Tag Archives: Africa

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.

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.


A shared vision is not an idea.

It is not even an important idea such as freedom.

It is, rather, a force in people’s hearts,

a force of impressive power…

Shared vision is vital for the learning organization

because it provides the focus and energy for learning.

(Peter M. Senge)


When Africa became independent,

We thought Africans would be free.

When the colonialists left Africa,

We gladly reasoned Blacks would rule blacks well.


How doomed, how wrong we were.

How naïve our thoughts, our expectations;

How disillusioned and warped our yearnings,

For those who sold slaves, are busy looting the treasury!


Africa produce heroes, she bred many heroines,

Black men, African women have always done great.

But of leaders and rulers on the home front,

Africans seem not to find, safe for despots and tyrants.


When shall thy pride come, oh Mother Africa?

For how long shall thy treasured children

Build the cities and wealth of other nations,

Leaving fallow, in decay, the land of their fathers?


For how long, oh Mama Africa, for how long

Shall poverty, nepotism, corruption and disease,

Cover the land from Cape to Coast, camp to camp

When shall Africans know freedom as ought to?


Imagine Africans singing deep from their hearts,

My country tis of thee, my land ‘tis of thee,

Singing true songs of freedom, songs of liberation.

Not in the Diaspora, but freely at home in Africa.


To every man there openeth

A way and ways and a way

The high soul climbs the high way,

And the low soul gropes for the low,

And in between on the misty flats

The rest drift to and fro,

To every man there openeth

A high way and a low

And every man decideth

The way his soul shall go.


Imagine Africa climb the high way,

Imagine Africans departing from the low and the flat,

Imagine all Africans enjoying the fruit of the land.

It is our shared vision, our deep imagination, our dream.

Look to Africa, for there a king shall be crowned!

Human Resources Management is, to the lay man, a management practice which employs and organise staff and workers in such a way that the employer obtains the greatest possible benefit from the abilities of the employees.In return, Human Resources practice equally makes sure that commensurate and adequate provision of material and psychological rewards from such engagement goes to the employees. Sounds a fair deal!

Scientific Management came out of the Industrial Revolution era through the studies of Frederick Taylor. The theories of Motivation, promoted by Abraham H. Maslow and his contemporaries, open the flood gates of care and concern for the employee. All humans seek to meet the following needs:

Physiological needs.

Safety needs.

Love needs.

Esteem needs.

Self-actualization needs.

Human Resources Management brings succor and hope to the employee at a fair cost to the employer. Despite criticism and attacks, the theory of motivation remains a rallying point in the practice of human resources management.  It blends well with the economic and physical needs theory of Karl Marx, the physical and love needs of Sigmund Freud, the esteem needs theory of Alfred Adler, and the self-actualization theory of Goldstein. Every right thinking person seeks to meet certain needs in his life. The United States of America, Western Europe and other true democracies properly understood the theories of motivation and apply them as useful tool in obtaining their respective egalitarian societies.

Most of Africa still try to forge fair and just leadership and governance since the assassination or schematic removal of our founders such as Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah, Obafemi Awolowo and such true sons of Africa who put the interest of the populace ahead of their own personal pursuits and desires. Other good leaders emerged, but their good intentions have not transformed Africa as desired. Nevertheless, the continent produces continuously brilliant minds and talents that shape the advancement and progress of the world in terms of technology, education, health, international relations, business and the arts, and other facets of our life.

Monopolistic tendencies and oligarchy entrenched by the elites make up the ruling class, leaving the masses far behind in wanton need and abject poverty. This brought about corruption and deprive Africa of badly needed growth and development.  How could many Africans dream of meeting the needs of self-actualization when the basic needs of life – job, health and shelter, are far from being met?  Yet to their chagrin, and rape on their psyche, the élite display brazenly their ill-gotten wealth without shame. This explains why many Africans have left the shores of the continent in pursuit of greener pastures in other lands. “All I’m saying is simply this, that all life is interrelated, that somehow we’re caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

From the city councils, to the local governments, at the state level and within the central government system, corruption is rife because of greed, and the effect of round pegs in square holes. Nevertheless, hope is not lost. A core aspect of the practice and rules of Human Resources Management is Training and retraining. HR Africa should think along this path as they congregate in Lagos, Nigeria for the HR 2012 Leadership Strategy. The African youth are the vital part of the African population, but they stay disenfranchised from the political system that affects them most. HR Africa is well placed to think beyond employees, and look at the vast potentials inherent in the African youth, desirous of a great future. HR Africa should encourage African youths:

  1. 1.     Votes: Support the training of youths to value the power of their votes. HR Africa should support and engage their organizations to promote programs and activities that would wake up the African youth to the values and privileges inherent in his right to vote and be voted for.
  2. 2.     Votes: Youths from 18 years and above in schools, colleges, universities, trade and training centers, employments and non-employments should understand that the power of true democracy lie in their positive attitude to vote.
  3. 3.     Votes: Support training programs and seminars that withdraw youths from cultish gangs and groups, hooligans, violence and social vices; and encourage them to work with non-governmental and non-partisan associations to promote awareness about correct voting patterns at school, on campuses, and their immediate wards or communities.
  4. 4.     Votes: Encouraged young people to imbibe irreproachable manners and decent attitudes to life and society, to hold themselves in high esteem and dream of a better future while working for it through engagement is social services and positive lifestyle.

With such support from professionals like you, exceptional candidates gets elected, political terrain get transformed, corruption get curtailed, while  productivity and development will improve across the land.  A remarkably efficient and productive public service would emerge to help and support more  productive corporate culture in Africa. This is growth and success – this will prove that HR Africa could transform the continent, not just employees and corporate bodies.

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