In search of the 'X' factor
Posted Thu, 25 Aug 2005

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In 2003, Eskom commissioned research on African Leadership with a view to establishing a way of developing a leadership corps that would ensure that South Africa and the African continent attain their development goals in business, politics, social development and other areas.

The idea was to fashion a highly effective and truly unique leadership that draws its inspiration, wisdom, courage, humility and patience from the traditions of Africa.

The study on the identification of suitable and relevant ingredients for the development of an African Leadership Model was motivated by a widely shared belief among contemporary black leaders that it is time for Africa to produce leaders who have the leadership qualities required to ensure that Africa shifts from being a continent of the under-dog status and secures its fair share of opportunities.

In order to accomplish this, it is useful for Africans to look into their past to establish models of social organisation and leadership that can provide enlightenment for advancement.

There is no doubting the fact that African concepts and ideas about life have survived the combined onslaught of colonial and post-colonial domination and influence.

To this day, the core concepts of social organisation remain and are reflected in the way African people define, approach and relate to the world around them. This is despite the fact that for centuries African people were force-fed foreign concepts and ideas and that they themselves have memorised western ways of coping with western-ordered life, work and worship.

On the other hand, there is no denying the fact that Africans have, by and large, failed to gather the success mileage that is required to become competitive in such areas as business, political organization and social organisation.

The case is illustrated by the relative progress made by Jewish, Indian and Portuguese communities whose first generation immigrants started life in South Africa as poor and unsophisticated working class labourers.

It is true that these communities enjoyed the privilege and protection that the apartheid system awarded people with a �white� status. This contributed to the success of these communities.

However, most black people acknowledge that beyond the apartheid advantage, the Jewish community, for one, seems to have a secret of success that is missing among Africans.

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