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What makes a great leader?

03 October 2012, 17:20

Having thought a lot about what it takes to make a great leader, I turned to history books and picked out 4  highly respected leaders. The people I choose, are by no means perfect. I decided on these 4 people, because they had vision for the future. They often swam against the current tide of events. Their motivation was rarely self enrichment, rather what was good for their people.

After my last article, I got the feeling, that some South Africans, do not understand how the quality of our leaders affects their daily lives. Henry the 4th of France, preached tolerance and economic commonsense. Marin Luther took on the sacrosaint Catholic Church for corruption and promoted literacy. Winston Churchhill gave courage in troubled times and Deng XiaoPing  displayed extreme intelligence and courage to take China on a differnt  economic path.

Henry the 4th of France of Prince of Navarre 1553-1610, was a man of great vision and intelligence. Even then he understood, that for a country to prosper, every man must have a job and food in his stomach.

"If God keeps me,I will make sure that there is no sharecropper in my kingdom who does not have the means to have a chicken in the pot every Sunday"

He lived in very turbulent times. The Catholics and the Protestants were at each others throats. "Religious racism" was prevelant. Henry the 4th, enacted the Edict of Nantes, which gave Protestants in France  religious liberty ending the civil war " He was assasinated in 1610, at the hands of a Catholic fanatic.

My next choice was Martin Luther of Germany (1483-1546).He took on the herculien task of attacking the massive corruption that was going on in the Catholic Church. (The church was selling remission of sins for money).

"It is neither right or safe to go against my conscience"

In 1534 he translated the Bible into common German, knowing that this would promote literacy, which  in it's turn would promote prosperity.

Winston Churchill, prime minister of England in 1940, was an icon of courage and grit,especially in the early days of the war, when the embattled British stood up alone against Faciscm. With inspirational speeches,  "we shall defend our island,whatever the cost,we shall fight on the beaches,we shall fight on the landing groundss, we shall fight in the fields.....................we shall never surrender." Churchill gave his people what they needed at that moment in history, i.e. courage.

My last, but not least choice is Deng XiaoPing (1904-1997), reformer and politician of the communist party in China.

With his statement "I do not care if it is a white cat (capitalism) or a black cat (communism). It is a good cat as long as it  catches  the mouse. "(poverty)  Deng XiaoPing changed China's economical direction  from pure communism to a hybrid economy where capatalism was encouraged. The willingness  and courage of Deng XiaoPing to rethink China's economical future brought prosperity to millions of Chinese.

I close my article with the comparison of South Korea and Nigeria. In 1954 when the Korean War came to a close, South Korea was a semi- agricultural state with no minerals or oil. Today, it is the 5th leading industrial country in the world.  In 1960 Nigeria won it's independance from Britain.

In the next 50 years Nigeria took in 300 billion dollars in revenue. Despite this huge income the average Nigerian  lives on less than a dollar a day. Why the difference in these two countries? The answer lies in the leadership and corruption.

In Oslo Norway stands a stature of a Nowegian king on a horse, the inscription below reads "The happiness of my people is my happiness"  I doubt that our present government in S.A could say that.

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