Dr. Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela – The Madiba Enigma -Leadership Code for African Rulers

“I haven’t scratched the surface yet of what my real purpose is for being here.” (Michael Jackson).

Purpose is the raison d’être of our existence; it is that major driver for that which we seek most in life. Purpose is the embodiment of our resolutions or sought goals and aspirations. A man of purpose is a man that has a focus and a noble desire or goal to carry out. Man is always what makes man to be. You are what you purpose yourself to be.

Leading people and nations out of dangerous segregated and peaceful coexistence after a very bitter past calls for leaders with courage and conviction, leaders with the ability to develop a vision of what can be, to mobilize the people as a body into agreement to live and work together in harmony. These are the qualities embedded in Nelson Mandela which set him in a different class far above many corrupt and greedy ruler found in Africa.

Nelson Mandela lived and set a good standard for leadership, a leadership code for African rulers and presidents.

There is a time to be born, and a time to die. The bell finally tolled for Mr. Nelson Mandela December 5, 2013. The man died, and it quickly becomes a big miss, not only in South Africa, not only to Africans, but to all and sundry all across the world.

South Africa’s greatest son and one of the world’s greatest personalities finally took a bow and passed on in death after a prolonged illness.

Life holds a specific purpose for each of us, but the most important thing is to find out, step out of our comfort zones and discover that purpose.

The Boers, who are complete aliens in South Africa, virtually usurped the rights of the local indigenes and lord it over them. It was so sad and precarious situation. The African National congress, ANC, was formed to oppose racial and territorial segregation. Nelson Mandela, after experiencing racism firsthand at the University of Witwatersrand, joined the African National Congress in 1944, and rose through the ranks as a legal attorney to become a leading light and the main player in the movement. Using nonviolent approaches to prove and protest, but with a very clear resolve, Mandela declared: “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Mandela came to the opinion that the ANC “had no alternative to armed and violent resistance” after taking part in the unsuccessful protest to prevent the demolition of the all-black Sophiatown suburb of Johannesburg in February 1955. He declared: In a way I had never quite comprehended before, I realized the role I could play in court and the possibilities before me as a defendant. I was the symbol of justice in the court of the oppressor, the representative of the great ideals of freedom, fairness and democracy in a society that dishonored those virtues. I realized then and there that I could carry on the fight even in the fortress of the enemy.”

  1. Nelson Mandela was so successful a man to be tagged South Africa’s “greatest son”, and his death a profound loss to his country and the entire world.
  2. Rather than embrace the popular divide and rule tactics common among African leaders, Nelson Mandela brought his mixed multitude nation of black, white and colored people together with equality and uniform national pride.
  3. Nelson Mandela brought dignity and respect to the Republic of South Africa, a former pariah nation, often despised and derided among the comity of nations. He emphasized and built a united non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
  4. Nelson Mandela reminds the world about the possibility of a self made man, a man who succeeds in life as a result of his work and dedicated calling rather than ride the luck of rich parents or relationship with influential men. If Nelson Mandela could make it after the long struggle and long term prison incarceration, any African should.
  5. Despite his captivity and long prison sentences, Nelson Mandela was the man who destroyed apartheid, and became a worldwide symbol of resistance to racism.
  6. Years after his 1999 retirement from the presidency, Mandela was considered the ideal head of state.
  7. He became a yardstick for African leaders, who consistently fell short when measured against him.


Michelle Obama, official White House portrait.

Michelle Obama, official White House portrait. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Michelle Obama – An African American’s Glorious Homecoming to Door of No Return

Impossible is nothing!

It is usually thought that one “must be a fox in order to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten off wolves”, but the reigning First Lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama, is neither a fox nor a lion, yet she had conquered the whole wide world with good deeds and the grace of a pivotal place in the history of America.

Coming to the “door of no return” in Africa, she suddenly woke up Africans, nay the whole world, to the fact that “impossible is nothing”!

Without much ado as the spouse of the President, or as an appendage to the office of the President, but rather in her own right as the first African-American first lady in history, and probably the most highly placed African-American with proven lineage to enslaved African ancestors, Michelle Obama returned, in grace and glamour, to Senegal’s Goree Slave Island’s ‘door of no return’.

Opportunities can be found in the most unlikely situations as well as in mundane circumstances. The Lord uses adversity and difficult obstacles to strengthen us. He does not always cause the situation, but He will take every hard thing in our lives and use it for our good.

When Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, little did the brothers realize that the young lad will one day turn out to be a Governor in Egypt?

When a great number of Africans were sold into slavery between the 17th and 19th centuries, they were made to pass through the “door of no return” in Goree slave Island, Senegal, to emphasize the impossibility of coming back to the continent, as they had been sold out as slaves, properties and assets of the white men buyers; with an imprint on their minds never to come back to motherland Africa again.

Michelle Obama, against all odds, returned recently to Africa, the homeland of her ancestors, not in captivity as her progenitors were made to leave, but as one of the most powerful and influential women in the world. “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.  Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.” (Gen 50: 20, 21).

Coming out of almost four centuries of unyielding struggle, slavery, segregation, protests and civil rights agitations, African-Americans have made substantial gains and moved quite considerably up the ladder socially, politically and economically that they are nowadays a major force to reckon with in the scheme of things in America. Jesus saith unto them, “Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?”  (Mat 21: 42).

When next you are cornered by very difficult obstacle which brings losses, lacks, and limitations into your life, then read this: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8: 28).

Obstacles Are Opportunities in Disguise

The ugly history of slavery in the United States continues to loom over this country as an unfortunate reminder that African Americans were once seen as being no more valuable than farm animals. For almost four hundred years African-Americans never gave up their unshakable hope that they would be free one day, that one day America will “rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed:- ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Daring in yards, gaining by foot, and winning in inches, African-Americans continue to fight through thick and thin for emancipation and equal rights. Their cause and dedication are bold testimonies of the willingness and resolution of men in making giant strides to open big doors once the mind is firmed up. It was first through gaining a say in the councils, later a shot at the office of the Mayor, then having “one of us” in the state congress, and gradually a representative at the federal Capitol, and later an African-American senator legislating among towering statesmen in Washington or a Federal Cabinet executive. Today, the President of the most powerful nation on Earth, Barack Obama, is an African-American, and so is the first lady. Impossible is nothing!

