Recently, Jacob Zuma was “removed” as president of South Africa (still ongoing). The issue of South Africa is quite an emotive and subjective matter. As a country where black people suffered in the hands of an oppressive regime, the wound of apartheid is ever so sour. Indeed many Africans lost their lives and went through unimaginable pain and sacrifice for the little freedom enjoyed today. Much work still needs to be done in South Africa and Africa as a whole.
In a discussion recently with fellow MBA Students in my class, which actually has black South African students, the discourse was as emotive as has always been. The discussion started with a post from one of us posting this message “Dear Kenya, It is possible to remove a sitting President. Sincerely, #ZumaExit.” As expected from a Kenyan, a quick response came in “Abeg, own your country first before giving us advice” This began a long discussion that revolved around various issues, top of which was that the removal of Zuma was simply a replacement of a corrupt man with one who was involved in Marikana Massacre (sic) which took place in August 2012 where black miners were killed while fighting for justice. The shootings were a massacre and comparison by the South African media was made to Sharpville in the 1960s. In addition, Zuma’s resignation according to my classmate was a reminder that white people still own and run the land of Shaka. In the discussion trail, on the one hand there was a submission that Zuma is largely anti-white but that he was not pro-black enough, whatever that means was left to imagination and debate. On the other hand, Ramaphosa was painted as a pro-white who was part of Mandela’s negotiating team that accepted political power and left white people with land and economic power.
In all this, I asked myself, what really is this discourse about? The discussion around South Africa in particular and Africa as a whole is one that goes back in history. The question that crossed my mind at this point is that do we as Africans want Justice or is it that as black people we feel entitled to the land and its economic fruits? Indeed as pointed out in the debate having power over your own land cannot be seen as entitlement but how must we engage in our ever so elusive quest to have power? Do we want people who are unapologetically pro black or do we want what I call conscious Leadership? It is my submission that as Africans we indeed must strive for firstly, execution excellence and Leadership that is full of virtue. In this regard, I am reminded of Alexander Harvard. , author of a book titled Virtuous Leadership. This is leadership founded on Character and virtue Professor Harvard argues that Leadership is a concept based on Philosophy and not a psychological discourse, I agree to large extent. African leadership needs to be Value based, yes but the higher level is virtue based leadership. His thesis is drawn from the old literature of Aristotle, Plato et.al who spent time contemplating what human nature is about. Four fundamental basic virtues – Practical wisdom, form the foundation of his submission. As Africa, we must hold these true and our leaders must practice the same. First, Prudence, basically the ability to make the right decision, every time. The right decision is not the correct decision, it is the right decision. Prudence gives leaders the capacity to make the right decision. Africans we must develop capacity through various actions. Secondly, Fortitude, also known as Courage. Africans must have the courage to move. This is fundamentally capacity to stay the course. We must arise and be angry enough as Africans to stay the course, we must make the right decisions and follow them through no matter the cost. Thirdly, Self-Control. The ideal of the greatness of Africa must be a conscious course that our leaders and indeed every African must follow. Last but not least, Africa like all humans is a social being. Justice must prevail. Leaders must be Just in their engagements. In a very simplistic way, justice simply means giving each person her due. With these three pillars – Self-Control, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice, African leaders both in the political and corporate fields can emerge as visionary and bring the much needed transformation in the continent. In general, African Leadership must rise and embrace Magnanimity and Humility.
Secondly, Africans must realize that history will judge those of us who lived in this time very harshly. As pointed out by Martin Luther King Jnr,
“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it”
As Africans, we must realize that in one way or another, our fates are tied together and that we must all stand up to be counted in the liberation of Africa. When one shouted in the group “WAKANDA FOREVA” it dawned on me that we truly do not understand even our own history. For start, Wakanda is a Marvel Comic invention of the white man so to speak, and for us to purport to use it as a rallying call for Africa, it shows that we as Africans do not appreciate our own history and identity.
We must realize that history is written to suite the person who writes it, it is our duty therefore to ensure that we write our own history as a people and that that history is one of greatness.
Really as Africans we must stop and pause and ask ourselves the difficult question of whether we are angry enough and how much we really want to determine our destiny. We must then strive and work towards that common goal starting with ensuring we have the right leadership in place not individuals who are greedy and full of filth. Each of us must realize that any of us suffering affects us and rise to the occasion, from South Africa to Sudan, Kenya to Congo, we must realize that we are one and only by coming together and stopping the self-pity narrative fix our own systems.
We must purpose to have leaders and people of convictions and the required tenacity to fight on until we liberate the mother land. I remember one person in the group pointed it out to me that .”… If it was closer home, and the differences as tangible as it was for the current and previous generation in south Africa would you feel the same..” my answer is a resounding YES, I would feel the same, we must fix the leadership of the continent.
We must take ownership of our own destiny. We can shout the WAKANDA and lift a fist all we want, but tangible action must be taken. It starts with you and I, It starts with ME! Let us write our own history ladies and gentlemen, the time for pity party is over, it is time to act and act now! Let us LEAD!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Is a Father and a Leader in the making. A passionate student of leadership.