, Speakers’ Corner, New African, July 2017