The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love, and loyalty. (Zig Ziglar)

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Michelle Obama would later become a lawyer, Chicago city administrator, community outreach worker and—as the wife of U.S. President Barack Obama—the United States’ first lady. Raised in a one-bedroom apartment by a city pump operator father, Fraser Robinson, and a Democratic precinct captain, Michelle and her brother were raised to love to study and seek after knowledge. Her mother, Marian, was a Spiegel’s secretary who later stayed home to raise Michelle and her older brother, Craig. “You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win”. (Zig Ziglar).

Why you must live your dream

Every right thinking person wants to live out his dreams and achieve the pressing desires of his heart. But it often takes dedication and struggle to most of our goals. Once you accept the fact that you are the chief architect of whatever befalls you in life, you become a winner; because you will always strive to design the best life pattern for the real you.

Though sold into slavery at the shores of their homeland by their own people, and ferried by human merchants and slave traders as unfit beings and inadequate humans into the plantations, industries and homes of their white equals, the plight of the African-American has been legion and counting since 1619. While a lot of activists and goodly spirited people had tried to ameliorate the sufferings and improve their slavish lives and general condition, the trend of change and the tempo of agitation increased since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. caught his mountaintop vision.

Michelle Obama might not have dreamt of being a first lady of the United States of America, but she definitely has goals for great expectations in life, and prepares herself adequately for it. That is why she became an instant good match for the big events. For choosing to come to Goree Island’s “door of no return”, Mrs. Obama has sent a great challenge to all Africans not to give up the dream that Africa can be great again, if only we keep our focus and the dream alive, just like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. kept the mountain top vision and dream ever alive. Impossible is nothing.

That democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people, is well known as a panacea for good governance. It is a political idea or model of government where all citizens of specified voting age have the right of equal say in the determination and policy formulation of the state through representatives that were elected in free and fair elections.

Robert Browne and his Separatist congregation stood their ground and withdrew from the Church of England during the 16th and 17th centuries because of their dissatisfaction with the ritual used in worship and with the state control of religion in England. Facing many persecutions, a Browne splinter group fled in 1606 to Leiden in The Netherlands, and emigrated ten years later to America to become part of the Pilgrims – the Founding Fathers of the United States of America and her flourishing democracy.

Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosopher, is highly acclaimed as one of the most influential and early writers on democracy and Western philosophy. In his work, Politics, Aristotle stated: It is often supposed that there is only one kind of democracy and one of oligarchy. But this is a mistake. “We should … say that democracy is the form of government where the free are rulers, and oligarchy in which the rich; it is only an accident that the free are the many and the rich are the few…. And yet oligarchy and democracy are not sufficiently distinguished merely by these two characteristics of wealth and freedom. Both of them contain many other elements … the government is not a democracy in which the freemen, being few, rule over the many who are not free … Neither is it a democracy when the rich have the government because they exceed in number…. But the form of government is a democracy when the free, who are also poor and the majority, govern, and an oligarchy when the rich and the noble govern, they being at the same time few in number.”

While democracy seems obscured throughout the entire history of Israel and Judah, God has been democratic right from creation – giving us the freedom to make personal choices between good and evil, weighing heavily on the desires of the majority to have manna, chicken, and water in the wilderness, and heeding to the voice of the Israelites to set up their kingdom.  Ancient Greece provided the then known world with the idea of democratic representation, whereas modern democracy developed in Britain and spread through the United States, Europe and eventually many other countries of the world, maintaining in-between the feudal system and aristocracy.

The Pilgrims, on their sail to the New World, were meant to disembark on the shores of Virginia, but were blown off course to settle in Plymouth, where they had no settlement grant. As part of the bid for settlement grant on this unexpected county, the Mayflower Compact was drawn, and all adult male passengers were compelled to sign it. The covenant was an informal agreement which stipulated that government was based on consent of the governed, an important precedent for the development of American democracy that established majority rule which remained till this day as a primary principle of the government in the United States.

The Pilgrims were guided not by science, philosophy, or “enlightenment”, but rather by the Words and Commandments of a God in whom “we trust”.

God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.

How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.

Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.

Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked. (Ps 82: 1 – 4).


These are the fundamental essence of true democracy in the plan of God, according to the Bible.

The Forefathers of American democratic republic held the view that democracy will not thrive without Biblical underpinning:

  1. Makes us subscribe to the Ten Commandments as we seek happiness either in private life or in public service. “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” (Rev 22: 14).
  2. We recognize our guilt and mistakes, confess, and forsake them, and move on in life.
  3. We become spiritually minded through the power of the Holy Spirit, forbearing one another, especially despots and dictators, in our effort to transform them from dictatorship to democracy as practiced by Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and many other non-violent activists.  For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Rom 8: 6).
  4. We move ahead in life in true and dedicated service to God and humanity, bound by duty and calling, passionately doing the noble things we know to do best.

Mark Zuckerberg has been able to turn his creativity around and become wealthy with a world-known and highly rated global corporation – Facebook. The meteoric success of this young man was neither hype nor a scam. It was genuine creativity implemented and applied in a conducive environment; supportive society and appreciative community.

Steve Wozniack and Steve Jobs had equally been transformed into instant millionaires and national heroes when they surprised the world in 1976 with their launch of Apple Computers. Apple Inc. is most probably the greatest corporate body on earth.

Robert Oppenhemmer was a young scholar when he headed the Manhattan Project, and developed the Atomic Bomb.

Andrew Carnegie came to America with his emigrating parents and began life in the cotton industry as a child laborer. But with vision and boundless opportunities in the New World, for those who would, he became one of the richest men ever.

