By Yerima Kini Nsom
There is no doubt that the predicament of a majority of African countries is poor leadership. Otherwise, it is difficult to explain why the majority of African countries that are endowed with enormous natural and human resources are home to some of the poorest people on earth. The resources that citizens of these countries would have been enjoying through good roads, potable water and electricity, better healthcare and other social amenities, have been savagely carted away in bad governance, embezzlement and neo-colonial servitude and subservience.
From every indication, Africa needs a new breed of ideal leaders who would declare the continent’s second independence from the stranglehold of neo-colonialism. Such leaders must be people who ensure that the general good, integrity and dignity, take centre stage in their political theories and praxis. They should stay away from the madding crowd of the current leaders who see accountability as the mirror image of weakness. In order to have the moral authority to fight corruption in their various countries, such leaders should willingly declare their assets as provided by the law. Only after this would they have the convenience and authority to force embezzlers to cough out the loot they have swallowed.
This is crucial because the declaration of assets by those in authority is a rare practice in Africa. What obtains now is a kind of gullible dementia in which leaders are idolised for owning gigantic villas in almost every city in western countries. Besides, they are venerated for consistently swelling their Swiss bank accounts as their national treasuries gasp in financial asphyxia. The kind of leaders Africa needs now, are people who will rule by example. They should not be leaders who horsewhip the people to hard labour while luxuriating in their roomy offices and making regular pleasure trips abroad to “eat awulf” and playdate at the expense of the taxpayer. They should be there: toiling and moiling together with the people in order to ward off poverty, underdevelopment and other challenges. Such leaders should be blessed with genuine hearts and committed consciousness, fired by the zeal to give their countries a new vision and a new path of socio-economic and political reawakening.
Since Africa is described scornfully as a poverty-stricken continent, such leaders should prove to the world that poverty is not a curse but a disease that can easily be cured by self-reliant development and not false charity. They should be audacious enough to stare neo-colonialism in the face, scornfully call it by its real name and even spit on it. For, it is the root cause of Africa’s impoverishment for many centuries. For such leaders to succeed, they should avoid recruiting any claque of hired applauders who never tell them their mistakes, some of which could be costly. The people of Africa will make the continent a better place to live in if they go shopping for such leaders in their various countries.
However, providence had blessed some African countries with some of such visionary leaders, even though they were in a lamentable short supply. Also, their sojourns on the saddle were brutally abridged by neo-colonial schemers who could not tolerate the fact that such leaders were foolhardy enough to be thinking out of the imperialism box. We must thank God that Africa tasted visionary leadership in Nkrumah, Machel, Sankara, Rawlings, among others. The phenomenal Nelson Mandela was a parable that provided the silver lining in the darkening firmament of Africa’s President-for-life nightmare. He proved to the world that there can be humaneness, selflessness, decency, morality and even godliness in politics.
Thomas Sankara was a paragon of revolutionary leadership with a pan-African vision and mission. Those who are familiar with the murderous conspiracy of the African factor knew so well that Sankara was too good to last. He was “criminally un-African” in his pro-people leadership style. He had stepped on the toes of western imperialists when he declared during the FESPACO gathering in Ouagadougou in 1987: “We fought Hitler, and we continue to fight against oppressors”. By that declaration and by virtue of his candour, Sankara had signed his death warrant. And it didn’t take long for the forces against African progress to cut him down at his prime. He was hurled to thy kingdom come by those who have been so tenacious in their onslaught to keep Africa in the chains of neo-colonialism.
Once a Sankara-like leader begins showing his head in a polity, the imperialist guillotine is ever too ready to cut off his neck before he becomes too dangerous for all those who are so determined to keep us in subjugation. As we fight to make conditions favourable for the shopping of idealistic pan-African leaders, we should pay tribute to leaders who proved to the world that Africa can also be a place for visionary leadership. This pushes us more to take strong exception to the cultivation of the national madness in which anti-heroes are celebrated with the rumbling of tambourines. How can we ever hope to change for the better when we roll out the drums for looters of the state treasury, political thugs, power prostitutes and election riggers? These are the murderers of our dreams and the killers of our vision as we do battle for a better Africa. Can anybody blame Lance Morrow for claiming that the reason for endemic corruption in Africa is the fact that leadership is a thieving arrangement in which the leader and his collaborators shamelessly loot the country to its knees without blinking? Such leaders are usually hard-hearted enough to ignore the stressed economies, whimpering helplessly with bleeding wounds inflicted by their callous looting.
While money is borrowed in many other countries to carry out development projects, many African countries borrow huge sums of money just to ensure that treasury looters do not lack the means to continue to bloat their accounts in foreign banks. Here, do not attempt to openly criticise anything otherwise you will be tagged unpatriotic. After all, the government spokespersons are super intelligent and hyper-patriotic in such a way that anybody who has a contrary opinion to that of the establishment, must be a fool, a traitor or one who has been hired by enemies to destabilise his country.
That is why the new breed of African leaders should be people with a deep sense of patriotism and the ability to speak the naked truth even in the so-called diplomatic cocktails where artificial smiles and double talk are the order of the day. It is about telling the truth about our exploitation, misery and deprivation. Only such an ideal leadership will take Africa out of the paradoxical abyss as a generously endowed, but recklessly wasted continent.