Diescho’s Dictum – the Crisis of Leadership in Afrika – Part III [opinion]

THERE are paradoxes, which are part of our realities in post-colonial Afrika. In as much as we can claim that we have democracy and even though life is, arguably better now than before, and that society still demands powerful, popular leaders to solve the nation’s problems, there is more suspicion of g and centralized leaderships and abuse of power. In other words, even though society is hankering for democratic and common person types of leaders, the same society wants leaders who are uncommon, charismatic, heroic and visionary.

Even though we want a decent, caring and compassionate leader, yet everybody’s admiration goes towards the cunning, guileful, and even ruthless and manipulative leader. Even though we admire a leader who is common, approachable and predictable yet we respect more the effective politician, who is creative and masterful in the game of politics. Though we desire a leader who can unify diverse people and interests, yet we hanker for an effective leader who can take a firm stand, as if to say that society needs divisive unifiers and unifying dividers. We all hanker for bold, visionary, innovative, programmatic leaders who are pragmatic in their response to public opinion. We all yearn for leaders who are self-confident and g- minded, yet we are suspicious of leaders who are self-convicted and decisive.

Even though the majority of our populations are female, yet those deciding on their behalf predominantly prefer males to lead them. One paradox that leads to mediocrity is intellectual in that as we claim to know much about our leaders, we know very little about leadership. We continue to fail to grasp the essence of leadership that is relevant and required for our time. Hence we cannot agree on the standards by which to recruit, measure, and reject leadership. Leaders are cultural and political innovators. Leaders are inspirational. Leaders are about mobilizing others who become followers. Leaders are about goal-setting and goals are about fulfilling the dreams of a collective people. Leaders are definers andor defenders of values. Leaders are satisfiers of collective needs. It would appear that there are more managers in our world than leaders. We must understand that leaders lead and managers manage–most of the time.

There is a problem of leadership in Afrika generally and Namibia specifically. As Chinua Achebe opined in his 1984 book, The Trouble with Nigeria, when he said: “The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of the leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge.” Elly Twineyo-Kamagusha, in his 2012 book, Why Africa Fails, concludes that Africans must accept that its current malaise is due to the failures of Africans themselves that result from greed, poor [planning] policies and lack of leadership. In sum, the main challenge is LEADERSHIP.

The problem of leadership in Namibia is real. Denying it will not help us. We have an abundance of politicians, not enough leaders. We might even have enough political managers, not leaders. Namibia is the most stable and most peaceful country on the Afrikan continent due to the quality of leaders this nation has had during the struggle for freedom and in the beginning of our Republic. At the moment, however, the signs are not very encouraging. Now the nation is at a crossroads, especially in the course of 2014 as we prepare to usher in the next crop of leaders, both in the legislative and executive branches of government. Namibia needs and deserves good stewardship of the people, not just a good Swapo Party or any other political party politician. Namibia needs and is crying for leaders with the ability and fortitude to take the nation into the next decade, next century as people that are at peace with themselves, their neighbours and the international community.

We need leaders who believe in skill, knowledge and expertise.

The fact that the management of the affairs of the nation has been entrusted in the hands of mostly unelected individuals, some of whom are semi-literates and who owe their status to someone who picked them not on the basis of merit, but unargued for loyalty, is very troubling. We need an education system that is able to inculcate in the minds of the Namibian child a common philosophy and a socialization that in this country you are rewarded not on the basis of race, skin colour, tribe, language, ethnic group, religion or political party affiliation (loyalty), but on the basis of what you contribute to the general wellbeing of the society where you are and the nation at large. We need a leadership that serves as the custodian of the values and norms that keeps the nation together in times of peace and in times of desperation.

We need a leadership that is able to inspire confidence in us when we are doubtful. A leadership that is able to rise above the pettiness and point to greater goals, able to make us possibilities out of impossibilities, able to make us extraordinary out of our ordinary selves, able to unite us when we splinter, able to talk sense into us when we flounder, able to whisper love into our ears when we are mean spirited and self-righteous, able to give us all a sense of security when we feel vulnerable, able to console us when we mourn, able to comfort us when we despair, able to pull us back to the centre when we go astray and when things fall apart, able to charge us with a sense of purpose in the context of one single loyalty to One Namibian State and not party or tribe or ethnic group – a leadership that is able to assure us that we are indeed One Zebra Nation in the Land of the Brave!

Source : New Era