Benjamin Franklin was deceived into London, but he caught his teeth in the printing trade on the streets of London, and went back to America to turn disappointments into opportunities, caught a niche for himself, and became a great American.

The list is without an end.

America is strong because she put the interest of her citizens as priority. There is always a payback according to the Golden Rule. Opportunities abound in America in cash and in kind for those who are willing to draw from the ken and improve their lot. America encourages, appreciates, and rewards creativity and ingenuity. No wonder she draws unto herself the best from all nations.

Nigerians are exceptionally intelligent and hard-working people. The country is extraordinarily well blessed with talented people and vast natural and mineral resources. Enormous wealth was made from the extraction, refining, and exportation of crude oil, but very little benefit to the masses, the glaring symptoms of an oligarchy.

President Barrack Obama, General Martin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and a long list of Federal Executive Secretaries, Senators and Congressmen, governors, state officials, mayors and other top place holders in public and private practice who are African-Americans is pointers and testimonies of the endurance of African-Americans to seek and fight for their right. The Supreme Court in March 1858 gave a landmark judgment in which Chief Justice R. B. Taney declared that the African-Americans were not citizens of the U.S. and should not derive any right from the constitution of The United States. But 150 years after this pathetic judicial denial of the black people, an African-American was elected, and later re-elected into the White House in very free and fair elections, riding on the crest of the votes of both white and colored electorates that adjudged Barack Obama credible enough to lead America, and the world.

Russia, under Vladimir Putin, is an oligarchy. China is ruled by the communist party. Cuba is a famous socialist enclave of the Castros. North Korea is the current famed example of a nation where all citizens surrender their fundamental rights to one single family, out of fear and cowardice. To make Nigeria a truly democratic republic goes beyond  parades and holidays on June 12, but rather:

  • to work very hard and make all eligible voters register to vote
  • to actually make all credible voters vote their conscience and candidates in every election within their constituencies
  • that all votes must count and be correctly counted in free and fair elections
  • prayerfully uphold the faith that God help Nigeria in her noble search for credible leadership.

This is what democracy is!!!

A beautiful aspect of humanity is his ability to turn around his challenges into opportunities, and his prospects into success.  The drive for success makes most right-thinking people seek to obtain his best. Self-actualization, as popularized by Abraham Maslow, is a vital route to happiness and success through commitment and dedication to an important job, a worthwhile task, a noble calling, or a meaningful service. Mostly, people are happy when they work well at something they consider important. Nigerians are disenfranchised mostly because the basic needs of life such as regular power supply, pipe-borne water, stable employment, conducive business environment, good road networks and other infrastructures are not available to the masses.  People being the most important resources to organizations and nations, their happiness determines the peace and tranquility of the nation or organization, and this is the main essence of H.R. (Human Resources).

Major characteristics of management are planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling.  Managers are often expected to be a lot of things to various sets of people and circumstances at one point or the other. However, for any type of business to thrive,  effective human resources management is very essential, and guarantees adequate employment, optimum output, and congenial environment for business operations. HR specialists and personnel determines the number and type of employees required in any organization, recruits new staff and workers, replace those who have left or leaving, organizes the training of staff and employees,  encourages workers’ productivity, efficiency, and satisfaction to promote the overall success of the business.  Compensation and benefits while in employment and at the time of retirement or severance of engagement are structured and determined by the HR.

We the People

People are the most important resource of a nation or any organization. The cardinal vocation of the Human Resources (HR) professional, organization, and department is to make sure that the human capital are recruited and engaged to the greatest benefit of the government department and organization according to the greatest abilities of the people, for the purpose of gainful returns to the nation and its people in material and intrinsic benefits.

Organizational trends and international trade and relations have grown at a fast pace since the dawn of Industrial Revolution. The growth rate improved with the computer age, and became more fierce and faster as the internet explosion transformed the world into a global village. This current situation has moved the HR practitioner from the historical role of a personnel manager to hire and fire, under the whims and caprice of an overrated administration manager, into a highly competent and efficient human capital and resource controller. The 21st century is a fast changing world in which nations and organizations become more entrepreneurial in spirit, more focused in learning, and more competitive in their approaches to handling human capital, material wealth and general resources.  A combative HR practice and practitioners that would rise up to the challenges of the moment has become highly imperative.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) administers a nationwide merit system for general employment of federal personnel, their recruitment, examination, and training in various arms of government at home and abroad. The department is well-known for performing its functions without bias, with equal opportunity, without regard to race, color, religion, sex, or age. How much one wishes it is so in Nigeria!

For decades the world stood aside and watched as the population of China continues to rise. Today China has transformed the challenge in her population of 1.3 billion people into her advantages and influences. For an unusually long stretch of years, China has enjoyed the world’s most rapid economic growth.  Not by accident or luck, but because Chinese policies conformed to the basic laws of economic development and national growth. Under good leadership, China undertook economic reforms of combined socialism and favorable aspects of market economy that has worked wonders in the tiger economies. By reversing self-reliance economic policies and opening up to the global market, the Chinese came to realize that “It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice”, and that “Poverty is not socialism. To be rich is glorious.”

Current Challenges

According to The World Bank, Nigeria’s unemployment rate now stands at 56 per cent. This is grossly unacceptable. Even the European countries that are currently undergoing economic crisis record unemployment rates averaging between 25 and 27 per cent. While government agencies and departments cannot manufacture jobs, adequate management of human resources could go a long way to expose anomalies and proffer effective ways out of the logjam. There is need for good governance to put in place sound micro economic and macroeconomic frameworks that will remove the irregularity.

