African Centered Leadership-Followership: Foundational Principles, Precepts, and Essential Practices

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Abstract

This paper examines the four cornerstones of African centered leadership-followership (ACL-F), an ethnic group specific approach to leadership devised for African people in 2000 at the Kwame Ture Leadership Institute by Dr. Uhuru Hotep. ACL-F in the American context seeks to restore Black sovereignty in political, economic and cultural terms by incorporating African American and classical African socio-political ideals, values, practices and institutions. Finding inspiration and example in the village building traditions of the Maroons and the Exodusters, ACL-F seeks the restoration of sovereignty and Maat thru the installation of Sankofa and the Johari Sita in African American affairs.

As a synthesizing project, ACL-F draws from both the W.E.B. DuBois (DuBoisian) and the Booker T. Washington (Washingtonian) schools of leadership. So it rests comfortably between DuBois' Pan Africanism and Washington's economic nationalism viewing both as complimentary to and compatible with our push to restore African American sovereignty. Moreover, ACL-F is to the field of leadership what African centered education is to the field of education and African centered psychology is to the field of psychology: all three disciplines are grounded in indigenous African cultural sensibilities and perspectives.

Like Maulana Karenga's Kawaida Theory (1997) and Molefi Asante's Afrocentricity (2007), ACL-F is a uniquely African American contribution to what is now a multi-national re- Africanization project initiated in the 1960s by Seku Ture of Guinea and Amilcar Cabral of Guinea-Bissau to rid their nations of destructive European belief systems and value structures by restoring the communal and democratic practices of their forebears who ruled their nations successfully before European invasion and conquest.

Finally, the one mainstream leadership theory that finds clear expression in ACL-F is Robert Greenleaf's (2002) notion of the servant-leader, which has been embraced by segments of the Black Christian church community as well (Bentley, 2007; Wiley, 1999). Believing that leaders serve followers, ACL-F popularizes the notion that authentic Black leaders have freed themselves of the compulsion to "speak truth to power" via press conferences, protest marches, petitions, letter writing campaigns, town hall meetings, focus groups and the like in favor of organizing their constituents to build sovereign, life-sustaining institutions that they own and can pass down to their children (Banutu-Gomez, 2004).

Introduction

"You can't lead us if you don't love us; you can't save us if you don't serve us."

-Cornel West

This paper spotlights four inter-locking, synergistic and sociocentric practices that are cornerstones in the conceptual framework of African centered leadership-followership (ACL-F) theory. They are Sovereignty - Maat restoration and Sankofa - Johari Sita installation. Before examining these precepts, principles, and practices, two textual usages must be addressed: (1) the hyphenation of leadership and followership and (2) the use of the adjective "African centered".

First, the hyphenation of leadership and followership is our way of textually elevating followers and equating their status with that of leaders. According to the ACL-F construct, which openly draws from Kemet (ancient Egypt), one of our classical African civilizations, neither seshemu (leader) nor shemsu (follower) is superior to the other; in fact, they are opposite sides of the same coin (Bass, 1995). In Western culture, however, the shemsu is often looked down upon as weakwilled and subservient destined to stand in the shadow of the omnipotent seshemu blindly following orders while the seshemu basks in the limelight and reaps major rewards. This is not the case with ACL-F.

In practice, ACL-F is a collegial, egalitarian partnership between leaders and their core followers with their roles frequently switching. …