The soul of Africa through Leadership
Posted Thu, 03 Mar 2005
Africa was once a continent of wealth and prosperity where people lived in total harmony with nature. Now, material greed and egoistic power have distracted our leaders from their objectives, resulting in a downward spiral of destruction in many regions. Standing in stark contrast to this depressing state of affairs is the few examples of effective African leadership: the government of Mozambique, for example, which has overcome decades of civil war to grow its economy. Or Botswana, which has an unmatched record of democracy and human rights on the continent. Even Kenya has seen a stronger civil society and encouraging economic indicators since the removal of Daniel arap Moi. Now, says Eskom’s Managing Director of Human Resources, Mpho Letlape, the time has come for a new generation of African leadership. But before that can happen, society needs to examine its values and beliefs, for it is through followers that leaders are defined. The role of leadership has been around for as long as humankind. It is not always clear how the incumbent was either nominated or appointed, but there is no doubt that a leader was always present in the structures of society. In recent years, though, there has been a growing groundswell of debate around what constitutes good leadership. In an African context, the question has been asked as to how Africans can use their traditions and culture to design leadership models which suit themselves, in the face of a Western mindset which still portrays the continent as one which is unable to lead itself. “African leadership must restore its natural heritage,” says Ms Letlape. “The African Renaissance is an evolution into a progressed stage of spiritual rebirth. Africa’s time has come to transform the continent’s brokenness.” The irony of Africa’s current leadership plight is that it bears no resemblance to traditional leadership. In fact, in contrast to the balance of authority and democracy exhibited in traditional African leadership, it was the various colonial administrations which introduced pure dictatorships to Africa. Today, many rulers seem immune from the consequences of their actions. Ms Letlape has long held the view that universal leadership values, from a spiritual perspective, are directly linked to ethics and morality. “Sadly, the world seems troubled by negative human activity and leadership is contributing to the undesired state quite significantly,” says Ms Letlape. “Africa has not been untouched by this phenomenon. Right now, Africa needs a collective positive mindset. The importance of understanding the power of thought and the importance of positive energy need to be emphasised. We are all constantly creating the future by what we think.” What this means, says Ms Letlape, is that the mind creates negative conditions just as readily as favourable conditions, and when we consciously or unconsciously visualise every kind of lack, limitation and discord, we create these conditions. Every thought is a cause; every condition an effect.
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