As the sixth largest oil-producing country in the world, it is sad that Nigeria could not refine her crude oil, but rather import petroleum products from foreign countries. During our elementary school days, the pencil, eraser, and sharpener used in school came from China. The story is still the same today. Our roads and highways, bridges and dams are constructed by foreign companies.  School uniforms were sown from materials imported from China. The denim pants, skirts, blouses and shoes of the teachers and pupils were made in India, China or Korea.  Asian pasta, rice and noodles have taken over from local dishes and delicacies. Hospitals, pharmacies and drug stores have suddenly been overtaken by the Ginseng regimes and cheap medicaments from India, China and Pakistan. The trendy cars on the roads are the Suzukis and the Tatas. When the Orientals, Europeans and Americans dominate the key sectors of the economy, how could one expect full employment for the nationals? It is a leadership problem that needed to be fixed by personnel managers and character change.

HR Africa must help African nations to manage its human assets to the best, and more strategically to the extent that the people at home could meet higher level of performance with greater profitability, while Africans seeking greener pastures overseas could happily return home to the honorable service to fatherland. Mostly, HR Africa must help African nations build and put in place credible and competent leadership – men that could not be bought or sold, men that would fear God and respect people, men that would lead for the singular purpose of public service for public good, and not to amass personal wealth from the coffers of the public.

Peter Drucker transformed corporate management with Management by Objectives, (MBO), a process by which corporate goals are set with the agreement and understanding of both management and employees. Management goals are set and made clear to both staff and employees so that they know their specific roles, and aspire to do it for successful goal attainment. As a result, corporate performances improved through participative goal setting, open avenues to make choices in respective courses of action, and the deliberate empowerment of each cadre to make judgment and decisions in line with set goals and focus.

As meaningful management results are obtainable in public institutions and civil service just as experienced in the corporate sector, Managing for Results  is the practice to get desired results within the economy, especially in government, through the development of management practices, products and services that:

  1. Gives prime attention to the customer,
  2. Encourage entrepreneurial based market strategy geared towards a profound and prominent presence in the market,
  3. Timely innovations directed at taking full benefits of the advantages and opportunities of the moment.

When civil service is transformed to be market and service oriented, and not waiting for patronage from the public, desired results and expected transformation will take place, public revenues will improve to build infrastructures, and everybody will be happy.

The transformation needed within the Nigerian economy is the provision of effective leadership. The top cadres of government function and operations must show effective and profound leadership attributes and qualities. How could they do this when their appointments were not by merit, but through political party affiliations and nepotism? The Nigerian people should be guided to take part in elections and the voting process. Full participation in elections through credible voting process will put people’s candidates of choice in position of authority to effect people oriented programs and ethos.

The challenge before HR Africa is to guide Nigeria and Nigerians to make sure Nigeria has “the very best people to carry your vision out. Hire those most capable of turning visions into reality – ask questions about how they might go about attacking a particular thorny problem. Promote those people who have the best record of making things happen.” These kinds of people are the Champions.

Nigerians are desirous of the champion that will be her king and judge her people in truth and in faith. To carry out such great task goes beyond the common aspects of learning and training, but through the application of talents and gifts to do what initially seemed impossible. It requires planning and dedicated pursuit. That is why it takes rigorous and painstaking primaries to choose an American President, which could be replicated in Nigeria.

For Reformation to come to The Church and the world, with its attendant fundamental changes, a Martin Luther must by force of will and ideas stand up against the Papal Bulls.

For  Americans to have an African-American President, a Martin Luther King, Jr., must have a vision and lay his life for The Dream.

For India to be free from the clout and excesses of the British, a Mahatma Gandhi had to go from South Africa to let his people go in India.

For Nigeria to have the desired non-violent revolution that would bring about credible leadership, national transformation and development, the agents of change and human resources development, the architects of strategic leadership and transformation, HR Leaders in Africa, must take up the gauntlet to penetrate into the affairs and reins of power to elicit change.

After the mandatory National Youth Corps Service, many of us applied to work at the NEXIM Bank through the Central Bank of Nigeria. We went through grueling examinations and interviews and came out in flying colors. But on the day of recruitment, other candidates out of the blues were employed. As the scourges of nepotism can never break a tough guy, most of us moved on, and did better afterwards, praying “for the peace of Nigeria: because, they shall prosper that love Nigeria.”

Cement was too expensive in Nigeria, and the government effected its backward integration programme to the favor of the mighty against the little. Our heavy investments in the sector were crushed, business was lost, income ceased, and losses mounted. Many workers, employees, indirect jobbers and their families were thrown out of stable employment into the job market with losses and grinding limitations. Cement is still very expensive in Nigeria today. Nevertheless, “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose”.

A young Ugandan girl was living in the city ghettos with her parent and siblings. Chess training and competition was organized near the slum by a concerned coach with the attraction of a cup of corn pap per day. This poor girl, who had been without food for some time, jumped at the offer, and attended the coaching solely because of the cup of corn-pap. She trained well and became the champion; she later became the best player in her country, in Africa, and one of the best players in the world. What an unconventional approach to talent hunt you might say, but God still rules in affairs of man to perfect His wonders.

Nehemiah was a Jewish cup-bearer of the Persian king Artaxerxes around 446 BC. Though living in wellness, prosperity and peace, he became troubled when he learnt that news came to him that the wall of Jerusalem had been broken down and the gates of the city of God had been burned with fire. Nehemiah realized, as an Israelite, that his brethren were in distress and needed his support. He resolved to take up their burden and do all he could to relief their situation. Under Nehemiah’s devout life and prayerful mien with energetic administration, the walls of Jerusalem were repaired within two months, the city was once again secured, economic and social reforms were put in place, and the glory of the land and the people were restored. What a case study for HR Leaders in Africa to ponder upon.

Could you be a Nehemiah for Nigeria in times like this, and what manner of African it would be?

Mr. Andrew Young emerged from a mainly white constituency to become the first black United States Congressman from Georgia. He later became the U.S. Representative to the United Nations.

General Colin Powell was the first African-American Secretary of State, followed by Ms. Condoleezza Rice.

Barack Obama handsomely won the American elections to become the first African-American President of the United States of America. He was sworn-in today for the second-term as the 44th President of the most powerful nation in the world.

