With the passing of South Africa’s father of the nation Nelson Mandela, it is perhaps fitting that we put the quality of Africa’s leaders under the microscope. The question of whether or not we have leaders or merely people occupying leadership positions is best asked now if we are to escape the stagnant progress of our continent and its people. Are our leaders able to fulfil their responsibility of not only charting new paths for Africa as a whole but also providing the vision and inspiration for their citizens to do the same? More often than not, the people who have been sworn in to protect us and uphold constitutions are almost always found wanting, if not through corruption it is through leadership styles that do more harm than good and you only have to look north of our border to see Exhibit A. Does the problem lie with us the electorate and our seemingly corrosive nature of demanding little or no accountability from our leaders and at times even overlooking their lack of competence in progressing our cause? Are we a classic case of what happens when good men and women standby and do nothing while all around us civil wars, disease and poverty are rife? For a continent so rich in past leaders whose vision, values and their unwavering will to fight for those whose fists had been shackled, maybe we need to look within our beings in greater scrutiny and ask, how did we move from the Biko’s, Lumumba’s and the Nkruma’s to the Taylors, Mubarak’s and the Mswati’s.
It is time for the intellectuals and armchair critics alike to get up and turn their theories into practise, their knowledge into power and us the electorate of these leaders need to start fostering a culture of accountability where corruption and everything that stems from it is not tolerated. This should be the moment we demand more of our leadership as a whole and therefore start saying we deserve better for Africa to prosper and for Africans to progress from their below ‘Dollar a day’ standard of living. Now more than ever Africa needs better captains to steer her clear of these rough political and economic climates she finds herself in and for her sake, let its leaders heed the call and act accordingly with conviction and vigour but most importantly integrity and accountability to the people who have entrusted them to those positions of leadership and power.
Africa’s rhetoric needs to change from ‘Liberation before education’ to ‘Education is liberation’. Where a child in Uganda is armed with knowledge instead of an Ak47 and a community no matter how rural can send inhabitants, male or female to acquire schooling and it is here where our leaders need to show their mettle or else the people must search their midst for better candidates to lead; hopefully our leaders are up to that task. Mayihlume i-Afrika!
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