Nelson Mandela legacy is already reshaping our world for the better. I am once again reminded of this insightful quotation by John C. Maxwell that “A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion not position”.
The conversation about the life he led was not about wealth, egotism or a man consumed by the seduction of power, but instead the simplicity of values and his vision to emancipate his people from apathy and apartheid. As a result of his selfless, honest and transparent leadership in South Africa, his country and citizens became more. One can state without equivocation he surely left South Africa better than he found it which is the hallmark of exemplary leadership. Our world has become a much better place not because of his courage and uncompromising stance against apartheid which he fought with all his might but due to his shunning ostentation, lust for power, selfish aggrandizement that has fueled corruption in Africa. True leaders are God-fearing, humble, dedicated and transparent not the opposite. What we have these days are puppets to modern oligarchy and Lilliputians masquerading as representatives of democracy which is unfortunate.
As a patriot, he inspired all us to stand up against inhumanity and inspired hope, promoted justice instead of injustice and left a legacy that will stand through immortality. Those are attributes of great leaders and role-models.
The world over and Africa in particular, leaders and aspiring leaders must think through about why they occupy the position of leadership, and aspirants why they want to be leaders. These days it’s a pity the lust for power and ostentation has hijacked the true need for leaders to bring change that is positive for the people they are leading instead of lording it over them.
From inception of democracy and democratic governance dating back to ancient Greece, institutions were built to check-mate, oversee the executive branch to avoid tyranny of the majority. That is one reason we have for instance Congress to not only legislate but have oversight functions and to help deliver the goods of democratic dividends to their constituency. Unfortunately, we have situations where democratic institutions are bypassed by leaders for politics to instigate artificial crisis that in the end could scuffle or debase sacred institutions that have been pillars of society since time immemorial.
In the context of African leadership and still evolving and suffering from post-independence trauma, the importance of choosing leaders wisely cannot be overemphasized. Do you know that Africa is the second largest continent and second most populous continent? African is a continent with about 1.2 billion people occupying an area of about 11.73 million mi3 (Lagos being the largest city in Africa). With that said, with her enormous mineral resources, human resources and talent, more success stories need to be written about the continent. Discounting the issue of unfortunate brain drain with her very skilled manpower and educated professionals and elites exiting to greener pastures overseas the continent has suffered greatly. The exodus to western countries is at the root of modern enslavement and abuse we are witnessing in Libya now. Arise Africa and take your rightful place at seat of important conversations not just the United Nations where very few transforming changes have hardly occurred.
Presently and despite the above, it’s imperative to start grooming a new generation of African leaders from the young and intellectually grounded to assume the mantle of leadership so as to occupy rightful place among the comity of nations. The old guard of leaders occupying political thrones will soon fade out to oblivion as we recently saw and witnessed in Zimbabwe where a tyrant and despot had to be forced to abdicate an aristocratic presidency he has been occupying for upwards of 4 decades. The idea of “Sit-tightism” must be continue to be exposed and excoriated through constitutional means to avoid a repeat performance anywhere in the African continent.
As we look back through recent history, we will come across leaders who led exemplary life. Leaders who understood what leadership meant. Leaders who came from humble beginning. Leaders who put the interest of their country before their selfish interest. Read up on Nelson Mandela and decide for yourself why he is universally acknowledged as a great leader if not the greatest leader that emanated from the second largest continent called “Africa”.
Leadership is a privilege to better the lives of others. It is not an opportunity to satisfy personal greed -Mwai Kibaki
Leadership is not about the next election, it’s about the next generation -Simon Sinek
Dr. GEORGE ONUORAH — Author of the Political Diary of A Rising Son. Publisher and Political Commentator, Social Justice Crusader