There are many more people in dignified callings and respectable careers, African-Americans, Latinos, Arabs, and Asian-Americans, even under-classed white people, who would have otherwise been pushed under for racism, but for the deft, perseverance, dedication and struggle of the nonviolent movement championed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. These are testimonies to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Though African-Americans were denied rights and liberties, Dr. King had “a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed.” In celebrating him, we read about him, reflect on his works, his methods, rejoice in his accomplishments, and resolve to carry forward, in the spirit of non-violence, the unfinished tasks of a non-racial egalitarian society where one is judged “not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character”.

The Supreme Court in March 1857 gave a landmark judgment where Justice R. B. Taney declared that African Americans were not citizens of the U.S. and should not derive any right from the constitution of The United States. It became clear that African-Americans needed more than the response of Abraham Lincoln that “the authors of the Declaration of Independence never intended ‘to say all were equal in color, size, intellect, moral developments, or social capacity’, but they ‘did consider all men created equal—equal in certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’.” (Abraham Lincoln, 1858, Jaffa, pp. 299-300).

The history of African-Americans in the United States has some similarities to that of the children of Israel in Egypt. The goodness of Joseph and the famine in the land of Canaan led to the movement of the House of Jacob to Egypt. But when the king that knew Joseph was no more, the circumstance of the Israelites in Egypt turned into nightmares. Moses led the liberation squad.
A great population of Africans were captured and transported to the New World as a workforce for the agricultural fields, and later, the industries. Many died on the voyages; others became casualties to the climate of their new world, while some others fell to the harsh working conditions and severe taskmasters. The survivors were subjected to slavish struggle from one generation to another.

When slavery was abolished, African-Americans were declared free to live as they wish, where they want, and with whomever they choose. But most of the slave-owners, particularly in the southern territory of the United States, reneged on this arrangement. The post-war era witnessed the wanton application of segregation laws which subjugated formerly freed black slaves into the firm control of the whites. Every aspect of the life of the black man was segregated all across the southern states. These codes, called Jim Crow Laws, forced the black people into the rural regions where they were subjected to forced labor on the farmlands.

Congress legislated to correct these anomalies through constitutional amendments.
The Thirteenth Amendment to the constitution in 1865 confirmed the Emancipation Proclamation setting free the slaves.
The Fourteenth Amendment constitutionally granted citizenship rights to the African-Americans in 1868.
The Fifteenth Amendment of 1870 confers on all male adult citizens the rights to vote without denial as a result of one’s race, color, or past record of servitude.

However, one hundred years after the Proclamation of Emancipation, almost all African-American population were not free, were not proven citizens, and could therefore not vote or be voted for.
It was into this kind of parlous situation that Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 15, 1929. Living and growing up as a child in Atlanta, little King was able to understand racism and segregation firsthand when he found out that the children he used to play with as a child were no longer his friends when he started school. He found out that his parents could not just go anywhere they wished to go, and that he could not just attend the schools of his choice because of some certain laws of segregation and discrimination.

Martin attended Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta, from where he proceeded to Morehouse College. Martin graduated in 1948 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology. King later obtained a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Crozer Theological Seminary, Chester, Pennsylvania in 1951. King got married in 1953, was ordained, and became the pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama in 1954. Along with the work of the Ministry, King worked on his Doctoral Degree in Philosophy, which was concluded in 1955. Dr. King took serious interests in Mohandas Gandhi’s methods of nonviolent protest.

Two occurrences happened in 1955 that were to have significant impact on the Dr. King: the black struggle in America, and the image of the black man all over the world.
Claudette Colvin refused to comply with the Jim Crow segregation laws in March 1955 by an utter defiance to give up her bus seat for a white man. She was arrested and tried. Dr. King was the African-American representative on the investigating committee. Colvin went scot free.
On December 1, 1955, Ms. Rosa Parks refused to give up her place in the front row of the section reserved for colored people to a white man. She was arrested and jailed. The Montgomery Improvements Association, led by Dr. King, intervened, boycotting the local bus network for 381 days until Ms Parks was released, and the bus network was desegregated.

From this point onwards Dr. King resolved to give the civil rights movement his entire life, support and dedication.
The Montgomery bus boycott had not only been very successful, but also proved to be a good and fruitful testing ground for Dr. King’s strong conviction in non-violent protest method, and its ability to bring about fruitful results, despite many arrests and intimidation that he and his family suffered. Other civil rights activists who were hitherto bent on forceful means borrowed Dr. King’s non-violent approach, and were able to get good results.

Dr. King went ahead to lead, coordinate and participate in various non-violent civil rights activities that aided in bringing the African-Americans to their land of freedom. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the SCLC, was established in 1957 as an umbrella body for Christian leaders to utilize the voice of the churches for successful conduct and execution of non-violent protests. NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, had been in existence for similar objectives, but the SCLC was an effective vessel in this regard, using the church and the legal approach to get results. Dr. King led the group until his death in 1968.
Despite his tight schedules, Dr. King wrote a great deal. He missed death by the whiskers in 1958 when he was stabbed while signing autographs on copies of his book, Stride towards Freedom.

He further enunciated his Mohandas Gandhi’s style of non-violent protest in another book published in 1959 titled The Measure of Man. That year, Dr. King visited India to learn first-hand the principles of nonviolent persuasion, satyagraha, from Mohandas Gandhi. Later, Dr. King, after being saddled with more responsibilities in the Human Rights movement, stepped down as the Pastor of the Montgomery Baptist Church in Alabama to co-pastor the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta with his father.

Many protests and demonstrations were organized under the leadership of Dr. King. Most often his life was endangered through outright attacks and visible as well indirect threats from racial white opponents. He was arrested and put in jail several times. He was castigated as an anti-social communist, a traitor of the state, and a friend of the enemies of the state. Dr. King neither bothered nor waivered; he rather went about his plans and aspirations for the unfairly treated black people, and the common good of all people no matter their color, creed or lineage.

