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African Leaders, Be Motivational Doers!

By Juliet Rogers,
Freetown, Sierra Leone.

The underdevelopment of Africa has been a huge challenge and many questions have been asked in the hope of finding out the root causes. Among the myriads of factors identified, the most noted issue has been the lack of good leadership and leaders. The most prescribed solution is to breed leaders in Africa who are not only motivational speakers, but also, motivational doers. However, the question remains, "What 'Road Map' should African leaders follow?” Some schools of thought argue that if they produce 'leadership for Africa' even for one day, such leadership will eradicate tribalism, nepotism, corruption, sexual violence and human rights violations.

Human rights include the rights of citizens to: life, live in dignity, food and shelter, social security, work, responsibility, freedom of thought and speech, marriage and family, education, justice, freedom of association and dissociation, and so on. Where any of these is withdrawn, it will result in human right violation. And the persistent denial of these human rights had sometimes led to violent and bloody conflicts.

 Almost all the evils African countries have suffered stemmed from human rights violations. African leaders had always promised their people maintenance of their basic human rights, but as soon as they ascend the throne of power, they display complete and total disregard to the rights of their citizens. The eleven-year civil war in Sierra Leone that was described by the United Nations (UN) as the bloodiest had its root causes attributed to human rights violations. If what the then president of Sierra Leone said prior to the breakout of the war was strictly followed, the war would not have occurred.

In almost all cases, it is the Government institutions in Africa such as the police, the military, the court of law and the executive branch that became culpable of the violations of the rights of citizens. According to the 2004 edition of Focus on Africa Magazine, human rights violations were the products of the army and auxiliary security apparatus in Uganda.

Most times, investigations are not effective. In this direction, Africa can only let itself off from the hooks if perpetrators are adequately punished, with measures put in place to prevent impunity. Otherwise, African leaders will be considered motivational speakers and not motivational doers. This had prolonged civil wars in Africa and had led to new breakout of wars on the continent with little or no tangible development.

It is also good that Africa knows itself, in the sense that Africa should produce leadership with great potentials. It is true that Africa can produce powerfully good leaders like Haile Selassie, Gamal Abdul Nasser and Kwame Nkrumah to rule Africa; as these individuals ruled the African Union with honesty and dedication. If Africa can give its own to serve the world (as in the case of Boutros Boutros Ghali and Kofi Annan), certainly, Africa, knowing itself, possesses people who can dish out the same for their nations. If those UN Secretary Generals from Africa can feel embarrassed to arbitrate African evils, restore peace, and embark on developments, their kinds, if not them, could help tackle many of the issues and human rights violations that have led to sustained inequalities, abuses and underdevelopment.

This feeling of nationalism, patriotism and 'Africanness' is illustrated in the Focus on Africa Magazine (2004 edition page 34) where Kofi Annan, before he retired from the UN, stated, "Some of the hopeless conflicts on the continent embarrass[es] me as an African...This pains me as an African." This loyal feeling for Africa motivated Kofi Annan's efforts which saw political and social stability in Sierra Leone and Liberia in the early 2000's.

Africa's political leaders have had the motivation to speak out against tribalism, nepotism and corruption especially during their political campaigns which led to their political victories and their subsequent political power. The question remains the same: can these motivational speakers transform themselves into motivational doers who will, in turn, achieve the goal of national cohesion, economic growth, guarantee the socio-political and judicial freedoms, as well as infrastructural developments? Certainly not!

The vices of tribalism, nepotism and corruption take different forms or ways. It is evident that most, if not all African leaders, display these vices which they might have condemned when they were campaigning for political power. Contracts are mostly given to wives, children or relatives with blood ties. The serious challenge this produce is poor result; they are often not qualified for the jobs they are given. As a result, national economies are further hindered by these unqualified individuals due to bad policies and extreme corruption.

This is also evident in the Focus on Africa Magazine, under the topic; "A TIGHT GRIP." The article revealed that in most African countries, African leaders behave in these ways: "I would make my father my special adviser - not that I would take his laudable advice. Those seeking political appointments or contracts would have to pay homage and bribes. To perpetuate illiteracy in the land, I would run all educational institutions on the ground and I would send all my children to schools in the Western world." These are the things African leaders condemned during their campaigns. However, their speeches do not translate into what they do and until those talks gain root in their actions, Africa would not know its value nor will it take its rightful throne on the global stage.

It is also a common thing to condemn sycophancy, but that is what some African leaders practice. Even though they will defend human right deeds and freedom of thought and speech, but journalists who criticize and speak against them would have their 'tongues cut off' and those who wrote against them would 'lose their fingers.'

African leaders will even utter powerful speeches in their condemnation of bribery and corruption, but that will not stop them from looting the national treasury. To fool the international community, they will institute anti-corruption offices and measures, embark on bogus radio talks, and arrest some of their political opponents to show the international community that they are serious in their fight against corruption, yet, African political leaders will compromise with corrupt individuals and institutions to impoverish their people and nation. If they are to become motivational doers and not just speakers, they can embark on economic recycling strategies that will transform our extractive mining industries to agricultural industries, prioritize education and public health, stand for and protect the rights of their citizens, and avoid tribalism, nepotism and sycophancy. This will enhance development across the board for the benefit of all citizens and residents.
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©️ Juliet Rogers,
Societal Engineer, Life&Emotional Intelligence Coach.