Magazine article New African

The Case for Servant Leadership: What Africa Needs for Its Redemption Is Servant Leadership Instead of the Self-Serving Governance That the Continent Is Famed for. Our Leaders Should Add the Servanthood Attitude to Their Attributes and Demonstrate That Their Primary Motivation for Seeking to Lead the People Is Rooted in a Deep Desire to Serve and Help Out

Magazine article New African

The Case for Servant Leadership: What Africa Needs for Its Redemption Is Servant Leadership Instead of the Self-Serving Governance That the Continent Is Famed for. Our Leaders Should Add the Servanthood Attitude to Their Attributes and Demonstrate That Their Primary Motivation for Seeking to Lead the People Is Rooted in a Deep Desire to Serve and Help Out

Article excerpt

Africa needs new leadership. The mode of leadership by which most of the countries on the continent have been run since independence lacks remedial capacity because it isn't development compliant. African leadership lacks the radicalising edge. I know some African nationalists might oppose this opinion alleging pandering to the well-worn Western view that attributes Africa's poverty to poor leadership. That is part of the problem.

We cop out of paying the painful price of Africa's rebirth, reconstruction and development by blaming colonisation for Africa's woes. Yet, no amount of anti-Western bashing for colonialism can heal Africa of inertia. It might take the flare off the nationalists' temper and give the false feeling of relief. But Africa won't be freed from the crushing grips of poverty and stagnation by our raving and ranting with anti-Western scapegoat mentality.

Yes, I admit colonialism devastated Africa. By cunning and coercion, Europe took over Africa bit by bit and fleeced the continent to feed and fund its own. It's a historical fact that Europe was once fortified by the nutrients of African soil and the sweat of its people.

The West redrew the boundaries of African nation-states and kingdoms, creating disproportionate amalgams for easy colonial administration. In the process, differing people with dissimilar cultures were un-equally yoked together. Consequently, some African nations have had to spill much blood fighting many civil and inter-ethnic wars to preserve the monolithic structures the West created out of naturally dissimilar blocks of cultures and peoples. Thus, politically, colonialism has put some African nations in a constant state of flux.

I equally admit that though colonialism is dead in Africa, the West is still at the helm in most parts of the continent. Apart from the mechanisms of neo-colonialism that help the West rule Africa by proxy, Europe is in charge of the world's economy through globalisation. A result of creative endeavours of the West, globalisation removes trade barriers and throws the world's markets open to all buyers and sellers. Nations that buy less but sell more, gain. Those that buy more but sell less, lose.

Globalisation hasn't paid off well in Africa because its design concedes much advantage to Europe and industrialised Asia. Presently, Africa is a "loser" in the world's free markets. Oduor Orgwen of Seatini Kenya has noted that Africa extracts and exports primary commodities and imports and consumes value-added products. Thus, as regards global free trade, Africa is a consumer of what it doesn't produce and a producer of what it doesn't consume.

Nor has globalisation attracted investors from the North to Africa as it has done to South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia; and the balance of trade between the South and North is mostly in the latter's favour. Even capital flows which has been the only noticeable economic change that Africa appears to have reaped from globalisation, has created money markets steeped in speculative buying.

Besides, African countries lack the control instruments needed to tame the high rate in fiscal industry. In all, as has been noted by UNCTAD'S Yilmaz Akyui: "The gains from liberalisation has mainly proceeded in high skill intensive manufactures, financial and service sectors, where the developed countries have a comparative advantage". Thus, the inherited incapacitations of colonialism and the impact of Western-influenced post-colonial creations don't make all-round development in Africa smooth to plan and implement.

Yet, it's in such an uneasy situation that the relevance of leadership is proved. Instead of heaping maledictions on the West for Africa's misery and assuaging people's thirst for change with delectable elegy, why can't we fall back on leadership to help turn the tide? By blaming the system, we unwittingly give inept leaders a cheap alibi to justify their flaws, failures and fouls. …

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