Dr. King was able to persuade some whites and the American leadership to address the burning subject of inequality that was pervading the American society. Through his leadership, many African-Americans were inspired and led to support his activities. This brought about a new dimension in the lives of the black Americans themselves as well as a new wave of positive reassessment of the black communities by their white folks. Segregation policies were confronted; racialist tendencies were attacked and opposed more than ever. The ultra-racial white supremacy group, the Ku Klux Klan, was greatly intimidated by the style, tactics and wisdom with which Dr. King prosecuted his non-violent campaigns.

The effort of the SCLC in Albany, Georgia in 1961 to demonstrate against segregated facilities failed woefully to accomplish the designed objectives. Nevertheless, Dr. King’s team was able to garner prime national awareness for the plight of African-Americans.

In the spring of 1963, the SCLC protested in Birmingham, Alabama. School children and teenagers were engaged. The police, in the attempt to frustrate the march, pelted them with water hoses and ferocious hounding dogs. These ugly scenes were circulated across the world, giving rise to condemnations of the segregation laws, as well as the retributions of the agents engaged to enforce it. Dr. King and his team won. The authorities were forced to rethink on the real benefits of Jim Crow laws.

Out of spite and anger, the authorities in Birmingham arrested and jailed Dr. King, but he took full advantage of the undeserved punishment. He wrote the famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in which he successfully defended and justified the protests. The letter was given wide media coverage, and enhanced Dr. King’s good standing as a moral leader.

Right on the hills of the Birmingham protests in Alabama, Dr. King worked in collaboration with other black leaders to organize the 1963 peaceful march between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. It was in this protest march that Dr. King delivered his famous “I have a Dream” speech. In the epic speech, the entire world was addressed on the impatience of African Americans to continue wallowing in poverty and left devoid of basic rights of citizenship and freedom. The march was a great achievement and moment of glory for the civil rights movement and the black community. Its direct effect was the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in the same year.

Dr. King coordinated the march in 1965 on Selma, Alabama, which proceeded to Montgomery with the purpose of drawing national attention to the lack of voting rights by black youths and adults of voting age. The civil disobedience effort was a tough battle with white segregationists and civil authorities. Dr. King narrowly escaped being lynched and brutalized, while many of his colleagues were terribly beaten and maltreated. The day was called Bloody Sunday.
A direct benefit of the Selma march was the signing into law by President Lyndon Johnson in August 1965 of the Voting Rights Act, opening the floodgates for black people of age to vote and be voted for.

Dr. King kept up the tempo to fight injustice in the land in every aspect of the American life till he was assassinated April 4, 1968. He never applied violence, nor did he bear a gun. He was opposed to warfare, a gentleman of peace, law and order. He fought for the causes of the African Americans, but supported, as well the noble causes of other Americans, white, colored, and various immigrants.

While lifting up the status of the African-American to the point of holding the highest office in America, he had made the United States of America a better place than he met it. Yes, celebration is in the air, as we rejoice this January 15th, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day, because all over us, and all around us, are the testimonies and legacies of his achievements, despite the frailties of being human like us.


Peter Drucker, Jack Welch, & Nehemiah

A successful person is not a person without problems, but rather the man who has learnt how to deal with his problems successfully.

Challenges and difficulties of life are hydra-headed; the harder they come, the tougher the champion emerges to surmount them. Organizations, people, families and communities are constantly confronted with unprecedented levels of change.

The need for change in the face of the fast pace at which events take place and technological advancement evolve these days has made change a way of life, and the pattern by which we must work to meet set goals and dreams.

Prompt adaptation to quick changes is essential for efficiency, ensures good return on investment, and enhances relevance in the world today. We must respond to change for effectiveness, and become competitive to thrive in today’s market and life.

There is always a solution to each problem, but those solutions are often discovered and noted by smart people who genuinely look for them. How smart are you? Some solutions are found more easily than others. Keen people tap into right solutions to meet challenges in life and business.

Projects are designed solutions to meet changes that had cropped up in time and space. Managing the inherent risk associated with change and innovation is quite fundamental to good management practice for successful project execution and delivery.

In his book, The Practice of Management’, Peter Drucker transformed corporate management with Management by Objectives, (MBO), a process by which corporate goals are set with the agreement and understanding of both management and subordinates. Management objectives are set and made clear to both staff and employees so that everyone know his specific role, and aspire to play such role for successful goal attainment. As a result, corporate performances improved through collective goal setting, open avenues to make choices in respective courses of action, and the deliberate empowerment of each cadre to make judgment and decisions in line with set goals and focus.

As meaningful management result was discovered to be attainable outside the corporate entity, management by objective was expanded into the marketplace. Peter Drucker responded with Managing for Results , a theory and practice on the application of management to obtain results within the economy and in the market. The book enunciated the need to seek results through the development of management and products that:

  1.  Gives prime attention to the customer,
  2. Encourage entrepreneurial based market strategy geared towards a profound and prominent presence in the market,
  3. Timely innovations directed at taking full benefits of the advantages and opportunities of the moment.

Results came from the new ideology with improved corporate gains and profits emanating from the positive response of the market to management innovations and creativity.

Result- focused management leads to result based leadership.

Result-based leadership leads to effective leadership.

Effective leadership = attributes × results.

To maintain effective leadership, the top echelon of management must demonstrate effective and profound leadership attributes and qualities.

What are results?

Too much attention is often given to leadership qualities and styles, organizational capabilities and visions, competencies and potentialities while we overlook the desired results that all these personal attributes should deliver.

Results are the essence of result-based leadership.

Organizational capabilities and leadership must bring forth desired results, credible results, and profound results otherwise it has failed. 

Jack Welch addressed the challenges faced by corporate leaders in obtaining desired results in most of his writings and practices, especially as the CEO of General Electric. According to Jack Welch, it  is well and good to improve productivity and obtain set goals and results in the interim, however, the most profound achievement of corporate leadership is hinged on her ability to put a  team in place that will take the organization to the next level and sustain her.

