Leadership through the Lens of a Young African

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There is a problem of questionable public leadership across many African countries. Not many of us are proud of the “leadership” in our country. While strong leadership exists in the private sector, it is still largely individualistic and not communal; that is, the benefits from such strong leadership are not felt by the wider society. Similarly, there’s a boom in the population of young people across the continent (one-fifth or 20% of the population) but this has not translated into the capacity of young persons to occupy leadership roles that actually move the needle. The largest concentration of young people on earth is in Africa, but why are we not leading the change that we want to see? Why has the majority of young people been relegated to the background of commentary and road-side agitation?
Most of the great (popular) leaders we’ve had on the continent emerged in times of crisis. It would seem that the leadership foundation on the continent is reactionary; this is why when liberation is achieved, we all went back to being normal. One of the things I want us to achieve in this conversation is to identify triggers that have the potential to activate the pursuit of leadership among young people that is proactive. I’d want to see young people develop and execute leadership in non-crisis moments.

WHO IS A LEADER?

To lead is to cause people to go in a certain direction

A leader can cause people or society to move forward or backward. So it’s important to note that a leader may seem to have good intentions but is actually leading the society backward. This is why intentions are not enough to make one a leader, it is causative in nature. Let us not confuse leadership with DICTATORSHIP. Similar to it, a leader is not a “boss”. Leadership is a chain; there are leadership positions at different levels of the society such as family, street, community, state/region, country, and others. As a result, a good leader acknowledges that where his/her leadership ends is where another begins. A leader is someone with exemplary attributes; someone to emulate or to follow.
The problem today is that Africa cannot agree on who a leader is in real life. There’s a lack of or inadequacy of leadership education. As an overview, good leadership education should posit that:

  • Nobody is born a Leader
  • Because it is not innate (no one is born with it), leadership is acquired. Africa must begin by seeing leadership as another body of knowledge that must be passed on from one generation to another.
  • A good leader acknowledges and respects other good leaders.

WHAT IS LEADERSHIP?

Here’s an example of what leadership is NOT:

A young person that wants to provide clean, potable water to a community BUT s/he has been conditioned to believe that it requires being rich to achieve that.

Leadership requires you to mobilize the people and their resources to co-fund and co-develop the water project. It requires you to create a compelling vision of why this project essential; so compelling that majority of the members of the community can share in, become passionate about, and actively participate in bringing to fruition. Example of what leadership IS:

  • Leadership is developing oneself to such an exemplary status that other people in society begin to emulate your values and fighting to mainstream it (leadership is exemplary).
  • Leadership requires that the bearer transfer his/her own qualities to the next generation (leadership is educational).

“If you want to lead 1000 persons, lead by developing yourself very well (in mind, empathy, knowledge, and body); then do it 1000 times.”

Now, replace “person” with a farmer, student, child, families, village, town, nations, women, girl child, boy child, small business owner, orphan, widow, and on and on. That’s how we lead the change we want to see on the continent.
Attributes of good leadership

  • Servitude
  • Thoughtfulness
  • Ethical
  • Effectiveness
  • Academic qualification should come last

AREAS OF LEADERSHIP YOUNG PEOPLE SHOULD ASPIRE TO FILL ON THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

  • Prosperity based on inclusive growth: To succeed, you don’t need other people to fail.
  • Pan-Africanism: Lead with how your role integrates with other African nations.
  • Good governance: Begin with respect for human rights, and the rule of law
  • Peace & Security: How we can de-escalate tensions before they turn into crises (and often, into wars)
  • Empowerment of women and young people: Always remember that society is originally designed to be a man’s world. So, you must fight with every fiber of your being to unleash the potential of African women and young persons. Many studies have shown that two-thirds of a child’s learning outcome is determined by things learned at home; one-third is learned in schools and other formal learning centers. In many African societies, women are responsible for two-thirds of the child’s development; while teachers get paid for doing one-third of the work, mothers get nothing.

TOP CHALLENGES FACING AFRICA
Challenges are natural opportunities for the emergence of great leadership. Any young person aspiring to lead should consider one or more of the following themes:

  • Quality education (Inter-personal development / socialization)
  • Poverty reduction (through rural development)
  • Gender equality (through socio-economic empowerment)

These three (3) themes can be further broken down into the following sub-theme:

  • Food security (climate change)
  • High-quality education
  • Heath services (primary healthcare/volunteerism)
  • Gender equality
  • Equal opportunity for all (social, racial, religious)
  • Infrastructure (transport, energy, water, and ICT)

Young persons in Africa make up one-fifth of her African population, why are we not moving the needle of positive change enough in our respective communities? We need a change!

Writen By Gabriel Eze – AI & ML Expert

Gabriel is an Engr. & Entrepreneur in Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems, and Sustainable development facilitator for Agriculture, Health, Education, and Small Business sectors.

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