 25 Lessons from Jack Welch

Welch urged other leaders at GE to “make sure you have the very best people to carry your vision out. Hire those most capable of turning visions into reality – ask questions about how they might go about attacking a particular thorny problem. Promote those people who have the best record of making things happen.” These kinds of people are the Champions.

There is always a great demand for the champion. Whether in government, public service, corporate organizations, athletics and sports, science, education and academics, social and the general aspects of life. To carry out great tasks and do exploits goes beyond the common aspects of learning and training, but rests on the application of talents and gifts to do what initially seemed impossible. It requires planning and dedicated pursuit to become a winner in life.

Turning out a champion requires having a concrete dream and the strong desire to attain the dream. It is essential to make the decision to pursue the dream into successful attainment, and the determination to go through all the odds and challenges till victory is attained. One also needs the dedication to the chosen course and the plan to attain it, the doggedness to push ahead towards the winning mark in the face of challenges, oppositions, and disappointments from friends and foes.

Before the crown is won, there must come first the preparation of the champion. A good example is taken from the Book of Nehemiah. The Bible is full of various aspects of exemplary human endeavors, recorded for our learning and edification, with the view to trust God, and depend upon Him.

The Book of Nehemiah is a great lesson on personal development for the onerous task of management of public service. The fall of Babylon occurred in 533 B.C. when Cyrus, King of Persia, captured Babylon by the stratagem of diverting the waters of the Euphrates from their usual channel, so that they no longer flow through the city. His armies marched through the dry bed of the river under the gates into the city and so captured it almost without a battle. King Artaxerxes emerged later after Cyrus. Nehemiah was a Jewish cup-bearer of the Persian king.

Nehemiah was troubled when news came to him that:

  1.  The wall of Jerusalem had been broken down.
  2. The gates of the city of Jerusalem had been burned with fire.

Though living at ease and comfort in Persia, Nehemiah realized, as an Israelite, that his brethren were in distress and needed his support. He resolved to take up their burden and do all he could to relief their situation. In confronting the problem, Nehemiah, about 446 B.C. took the following steps of excellent project management:

  1. He established the challenges and the dangers inherent in not doing anything.
  2. His first application was unto God through prayer and supplication, to receive favorable response from his appeal to the King.
  3. The king found Nehemiah moody, and entreated him to tell his worries. Nehemiah laid his challenges before the King, who granted him favorable response in approval to travel with generous support for him and his project.
  4. Nehemiah designed a strategy whereby the project was divided into manageable stages, patterns and procedures for more accurate planning.
  5. He ensured that resources for successful execution and implementation were adequately provided and supplied from Persia and Palestine, with express approval from the king, and willing support of the Jews in Palestine.
  6. Nehemiah followed up with regular stage reports and management briefs at each milestone.
  7. Nehemiah maintained regular vital meetings with stakeholders to maintain the momentum of the progress of the project, and devise tactical and spiritual measures to confront serious opposition and detractors.

Under Nehemiah’s energetic administration, the walls of Jerusalem were repaired within two months, the city was once again secured, economic and social reforms were put in place, and the glory of the land and the people were restored. Management by objective yield good results in social and economic measures when corporate leadership is effective enough to put up a team that will get result, sustain the corporate body, and take the organization to the next level.

Are you the Nehemiah of your enterprise, your organization, or your community, or seek we for another?

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Mo Ibrahim, Founder, The Mo Ibrahim Foundation.

It is the dedication, the principle to improve the lot of the masses, with a genuine spirit for public service, that bring people into leadership roles.
But in Africa, leaders often fail to carry out the precise issues that brought them into leadership positions. What leadership role has the King of Swaziland, who lives in affluence like an American Governor, when unemployment and poverty are extremely high in his kingdom, when young women in his land take to prostitution in droves despite an exceptionally high rate of HIV/AIDS, and most men and women must seek job in neighboring countries to survive?
How do we describe the leadership style in South Sudan, where state funds went missing in billions of US Dollars barely two years of independence after a protracted 30 year war, with the majority of the populace in abject poverty, and the new rulers openly showing off elements of the nouveau riche?
Should Africa have outstanding leadership, there should never by now be poor and unemployed Nigerians, malnourished South Africans, or deprived and hopeless Congolese.

However, when leadership failed, poverty, illness, the life in the ghetto, becomes the order of the day for the masses in most African nations, while the elites cruise about town in expensive limousines, living in posh apartments with the good life.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation was set up to encourage ethical governance and democracy in Africa, with an attractive annual award of US$5m (five million US Dollars) for exceptional African national rulers who must have led his nation with a proven record of improved living standard for the majority of his nationals, and respectable constitutional departure from office.
Why pay someone a tremendously fat extra to induce him performs the job for which he had been generously remunerated, you hasten to ask. Many people are equally bothered. That is the irony of leadership style in Africa. Yet, for the third year running, the award could not find a worthy recipient. Could the Mo Ibrahim Foundation have been wrong?

What leadership is!

“The meaning of a message is the change which it produces in the image”. (Kenneth Boulding).

Leadership is a process by which a person, the leader, influences other people and members of a group to carry out an objective, a purpose, a goal or dream of the group; with the leader guiding and directing other members cohesively and coherently towards the attainment of those dreams and goals.
To emerge as the leader, a person should prove the essential qualities, traits and attributes in terms of character, values, ethics, beliefs, among others. These will give him an edge within the group, and qualify him as the lead personae. These are the attributes that the Presidential campaigns, interviews, town-hall meetings and debates are geared towards, to find out the good qualities, the strong points and their weaknesses, out of each candidate in the United States elections before they eventually have their names on the ballot papers.
What he knows by education, and what he is able to do well in terms of ability, are crucial to his emergence as a leader. His character and ethics would stand him out, over and above his contemporaries, to qualify him for the office of the leader. (Surprisingly, it is whom you know that matters in most African situations). Wonder how many credible candidates fell in the primaries of the American Presidential and general elections because of shortcomings in their ethics and personal affairs!

Four Factors of Leadership.

The Leader: The leader needs to have a clear-cut knowledge of his role and his preparedness for the task.
Who truly am I?
What can I honestly do in this role?
How can I not be a boss but a servant leader, gaining the trust, confidence and true respect of the followers?

The Followers: A significant factor is to realize that the group is made of various people or interest groups who should be addressed differently while holding the group together. Each vital element within the group should be given a different approach of leadership style by the leader without disrupting the cohesiveness within the body.

Communication: Effective leadership is maintained through a two-way communication process in the exemplary lifestyle and role-model attitude of the leader. This will enhance his reputation and urge members to understand, trust and get along with him. Otherwise, there would be distrust and disaffection.

Situation: It is pertinent for a leader to understand that each situation requires its peculiar way of treatment. The leader needs expert judgment to chart the right course out of each logjam.

Africa’s Peculiar Mess:.

One would wonder why the leading lights of Africa were put out in their prime.

The killing of Patrice Lumumba in the Democratic Republic of Congo has led to the raging war that has refused to die till this day in that country breeding poverty and crime waves in its aftermath.
Thanks to Jerry Rawlings, Ghana went way down the drain in corruption, economic mismanagement, and poverty after the assassination of Kwame Nkrumah, until the recent awakenings that began with the leadership of Mr. Rawlings.
Whether you like him or hate him, the best leader Nigeria ever had was Chief Obafemi Awolowo. He ruled Western Nigeria with openness and probity, and would have transformed that part of the country into an African Switzerland, but was prevented by his own people and put away in prison. Despite her abundant oil wealth, majority of Nigerians are poor and unemployed.

What role did African rulers and elites play in the trans-Atlantic slave trade?
What kind of leadership did those rulers give during “the scramble for Africa”?
Were some of these rulers not the friends of the oppressive colonial regimes?

Most African rulers and elites collaborated, cooperated and befriended the colonialists under the oppressive regime that they were unable to join the struggle for independence. They suddenly became the de-facto benefactors of the post independence era, claiming the land and the natural resources under the aegis of royalty. They live ostentatiously on public fund while keeping their kits and kins in positions of power, denying the masses of the right to reap from the good fruits of the land.
June 12, 1993 Presidential election in Nigeria was adjudged the most free and fair, but the “leadership” thought otherwise, and the results of that free and fair election were cancelled. The nation has not fully recovered from the ripples and consequences of the unpopular decision.
June 12, 2009 Presidential election in Iran was tilting towards the way of the opposition, the ruling class intervened, and journalists reported that the announced results were doctored, the masses displayed their disaffection through demonstrations and boycott. The government lacked credibility.
June 12, 2012 was a day of serious protest in Moscow and other parts of Russian Republic in protest of the May 7, 2012 swearing into office of President Vladimir Putin as the winner of the disputed Russian Presidential election. The initially unconstitutional third term in office of Mr. Putin reduced the influence of Russia and dented affected her prestige as a leading light in the comity of nations.

Since most of Africa was colonized by the United Kingdom, African rulers and elites always like to rule as a monarchy, passing the baton of leadership from one generation to another either within the family or a select group of elites. Progressives that tried to fight for the right of the masses would be cleared from the way.

The Vote – Effective Weapon of the African Mass Movement.

It is sad that many Africans of voting age are passive and complacent about voting and election matters. This attitude must change if Africa would eventually put credible and competent leadership in place. There must be a clear departure from undue respect for rulers who lack credibility and the authority to lead. Africans should learn not to waste time to transform despotic rulers, but support the masses in the development of an intelligent electorate that will understand the immense power of the vote, and would peacefully vote out corrupt and inept rulers, putting outstanding leadership in their stead.
To have trustworthy and credible leaders in Africa, the eligible African voter should understand his role, the value of his vote, and the need to make sure that each vote count. the Mo Ibrahim Foundation should seek for ways, to educate Africans about the power of the vote, better voting attitude and culture, and non-violent movements into government transition.

Leadership Principles.
Africa needs leaders, not rulers, not Presidents nor Field Marshalls. Africans are tired of wars and incessant fighting among each other, wearied of run-away inflation and incurable diseases. Africans want to enjoy life in peace and harmony like in other lands. There is no place like home, Africans in the Diaspora want to return to a peaceful and happy home in Africa. Therefore, Africa need servant leaders, not rulers anymore. The following principles are some of the essential principles of servant leadership.

  1. Know Thyself: To try to know yourself begins with a desire to know God. The time you begin to know God is the time you begin to discover yourself, your purpose in life, your true dreams and goals, and how to channel all of these to become a strong and effective leader.
  2. Qualification: Tune up yourself for adequate and ideal qualification in chosen career or business to be fit for consideration as a candidate for leadership.
  3. Integrity: Be a man who is above-board. Be honest with yourself, and thus be honest to everybody else.
  4. Responsibility: Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions. Be responsible and take charge, even when things turn out awry, as they sometimes do. Never try to pass the buck, people will respect you for doing so.
  5. Dignity: Be a man of dignity in your private life and public relationships. This principle, if well nurtured will set you apart from the crowd, and earn you true respect of friends and foes.
  6. Decision Maker: Make decisions quickly, knowing that by deciding quickly, you make the best decisions. Know what to do next using adequate planning and problem-solving tools.
  7. Problem Solver: Treat all problems as opportunities to be creative. Apply creativity in every endeavor and thus enjoy a position of growing leadership.
  8. Role Model: Be exemplary, doing what you have to do as examples for others.
  9. Man of the People: Successfully train others to do your work, giving those who help you their due credits. Make the willing support of other people essential to your success.
  10.  Courage: meet all your problems and life challenges with extraordinary bundles of courage and bravery, and see yourself solve those problems quickly, while you overcome the challenges more easily and efficiently.
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